Have you ever got a puncture in the most unlikely situation and wondered what do? This is perhaps one of those experiences all drivers on the road dread about. This short piece of information will take you through a step-by-step guide on how to fix an unanticipated puncture on the roadway using a floor jack. Thanks to the advancements in science and technology.
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What is a floor jack?
A floor jack is a device that one uses to lift heavy weights off the ground during repair or maintenance. Floor jacks are mainly used in the automotive industry to lift vehicles or parts of cars off the ground during repair or routine maintenance.
Mechanical Floor Jacks
Mechanical floor jacks, also referred to as “jack screws,” use physical means to lift heavy loads off the ground and suspend them during the repair. This means that mechanical floor jacks are manually operated and would require human intervention to apply force, especially when lifting heavy loads.
Most floor jacks you can rate for an average lifting capacity of about 1.5 tonnes to 3 tonnes, and they have a standing height of about 13 to 25 inches. Industrial jack stands may have more extended stand heights of up to 6 feet and can also lift to 25 tonnes of weight.
How does a mechanical floor jack work?
As mentioned earlier, with mechanical floor jacks, you can manually operate it. It utilizes the principles of a screw thread to amplify force and provides mechanical advantage. A jack stand with a base you can use to provide support.
Step by step guide on how to use a mechanical floor jack
Mechanical floor jacks are easy to operate. In case you get an unanticipated puncture on the roadway, these are the basic steps on how to use a mechanical floor jack:
Park your car on a flat service away from traffic. If you are on an automatic transmission, set it on parking mode and put on the hand brake. If you are on a manual transmission, place it on first gear and put on the hand brake.
Place something strong like a block behind and in front of the damaged wheel. If you have extra blocks, do the same on the wheel opposite the one you are working on to avoid rollback.
Locate your floor jack, and the handle used to raise it from your store in the car/truck and assemble the handle that turns it.
Locate the jack point underneath the car and place the floor jack to fit in.
Fix the handle that one uses to turn the floor jack and start turning it clockwise to raise the vehicle to the desired height. If you are changing a flat tire, lift it up to approximately 6 inches.
If you have finished working on your car, lower it down by turning until the wheel touch the ground. Carefully fold your floor jack and store it back along with the handle that you can use to turn it.
- Put your car on parking mode away from traffic
- Make sure your car is standing on a flat service
- Don’t leave anyone inside the car
- Place a block behind and in front of the wheels
- Don’t lay underneath the vehicle while supported by a floor jack only
Types of mechanical floor jacks
Mechanical floor jacks come in different sizes and shapes. The following are some of the most common types of floor jacks that you will find in an ordinary garage.
- Scissor floor jacks
- House jack
- Garage jack
- Car jack
- Screw jack
- Lead screw jack
- Worm screw jack
Advantages of Mechanical floor jacks
- These are easy to operate
- They can help save on costs and time especially in the event of a puncture
- They are portable
- Floor jacks are in different sizes and shapes, allowing the user to choose based on need, purpose, and available storage space.
Disadvantages of mechanical floor jacks
- Mechanical floor jacks operated manually, and therefore they require a lot of physical energy.
- They can expose users to risks, especially if not positioned well to the jack point.
- They have a limited average capacity that they can lift, therefore, not applicable for industrial functions.
Hydraulic Floor Jacks
Unlike the mechanical floor jacks, hydraulic floor jacks use a hydraulic lift system when lifting or lowering heavy loads. The hydraulic lift system is one of the ancient technologies in mechanical engineering. All hydraulic lift systems operate under Pascal’s principle, which states that “force =area*pressure.” This formula plays a critical role, which determines how much pressure should be exerted on the fluid to generate the required energy needed to lift an object.
Main components of a hydraulic lift system
A hydraulic lift system has FIVE main parts namely;
- A hydrostatic pump
- Fluid tank (oil)
- Piston which is a cylinder fitted
How does a hydraulic floor jack work?
These mechanical floor jacks use physical energy to lift objects. The hydraulic floor jacks use compression of fluids to generate power. The most common type of liquid used in hydraulic lifts is oil. A particular type of pump (a hydrostatic –pump) is used to push oil into the hydraulic cylinder, where it is converted into mechanical energy. It is this energy that is used to power the hydraulic machine to lift loads off the ground.
Step by step guide on how to use a hydraulic floor jack
Hydraulic floor jacks are a bit technical to operate. You can mostly find them in the mechanical garage. Unlike the mechanical floor jacks that use jack stands for support, these types of floor jacks sit on a pair of swiveling casters and fixed wheels:
Park your car on a flat service away from traffic. If you are on an automatic transmission, set it on parking mode and put on the hand brake. If on a manual transmission, set it on first gear and put on the hand brake.
Place something strong like a block behind and in front of the damaged wheel. If you have extra blocks, do the same on the other wheels.
The mechanic rolls the jack until the saddle gets positioned under the jack point.
The mechanic pushes the pump up and down on the handle. Then compresses the oil to flow through the valves into the hydraulic cylinder. The compressed fuel is converted into mechanical energy, which raises the lift arm until the saddle comes into contact with the vehicle.
Types of hydraulic floor jacks
Hydraulic floor jacks also come in different sizes and shapes. Below are the most popular types of floor jacks.
- Hydraulic bottle jack
- Floor jacks
Advantages of using hydraulic floor jacks
- Hydraulic floor jacks use a closed system, and not unless they develop technical challenges such as leaking, they are the most efficient to use.
- They also require less physical energy to operate, which makes them convenient for use by all people.
- Because they use automated power, you can use to lift heavier loads than mechanical floor jacks.
- Floor jacks are a critical component of a well-stocked garage, whether professional or home.
Disadvantages of hydraulic floor jacks
- Oil leakage can make the whole system faulty.
- They are technical to operate and need professional training.
- These jacks are more expensive to acquire in terms of cost.
- They are less portable and storage space might be a problem.
Safety measures of using a hydraulic floor jack
- The person handling the hydraulic jack must be professionally trained and certified.
- The hydraulic cylinder requires regular maintenance to ensure the fluid is kept at the standard level to avoid malfunctions.
- These jacks should be professionally assembled
- It is important to ensure that the jack lifts the recommended average weight to avoid accidents.
- Before using the hydraulic jack, it must be thoroughly checked for leakages.
Differences between hydraulic floor jacks and mechanical floor jacks
There are quite distinct differences between mechanical floor jacks and hydraulic floor jacks.
|Hydraulic floor jacks
|Mechanical floor jacks
|They use Pascal’s principle
|Use mechanical advantage
|Use physical force
|Need pairs of wheels and swivel casters for support
|Use jack stands for support
|They are less portable
|They are portable
|Expensive to acquire
|Less expensive and common
Thank you for going through the article. Information is power, and you now understand the different types of floor jacks and the systems that govern how they operate.
Take the necessary precautions when handling any type of floor jack because your safety comes first. For hydraulic floor jacks, take care of the cylinder to avoid leakage of the incompressible fluid.