When it comes to performing maintenance on your vehicle, typically you’ll need to jack it up at some point whether it’s to change a tire or your oil. While there are other options available out there such as vehicle ramps or even 2 or 4-post lifts, the most common way to lift part of your car is with a hydraulic jack. Here, we take a brief look at the two most popular types of jacks and which one is best for you and your application.
The two most common types of jacks are floor jacks and bottle jacks. Most people already have their preference on which type is better, and both do have uses around the garage. Which to use depends on what you’re doing and what type of vehicle it is.
Floor jacks are a very popular option and while they may cost a bit more in the beginning, a well cared for and maintained floor jack can last you a lifetime. If you’re going to be using your jack in a garage environment, typically a floor jack is the way to go. Compared to bottle jacks, floor jacks are quicker and easier to use.
If your vehicle doesn’t have very much ground clearance, typically a bottle jack won’t fit under the car and a floor jack is necessary. They are also more stable due to their longer base and ability to distribute the weight of the lifted object across that base.
Floor jacks also have wheels on them allowing the jack to move with the vehicle as it naturally does a bit when it’s lifted where a bottle jack would have to stay stationary and can cause a potential hazard of the vehicle slipping off of the jack. Floor jacks are also able to lift the vehicle much quicker as most of them have a considerably longer handle compared to the average bottle jack or even dual plungers as some racing jacks have.
But bottle jacks also have their place. To start, bottle jacks are generally much cheaper and able to lift a greater load compared to a floor jack. Truck owners may find bottle jacks much more convenient since ground clearance isn’t an issue, and some even choose to replace the jack provided by the vehicle manufacturer with an aftermarket bottle jack. Another benefit to bottle jacks is that overall they’re smaller than most floor jacks, so there are easier to store out of the way when space is a concern.
Since bottle jacks have a smaller lifting pad, they are able to fit in to tight spaces where floor jacks can not. If you have the option to own both types then that is even better as there are some applications where both types of jacks can be handy to use on the same job. Changing suspension components for example, you can jack up the vehicle with the floor jack and then use the bottle jack to compress the suspension on one side of the vehicle.
Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the two most common types of hydraulic jacks and what the best choice would be for you and your specific application. Both types are great to have around and each has their specific uses, but for most individuals, a standard floor model will usually be your best bet.