A floor jack is a small but powerful tool! It features a heavy-duty constriction that enables it to hold up well to all sorts of rough usage you subject it to.
It can lift the seemingly impossible weight of the heaviest vehicle with just a few pump and cranks.
Just like any other mechanical system, however, this tool is prone to damages- no matter how strong/sturdy it looks.
So, what should you do when your jack fails to lift?
The following post will take you through the step-by-step process of fixing your floor jack if it fails to lift your car.
Let’s do this:
1. You could be overloading your floor jack
If you jack fails to lift your vehicle, one of the actions that should ring in your mind is checking its lifting capacity.
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Most jacks come with a safety overload system that stops them from lifting your car if you try to overload them. Check the axle weight of the vehicle you’re trying to raise as well as the weight rating of your jack.
If the jack capacity is below the car axle weight, you just found the cause of your jack failure!
Trying to exceed your jack weight limit will not only stop it from lifting but will also stress it- affecting its overall quality while making it unsafe for you.
2. Check the hydraulic oil levels
High or low oil levels are also notorious for the ineffectiveness of your floor jack. They affect not only the jack’s lifting capability but also its lowering effectiveness.
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To examine the oil levels, simply remove the oil fill plug and look inside the chamber. In most hydraulic floor jacks, the appropriate oil level should be around 3/16 to a ¼ above the oil reservoir. If you’re not sure what level of oil your jack should have, don’t hesitate to consult the user manual.
If the oil is below the recommended level, then you’ll need to refill it. And when doing so, be sure to use the quality-grade hydraulic oil ONLY, not just any regular oil.
Once the oil levels are back to normal, they’ll enable the ram to easily build sufficient amount of pressure to make your jack lift and lower without any problems.
Still, on the oil issue, you’d also want to check that there is debris or dirt present in the oil cylinder as these can also affect its performance.
You can even drain the oil to help you check for the presence of any debris laying around. If you find any, be sure to blow it out (an air compressor can help).
3. Your jack could have some air trapped inside
Presence of trapped air inside the system could result in cases of the jack failing to lift the vehicle properly or not lifting it all.
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Luckily, you can get rid of this issue and get your jack back to normal through a process known as bleeding the floor jack. This involves placing your jack release valve in a fully retracted position (i.e., counterclockwise of your handle), and removing the oil filler screw. Then, screw and pump the jack handle severally to get rid of the air from the jack system.
Afterward, replace the oil fill screw and restart your jack. It should start working just fine!
4. Check the release valve
What if you place the jack saddle correctly, pump the handle, and the jack fails to lift the load or starts lowering?
In such cases, you’d also want to look at the release valve as it could be the reason behind the failure. Check the valve tightness and adjust accordingly.
If the handle and release tightness was the underlying issue, your jack should be up and running after this step.
If it doesn’t work, check the next possible cause below…
5. Inspect your entire jack to identify the underlying problem
Yes, do a full examination of your whole jack for any problem that might be causing it to behave strangely.
Look for oil leaks, loose, damaged or missing parts, cracked welds, etc. – all these are common causes of loss of effectiveness of a floor jack and can greatly compromise your safety.
Turn your jack on the side and examine the ram as well- inspect it in both the retracted and extended positions. Pockmarked or rusted ram pistons can cause the ram to fail or even intermittently retract or extend it in jerky motions that aren’t always safe.
6. Lubricate all the moving parts with a premium lubricating oil
If you don’t take good care of your floor jack regular, it can also develop problems like failing to lift your vehicle.
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Part of the jack routine maintenance involves lubricating all its moving parts using proper lubricating oil/grease. Properly lubricate the hinges, wheels, and all the other moving parts to keep them running smoothly and efficiently.
Keep in mind that the tool depends on movements to perform its intended job.
If your hydraulic floor jack fails to lift your car, there could be an underlying problem. Uncovering the exact issue might not be easy though. And that’s why we recommend you to follow the above troubleshooting steps until you identify the problem and fix it accordingly.
The common issues causing the infectiveness of your jack could be overfilled/undefiled oil, oil leaks, the presence of trapped air in the system, pockmarked or rusted ram pistons, loose, damaged or missing parts, or even overloading your vehicle.
Luckily, you can fix most of these problems as we’ve explained in the above guide and get your jack back to normal.
In case your jack has developed hydraulic malfunctions, consider taking it to experts for repair (if you don’t know how to fix it on your own) or replace it with a new model.
Keep in mind that a non-functioning floor jack is unsafe, so instead of trying it to force it to lift, just take it aside and try to find the cause of its failure.