One of the most basic necessities in any garage environment, be it professional or amateur, is a decent quality automotive floor jack. The benefits these offer in terms of speed, safety and flexibility cannot be underestimated. Which style of operation, design, size and strength to choose can be confusing so here is a little help.
Types of jack
Garage automotive jacks fall into four types: trolley, scissor, bottle and airbag. Trolley jacks Hydraulic floor trolley jacks are the most common in professional garages and provide the greatest range of choice so we'll discuss those at length later. Bottle jacks Bottle jacks are useful since their ability to lift huge weights is unmatched among other types. These are still used in the locomotive industry because of their strength.The downside of this type is that they get proportionately taller the greater the weight that they need to lift or the height to which they need to elevate it. Scissor jacks Scissor jacks are basically the same as the items supplied as part of the wheel changing kit in most cars. Normally, these operate using a mechanical screw but occasionally, you will come across an hydraulic scissor jack. These offer little in their favour as they are weaker and less stable than other types. Consider them suitable only for brief, infrequent duty in an emergency. Airbag jacks Relatively new to the market are airbag jacks. These utilise the exhaust gas from your car to inflate a large, tough bag under the vehicle which lifts it. These have some limited use in a garage environment as secondary lifting devices but tend to be too unwieldy to perform the task of your main jack. They can be of benefit in place of your car's scissor jack, however, as they are cleaner and less strenuous to use.
The trolley jack
There is a reason why the hydraulic trolley jack is so popular and comes in so many guises.It works better than other types, is more flexible and elevates loads higher in proportion to its depth. More important is that these jacks are far more stable than the others. This is despite the fact that they are wheeled and thus more mobile. When choosing one specifically for your needs, your primary consideration needs to be the weight you need to lift. There is no point buying a budget unit which will raise only a ton if you own a 4x4 which weighs twice that. Look at the quality of the wheels as these carry all the load. Finally, ensure the lowering mechanism is easy and progressive. The last thing you want is the jack dropping a precious car too fast as damage may occur.