How To Work Under A Car Without A Lift?

A wide variety of automotive tasks — from replacing brake pads to changing a flat — require you to lift the car. Unless you have access to a full-size hydraulic lift like you might find at a mechanic’s, this will mean using a jack. Jacks are generally easy to use, but care must be taken to ensure your safety, especially if you’re working under the car. Luckily, this just means following a few common-sense rules you can s=easily know about how to work under a car without a lift.

How To Work Under a Car Without A Lift?

If you’re changing a tire and you have nothing to block the wheels with, park near the curb with the wheels turned in. This may not keep you from getting hurt if the car rolls off the jack, but at least innocent motorists and pedestrians won’t have to deal with a runaway driverless vehicle.

Below there is some common process to work under a car without a lift.

1. Oil Change Ramps

Oil change ramps are usually made of resin. They’re designed to provide limited access to the underside of your vehicle’s engine, with just a few inches of lift. These are great for oil changes and other minor work but aren’t too helpful if you need to complete a major repair. They also don’t offer much help with access to the rest of your vehicle’s underside. The advantage of an oil change ramp is low cost, lightweight, and simple to use. There are some disadvantages also Limited use, which can slide on a smooth floor when you’re driving your car up onto them. This is one of the ways to know how to work under a car without a lift.

2. Jack Stands

Follow the following steps below as mentioned.

1. Work With A Friend

While maintaining your car, work with a friend if at all possible and having some automotive knowledge. If there is an emergency, your friend can call 911 and possibly save your life!

Jacks and jack stand the only function vertically, and the same gravity that keeps your car firmly planted on the pavement. Always park your car on the level ground.

3. Read The Manual

Read the manuals for both your car and your lifting and supporting equipment. Every vehicle has suggested jack points, also solid suspension, and frame points.  Similarly, read and obey jack and jack stand capacity limits and safety instructions.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to use a jack and jack stand with a capacity of at least 50% the weight of your car.

4. Assemble Your Gear

You might need to lift just one wheel, the front end or back end, or the entire car. Assemble your lifting and supporting gear. Lift your car with a quality jack. If lifting just one end of your car, you’ll need two jack stands. In case you’re lifting the entire car, use a four jack stand.

5. Chock The Wheels

Put the transmission in gear or a park, and chock the wheel opposite where you are lifting. Use two wheel chocks, in front and behind the wheel, to keep the car from moving forward or backward. Use plastic, metal, rubber, or wooden chocks for a good choice.

6. Lift Your Car

Jack up the vehicle using a solid jacking point, leaving enough room for the jack stand to support the car. In case lifting just one wheel, lifting just the corner of the vehicle is a good idea. In case lifting the entire front or rear, choose a jack point in the center of the front or rear suspension.

7. Support Your Car

Support the vehicle with jack stands. If supporting one corner of the vehicle, place the jack stand under the jacking point and adjust the height, locking it in place with the pin.

In case supporting the whole front or rear of the vehicle, use jack stands in pairs, preferably set and locked to equal height. Always buy taller jack stands. Lower the jack slowly until the full weight of the car rests on the jack stands.

In case you lifting the whole car, lift and support the front first. Then to the maximum height capable of your jack and jack stands. Then lift and support the rear of the vehicle, using a second pair of jack stands.

8. Check Each Jack Stand

Check that each jack stand is supporting the vehicle, it shouldn’t move if you wiggle it. If there is movement, jack up that corner again and move the jack stand up a notch. Double-check that all jack stand locks are set properly.

9. Shake Your Car

Gently shake the vehicle to confirm it is secure. Check that all jack stands are planted flat on the ground and that they don’t move when you shake the car. A tilted jack stand may collapse, as it is not designed to hold a load at an angle.

10. Get To Work

No matter how experienced you are or how quick the job will be, never forget to support your vehicle properly, every time you need to lift your car.

The advantage of a car jack is very low cost. The disadvantage is safety problems, limited use, timely setup.

3. Entry-Level Scissor Style Hydraulic Lifts

Entry-level lifts have clever names, and usually have some sort of scissor lift mechanism that relies on low-cost hydraulics. Most of these scissor-style lifts require 4″ of ground clearance. Most scissor-style lifts also have a hard time lifting vehicles with a long wheelbase. This is because these lifts only work between the wheels, and longer vehicles are often too big for this scissor-style lift.

Additionally, most scissor-style lifts operate between the front and rear wheels, they are not stable when you have a vehicle with a major front or rear weight bias. In case you’re doing a major overall problem such as an engine swap or axle replacement of your vehicle can tip forward or backward on one of these scissor-style lifts.

Scissor-style lifts usually pick up a vehicle at pinch welds rather than designated jack points. If you have an older vehicle without designated jack points at the edges of the frame, it may not be possible to lift your vehicle with a scissor-style lift. Scissor-style lifts usually don’t lift a vehicle very high into the air. Since scissor-style lifts pick a vehicle up by its frame, they can’t usually create more than 18-24″ of space below the vehicle. This is plenty if you’re doing a quick brake job.

These entry-level lifts often use the cheapest quality hydraulic systems. They leak, they fail much sooner than commercial-grade lifts, and yet they cost nearly as much as a true commercial hydraulic lift. The advantage of scissor-style is they look cool. There is some disadvantage it doesn’t work well for vehicles with low ground clearance, or a long wheelbase, or a substantial front/rear weight bias.


Use this guide to safely raise your car using scissor-style and jack stands you can learn about how to work under a car without a lift.

Working under your vehicle can be very dangerous if you fail to take proper precautions. Follow all instructions carefully, and do not attempt to take shortcuts or “make do” with missing or poorly maintained equipment. If you’re not sure how to proceed, get some help from a more experienced fixer.

If you can’t meet these safety conditions or if you are unsure of how to proceed given your conditions, call for help.

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