Lifting up a car to work on it can be a time consuming and sometimes dangerous process. Even something simple like an oil change could require jacking your car up then sliding underneath. There’s another way to get your car into the air and it’s pretty slick.
Over the last few weeks we’ve used a right angle drill adapter to help with bodywork, broke out of trouble with an emergency escape tool and clamped things down with the classic and still incredibly useful locking pliers. This week’s Cool Tool is the portable car lift, a device that gets your car into the air safely and quickly.
A number of readers have recommended QuickJack as a way to get cars into the air fast. The inspiration for this one comes from user Snuze on Opposite-Lock.
Despite what it seems, most of my cars are not parked at my apartment, but instead inside of a narrow mini warehouse.
This place is excellent not just for keeping the cars out of the road salt and ice but for doing repairs, too. I can close the door and turn on some heat to do some wrenching. This winter, I want to get under my Honda Beat and Suzuki Every and clear them both of rust spots.
Normally, I’d bring out a floor jack, raise the vehicle, then place jack stands and a spare wheel underneath before getting to work. That’s how I worked on my Smart and changed the wheels of my Volkswagen Passat TDI recently.
After three years of reliable service, my $25 generic brand floor jack has finally gotten too leaky and too worn out. It could be rebuilt and refilled, but instead I’m deciding to get myself a quality jack that can work for a greater variety of vehicles. At the same time, I’m also looking for a way to make working on cars in my mini warehouse better.
The coolest thing you can have in a garage is a lift. But you may not have the space to fit one or maybe you’re a renter and your landlord wouldn’t be fond of you drilling holes into the concrete. That usually means going back to jacks, but you could also get a portable car lift.
The most popular portable lift is the QuickJack, and it lifts your entire car up off of the ground with the push of a button. These replace not just a floor jack but jack stands, too. Gone are those dangerous accidents where your car falls because you put a floor jack in the wrong place. Gone is not being able to get your car high enough off of the ground to safely slide your gut underneath.
Check one out in action on the Tommy L Garage YouTube channel.
These do take some setup before they can work their magic. You will first need to screw in all of the fittings, pressurize the air cylinders, connect the hydraulic lines, then fill the machine with hydraulic fluid or transmission fluid. But once you set it up you have something that gives you some of the benefits of a floor jack, a lift and jack stands all in one.
The tool has sets of locking arms that hold things up should the jack fail. But it never hurts to have even more redundancy, so don’t throw away those old jack stands.
When you’re done using it, disconnect the hoses then hang the QuickJack on a wall. This is a tool a number of our readers seem to love and the reviews seem to agree.
Unfortunately, while it’s an awesome garage upgrade, it is not cheap. The smallest model, which holds up to 3,500 pounds, is $1,500. The one that holds a hefty 6,000 pounds will run you $1,995. That is a lot of dough to spend on something that for the most part will just save you some time.
So far as I can tell, there also isn’t anything like it. Other “portable” car lifts aren’t nearly as portable.
Do you have one of these? If so, how do you like it?