Whether you are a professional mechanic or an at-home hobbyist, you’ll need a proper tool to help lift your vehicle if you need to work underneath it. The jack stand and the ramp are the two most popular options for this task.
Both of these tools are highly useful, but you might want to select one over the other. This article will help you know which option you should choose: the jack stand or the ramp. We also provide you with factors to consider when selecting a model and two of the market’s best options.
Overview of Jack Stands
Hydraulic jack stands are little devices that you will place underneath your vehicle at lift point locations to lift the vehicle off the ground. These tools are a bit more difficult to use than a ramp, but they are great because they offer more versatility and are great when working in tight spaces.
How to Use
To use these tools, you will put on your parking brake and choke the wheels that you plan to leave on the ground. You then place the jack underneath the proper lift points of your vehicle. Slowly lift the jack until it supports your car completely.
Though using a jack only takes a couple of steps, it is less intuitive than using a ramp. You need to know where the lift points are and how to lift the jack.
One way that the jack stands out is in versatility. Because of the way that they are designed, jacks are incredibly compact. This makes them a great choice if you need to fix your car but are low on space. This compact design enhances versatility since you can use it just about anywhere.
Additionally, jacks do not touch the wheel of your car. For this reason, you can use jacks to fix more. Ramps, on the other hand, do not allow you to work on the tires, making jack stands much more versatile to work with.
Ease of Use
Generally speaking, jack stands are less intuitive and easy to use. Many professionals have no problem using them, but those just getting used to a jack stand may find it incredibly difficult and frustrating at first. I know I did.
At the same time, jack stands require way less working space than car ramps. This makes it easier to use if you are working in more restricted areas.
When used correctly, jack stands are incredibly safe. Since they are more difficult to use, however, using them incorrectly is a potential hazard. If you don’t correctly use the jack, the car can fall on you, making them incredibly dangerous.
Make sure you know how to use the jack correctly before getting underneath a car supported by one.
Jack stands are best for people who have experience with the tool and are working in more cramped areas. Although they are more time-consuming to use, they offer you more versatility, such as when you need to work on or change a tire.
On the other hand, jack stands are not the best for inexperienced people who don’t know how to use it. This can cause major safety issues.
Overview of Ramps
Ramps are many at-home mechanics go-to for vehicle propping. You simply drive your car on the ramp, and you are good to go. This fact makes ramps an incredibly straightforward and user-friendly option for beginners and amateurs, but they require more space, and you need completely flat grounds for it to work safely.
How to Use
Once again, all you need to do to use a ramp is to position the ramp on a flat surface and then drive the car onto it. Ramps will be wider than your tire, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally driving off the side of the ramp.
The one difficult part of using a ramp is that you need to make sure the ground is completely flat and level. You cannot use these tools on inclined, gravel, or any other unstable ground. This will cause safety hazards.
Ramps are less versatile than jack stands. Since your tires sit directly on these ramps, you cannot remove the tires or work on them like you would the jack stand. This means that you will need to purchase a separate tool (like the jack stand) to fix tires.
Lifting your vehicle with a ramp will also require more space. Since you have to drive your vehicle on the ramp, you need enough room to drive the vehicle accordingly. Cramped workspaces will not benefit from a ramp.
Ease of Use
The best part of using a ramp to lift your vehicle is the ease of use. So long as you have a flat and spacious working area, all you have to do is drive the car directly onto the ramp. It is as simple as that. The same goes for removing the ramps. Simply back the car off of them.
Since you drive your car anyway, this is an incredibly intuitive design choice. Those who are not comfortable with a jack stand will be able to use a ramp no problem.
Ramps are incredibly safe if you use them correctly. Since they offer more base support for your vehicle, the car falling chances are incredibly low. This makes the ramp the safest option between the two choices.
However, using the ramp on unstable ground can cause the car to slide or the ramp to buckle. In either scenario, you could get seriously injured in the process. Make sure to set the ramp up on completely sturdy and flat ground, so you don’t run this safety risk.
