Scissor jacks are of limited use, be careful

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Thread: Scissor jacks are of limited use, be careful

  1. #1
    1st Gear
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Westchester, N.Y.

    Scissor jacks are of limited use, be careful

    Scissor jacks may be good for changing a tire but I had the bright idea that I would alternate back and forth with one to jack up my car to maximum height so I could do some exhaust work. This involved using pieces of wood to build up the base for the jack. The higher I got the harder it became, and I couldn't figure out why. A plastic ring popped out of the jack with enough force that it could have taken out my eye. And then the car collapsed off the jack opposite from where I was working. Here's a pic:

    The jack is destroyed, that plastic washer ring is gone from where the jack is turned and one of the legs popped out of the base. Basically the higher you go the harder it is to balance and the more pressure that comes from that. Keep that in mind if you ever have such a "bright" idea like I did. I ended up buying a floor jack that can roll to keep its balance. Still it's always possible for the car to pivot if you are going back and forth and don't watch the opposite jack and the back tires (both back tires were chocked both ways but the one on the side I was working came up off the ground, and I suspect the other jack might have tilted, not sure which happened first).

    I'm now looking for a single point to jack up both sides of the front of the car at once. Any suggestions? I will need to remove one of the tires so I can't just drive up on ramps (which I also have).

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  3. #2
    PZ is offline
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Grapevine TX. 01 4M
    I've had enough issues with scissor jacks just to change a tire. They just don't have the strength to lift a car well. I have used boards on top of a floor jack, but I constantly move the jack and car to keep the opposite side jack straight. There is no frame at the front of the car strong enough to lift the whole front, even the subframe would bend under that stress. Plus, if the jack moves it takes out the oil pan.

  4. #3
    4th Gear
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    VW supplied jacks aren't much better
    I just had to pull a tire off my wife's car a few weeks ago to pull out and plug one of the rear tires from having a nail in it. I only had the car high enough just to slide the tire off the hub. Just as I was about to put the tire back on when all of the sudden I see the car starting to get closer to the ground. I don't know what it was but the weight of the car just decided to shift ever so slightly and it caused the jack to twist just a bit. I had to borrow the jack from my DD Passat and used the two jacks side by side to finish the job. Even with a floor jack things can be sketchy if you lift the car high enough.

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  6. #4
    3rd Gear
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Chagrin Falls,Ohio
    glad you are OK!!!!! you live to "Passat" another day.....when I made a commitment to do my own service work I was aware of not just of scissor jack dangers but of all jack I made it a safety priority to purchase two (identical) hydraulic auto floor jacks ,total 300 bucks vs. serious injury. But extremely convenient, way faster and safer...but still the danger of jockeying around jack stands (and being at angle, fwd,chock sliding),placement......... and since "what if the hydraulics fail" (and they do) so I fabbed up some stops that are "positive" fitted to the floor jacks, which some of the forum members currently have (will post pics no later than Monday of them)........jack the car up ,little at a time/side to side,put in stops ready to go,no trading and jockeying around jackstands

  7. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    1 x 1.5 ton hydro floor jack
    1 x 20 ton bottle jack
    2 x 3 ton jack stands
    2 x 1.5 ton jack stands (more used as an extra hand to hold something in place)
    4 x 12"x4x6 cribbing
    20 x 12"x6x6 cribbing

    the passat gets the 1.5 tone jack and stands, occasionally a little cribbing.
    the titan gets the rest usually. of course the passat is only 900 lbs lighter than the truck, the weight is way more spread out.

    I can't afford to pay some one to work on my vehicles...I definitely can't afford to not work and not be able to work on my vehicles.
    cchief22 likes this.

  8. #6
    2nd Gear
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Glad you are OK and thanks for the warning. It never hurts to be reminded of the dangers involved in working with jacks.
    And since we're sharing stories.....if you ever use one of those 'high lift' jacks be sure to treat it with respect. I had one let go somehow while jacking up my FJ40 snowplow (long story....) and the handle whip-lashed back and forth while the jack came back down. The handle is about 2.5 feet long and it would have easily killed me had it hit me. I imagine it could have decapitated me in the right circumstances. Obviously, I am very, very careful with jacks now and I still get the eebie-jeebies just thinking about what could have happened that day. BE CAREFUL out there.
    cchief22 likes this.

  9. #7
    3rd Gear
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Raleigh, NC
    I have never has an issue with a hydrolic jack and always use with quality jack stands. NEVER rely solely on the lift itself.

    Scissor jacks are pretty useless and cheap in quality. I have only used them when I am helping a stranded motorist on the side of the road to change a tire as it is the only jack available. I don't know why they make those things able to go as high as they do because the integrity/ stability gets less and less the higher it goes.

    I will go to the extent of trying to rock the car while it's on the jack and stand (s). If it moves I readjust till it doesn't. I will always put a wheel under the side of the car so 'if' some reason the stand fails the car will come down on the wheel and not slam to the pavement or god forbid. On me.

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