The 9 Best Scissor Jacks
9. Zeny JA0809
8. Eaz-Lift Olympian
7. Torin T10152
6. Husky Stabilizer
5. Dragway Tools
4. Ultra-Fab Products
3. Rogtz Electric
2. BAL 24028 Lopro
1. DICN Car
Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick
My father told me some interesting stories from his days hitchhiking back and forth between New Jersey and Indiana when he was in college. In one tale, some cops picked him up just inside the western border of Pennsylvania, and, instead of citing him or booking him, they drove him out into the woods in the middle of nowhere, and they left him. Somehow, after hours of walking, he found the interstate, and, eventually, a truck stop.
The thought of having to hitchhike seems even scarier today, with stricter police and more dangerous individuals on the roads. If you find yourself stranded by the side of the highway with a flat tire and no cell reception, you'd better have a scissor jack handy, or you may find yourself sticking your thumb out to traffic.
The great thing about a scissor jack is that it takes up little to no room in your trunk. There ought to be a little space for it under the bottom board of the trunk compartment itself, so it really won't get in the way.
When it comes time to use one, they're surprisingly easy. If you look at a scissor jack head on, you'll see that it looks like a pair of open mouths facing each other, with a rod passing between them. That rod is actually a screw, often called a jack screw, and when you tighten it, the mouths open wider and wider, pushing up against any surface under which they might be positioned.
It's this upward movement, locked into place by the jack screw and supported by a lot of strong metal and a little physics, that props up your car for a tire change, or your RV for a little stationary camping.
Lift With All Your Might
If you hold the mistaken belief that all scissor jacks are the same, I'd like to see you pull the stock jack out of the trunk of my 1991 Civic hatchback and see if it'll lift up a late model F-250 pickup truck. Then, you can come back, hopefully not too badly injured, and receive a hearty, "I told you so."
While the basic design of the scissor jack is consistent from jack to jack, the load-bearing capability and the specific intention of each jack is unique. As you look at the jacks on our list, you'll read references to trucks, cars, motorcycles, and RVs. I hate to have to state the obvious, but a scissor jack designed for motorcycles and ATVs isn't going to cut it if you're trying to jack up an SUV.
So, the first thing you need to do to narrow down our list to your best options is to eliminate the scissor jacks that are designed to lift vehicles you don't own. Maybe you want to get an RV someday, and that's great, but get the jack for what you have now, and worry about the rest later.
Once you've narrowed it down that much, you can investigate the actual weight capacity of each. For example, there are a few jacks on this list that would do fine to lift most SUVs, but you might have one of the larger, heavier Ford Expeditions. For starters, my condolences; you must get what, 3 miles to the gallon? You're going to want a jack that's as good for trucks as it is for cars, especially since most SUVs are built on truck frames, and yours is among the heaviest.
Always err on the side of too much capacity, as well. If a jack claims it can handle 1,500 lbs., and your vehicle weighs 1,485 lbs., it likely won't be enough. You might have luggage, food, or even passengers who refuse to get out of the car all adding to the weight, so you really ought to find something stronger.
Do It For The Horses
The history of the scissor jack runs hand in hand with the history of the automobile. Men on farms and in factories have been using one kind of lever system or another to lift and lower heavy loads for ages, and while these all could certainly be considered types of jacks, they are not the scissor jack.
Most drivers today think of changing a tire or their oil as some explicitly difficult task, but they don't realize just how much maintenance went into owning a vehicle in the earliest days of the car. Everything from minor engine maintenance to hand-cranking the engine every time you wanted to start it up added countless hours to the ownership of a vehicle.
Then, there were certain laws on the books which necessitated even more knowledge of a car's makeup. In the town where I grew up, for example, there was a law that is still on the books–it's actually very common for local municipalities to phase out certain laws in a practical sense without ever addressing their continued existence–which states that anyone in a car stopped at a certain street corner who hears a horse and carriage approaching must immediately disassemble their vehicle and hide it in the bushes so as not to scare the oncoming horses.
You can see why a legislature would stop enforcing such a law, but it also illustrates just how much a device like the scissor jack was necessary to drivers at the turn of the century. They're still plenty useful today, even if you aren't worried about spooking the horses.