Best Budget Floor Jack (Reviews & Buyer’s Guide 2022)
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Many people often have their cars worked on in well-equipped garages. Some people were lucky enough to have friends or parents who owned the best floor jacks and borrowed them for their projects. But when the car projects are too many, and you use the tool more than the owner, it’s time to add a floor jack to your shopping list.
Yes, many cars come with car jacks, but they are often cheap. Using them can be slow, cumbersome, dangerous, and inconvenient. You need the best floor jack to speed up processes like changing brake pads, oil, rotors, tires, and suspension.
We’ve taken the liberty of reviewing many budget floor jacks, picking the best from the bunch, and recording our thoughts on each. And in case you come across a floor jack that’s not on our list, we’ve compiled a buying guide to help you determine if it’s a worthy purchase or not.
What Is a Floor Jack?
Unlike high-lift, scissor, or bottle jacks, floor jacks use an arm to distribute the vehicle’s weight into a frame and across the wheels. This makes floor jacks more stable than other types of jacks. Leveraging the arm, the jack can lift weight faster and more easily. Five or ten pumps are enough to lift your vehicle a foot high. How fast this happens depends on the specific jack you’re using. Generally, the more you spend, the higher the lifting speed.
The long chassis, wheels, and hydraulic jack handle allow you to get the floor jack under the car’s side, under the differential, frame rail, and any other hard point.
Do You Need a Floor Jack?
The first step is determining if a floor jack can handle the task at hand. Some car projects like bodywork and buffing don’t need vehicle lifting. You may also find some projects require bottle jacks or drive-up ramps instead. Bottle jacks have narrower saddles but have higher lifting capacities and are easier to use.
You can use floor jacks alongside jack stands to lift your vehicle into a stable position for various projects. Some benefits to consider include:
- Reliability – anything used to lift a vehicle takes heavy punishment. In comparison to drive-up ramps and bottle jacks, floor jacks prove to be more durable.
- Ease of use – no jack’s perfect to use for everyone. However, floor jacks greatly multiply the force, making it simple to lift weights and easier to keep in the car for emergencies.
- Stability – floor jacks lift vehicles at different points, holding them firmly in place. This creates redundancy points that come in handy when anything fails.
What To Consider When Choosing the Best Floor Jack for Trucks and SUVs
Aside from the budget, there are several things you ought to consider when getting the best floor jack.
When choosing a floor jack, you should pick one that can slide under your vehicle before you start lifting. Some luxury vehicles and sports cars have low clearances, so they need a low profile to lift. Moreover, you should consider the maximum lift height of your jack. If you have a high vehicle, like a truck or an SUV, a smaller jack cannot raise high enough to lift the vehicle off the ground.
Every floor jack is rated to lift a specific weight. If you’re getting a floor jack to lift your car for repairs, get something that matches the weight rating of your car. Keep in mind that to change a tire, you just need to lift half the vehicle’s weight. You can locate your car’s weight on the owner’s manual or door panel. Sedans and trucks often weigh around 3,000 and 8,000 pounds.
How Do You Determine the Tons You Need?
Every ton translates to lifting 2,000 pounds. This means that a 3-ton jack can lift about 6,000 pounds. Although the floor jack usually lifts half the weight of the vehicle in most use cases, it’s important to calculate using two-thirds of the car’s weight to determine the floor jack weight rating you need. So, for a 9,000-pound vehicle, you should get at least a 3-ton floor jack.
Let’s use the ford F-350 as an example. It weighs 7,737 pounds in its heaviest trim, and a 3-ton jack is sufficient. Going with a 2-ton jack is cutting it too close for some larger trucks. In this case, always take the next size to ensure safety.
The saddle or platform size refers to the surface area on the jack that’s in direct contact with your car. A larger platform translates into a more stable hoist. However, having a larger platform doesn’t mean the floor jack is better. On the contrary, it means the floor jack is safer, but there might be some restrictions on different parts of the chassis. This is why some mechanics have bottle jacks to use on different projects.
