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How to Work Under a Car Without a Lift – 9 Best Methods

How to Work Under a Car Without a Lift
Written by Nick Steiner

In a lot of cases, cars need to be raised to get work done on them. At a mechanic, a large hydraulic lift would usually account for this necessity, but what about the home mechanics and technicians who don’t have access to machines like that?

Fortunately, there are a few things that can be done to help get the lift needed, so you can safely and comfortably work on your car. If you’re a curious soul or part of the demographics mentioned earlier, read on to learn how you can work under your car without a lift.

How to Work Under a Car Without a Lift – 9 Best Methods

How to Work Under a Car

1. Natural Slope

If you’re able to or in an area where there are naturally elevated slopes, then you can use that to lift your car. This could be a curb, a small hill, or if you’re desperate, a ditch.

If you need one side of the wheels raised, drive at an angle onto the slope to get the leverage needed. To get the back or front wheels elevated, drive upward or in reverse at an angle that only elevates the half of the car you need to work on.

This method is the cheapest one out there but it would be a good idea to keep an inventory of your tools, especially if the place isn’t close to your house.

2. Car Ramps

Another easy way to lift your car is by using a car ramp. If you don’t know what these are, they look really similar to door stoppers and are pretty much triangle shaped wood with a flat base. They won’t give your car a ridiculous amount of height, but they’ll do the job fine.

Compared to the earlier method, car ramps are a good deal safer and can also be cheap, especially if you buy them used.

3. Engine Hoists

An engine hoist is one more thing that can lift your car. It’s not the best tool for all fixes, as you’ll only be able to lift on one side, but if that works for you, then go for it. Just make sure that you’re being safe and using the machine properly, as they can be dangerous.

4. Wooden Blocks

Using stacked wooden blocks can be a good way to prop up your car and give it the height needed to work under it. Make sure that you only use natural, unprocessed wood and avoid using nails in the wood as they create a weak point in the wood. This can cause the bocks to collapse under your car’s weight.

After stacking the wooden blocks, either push or drive your car onto the blocks and you should get the leverage needed to work on the vehicle.

5. Dig Soil Underneath Your Car

Another no-cost way of lifting your car is digging soil underneath to give the amount of leverage needed. This method will probably be very time-consuming and will require a lot of physical effort, but if you have no other choice, then this might just be the right one for you.

6. Pneumatic Lift Jacks

A pneumatic lift jack is another way you can lift your car. Like its name, it’s like a traditional car jack in the sense that they both do the same job, but a pneumatic jack uses the air in the atmosphere and inflates to provide lift.

We wouldn’t recommend getting one of these if you don’t think you’ll have much use for it, as it can be an investment. If you have one lying around, though, then here’s a use for it.

7. Wheel Chocks

Wheel chocks don’t help you lift your car, but they are an essential when working on a lifted car. They are just wooden or rubber pyramid-like stoppers that are placed behind a wheel to make sure that it doesn’t move when you’re fixing your lifted car.

A wheel chock behind your wheel increases your safety while working on a lifted car and will help you feel more relaxed when working on your car.

8. Air Lifting Bag

Air lifting bags use the same technology as pneumatic jacks. They are usually shaped like a small pillow and inflated to provide life. All you need to do is put the bag under your wheel. If you need more lift, you can always stack multiple bags on top of each other.

9. Air Hydraulic Jack

Another method that can be used is an air hydraulic jack. This type of jack lifts by using the force created in a hydraulic cylinder that comes with it.

Like some of the other methods mentioned earlier, we don’t recommend getting one of these if you don’t already own one or have much use for it.

10. Jack

The last, and most common, method for lifting cars is using a jack. They are cheap and easily accessible to the everyday person. If you’re new to jacks, though, here are a few guidelines on how to use them:

Step 1: Enlist Help

Before you start on your own, it’s a good idea to phone a friend to see if they have any prior knowledge that could be helpful or if they’re willing to help. Having someone with practical knowledge around can be a huge timesaver for you.

Step 2: Park Your Vehicle on Level Ground

Jacks and jack stands work vertically. This means that to get an even lift, you need to have a leveled surface. If not, it’ll be a lot harder to work under your car.

Step 3: Read the Manual

Before starting any repair project, the manual should be your best friend. Read it to know the ins and outs of whatever jack you’re using. The manual can also give you some insight on the project before you begin.

Step 4: Assemble Your Gear

Assemble all the gear you’ll need before to streamline the process. Make sure you have as many jacks as the number of wheels you need to lift.

Step 5: Chock the Wheels

As mentioned earlier, wheel chocks can heavily increase your safety when you’re lifting your car. Have them chocked beforehand.

Step 6: Lift Your Car

Jack the vehicle up using a solid anchor point for the best results. Make sure you have a steady foundation, not a shaky one.

Step 7: Support Your Car

This step is self-explanatory. All you need to do is to use your jack stands to support the now lifted car.

Step 8: Check Your Jack Stands and Shake Your Car

Check all your jack stands to see if they are sturdy and locked properly. Then, shake your car to double-check this.

Step 9: Start Working on Your Car

Now that you’re done lifting your car and taking all the necessary precautions, you can get to work!

Dangers of Working on a Car Without a Lift

Although it’s mostly safe to work on a car you lifted yourself, there are a few dangers that come with it. Your car could fall on you, you could get stuck under it, or it might topple over. Therefore, making sure your foundation is sturdy is so important.

If you’re nervous or unsure, then it might be best to enlist the help of a mechanic.

Safety Tips for Working Without a Lift

Safety Tips for Working Without a Lift

  • Don’t place your body under a lifted vehicle

If your car is only supported by jacks and not jack stands, then it’s in your best interests to not put any part of your body under the car.

It might not seem like a big deal, but if the car collapses and you’re under it, there’s a huge chance that you’ll get crushed.

  • Don’t let a person or pet sit in a jacked vehicle

A person or pet sitting in a jacked vehicle can add extra weight. In a worst-case scenario, this can cause the car to fall, which could harm both you and the person or pet sitting inside the car.

Make sure that there is as little weight as possible on the interior as the vehicle is raised.

FAQs

1. Should the tire be off the ground before you loosen the lug nuts?

Ans. The lug nuts should be loosened a little before the car is raised and then completely after.

2. Can I put my car on bricks?

Ans. No, that is not a safe way of lifting a car as the bricks can very easily crumble under the car’s weight, or the car can slip off the bricks.

About the author

Nick Steiner

Nick has been a car nut for his whole life as far as he can remember. His father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. As a result, Nick had the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and learned to get his hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

Nick is a great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity. His deep passion lies in older models that he believes have a flair that takes him back to his childhood. He also loves their durability and reliability when compared to the modern models.

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