The 10 Best Jack Stands
This wiki has been updated 36 times since it was first published in June of 2015. When a heavy hunk of metal is hovering above, you want to be certain it's supported safely and securely. Whatever repairs you're making to a vehicle, the right jack stands will keep it up in the air, where it belongs. We've compared a variety of models with a wide range of capacities, sizes, and weights. Always ensure that the stand you are using to support a load is adequately rated. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 30, 2021:
As you might imagine because they're so simple, jack stands don't change much from year to year, and neither have our recommendations. We did add the Torin Big Red T43002A in place of a hard-to-find and almost identical Craftsman model. Despite Torin being known as somewhat of a budget brand, their products are every bit as as good as most Craftsman tools these days. We also upgraded to the OTC 1774B, because with a 10-ton rating, there are few consumer vehicles that they can't accommodate.
February 27, 2020:
Removed the Craftsman 50163 because of availability concerns. We also removed the Camco Olympian because of longevity concerns.
There is a general concern I have with bolt and nut type jack stands like the Camco that may be controversial. As I see it, the problem with using a bolt and nut to support 6000 pounds (if you take that rating to heart) is that you are putting incredible pressure on relatively thin machine threads and on only about 5/8ths of an inch worth of thread (since they are only engaging at the nut). As any machinist or millwright will tell you, the interaction between the threads of a bolt and the threads of a nut are extremely sensitive to small distortions. If, for example, you over-tighten a bolt beyond its rating, there is a very good chance that you'll distort the gaps between threads and render the bolt unusable since it will no longer match with the threads on the nut. My concern is that the load imposed on the threads of models like the Camco Olympian will eventually distort the thread match and make it very difficult to extend or retract. To be perfectly clear, my concern is not that the threads will shear - it is that the stand will be very difficult to use with time. This is all controversial, and I'm sure there are many out there who will disagree with this analysis so take it with a grain of salt.
To avoid personal injury or damage to your car, always inspect the jack stand for damage and corrosion and ensure that the jack stand you are using is rated beyond the load you are using it to hold.
September 26, 2018:
Removed the Torin 40002A due to inconsistent weld quality, replaced with the well-known OTC 1730 Series models. Removed PowerBuilt Unijack due to a tendency to leak. Added fix-height options for racing situations.
Taking Control Of Your Car
And why shouldn't we all be in touch with our inner gearhead?
Twenty-first-century civilization is in the midst of a DIY revolution. There are countless resources available for aspiring autodidacts who have mountains of projects to complete. Whether you need a detailed write-up on assembling a high-fidelity sound system or a video tutorial on handmade furniture, it's not difficult to learn expert crafts in the comfort of your own home or workshop. And few skills are in such high demand as is the ability to work on cars.
A lot of people now recognize the benefit of maintaining their own vehicles. And why shouldn't we all be in touch with our inner gearhead? After all, going to the mechanic is a little bit like going to the dentist. It's likely that no one has ever uttered the phrase, "I'm so excited to take my car to the shop today!" There's good reason for that, as trying to coax honest, reasonably priced repairs out of an automotive technician can often feel like having teeth pulled.
It's common knowledge that a lot of garages take advantage of people in many ways. A shady technician might invent nonsense repairs or replace parts that are in fine condition. Some even charge more based on the apparent income level or gender of the customer. But with a little bit of application and perseverance, you're not out of luck. It turns out that sometimes, if you want something done right, you can do it yourself.
Of course, if you've found a trustworthy mechanic or (especially) if you are one yourself, more power to you. If your goal is to keep all the neighborhood cars in peak condition or just be automotively self-sufficient, there are a few fundamentals to have in order before you can start pulling transmissions or replacing exhaust manifolds.
Never A Tool Too Many
The very first logistic issue to work out is where you'll be working on your vehicle. It's imperative to perform most repairs on a flat, level surface. Uneven or unstable surfaces like loose gravel or mud can greatly undermine the stability of the vehicle, your feet, and your equipment. That's simply not safe. And you won't be able to perform many repairs with your car parked in the street; not only are roadways and parking lots usually sloped for drainage, many neighborhoods and residential complexes prohibit auto maintenance in public areas. So, the home mechanic will likely end up in their personal driveway or garage.
Once you've got the space, it's time to start collecting. Automotive work is one of those fields where you can always find another toy to bring home. It never hurts to have a full complement of basic tools like ratchets with imperial and metric sockets, wrenches (including those of the lug variety), and locking pliers. And while there are a lot of moving parts (and therefore possible repairs) directly under the hood, beginner or intermediate home mechanics might consider shipping those issues off to a professional.
But the fact is that a majority of the most common and, luckily, the simplest jobs will be on the bottom part of the car. To change oil; replace mufflers; fix brakes; or swap out a set of high-performance, stage-two headers and straightpipes, you'll have to first put that car up in the air and hold it there, securely, all day long.
Jack It Up... All The Way Up
Not surprisingly, the most widely accepted way of elevating vehicles for maintenance is with a big chunk of strong metal, or rather a few big chunks welded together. It's safe to say that a two-inch-thick piece of cast iron is strong enough on its own to support a multi-ton vehicle; it's the welds that hold the various pieces together, giving you room to slide underneath your car's frame. So when you choose a set of jack stands, the quality of those joints is one of the most important considerations.
This lets you precisely adjust the base of your living space, keeping it perfectly level.
Welding itself is a far more permanent process than gluing or soldering two items together. Those processes use the glue or solder as an adhesive to hold things together. Welding requires enough heat to weaken the bonds between the molecules of the individual metal components. The welding rod can be made from a wide range of metals depending on the materials being joined, and as it melts, it penetrates beneath the surface of the two opposing pieces. In a high-quality weld, all three of these items then share fully integrated molecular bonds, ensuring they'll hold up under massive amounts of stress. The bead of metal on each joint should be consistent, straight, and without pits or discoloration.
You'll find a number of other useful features on different jack stands. A lot of options have ratchet arms that automatically lock into the highest tooth as they're extended. Low-profile models are available for vehicles with extra-low ground clearance. On the other hand, if you need something held a few feet in the air, there are certainly options for you. If you're lifting a boat or luxury car with a sensitive underbody, you'll want to choose a jack stand with a protective boot on top to keep everything pristine. Some advanced models even include a hydraulic jack alongside the stand itself, making for an easy, one-step raising process when adjusting brakes and changing tires
A number of jack stands are produced specifically with the mobile home or camping trailer in mind. These are usually lighter weight than automotive stands and they often raise and lower by simply turning the bolt that makes up the center support. This lets you precisely adjust the base of your living space, keeping it perfectly level.
Whatever your purpose, safety is the number one consideration. As long as your selection is reliable and durable, you'll have easy access to the underside of your vehicle and be safe from the heavy weight of the vehicle above you.