The most obvious reason to jack up a car is to change a tyre, but other jobs, such as inspecting brakes, may also require you to get under the car. It’s important to observe the following safety precautions before you jack up the car:
- Always park a car on level ground before you jack it up.
- Use the jack only to get a car off the ground. Never, at any moment, use a jack to hold a car in place!
- Block the wheels, to prevent them from rolling before jacking up a car. Use bricks, wooden wedges, or metal wheel chocks to block the wheels at the end of the car that aren’t being raised.
- If you’re changing a tyre and you have nothing to block the wheels with, park near the curb with the wheels turned in. This may not keep you from getting hurt if the car rolls off the jack, but at least innocent motorists and pedestrians won’t have to deal with a runaway driverless vehicle!
- Never change a tyre on a road or major highway. Call road service or an automobile association such as the AA of Kenya for assistance. Ensure you have also parked the car away from the road to avoid blocking other road users. Place some life savers on each side of the road to alert other drivers.
- Put the car in Park, or in First if you have a manual transmission, and engage the parking brake before you jack up the car.
After ensuring that you have followed the precautions proceed to jack up the car:
- Place the jack under the part of the car that it should contact when raised. If you’re using jack stands, place them near the jack. If you place your jack incorrectly, you can damage your car. To find the proper place to position the jack for your particular make and model of a car, check your owner’s manual.
- If you have a scissor jack, insert the rod or wrench over the knob, and then crank. If you have a hydraulic jack, place the handle into the appropriate location, and pump up and down. Use nice, even strokes, taking the jack handle from its lowest point to its highest point on each stroke to cut down on the labour involved.
- If you’re using a scissor jack, simply turn the crank in the opposite direction. If you’re using a hydraulic jack, use the rod to turn the pressure release valve. The jack will do the rest of the work for you.
Hydraulic jacks require more attention that scissor jacks and are more likely to fail if not well maintained. You can always take your jacks to a garage or petrol station for servicing. Remember to ensure that bolts are tightly fastened after a tyre change. You can find out more on how to properly change the car’s tyres by clicking here. Also ensure you service the jacks frequently at any local petrol station or garage.