Note: the higher you intend to raise your vehicle, the more surface area the jack saddle should be. Stability is even more crucial when you raise over 16-inches.
The material used on floor jacks creates a big distinction between them. Different materials, including aluminum, steel, and hybrid options, have different advantages. The options include:
Steel is a heavy material used in building floor jacks. It makes for sturdy and solid jacks that are difficult to move outside your garage. Steel is generally cheaper than aluminum, so steel jacks are the cheapest option. Despite being cheap, they are durable. But on the flip side, their weight makes them a poor choice.
Steel floor jacks are found at professional garages and dealerships. It’s also a common purchase for car lovers doing DIY work. Generally, steel is your best option if you don’t need portability.
Aluminum is more expensive and less durable than steel. However, aluminum jacks might serve you for a long time if rarely used. However, if it’s used under repeated stress, it may not last long. With these cons, why would anyone prefer aluminum over steel? It’s all about portability. Aluminum floor jacks weigh nearly half the weight of steel floor jacks and can be loaded in trunks and taken on the road without affecting your car’s fuel economy.
If you plan to use the floor jack several times a year and need to carry it around, aluminum floor jacks are the best option.
Hybrid jacks are constructed from aluminum and steel. Often, manufacturers will use steel to construct important parts that support most of the weight and everything else from aluminum to keep the weight low.
Hybrid floor jacks strike a perfect balance between durability, price, and weight. However, these jacks are thought of being jacks of all trades without being good any anything specific. If you want a professional floor jack that you can carry around, you should prefer the hybrid floor jack.
Rollers and Handles
Moving heavy-duty floor jacks around your workspace can be a challenge. Luckily, many floor jacks come with wheels making them easier to move. Others also have handles designed with knurled grips to pull or push around with gloved hands.
While bottle jacks don’t have wheels, they come with well-designed handles. They are positioned under the vehicle by hand, and then the handle is used to hoist the vehicle. Scissor jacks are designed with long handles that you can use to push the jacks around and twist them to hoist your car.
Warranty and Reliability
Aside from having a sturdy build, the floor jack you purchase should be reliable and serve you for a long time. One of the factors contributing to a floor jack’s reliability includes the manufacturer’s warranty. Most floor jacks come with a 12-month warranty. This isn’t bad, but we’d rather you get one with a lifetime warranty.
Best Budget Floor Jacks Review (Summary)
Last update on 2024-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Hi-Lift Jack HL484 48″ Hi-Lift Black Cast and Steel – Best for Off-road Use
With the current craze around offroad adventure and sports, some vehicles need extra height to lift off the ground. Hi-Lift Jack HL484 provides a whopping 48″ that most require. When set up at the wheel or bumper, this jack will lift off-road vehicles 4 feet from the ground.
With a perfect combination of steel and cast components, we can confidently say this jack is tough enough for off-road use. The powder-coated finish helps improves the jack’s durability too. Aside from this, we noted that it has safety elements, including a shear pin that prevents users from exceeding the 7,000-pound weight limit.
Off-roaders love that the jack has a top-mounted winch attachment which allows the tool to double as a winch and rescue vehicles stuck in snow or mud without calling a tow truck. We especially loved that the jack comes with a long handle that makes winching and lifting an easy process.
With all these features, you’d expect it to be heavy. However, the Hi-Lift Jack HL484 weighs a little less than 30 pounds making it perfect for off-road adventure.
2. Blackhawk B6350 – Best Overall
When shopping for the best floor jack, you should give the Blackhawk B6350 serious consideration. The Blackhawk B6350 offers a perfect mix of performance and price, making it a great choice for any vehicle, expert, and DIYer.
Blackhawk Automotive built this jack with a 3.5-ton lifting capacity. In addition, its 22″ maximum lifting height makes it perfect for any SUV or truck, while it’s 5.5″ minimum height ensures it slides under a variety of cars effortlessly. If you are looking for the best floor jack for F150, this might be a good pick.
