As we embark on a series of automobile maintenance basics and repair tips here on Jalopnik, we're thankful every day for the miracle of space-age polymers. Back when technology held endless promise for an easier and more efficient future, plastic was the answer. When it comes time for regularly scheduled wrenching like changing the oil, flushing the radiator, or loading up the lower ball joints with fresh grease plastic still is. Read on.
Using Car Ramps
Getting undercar is often the first step to getting after it. For more involved automotive chores such as brake, suspension, or drivetrain work that require wheels removed or components freely disassembled, a jack and jackstands, or even an overhead hydraulic rack is the way to go. For less demanding tasks it often seems like overkill to go through the whole lugging of the jack and putting the car on the stands ritual. A top quality set of drive-on ramps can be the answer for quick maintenance.
Common sense rules should always be followed anytime you intend to crawl under 2500-plus pounds of anything. So it goes for rolling motor vehicles up on plastic ramps. First and foremost is to make certain the vehicle in question does not exceed the rated capacity of the ramps. Next is to always work on a hard, level surface. Last is to take care not to drive the vehicle over the top of the ramps. Putting a vehicle up on ramps is the wrong time to practice smooth clutch engagement.
Start with paved or concrete level ground that will evenly support the weight of the vehicle on the ramps. With wheels straight, center both ramps in front of the tires. If the tires appear wider than the ramps themselves then please stop before you start.
Ascend the ramps. Take it easy. No John Force throttle pedaling action is required to get the wheels up on the ramps. Think more Jackie Stewart or Sterling Moss. Use the smoothest driving style possible to ease up the ramps until the tires reach the plateau.
Once the wheels are on the top of the ramps, stop and place transmission in neutral or park. Apply parking brake. Check your work. First stand clear of impending doom. Gently push vehicle in a rocking motion to make sure the damn thing is sitting solid on the ramps. This required step is best made before you go climbing under car or truck.
Placing wheel chocks under the wheels on the ground is a good idea for added safety. Don't even think about using four ramps. For anything. We really cannot stress the importance of safety and common sense enough.
Safety alert! Never disassemble any components that may free the transmission or brake's grip on the wheels. Pulling a driveshaft while the vehicle is in park and on the ramps, for example, would free the drive wheels and could cause instant de-rampage.