Skip to main content

Where Are The Jacking Points On Cars? Jack Up A Car Safely

Written on .

If you jack up a car incorrectly, this will be hazardous for you and the vehicle. Here are the correct jacking points on cars, and how to use a jack safely.

  • Learn
  • General
  • Where Are The Jacking Points On Cars? Jack Up A Car Safely

Jacking up a car allows you to access its wheels, undercarriage, and other load-bearing areas. It's possible to do this at home or on the side of the road, should you need to change a tyre, clean your brake discs, or perform another task.

However, it's crucial to place the jack correctly, so that it supports key areas of the vehicle. If it's pressed against the right jacking points on the car, it will hold the weight in a secure, stable fashion.

Likewise, you need to use the right jack. If you choose the wrong one for your vehicle and its size, it may collapse under the car or lose its hold on the jacking points, causing the vehicle to slide off and fall back to the ground.

Having a car fall off its jacks is hazardous for your safety and the condition of the vehicle. The suspension or wheels could get bent, depending on how it lands and how disassembled it is. Worse yet, if the car falls on you, severe injuries may result – some of which even a hospital can't fully treat.

But where are these jacking points, and how can you ensure the jack is safely in contact with them? Let's explore down below:

What Are Jacking Points On Cars, And Are They Important?

Jacking points are areas beneath a car where a jack can safely make contact and then hold position. These areas need to be steady, firm, and robust, as the jack will be pushing against them until the car is lifted.

Once the car is elevated, the jack will then need to maintain this point of contact and hold the car's weight. If this is done correctly, the car won't buckle under the focused pressure points, the jack won't collapse under an uneven weight distribution, and neither of them will slide or fall.

In short, jacking points are what make it both safe and possible to successfully jack up a car. Placing the jack in the wrong position, with inappropriate contact points (especially ones that are unsteady), can lead to damage and sliding.

This is especially true in newer vehicles. Older cars were built on heavy-duty frames that could withstand jacking pressure in many areas. However, newer models are optimised for fuel efficiency and usually have a "unibody construction" that is far lighter, thinner, and less resistant to force.

As such, they can't bear their full weight in small, focused areas. Using the correct jacking points on new cars will ensure the weight is spread out to the strongest parts of the car's body, so nothing buckles under the strain. In contrast, placing the jack badly could result in the jack pressing against "weak points" that will cause buckling, cracks, or sliding.

Where Are The Jack Points On Your Car?

Due to the huge variety in modern cars, there is no universal jacking point. They are likely to differ in location based on the size, age, model, and make of your car. Nonetheless, there are common places and clues to help.

  • Owner's Manual : Start by looking through your owner's manual or maintenance guide. This should identify the jacking points clearly for you, often with a graph and written instructions.
  • Visual Inspection : If you've lost your manual or purchased the car second-hand, you can instead deduce the jacking points by looking over your car and visually confirming its strongest points.

When checking visually, begin your search by looking at the chassis around each of the four wheels. You should find a reinforced chassis area here. Based on its design, the ideal jacking points are one (or several) of these four areas:

1. Near The Front And Rear Wheel

Because changing a tyre is the most common reason for jacking up a car, most vehicles have secure jacking points near the front and rear wheels. Jacking here doesn't lift up the entire car at once, but a part of it. Some people also move the jack from one wheel to another while changing the tyres.

As such, you should find a flat, stable area on the chassis here. Placing the jack as close to the wheel as possible will provide you with a steady grip and prevent slipping.

2. On The Rear Differential

This area is hands-down the safest jacking point. That's because it has the strength to balance the entire weight of the car. This contact point is often used by mechanics for more in-depth inspections or repairs, and it gives access to the widest areas of the chassis. This also allows you to easily access the undercarriage of the car, giving you the most space.

Nearly all cars have this jacking point, but just to be sure, use a flashlight to peer as far under the car as possible while it's on the ground. Look for long, thick, flat areas in the undercarriage's frame. If you can spy multiple areas where your jack's contact points can securely press, this is a safe area to jack.

Just be sure to double check your work before climbing under the jacked-up vehicle, and consider placing a second, backup jack as well. Climbing under a balanced car is always dangerous, especially if you don't have a mechanic's equipment.

3. On The Front And Rear Crossmembers

These two jacking points must be used in conjunction with one another, as the car will not balance with only one. The rear crossmember point is excellent for checking the back part of the car, while the front one is optimal for procedures like oil changes. That's because it allows the tank to be supported and the front of the car to be inspected.

To confirm this spot, you should see a long strip of metal that reaches to either side of the crossmember and is bolted in place. Near the bolts will be flat, metal areas. These are the safe jacking points.

4. On Both Sides Of The Body

It's possible to jack a car up at points on both sides of the body, giving you access to the entire undercarriage. However, this one is tricky, as the jacking points are smaller and it's possible the car will slip if they're placed incorrectly.

You should look for the long, thick strips of metal that outline the sides of the car's undercarriage. You can press the jack against these points, but you may need two jacks to lift the car evenly.

Which Car Jack Should You Use?

Different jacks work best at certain contact points. Likewise, some jack designs have improved safety features, or eliminate the need for multiple jacks placed at different points of the car.

So, which one is best for you? Here are the main jacks and how they work:

Scissor Jacks

A scissor jack is shaped like a 2D diamond, but named after the scissoring action it displays as it opens or closes. These are the most popular type of car jack, and they come as standard with many cars and vans to aid in emergency tyre replacements.

Scissor jacks cover a broader area when they press against a vehicle, which reduces any focused pressure on a single point. Likewise, they require less effort from the user to fully lift the car.

However, because they are bearing so much weight across such a wide grip, they are occasionally prone to slipping or falling over. In other words, they work efficiently, but they need attentive oversight and double-checking.

Hydraulic Bottle Jacks

This type of jack is little and compact. That makes it ideal for smaller cars or for drivers that prefer to optimize the space of their boot. However, it's not the best option when it comes to SUVs or larger vehicles, which have additional weight and must be jacked further up from the ground.

Like the scissor jack, hydraulic bottle jacks may be unstable due to their smaller size and reduced surface area. To remedy this, be sure to carry a baseplate to balance it out; this can be made from a sheet of metal or hard plywood.

Hydraulic Trolley Jacks

Hydraulic trolley jacks are a great option for those who prioritize stability. Mechanically speaking, they work in a similar way to hydraulic bottle jacks, but they come on four wheels and can be rolled about. Better yet, they are significantly larger, more robust, and steady.

However, due to their size, weight, and general bulk, they can be difficult to carry or store. They are better suited to life in the garage, rather than being kept in your boot.

How To Jack Up A Car

Once you've chosen the right jack and have identified your jacking points, it's time to jack up your vehicle. Using a tyre change as an example, here's how to jack up a car safely:

  • Place your jack underneath the car.
  • The head of the jack should be nearly touching the jack point.
  • Begin applying pressure on the jacking point by adjusting the jack. (Some drivers like to use a piece of wood to protect the jack head here.)
  • You can jack quickly at first, as this will take some time.
  • Begin to jack slower once you notice the jack has been locked in by the pressure. The car doesn't need to come off the ground much for a tyre to be removed.
  • Once the wheel is able to roll, you've jacked it up enough for a tyre change.

Speak To Autofusion

Jacking up a car can be tricky, dangerous, and time-consuming, especially if you're new to the process. If you're worried about changing a tyre or inspecting the vehicle's undercarriage yourself, then leave it to the experts at Autofusion. Our skilled technicians are happy to perform this task ourselves, as well as give you advice about jacking up a car in practice, should you need it.