Generally, floor jacks are easy to work with, but Blackhawk decided to take things a notch higher by adding fast lift technology to raise vehicles faster. Aside from this, there are loads of safety features designed to protect you during use. Some notable safety features are the internal safety valve that prevents overloading and a swivel saddle that ensures a snug and level fitting during each use.
At 5.5″, the Blackhawk B6350 isn’t what we’d call a low-profile floor jack. If you don’t have a truck or SUV, you might have to countercheck your car’s clearance before completing the purchase.
3. Arcan 3-Ton Quick Rise Aluminum Floor Jack – Editor’s choice/Upgrade
Arcan is an affordable brand that offers value for money with its floor jacks. The Arcan 3-Ton Quick Rise Floor Jack is made from aluminum, making it lightweight and perfect for off-road use. Arcan managed to make it only 56 pounds by using aluminum construction.
The jack has a lifting range between 3.75 and 18 inches making it perfect for light-duty trucks and SUVs. For safety, Arcan added a counterweight pawl that drops in place when raising vehicles to prevent the jack from accidentally lowering when you’re working under the vehicle.
It’s also worth noting this Arcan floor jack sports dual pump pistons, which make lifting vehicles easier and faster. The handle is reinforced and strong to improve durability, control, and strength. Moreover, the padded handle makes for a comfortable jacking experience, while the rubber saddle pad ensures the tool has a solid grip on your vehicle.
4. Powerbuilt 3 Ton All-in-One Hydraulic Bottle Jack and Jackstand in One Unit – Best Value
If you’re a home mechanic on a budget, this bottle jack is one that’ll save you some good money, actually, it might be the best inexpensive floor jack around. Powerbuilt has been created as a combination of a jack stand and bottle jack for optimum versatility. With this blend, the jack can lift 6,000 pounds while holding it safely in place.
The Powerbuilt All-in-One jack has a lifting range of between 11 and 21 inches, making it ideal for most SUVs and trucks with factory heights. You’ll love the lift arm designed with multiple locking points for secure and quick lifting.
Weighing only 22 pounds, this bottle jack is great for roadside repairs.
5. Pro Eagle 3 Ton Big Wheel Hydraulic Off Road Jack – Best for Offroad and Raised Vehicles
Even as an off-roader, it doesn’t hurt to have an all-terrain jack in your toolbox. The Pro Eagle 3-ton Big Wheel Hydraulic Jack is one you should seriously consider getting. It is constructed from alloy steel, making it durable but slightly heavier than other floor jack options. But on the bright side, the Pro Eagle 3 Ton Big Wheel Hydraulic Off Road Jack has wheels for easier maneuverability. These wheels are durable and can survive off-road use.
The jack has a high lifting capacity of 3 tons, making it ideal for trucks and SUVs. To ensure Pro Eagle 3 Ton Big Wheel Hydraulic Off Road Jack lifts your vehicle off the ground, it comes with an adjustable extension between 8 and 15″. Incorporated in the mechanism are sealed ball bearings that provide smooth operation and rolling even in difficult situations.
And just in case you find yourself on loose ground, the full-length steel plate will prevent the jack and the car from sinking and causing an accident. As icing on the cake, this jack features an ergonomic handle padded for comfort.
How Do Floor Jacks Work?
Floor jacks operate mechanical power or hydraulic power. Mechanical floor jacks are often smaller, lighter, and easier to store. However, they tend to have low lifting capacities and need a lot of effort to raise vehicles. Below is a quick overview of what each of these options has to offer.
Mechanical jacks operate in several ways. For instance, pre-war garages used floor jacks with long handles and ratcheting bars. You’d push the handle down, which clicks one or two notches forward to raise the jack. To the best of our knowledge, no manufacturers are making ratcheting floor jacks. These options were really heavy and were too long.
If you take the same design concept and place it upright, you get the design basics of high-lift jacks. High-lift jacks can rise 48+ inches and are slowly becoming the standard for off-roaders who work with high vehicles on large tires and rough terrain.
