Who’s ready for a 5 point game of ‘never have I ever’? We’ll be looking at hydraulic jack safety today…
“Never have I ever…
…Skipped securing the lift with jack stands.”
This is one of the worst ways to save yourself 2 minutes of work. Once a car, a piece of machinery, or a anything you might need a jack to lift is in the air… get a set of jack stands under it. 4 of them, maybe more.
Hydraulic jacks are amazingly powerful and versatile, but they are prone to a hundred little failure points. All it takes is one valve that’s not tightly closed, one leaky seal or one shift in the load to really ruin your day if even a tiny part of you is under the thing when it falls.
…Used a hydraulic jack on an incline.”
I know the temptation to change a tyre on the driveway (or on the roadside) is high. It is only a slight incline, right? I’ve got jack stands under the load. What could happen?
It can all come down in a real hurry, mangling your equipment and possibly your self if you are anywhere near the collapse. No matter how inconvenient, have the car towed to level ground – or push it if you have to. And if the grade is too steep to push a car safely, it is way too steep to jack it up!
…used anything which could be considered an ‘improvised jack extension’.”
Sometimes your jack is just too short for the load, even at maximum extension. Really, go get a bigger jack. We sell some great ones. Don’t put a brick, a cinder-block or a piece of wood between the load and the jack.
The odds of the load shifting go way, way up when something is ‘wedged in there’. Seriously, you could die.
…Trusted a jack whose rated lifting capacity was too low.”
Is there a ‘safety factor’? Yes. It’s there for your safety. Don’t mess with it.
Even if a jack can successfully lift a load that is heavier than its max rating, it is a great deal more likely to fail – and to do so suddenly, without warning – than if you were using it properly.
…Lifted a car or other load at anything other than a designated jack point.”
They don’t build cars like they used to. I mean, really. That’s not just a commentary on modern attitudes towards quality control. A lot of mechanics today weren’t even alive the last time Vauxhall made a commercial car with a steel chassis. ‘Unibody construction’ has been the norm for decades. And yet, people still have this idea that you can jam a jack anywhere under the bottom of a car and lift it.
At best, you’ll bend that part of the body and weaken the whole car. At worst, you could be trying to extract the jack head from a newly-minted tear in your ride.