How to Fix a Floor Jack That Won’t Lift-In-Depth Solutions

Although floor jacks are relatively tiny objects, they’re pretty robust. Their heavy-duty construction is what enables them to hold up all kinds of items whose bottom you need to access or work on. With only a little pumping and cranking, a floor jack lifts the unbelievable weight of the hugest vehicle.

Nonetheless, similar to other mechanical systems, floor jacks are vulnerable to damage, regardless of how sturdy they appear.

So, what does one do when a floor jacks won’t lift?

We shall walk you through a step-by-step guide on fixing a floor jack that won’t lift vehicles or other objects.

1. Are you overloading the jack?

If your floor jack is failing to lift a certain vehicle, the first you ought to do is check the jack’s lifting capacity. Realize that a vast majority of floor jacks are fitted with a safety overload feature that will stop them from working when the user is attempting to overload them.

So, check the weight of the vehicle against the jack’s lifting capacity, and you could just have found the cause of the jack’s failure.

Often, 2 to 3-ton jacks are able to lift passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks without any problem. However, keep in mind that attempting to exceed its capacity not only stops it from lifting but also stresses it, thereby reducing its quality while rendering the whole process hazardous for you.

2. Inspect the hydraulic oil levels

Either higher or lower oil levels than what is recommended will likely cause your floor jack to fail. The wrong oil levels limit not only the jack’s lifting capacity but also its lowering capability.

To check its oil levels, take out the floor jack’s oil fill plug and have a peep within the chamber.

In most cases, the optimal oil levels for hydraulic jacks are around 3/16 to a quarter over the oil reservoir. Your user manual will definitely come in handy for finding out the optimal oil levels of your jack.

In the event that the oil in your jack is less than what is recommended, then do a refill, and ensure that you use only high-quality hydraulic oil as opposed to ordinary oil.

If the level is higher than what is recommended, then that calls for some draining.

As soon as the oil level is correct, the jack will be able to build up enough pressure for lifting objects.

By the by, you might also want to examine if there’s dirt or debris in the jack’s oil chamber; these could also be behind the unit’s failure. Feel free to drain the oil so you can properly check for unwanted agents. An air compressor will help you blow them out.

3. Get rid of trapped air

If you’re having a failing jack, there’s likelihood of there being some trapped air within the jack, causing it not to lift.

Fortunately, it is possible to solve this problem, via what is known as bleeding. This process requires you to place the unit’s release valve in an entirely retracted position, that is, anti-clockwise of the handle, and remove the oil filler screw.

Screwing and pumping the handle several times is what you need to do next to remove the trapped air.

Lastly, replace your oil fill screw and try using the jack again.

Read Also: Top 10 Cold Air Intake On The Market

4. Inspect the release valve

If you have placed the jack saddle properly, pumped the handle but the jack begins to lower or even refuses to lift at all, consider looking at the release valve. Examine its tightness and adjust it appropriately.

If this tightness was the cause of the problem, your floor jack should start working by the time you’re done solving it.

5. Examine the entire jack

Solving one of the issues we have already talked about doesn’t return the unit to normal, it’s time to do a full checkup. Check for oil leaks, cracked welds, ruined or missing parts, and so on.

Inspect the ram also, by turning the jack on the side. Examine it in both the extended and the retracted positions. Rusted or scarred pistons could be the underlying issue.

5. Apply some lubrication

One of the most vital routine maintenance requirements for a floor jack is that you apply some lubricating oil to all the moving parts. Lubricate parts like the wheels and hinges to ensure they run smoothly and effectually.

Be sure to use only premium lubricating oil.

Final Verdict

In the event that your hydraulic floor jack is failing, there’s definitely an underlying issue. Discovering it might not be very easy, and that’s why we created this guide for you. By following the steps described above, there’s a very high chance you will pick out the problem and solve it suitably.

Remember, the common problems that lead a jack to fail are – an oil overfill or underfill, an oil leak, some trapped air, rusted or scarred ram pistons, and damaged, missing or even loose parts. Don’t forget the one we looked at first – overloading the jack.

Fortunately, fixing all these issues is possible with our guide, but if you find it difficult to fix it, feel free to take the jack to an expert. And, if the jack is damaged beyond meaningful repair, get a new one.

Don’t forget to share this article with your fellow DIYers on social media.

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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 1 comments
Charles N Curry - August 4, 2019

I can’t seem to find a fix for my issue. My floor jack works only if I use a flat head to lift the little piston under the handle up into position so I can push down the handle to operate the jack. The jack holds the weight and there are no leaks or air in the system. Anyone have a solution?


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