The most common manual or mechanical jacks feature lead screws, an invented design over 2,400 years ago by Archimedes, who borrowed it from Egyptian water moving technology. The lead screw design features a shaft with threads that pass through a collar or ring and use mechanical advantage to amplify the force you exert. The downside is that there’s a lot of turning and very little lifting. On the bright side, they are often compact and light for their lifting capacity.
Many electric jacks simply have an electric motor powering the shaft and thread design described above.
The last type of mechanical jack works with a rotating handle that, in turn, turns a gearbox to raise a toothed post. These options have a limited range and are slow. On the bright side, they can lift to 50,000 pounds.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, you harness the power of hydraulics when you purchase a floor jack. The principle of hydraulics in floor jacks is the same as hydraulic systems in brakes and electric steering systems. In these systems, pressure is generated in a cylinder full of a special fluid and transferred through the fluid to another area to work.
Hydraulic jacks use a light oil to do work because it’s resistant to compression. The built-up pressure is transferred through a one-way valve into a different cylinder which lifts the jack. You may then have to open a bypass valve to release the fluid or an accumulator tank to hold the pressurized fluid.
Bottle jack designs are a little different but work in the same way. The only difference is that floor jacks let the pressure build before the lifting arm moves. With bottle jacks, lifting cylinders raise with every pump.
Floor Jack Safety
The most important thing when using a floor jack on any project is to ensure safety. Common sense goes a long way in ensuring this, but some facets aren’t as obvious. To provide some guidance, here are some safety principles you should observe.
Don’t Trust Your Floor Jack To Support the Vehicle Alone. Always Use a Jack Stand
Regardless of how carefully a mechanical component is designed, it may fail. Unfortunately, movable mechanical components are at a higher risk. We’ve seen hydraulic floor jacks fail multiple times due to wear and tear of the hydraulic components. However, the failure isn’t catastrophic; instead, the jack slowly lowers the car.
You’d think this is advantageous for a person in danger of getting crushed, but it’s not. Usually, the slow descent when failing is unnoticed during the window of escape. Remember, anyone on their back under a car has limited agility and speed to escape.
The good news is that this problem is easily avoided by pairing floor jacks with a set of jack stands. After raising your vehicle with a floor jack, set jack stands under the car, letting it rest on them. Only after supporting the vehicle with the jacks should you get under it to get any work done. We also recommend rocking the vehicle a little with your hands close to the top to ensure it’s sturdy on the jacks before you crawl under it.
Raise Your Vehicle on Level Ground
It’s good practice to raise your car on level ground. Resting your jack stands or floor stand at an angle or on an uneven floor increases the chances of tipping and your car falling.
Lower and Raise the Vehicle Slowly
Raising your vehicle slowly allows you some time to identify potential problems that may arise and prevent them. Conversely, lowering your vehicle too fast increases the risk of damage. We recommend slow and controlled movements when using a floor jack.
Pick Suitable Jacking Points on Your Vehicle
We cannot stress this enough. When raised with a jack, your vehicle has specific spots where its frame is reinforced enough to support the car’s load. These locations are outlined in the car manual and sometimes on the car. If you’re not confident you have the right location, don’t jack your car.
Tips for Maintaining your Car Jacks
Hydraulic jacks are designed to last long but still need good maintenance to ensure reliability. Below are some maintenance tips that can help you achieve this.
Always ensure the piston and the pump are retracted each time you store the jack. This puts lesser strain on the system and makes it easier to use on the next project. It would help if you also stored your jack on its base and not on the side to avoid leakage.
Hydraulic jacks are kept in garages where there’s plenty of dust. You can prevent the dust from affecting your jack by storing it in a closed space or by covering it. It’s also important to pick a moisture-free spot to prevent damage to the metal components.
Part of your hydraulic floor jack maintenance should include conducting regular inspections preferable before each use. Inspect the ground for fluid leakage and check the casing for any rust or cracks. If there are, have them fixed immediately before they get worse. Too much wear and tear in any spot can also point to a problem.
After using the hydraulic jack, you should clean it before storage. Wiping down the metal casing will ensure it picks up less dust. Inspect the seals after each use to check for any leakage. If you notice any leakage, replace the seals immediately or before your next use.