You should opt for a ramp if you don’t need to work on your tires and want a quick and easy lifting option. Since it requires you to drive onto the ramps, they are easy to use, but ramps also require more space.
With this in mind, you should not opt for the ramp if you need to work on your tires or have a super-compact working area. The ramps will limit your tire access, and they will require more space than most compact areas can offer.
Which Should I Choose?
|Situation||Which to Pick|
|Fixing a tire||Jack|
|Beginner/scared to use a jack||Ramp|
|Ease of use||Ramp|
|Ample working space||Ramp|
Even if you know the difference between a jack stand and a ramp, it can sometimes be tricky to know which one you should use, especially if you have never used either tool. Here is a quick overview of when to choose a jack stand vs a ramp:
When to Choose a Jack Stand:
Jacks require a little bit more time, patience, and skill than a ramp. You should choose a jack stand if you are confident that you can use the tool or at least learn how to use it.
You should also choose the jack based on what you need to work on. If you ever intend to work or change a tire, you will need a jack stand since it lifts the tires off any surface. Even if you choose a ramp, you will also need to use a jack when accessing tires.
Since jacks require less space, select this option if you have a more compact working environment. You will not be strapped for space, and you will be able to access underneath your car easier.
When to Choose a Ramp:
Ramps are super easy to use. You should definitely opt for this tool if you are not confident in using a jack correctly. Using a ramp is so straightforward that any beginner should be able to use it with no problems.
If you are concerned about safety, then ramps are the way to go. As long as you use them on a stable and level surface, they are much safer and more reliable to use than a jack.
Other Factors to Consider
Regardless of whether you choose a jack or a ramp, there are some factors you should consider to help you find the best model. Here they are:
Weight limit, weight limit, weight limit. No matter if you choose a jack or ramp, the tool will be useless if it is not strong enough to hold your vehicle. Check the weight limit capacity of any lifting tool you are considering, making sure that it is strong enough.
Vehicles weigh a lot. Make sure that your model does not break over time or break under pressure by selecting a jack or ramp made with durable materials. Look for jacks that are made with industrial metals like steel. Ramps can either be made with heavy-duty plastic or metal. Either way, make sure that they are professional grade and check the reviews to make sure they withstand.
Working underneath the vehicle can be incredibly dangerous. Look for additional safety features for whatever lifting device you choose. Generally, ramps offer very few features simply because of their simpler design.
Jacks, on the other hand, sometimes have extra locking features and overload protection. These sorts of features make sure you are kept safe while using the tool.
Even though you should not sacrifice safety and durability for an affordable price, there are so many options on the market today that you can easily find a great product that fits your budget. Consider how much money you are willing to spend beforehand to narrow out the models that are either too expensive or too cheap.
Even the most durable ramps tend to be more affordable than jacks. This is because ramps have an incredibly simple design that requires fewer parts. If you are on a really tight budget, you might want to select a ramp over a jack.
Still, ramps come in a wide range. Make sure you get one that fits your budget but don’t buy the least expensive option available, either. Chances are, that product is not safe or durable.
If you are an at-home mechanic or hobbyist, either the jack stand or ramp will safely help you get underneath your car.
We recommend the jack stand simply because it is more versatile, but you should select the ramp if you aren’t confident in your ability to use a jack stand. Jacks are a little bit more difficult to set up, so there is no shame in selecting a ramp for this reason.
Just remember to be safe and look for highly durable options. No matter what model you get, you could easily harm yourself if you don’t take it seriously. Be careful, no matter what!
Pete has been working in the trades since high school, where he first developed a passion for woodworking. Over the years, he has developed a keen interest in a wide variety of DIY projects around the home. Fascinated by all sort of tools, Pete loves reading and writing about all the latest gadgets and accessories that hit the market. His other interests include astronomy, hiking, and fishing.
As the founder of House Grail, David’s primary goal is to help consumers make educated decisions about DIY projects at home, in the garage, and in the garden.
- 1 Overview of Jack Stands
- 2 Overview of Ramps
- 3 Which Should I Choose?
- 4 Other Factors to Consider
- 5 Conclusion