How to Use a Car Transmission Jack


STEP 1 – Find a Flat Surface

The very first thing you should do is make sure your vehicle is on a smooth, level surface with enough room to comfortable work around. For most, this will be either inside their garage, a non-sloping driveway, or the street. Any type of slope will cause your car to lean on the jack stands which may cause them to tip over.

Important:  Do not jack up your car on gravel, dirt, grass, and other uneven or soft surfaces. The risk of serious injury to yourself or damage to your vehicle is HIGH.
STEP 2 – Secure the Vehicle

After moving the car into position, put the car in Park (automatic transmission) or first gear (manual transmission). If raising the front wheels off the ground, set the parking brake and place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. If raising the rear wheels off the ground, the parking brake will have no effect so it’s critical to place a set of chocks in front of the front wheels. A second set behind the front wheels is even better.

Note: If you’re in a pinch and don’t have wheel chocks, cinder blocks or 4×4 blocks of wood can be used as a substitute (but rubber wheel chocks will be the most secure).
STEP 3 – Loosen the Lug Nuts (if necessary)

If you plan on removing a wheel whether it’s to change a flat or work on the brakes, you’ll want to slightly loosen each lug on the wheel you’ll be removing. This avoids any issue of the wheel spinning if you’re trying to loosen the lugs while the vehicle is already off the ground.
STEP 4 – Find the Jack Points
 
 

The best way to find the factory approved jacking points for your vehicle is to look in the owner’s manual. Usually, jack points are located along the frame rail on each side of the vehicle as well as front and rear crossmembers or rear differential (for trucks and other RWD vehicles). Again, the owner’s manual is your best bet since each vehicle is slightly different.

Note:  The jack points for a scissor jack will always be on the pinch welds behind the front wheel and in front of the rear wheel that are located on the frame rails along each side.
STEP 5 – Jack up the Vehicle

After you move the floor jack into position, make sure the hydraulic valve is closed and SLOWLY pump the floor jack’s handle downward to lift the saddle of the jack upward until it makes contact with the jack point. Continue slowly pumping the handle until the car is lifted to the desired height. Be aware of any shifting or damage to the jack point on the car. If at any point something doesn’t feel right, stop and slowly lower the car.
STEP 6 – Place Jack Stands Under Vehicle

where-to-place-jack-standsThere could almost be a separate write-up on how to use jack stands since the approved jack stand points can vary quite a bit by manufacturer and even model. Once your vehicle is jacked up to the correct height, place a jack stand under the approved point (see your owner’s manual) and repeat for the wheel on the other side of the car. These jack stand points are most often the same notches on the side rail that the scissor jack would go into. Make sure all jack stands are adjusted to the same height. Jack stands should always be used in pairs.

Note:  As an extra precaution, if you have removed a wheel, place it flat underneath the side of the vehicle as simple insurance in case of the rare event that a jack stand fails.
STEP 7 – Lower the Vehicle Onto the Jack Stands

After the jack stands are in place, slowly lower the vehicle so it’s sitting on top of the jack stands. With a floor jack, this is most commonly done by slowly twisting the handle counter-clockwise which opens a valve to release hydraulic fluid which in turn lowers the floor jack’s saddle. Once the jack stands take up the vehicle’s weight, raise the saddle so it just touches the car. This will be another simple insurance policy in case a jack stand fails.
STEP 8 – Safety Check

Before you get under your car and start working, take a step back to look things over. Push on the vehicle or try to rock it and pay close attention to any unwanted movement or instability. When you’re getting underneath a couple tons of metal, you want to be 100% sure everything is stable. This quick safety check and literally be the difference between life and death.

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