Routine maintenance, such as an oil change, or special repairs, such as a tire change, occasionally require you to raise your car up off the level of the floor or the street. There are three ways to do this: a jack, a jack stand, and car ramps.
Some car enthusiasts get into arguments as to which method is best. However, the real answer is a little more complicated. It depends largely on the task you want to do and the area you have to work with.
Different Options for Different Tasks
If you need to change a tire, a jack is sufficient to lift the car off the ground. However, you must make sure that the jack is appropriate for the job. A low-profile automobile requires something along the lines of a low profile billet aluminum jack so that it can fit under the vehicle and effectively lift it up.
However, if you are performing an oil change or similar task that requires you to climb under the vehicle, a jack by itself is not sufficient. The vehicle could slide off, and then you could become seriously injured when it falls on you. For maintenance that requires you to climb under the vehicle, you need either jack stands or car ramps.
Jack stands provide more stability than a jack does by itself. Some jobs need jack stands because they require you to remove the wheels, meaning that the vehicle cannot rest on car ramps. However, for a job like an oil change, jack stands and car ramps both have their strengths and weaknesses. To use jack stands correctly, they need to be placed in exactly the right spot. Car ramps are slightly easier to use and may therefore be better for people who do not perform a lot of vehicle maintenance and are nervous about correctly identifying the appropriate lift points.
Different Issues With Different Areas
Car ramps require you to drive your vehicle up onto them. This can be fine if you have a lot of space in which to maneuver. For cramped areas, however, jack stands may be better because you only need extra space in the vertical plane, not the horizontal.
The type of garage flooring you have can also make a difference as to which option is better. Uneven ground can cause the ramp to fail, so you should not use ramps on an incline. Car ramps may slide around on slippery surfaces, making it difficult to navigate up onto them. They also do better on hard surfaces than on pebbles, gravel, or bare dirt, which can be unstable. However, car ramps do have safety advantages compared to jack stands. Ramps are considered to be more stable, with less margin for error because they use a greater surface area.
Regardless of what sort of method you use to jack up your car, it is important to observe the proper safety measures. Whichever method you use, be sure that you apply wheel chocks as appropriate to prevent them from rolling. Use high-quality equipment that meets safety standards. A reputable retailer of auto supplies can provide the necessary tools.