How To: Operate a Car Jack

Operate a Car Jack

If you don't know how to raise a car off the ground by now, you don't know jack.

You Will Need

  • A car jack
  • Your vehicle owner's manual
  • A screwdriver

WARNING: Follow the instructions for your jack. Never jack up a vehicle from a point not designed to handle the load. Improper use can lead to serious injury.

Step 1:

Park your car on a flat surface, away from traffic. If you have an automatic transmission, put your car in "park" and put on the parking brake. If you have a manual transmission, put your car in first gear and put on the parking brake. Make sure everyone's out of the car before you begin.

Step 2:

Place something sturdy, like a wooden block or a brick, in front of and behind the wheel that's diagonally across from the wheel you plan to jack up. If you have extra blocks, block the other wheel on the opposite axle, too.

Step 3:

Locate your jack in the trunk. The jack and the handle used to raise it are usually two separate pieces. The jack may be screwed in place in the trunk.

Step 4:

Consult your manual and feel along the car frame near the wheel you want to jack up until you locate an indentation, known as a jack point. Place your jack on the ground under this spot. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for the correct placement of the car jack.

WARNING: Never get under a car supported solely by a jack.

Step 5:

Raise the jack to the desired height. If you're changing a flat tire, the damaged tire should be about 6 inches off the ground.

Most car jacks are scissor jacks; to raise, turn the knob at the end of the jack using the hand crank that comes with it. If your jack doesn't seem to be working, try turning the handle the other way, or see if your jack has a switch you need to flip marked "L" for lower and "R" for raise.

Step 6:

When you're finished working on your car, slowly and carefully lower the jack until it is no longer supporting any weight. Slide it out from under the car and return it to the trunk.

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