“Don’t Trust Your Life To These Jack Stands,” Jalopnik wrote after Harbor Freight recalled over 1.7 million jack stands—safety devices meant to keep vehicles lifted so you can work under them. Now, per a new letter from Harbor Freight’s owner and founder, the stands that replaced some of the recalled ones have also been found to be faulty. Yikes.
“To the Harbor Freight Community: I’m writing to apologize,” reads the introduction of Eric Smidt’s letter to customers of Harbor Freight, the discount hardware store that he founded. “A few months ago,” he says in a following paragraph, “we recalled our Pittsburgh 3 ton and 6 ton steel jack stands (SKUs 56371, 61196 and 61197) due to a manufacturer’s defect. We asked customers to return them and receive a gift card that could be used to purchase replacement jack stands.”
“I felt terrible about that recall because you should never have a concern about the safety of any of our products.”
As a refresher, here’s the problem, per NHTSA, that led to that recall:
“Under load, with a potential shift in weight, on certain units the jack stand pawl may disengage from the extension lifting post, allowing the stand to drop suddenly, with potential to injure people near or under a lifted vehicle.”
In other words, the ratchet teeth on the black posts shown in the image above could slip, and the vehicle could then fall and crush whoever’s working underneath it. The cause of the issue apparently has to do with worn tooling in the manufacturing process.
Smidt gets to the point of the letter: Harbor Freight replaced some of the aforementioned faulty jack stands with other faulty ones—specifically, ones with a welding defect. From the letter:
Today, I feel even worse. I’m disappointed and embarrassed because we’ve identified a welding defect in a small number of the Pittsburgh 3 ton steel jack stands (SKU 56373) that replaced the recalled jack stands. We’re now adding these jack stands to our recall. Unfortunately, this defect wasn’t discovered during the initial recall investigation. If you own these jack stands or any of the jack stands in our original recall, whether or not you have had an issue with them, please stop using them immediately and bring them back to your local Harbor Freight Store for a full cash refund or store credit (see details here).
The note goes on, saying Harbor freight did not discover the defect on other Pittsburgh-brand three-ton steel jack stands, or on six-ton or 12-ton stands. That said, the store’s owner says customers concerned about any of its jack stands can return them for a refund. Smidt ends the letter by apologizing, and saying the company has hired more engineers and inspectors to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
This is a big deal in the car community, because Harbor Freight is a go-to for pretty much every automotive wrencher I know (I even bought a welder from there, and many buy engines from Harbor Freight). Because of its bargain-basement pricing, Harbor Freight is an important player when it comes to making automotive repair accessible to the masses, many of whom have likely snagged a set of jack stands from the store at some point.
A failed jack-stand could land a heavy car on top of you. It’s not a risk worth taking, so if you own one of the recalled items, don’t use it. Get a refund, and maybe buy a jack stand from somewhere else.