Choosing a trolley jack

Many jobs on a car require taking off wheels or getting under the car. Hence, having some way of getting the car up into the air is important in a workshop. Those with the space and funds might go for a lift/hoist, but for most of us, this will remain a dream. Hence you need a jack for raising the car. Most cars come with a jack from the factory, but these are no fun to work with – I recommend getting a good hydraulic trolley jack. These are the most important criteria to consider:

  • Lifting capacity. The heavier the car you want to lift, the higher this needs to be. I’d get at least a two ton jack.
  • Minimum height. Lowered cars may need quite a low minimum height. I’d try to find something close to 80mm/3″ .
  • Maximum lifting height. This needs to be sufficient to get jack stands under the car at a useful height.

Buy the best you can afford, otherwise you’ll likely have to spend money twice. Forget the cheap stamped 10kg jacks that you can get at hardware stores and sometimes at Aldi or Lidl. Their minimum height is too high and their maximum height too low.

I got this “extra-low” unbranded two-ton model from the Dutch tool dealer HBM. It’s a two-piston design, weighs in excess of 30kg, and has a padded lever (to protect the car). So far it has served me well. I even managed to refill it after my son accidentally drained some of the oil.

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