There comes a time when you may want to work under your car, whether it is changing/fitting a sump guard, changing an oil filter or replacing a rusty floorpan.
For many of these jobs you may have to jack the front or back of your vehicle up. However when working with vehicles, there’s always a danger of the vehicle crushing the worker underneath, so this guide and video will show you how to put your vehicle on axle stands safely. It’s strongly recommended to put a vehicle fall arrest under your jacking points, such as railway sleepers, or breeze blocks.
This is to stop any worker being crushed in the eventuality of axle stand or trolley jack failure. Always take care when placing/removing axle stands, don’t make erratic movements near the trolley jack lifting the vehicle.
It’s really important to get the most suitable jack and stands for your vehicle, which can cope with lifting your vehicle into a position for you to do work. You must never use a jack, stands, or any lifting equipment, that isn't strong enough to support your vehicle.
What you will need to do firstly is consult your vehicle manual to find out what the weight of it is. If you don’t have a manual to hand, you can normally find the gross kerb weight of the vehicle on what’s called a ‘data plate’ inside your vehicles engine bay. Some data plates even have what the weight is on the front end of the vehicle, and what the weight is on the rear of the vehicle. If you can’t find a manual or data plate, consult your authorized vehicle dealership where they will assist you with what the weight of the vehicle is. Most vehicles will rate their weight in kilograms, or ‘kg’s’, and most trolley jacks will rate their lifting capabilities in tonnes. It’s hard to be confused by the conversion of this, so just remember that one tonne is 1000kg. 1tn = 1000kg.
Would a 2 ton trolley jack (for example), be capable of lifting a car that is say, 2.5 tonnes? Yes, a 2 ton trolley jack would be suitable as you are not lifting the full weight at once due to two wheels remaining on the ground. We have a massive range of trolley jacks, from one tonne lifting capacity, to ten tonnes, all with different levels of lifting height. Also remember, before purchasing a trolley jack for the job, make sure it can get under your vehicle in order to lift. You may need a specialist ‘low profile’ one, especially for those that have lowered sports cars etc. You must make sure that the jack you choose can lift high enough for what you need to do, too.
Again, as with choosing trolley jack, it’s also important that the axle stands can take the weight load. As above, find out what your vehicle’s weight is, and purchase the right axle stands for the job.
It’s also strongly advised to put wheel chocks at the back of the wheels that are on the ground whilst working under the vehicle. This is to safeguard against the possibility that the vehicle could ‘roll’ off the jacking equipment, and crush any worker underneath.
Video annotation of 'How to Use Axle Stands':
1. Park your vehicle on a level surface, apply handbrake, and put vehicle into first gear.
2. Put chocks under the tyres of the opposite side you are working on- for example, chocks under the rear wheels if you are lifting the front end of the vehicle, or chocks under the front wheels if you are lifting the rear. These will greatly reduce the risk of your vehicle rolling off of the axle stands.
3. Place vehicle jack under jacking point of vehicle. The jacking point is an indentation under the vehicle, where it's structurally strong enough to take the force of a jack.
4. Jack up your vehicle to your desired working height.
5. Raise an axle stand up to the strong part under your vehicle. Place a safety pin inside the axle stand, if your axle stands have them.
6. Lower the jacking equipment onto the axle stand.
7. It's advised to use breezeblocks, sizeable bricks, railway sleepers, or a hardwood block as a 'deadfall', this will protect you in the event of axle stand collapse because of accidental placement or overloading.
8. Once you've finished any work under your vehicle, jack up the vehicle using your trolley jack to free the axle stand, then carefully remove axle stand. Repeat this step on the opposite side of the vehicle.
9. Lower the vehicle using the vehicle jacking equipment. Repeat step 8 and 9, on the opposite side of the vehicle, to bring your vehicle down completely after you have completed any work.
10. Remove the wheel chocks. The location of the axle jacking point can sometimes be found in your manual if you’re having trouble finding it, if you still can’t find it, it’s always advisable to consult your vehicle’s manufacturer, who can then advise you on where to locate it.
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