When you get to know that one of your tires is flat while driving down the road, it is the most difficult situation for everyone. And it becomes more difficult when you get to know that you cannot have easy access to the roadside service and you have to change the tire all by yourself.
If you ever face such a situation, calm down and do not worry if you have a car jack with yourself. A car jack is a mechanical device that is used to lift a vehicle up or off the ground. You can easily change your tire by having a car jack and it is safer to use as well.
Why you want a car jack?
There are many reasons of having a car jack because you need in it many situations such as
- While changing a tire
- Making repairs
- To change the oil
- To inspect any damage and for many other purposes as well.
If you do not know how to use a car jack, here are some steps which you have to follow for using a car jack on your own.
How to use a car jack to change a flat tire:
- Pull your car at a safe place:
Pull over your car away from the main road and far away from traffic. Park your car at a safe place or in a car parking lot where you can easily change the tire safely. If you do not have a car parking lot nearby, you can park your car anywhere but away from heavy traffic. If you are on a highway and cannot find a safe place, pull off your car to the side because you cannot drive miles away with this flat tire without damaging it. Make sure to park your vehicle on a solid, level surface as a soft surface can cause a jack to lean to one side and it can cause a car to fall within no time.
- Secure your vehicle:
Now secure your vehicle by turning off the engine and engage the parking brake as well. Find something which you can use to block a tire such as a brick, a small rock, and piece of wood and place it under the tire that is present in an opposite direction. For example, if you are going to jack the right front tire, then you must block the left rear tire. It will ensure that your car will not roll off the jack.
If you have passengers within your car, it is better to ask them to exit the car for more secure jacking.
- Locate your jack and jacking points:
Now it’s the time to locate your jack and all the jacking points as well. In most of the vehicle, the vehicle’s trunk or SUV’s way back are storage points for car jack. When you find it safely, locate all the jacking points or the points where the car jack engages on the car’s body. For most of the vehicles, their jacking points are reinforced metal ribs that are specially designed to lift the vehicle in an emergency situation. In common, there are four different jacking points on a vehicle’s body. First one is under the car’s rocker panel, second one is present just behind the front wheels of the vehicle or can be located just ahead of the rear wheels. You must be aware of all the jacking points as it is necessary to jack the car. If you do not know about the jacking points on your car’s body, you can use a manual for this purpose.
- Positioning of your jack:
Now there is a need to position your jack. In order to know and understand about the working of the jack at jacking points, you must consult your owner’s manual for this purpose. It is because different cars have different slots such as on the top or on the engagement flange but different cars have different setups and points so you must be aware of your own vehicle.
- Jack up your car:
Now it is the time to jack up your car. Move the jack handle in a clockwise direction slowly and keep moving until the flat tire comes off the ground. It will take a few minutes. But be careful and make sure that as the jack lifts the car, it remains positioned straight up and down. Do not let the jack lean as it is not secure to hold your car in this way. If you want to lift your car in order to get under it to change oil or to do something, use a jack stand and place it under the rocker panel by snuggling it up to the car’s body. It ensures your safety as your car will not fall on you.
If you are jacking up your car at home or at work, use a robust floor jack as it is stronger and more stable than an ordinary car’s onboard jack. It is the jack with a long handle and it is mostly used at repaired shops.
- Unwind your jack:
When you are done and want to lower your car, unwind the jack handle slowly but in an opposite direction and keep turning it until your car’s tire is in contact with the ground. Place the jack again to its storage location and keep it safe. Before turning on the engine of your car, make sure that you have removed the thing which you used to block the tire. It can be any brick, rock or wood.
Types of car jack:
There are different types of car jack that people use. All these jacks are somehow working in the same way but there is a slight difference in all of them. Let’s explore each jack one by one.
It is the cheapest and old-fashioned scissor jack and it is the smallest option available. It has a handle so that you can wind the arms apart and helps to lift the car up. They vary in size and have different weight capabilities so you must be careful while buying one. They are very lightweight and very easy to store in your vehicle. They are very user friendly and need very little maintenance except cleaning.
How to use scissor jack:
- Locate the jacking point on your car’s body and position it accordingly.
- Turn it in clockwise direction until the car lifts off the ground.
- In order to lower it back, turn it in an anticlockwise or opposite direction.
Most of the professional mechanics use trolley jacks because they are more safe, stable and quick. It is a type of wheeled hydraulic floor jack and you can move it very easily. They have a capacity to lift weight from 2 to 4 tons. Some of them have manual braking features and some of them have automatic brake lock features while being used. They can lift the vehicle a little higher and you can also use them on dirt.
How to use trolley jack:
- Pump the handle and insert it until its cradle reaches the jacking point.
- In order to lower it back, take out the handle and turn its lever in an anticlockwise direction.
Hydraulic bottle jacks:
Hydraulic bottle jacks are most commonly used and versatile jacks. they use the hydraulic force to lift the car up and they work somehow in the same way as trolley jacks do. They are smaller, lightweight and very easy to use and store. They are a type of automotive jack and most of them include a cylinder, base, a plunger and a pump that is filled with oil. Plunger is used to build oil pressure that is controlled by valves and helps in performing the lifting and lowering actions. They are available in different sizes from 2 to 12 tons. Make sure that you are not using it alone while doing work underneath the car. It is recommended for you to use axle stands for better support. They are mostly used at construction sites.
How to use hydraulic bottle jack:
- First of all, position it under the jacking point.
- Then you need to insert the handle and start pumping it until it lifts the car up.
Important Safety Points:
- Using a car jack can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Here are some important safety points to keep in mind when using a car jack:
- Choose the right jack: Make sure that the jack you use is appropriate for the weight of your vehicle. Check the weight rating of the jack before using it and ensure it’s able to lift your car.
- Find a level surface: Always use your jack on a level and solid surface. Don’t attempt to use the jack on uneven ground, soft or sandy soil.
- Secure the vehicle: Before using the jack, ensure the vehicle is in park or in gear if it’s a manual, and the parking brake is on. It’s important to make sure the car won’t roll while you’re working on it.
- Locate the correct jacking points: Look in the vehicle owner’s manual to find the correct jacking points. They are usually indicated by an arrow or a notch on the frame or chassis.
- Use jack stands: After lifting the vehicle with the jack, place jack stands under the vehicle in a secure and stable position. This will act as a safety backup in case the jack fails.
- Use the jack correctly: Follow the instructions for using the jack carefully. Lift the vehicle gradually and don’t overload the jack. Don’t work under the vehicle when it’s only supported by the jack.
- Keep clear of the vehicle: Always keep your hands and body parts clear of the vehicle while it’s being lifted or lowered with the jack.
- Lower the vehicle carefully: When you’re done working on the vehicle, slowly lower it to the ground. Make sure everyone is clear of the area around the car.
- By following these safety points, you can use a car jack safely and avoid accidents.
In conclusion, knowing how to use a car jack to change a flat tire is a valuable skill that can come in handy during unexpected roadside emergencies. By following the step-by-step guide and adhering to safety precautions, you can safely and efficiently replace a flat tire with ease. Regularly checking your spare tire’s condition and keeping the necessary tools in your car can ensure you’re prepared for any unexpected flat tire situation. Safe travels!