How to Use a Car Jack and Jack Stands

Jacking up a car takes careful thought and process. Raising and supporting the vehicle might seem confusing or scary. If you jack up from the wrong area, it can damage parts or harm whoever’s working.

You may be wondering how to use a car jack or jack stands and where to place jack stands under the car. This post explains where to put a jack and jack stands, the meaning of some related terms, the different types of frames, how to jack up a car or truck from the front or rear, how to put a car on 4 jack stands, and how to pick a properly-rated jack and jack stand for your vehicle.

We also have many videos that show where to put jack stands on specific makes and models.

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Where to Place a Jack and Jack Stands Under a Car or Truck

How to Use a Car Jack and Jack Stands and Safely Jack Up a Car or Truck

Steps to Take Before Raising the Vehicle

What to Do Before Jacking Up a Car or Truck

  1. Find a Safe Location for Raising and Supporting the Vehicle

    Find a safe location to jack up the car or truck as far away from bystanders or oncoming traffic as possible. For example, it’s safer to pull off the freeway than to fix a flat tire on the highway.

  2. Find a Flat, Level and Stable Surface

    Raise the vehicle up from a flat, level and hard surface like asphalt, concrete, but not grass, dirt, sand, or other unstable surfaces.

  3. Inspect the Jack Point Location

    Check the area where pressure will be applied before lifting the vehicle. A little rust is nothing to worry about but a lot of rust or a rotted hole is very unsafe for jacking.

  4. Use Proper-Rated Jack Stands

    Make sure the jack and jack stands have a rating strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle.

    Find the weight of your vehicle listed as “GVWR” near the top of the sticker on the driver’s door.

    The weight of the front and the rear should also be listed. This lets you know how much weight is needed to support these parts of the vehicle.

    Then find a jack stand that can support those tons.

  5. Have an Assistant Nearby

    It’s important to have another person nearby when working under a car. Whenever one wheel is raised off of the ground, the vehicle is capable of rolling or shifting in some way. If an accident happens, a second person is there to quickly respond.

  6. Put the Vehicle in Park or First Gear

    Make sure the vehicle is in Park for automatic transmissions and first gear for manual transmissions

  7. Put the Emergency Brake on

    Keep the emergency brake on during the repair.

  8. Chock the Front and Back of the Remaining Wheels

    Chock the front and back of the remaining wheels that will not be lifted with a solid object like a wood block.

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Related Terms to Jack Stand Placement

What Does “Support the Vehicle with the Suspension Hanging” Mean?

Supporting the vehicle with the suspension hanging is to lift the vehicle by the full frame or the subframe. This way the suspension can “hang down.” Repairs usually call for this kind of lifting to make front end work easier.

Can You Lift the Vehicle without the Suspension Hanging?

Some vehicles can be lifted without the suspension hanging—especially ones with straight differentials that extend to either side of the vehicle, like a pickup truck.

What Is a Full Frame?

Full frames are generally found in pickup tucks. They are more heavy duty than subframes and help with tow and load capacity. They are likely to be made of steel.

What Is a Subframe?

Most front-wheel drive vehicles will have a subframe. The subframe looks like a little square or rectangle. They are at the front and likely the rear of the vehicle for the suspension. The front subframe will hold the engine and transmission weight to keep the parts from shifting overall.

Subframes are usually in most front-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles to increase fuel economy, since less weight improves fuel efficiency. They might be made of steel or aluminum.

Where to Put a Jack and Jack Stands Under a Car or Truck

Jack Up from The Frame

Pointing to a frame on a truck

The frame is the safest place to jack the vehicle from since it is the most structurally sound part. A full frame will have a lot of secure jacking points to jack up from.

Jack Up from the Full Differential and Place Jack Stands on the Edges of the Differential Tube

Jacking up with a floor jack from a full differential

If you have a full differential, you can jack from the “pumpkin” (the differential that looks like a pumpkin) in the center and place jack stands along the outer edge of the differential tube.

Only Jack Up from the Subframe and Do Not Place Jack Stands Underneath It

Black subframe on a vehicle
Black subframe on a vehicle

The subframe on subframe-type vehicles is a good jacking point but not a good place to put jack stands because the subframe will be closer to the center of the vehicle and jack stands should be placed out as far as possible.

Jack Up from or Place Jack Stands Under the Pinch Rail

Marking for jacking and placing jack stands under a pinch weld
Marking for jacking and placing jack stands under a pinch weld

A pinch rail is a tip that runs along the body. Jacking from the wrong location on the pinch rail can damage the body. Usually right behind the front wheel or right before the rear wheel, markings or reinforced areas indicate the best place to put the jack stands and/or jack up the vehicle.

If Removing a Tire, Loosen the Lug Nuts with the Wheel on the Ground and Place the Tire Under the Side of the Vehicle for Extra Support

If you’re stuck on the side of the road and need to replace your tire, use something underneath the vehicle for extra security and for safety. For example, once the bad tire has been removed, place it on the side of the vehicle underneath the edge in case the vehicle moves off the jack.

Also, loosen the lug nuts with the wheel on the ground before raising and securing the vehicle unless you have air tools.

How to Raise a Car with a Floor Jack

Jack up the vehicle slowly. Jacking up the vehicle creates inertia, so this will keep the vehicle from shifting.

Only raise the vehicle as high as necessary for the repair. The higher a vehicle is raised, the more unsafe it is to work on.

How to Raise a Car with a Scissor Jack

Raising a car with a scissor jack takes a little more energy. This video explains how.

How to Jack Up a Car or Truck from the Front or Rear

Both sides of a car jacked up from the rear

Observe the Vehicle’s Angle

It’s safest to keep at least two wheels on the ground. If jacking up two wheels, pay attention to the angle of the vehicle as it’s raised. The steeper the angle, the less safe and secure it is for a jack stand to sit, increasing its chances of slipping.

If There Is No Jacking Position in the Center of the Rear, Jack Up from the Side

Some front-wheel drive vehicles will not have a spot in the center of the rear of the vehicle to raise and secure both sides. If that happens, we recommend raising the vehicle from the rear on one side, placing a jack stand underneath, and then doing the same for the other side. For security, have them as level as possible.

How to Put a Car on 4 Jack Stands

Jack Up the Front First

Sometimes it may not be possible to keep two wheels on the ground. If you need to life all four wheels, start with the front wheels by jacking them up and placing jack stands, and then do the same for the rear. Also, make the car or truck as level as possible.

Once Secure, Give the Vehicle a Light Jounce Test

Once you have safely lifted and secured the vehicle, give it a light jounce test. Don’t try to push it off the stands, but test it enough that if it’s slightly bumped, it won’t shift or move.

Jack Up Your Own Vehicle with a How-to Video

If you want to learn where to jack up from on your car, find a how-to video of your make and model in 1A Auto’s how-to video library. We have thousands of how-to videos that cover many diagnostics and repairs for hundreds of models.

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Summary
How to Use a Car Jack and Jack Stands | Where to Put Jack Stands
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How to Use a Car Jack and Jack Stands | Where to Put Jack Stands
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Learn how to use a car jack and jack stands, where to place a jack and jack stands, how to jack up a vehicle from the front or rear, how to put a car on 4 jack stands, and more with this article.
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1A Auto
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