You have to change the jack’s oil regularly as part of regular maintenance. Once this is done, don’t forget to bleed out air. You should also do this if the jack’s movement is erratic instead of smooth. If you don’t do this, you may experience some problems later – luckily, it only takes a few minutes.
Simply twist the pump rod counter-clockwise and pump your jack. Do this 30 times, twist the rod clockwise, pump it as far as the jack goes, and then release it.
Inspect the oil level regularly but only top it up when you have difficulty moving it. If you have to add oil, ensure you add it to the correct spot. Adding oil to the wrong spot will cause a malfunction. Fill your jack with oil from the side where the plug is located. Make sure you don’t go beyond the fill line.
Floor Jack Accessories
Aside from your car jack, you’ll also need other accessories to make your work under the vehicle safe. The first accessory (and we’ve already alluded to it) is the jack stands. These hold your car up safely while you work under the vehicle. After you hoist your vehicle with the floor stand, you should slide the jack under the car and then lower the car onto the stands. Some jack stands come with adjustable pins, and others are static.
Roller seats and creepers are important if you’ll be working under your car. Roller seats come in handy when you have to work under a wheel well and don’t feel like sitting on a tire. On the other hand, creepers allow you to roll under your car. A couple of days of scrunching on a cardboard piece will make most people believe in these accessories.
Floor Jacks vs. Scissor Jacks
Although some people categorize scissor jacks as a type of floor jack, they are significantly different. Often factory jacks that come with cars are scissor jacks. These are designed to be compact and for temporary use, while floor jacks are designed for versatility and durability. Below is a deeper dive into their differences.
Since scissor jacks come with cars from manufacturers, they are made to suit the vehicle. As such, scissor jacks designed for small sedans might collapse under the weight of an SUV or truck. On the flip side, floor jacks are available in different lifting capacities, from two tons. These make them ideal for lifting a range of vehicles, from ATVs to bulldozers.
Since scissor jacks are designed for changing flat tires, they aren’t used much. Most scissor jacks are made from stamped metal and are only strong enough to complete the task at hand. On the other hand, floor jacks are designed for heavy and repeated use, so they take abuse well.
Scissor jacks accomplish single tasks like changing tires. Depending on the scissor jack’s design, it’ll only lift the vehicle a couple of inches enough to remove the tire. For tasks like oil changes, these jacks are useless.
However, floor jacks adapt to different car lifting points and can lift the car high enough for you to slide under and get different tasks done.
If you’re yet to decide on the best floor jacks for your vehicle and needs, we advise you don’t overthink it. You are good to go if you already know your vehicle’s clearing, the height you need, and your car’s weight. If none of the budget floor jacks above work for you, follow the guide to determine if any other you’ve come across is ideal for your needs.
What’s the Difference Between a Trolley Jack and a Floor Jack?
Trolley and floor jacks are similar but have notable differences. Both are designed to lie flat and roll under your car and are ideal for serious maintenance jobs and garages. However, trolley jacks are less portable, larger, and heavier lifters. On the other hand, floor jacks often cost less and are simpler to use, making them better for roadside use on large vehicles.
Can I Use Any Jack on My Vehicle?
Absolutely not. You should only use a jack that has the lifting capacity to support your vehicle. Two-ton floor jacks are sufficient for sedans and small cars but aren't strong enough to support heavy-duty trucks and SUVs. For safe garage work, heavy lifting, and repairs, you should use car jacks alongside jack stands.
What Size of Floor Jack Should You Purchase?
The car jack size you get depends on your vehicle. Getting a car jack that can support more weight than your car weighs is better. If your car is 2,500 pounds, two-ton jacks are more than enough.
Where Is the Best Spot to Position a Car Jack and Lift Your Truck?
Many trucks have body-on-frame construction so positioning the jack at the frame is best. However, you should always read the vehicle's manual to be sure of the best position before you lift.
Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m the Founder and Editor behind Rugged Driving.
I made this site to share what I have learned as an off-road enthusiast. I hope my personal experience will help you enjoy this exciting activity even more!