Uncomfortable with the idea of using jack stands on your car for basic maintenance? We don’t blame you. Jack stands are notorious for being unsafe. The good news is that safer alternatives exist, such as:
- Mini ramps
- Full-fledged 2 post and 4 post lifts
- The Kwik-Lift
All three alternatives are not only safer than jack stands but also offer more benefits. Before discussing the better alternatives, let’s talk some more about jack stands.
What Are Jack Stands?
Jack stands are designed to hold your car 12-20 inches in the air by the jack points on the frame, though you’re really only achieving 4-10″ of actual lift considering most frames are already 8-10″ off the ground. Using jack stands is the oldest (and least safe) way to lift a car.
To use jack stands, you need a hydraulic jack, which you use to lift one side of your car before sliding the jack stands underneath. You then use the hydraulic jack to lower the car until it rests on the jack stands. Once one side of the car is propped up, you go to the other side and repeat the process to lift it up (while balancing the car on the jack stands on the other side). Sounds like a precarious process, doesn’t it?
There are safer way to completely lift a car on all four jack stands, but it’s a long, tedious process that involves deliberate, careful planning and additional tools such as wheel chocks and and wooden blocks. Done properly, it can take up to an hour to fully stabilize the car with jack stands.
Even if you manage to lift your car up on all four jack stands safely, it’s still pretty risky, as jack stands are inherently unstable. It’s not uncommon for cars to fall off jack stands and sometimes injure people in the process, so it’s no surprise that most people would never want to lay underneath a car on jack stands. That means jack stands are really only useful for minor maintenance such as tire rotations.
Jack Stand Alternatives
The following car lift alternatives are much safer than jack stands:
- Mini ramps: Like jack stands, mini ramps are inexpensive. They’re low ramps designed to lift the front end of your car by its tires. Even though mini ramps are a good solution for minor auto maintenance (such as oil changes), they come with a few drawbacks. For instance, mini ramps don’t provide enough lift height. They’re about six inches tall, which means they don’t provide enough lift for a person to be able to slide underneath the car comfortably. Also, mini ramps really only work for 2 wheels at a time.
- A commercial grade 2 post or 4 post lift: If you’re going to buy a 2 post or 4 post lift, commercial grade is the way to go. A commercial quality lift doesn’t cost much more than a cheaper “entry level” lift and offers way more in terms of durability and safety. Unfortunately, all 2 post and 4 post lifts have a big footprint. To be able to fit one into your garage, you’d need a 12’ or higher ceiling and roughly 1.5 garage spaces in width. They also require thicker than average concrete that’s rated for 3,000 PSI. Most residential garages will require an upgrade.
- The Kwik-Lift: Last, but certainly not least, there’s the Kwik-Lift. Read on to find out why it’s the best jack stand alternative.
Why the Kwik-Lift is the Best Alternative to Jack Stands
The Kwik-Lift is a heavy duty drive-on lift that’s as safe and reliable as they come. It’s the best option for a lot of reasons, including:
Unlike many other entry-level lifts, the Kwik-Lift is extremely sturdy because it lifts the vehicle by the wheels, meaning there’s no risk of the vehicle tipping front to back or falling to the side. A Kwik-Lift is especially handy for work that requires an uneven distribution of weight, such as an engine swap.
2. Fast Set Up And Tear Down
Here’s a fun fact: setting up your car on the Kwik-Lift and then taking it down is 30 minutes – 1 hour faster than doing the same thing with jack stands. Setting up a Kwik-Lift takes less than 10 minutes for most people. It’s a quicker, easier, and safer process because the Kwik-Lift was designed with ease of use in mind.
3. Comfortable Working Height
The Kwik-Lift is specifically designed to provide the ideal working height in different positions – laying on a creeper under the car, sitting on a chair or stool outside the vehicle, and standing above the engine bay. There’s also enough ground clearance to be able to do more than just basic maintenance. For example, the Kwik-Lift provides enough height for you to be able to drop a transmission.
The Kwik-Lift is as durable as they come. For one, it’s made of solid US steel, meaning it can support a considerable amount of weight while remaining stable. Second, it pretty much lasts forever with only occasional lubrication and minor paint maintenance because it doesn’t come with any fancy parts with planned obsolescence. It’s made of steel and steel only; there are no lift motors, connectors, hydraulic parts, etc. to worry about.
Many car owners like jack stands because of how portable they are. The Kwik-Lift is portable too, and it can fit into any home garage, even small one-car garages.
In the Kwik-Lift, you’d find all the pros and none of the cons of owning jack stands. It’s safer, more durable, and easier to use. You can read more about why Kwik-Lift is the best home garage lift here.