questionswhat should i look for in a floor jack?

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Costco-osity. (that's what you should look for)

i.e. you want cheap but not crappy. Neither Harbor Freight nor Kmart are exactly known for stocking reliable stuff. Whereas Costco routinely sells very sturdy ones for about $65. And then you have their forever satisfaction guarantee backing it up.

Of course, this comment will probably get tased because the mods don't like people speaking of membership-only places like Costco, but, to be honest, I'd be very suspicious of a wooter that didn't have a Costco membership unless there wasn't one near them.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE
You NEVER get under the car while it's on a floor jack. That's what ramps and wheel chocks are for. The kind of floor jack you're talking about is for convenient wheel changing and little else aside from light brake / suspension work.

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Do not buy a floor jack if you can't also get jack stands. If you can only afford one or the other, I'd get the jack stands first so he's not tempted to use the jack without one.

Napa has a cheaper line than their professional that's good, and I've also had good luck with Sears. Costco is always a good choice. Craigslist is kinda iffy on things that may kill you if they're defective.

psaux-good call on the chocks, too.

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I just checked Costco - no search results.
Checked Sam's - 1.5 with the two column thingies - 100.
Napa sounds like it might be a good idea.

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Napa seems to have several 2 ton jacks for widely different prices.

And I really appreciate the advice.

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Reiterating the jack stands.
Ramps suck. Don't trust them.

j5 j5
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@pooflady: I meant Costco brick-and-mortar. Costco's web presence is tiny and, in a word, disappointing.

Besides, shipping on something that heavy would be something you'd have to sell your first born to finance. (And thus would blow any cost savings ...)

EDIT: This guy apparently agrees with me, and links to info about one of the jacks they sell in-store:
http://www.adamsautoadvice.com/2011/12/best-floor-jack-ever-arcan-xl35r-from-costco/

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@j5: Some ramps do suck, yes. But good ones can be had cheap.

Also, you can make good ramps yourself by stacking some big wood beams, bolting together, and then cutting them all at an angle. It'll be heavy, but in this case heavy can be good. Also, that way you can get a VERY low approach angle (if you have the patience for that much sawing) so that vehicles with low clearance will be able to use them.

Personally, I'd trust ramps over jackstands for getting under the car. Jackstands can tip. Ramps have to experience a collapse to fail badly enough to hurt you.

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Ramps can be made much easier to use by bolting (with big washers) a strip of carpet a couple of feet long to the bottom of the ramp so you drive onto it before you get to the ramp. That way, the carpet keeps the ramp from sliding as you try to get up it.
AND STILL USE JACKSTANDS !

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@psaux: I had a bad experience (user error) with ramps. Struggling to get my 4 speed Honda Civic up the ramp and I overshot. I ended up with the ramps under the unibody, the front 1/3 of the car hanging there, and some nice dents and a little frame bend.

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I think @sskarstad hit the nail on the head. I personally have a Harbor Freight low-profile 2- or 3-ton floor jack, and it has never disappointed me (plus, you can use one of the HF 20% off any one item coopins). The KEY is to also purchase jack stands. The jack really isn't the important part; if a jack fails, you should be okay because you should NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER be under a vehicle supported by a floor jack. The jack is for jacking in order to get the vehicle on stands, and then for removing the vehicle from those stands and lowering it to the ground.

So, with that being said, there were three things I took into account when I bought my jack: cost, capacity, and, important for me since my wife drives a Honda, how much clearance the jack requires between the underside of the vehicle and the ground.

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I've got a junk car jack, and it has worked well for me for 10+ years.
It's a Pep Boys 1.5 ton floor jack. It's pretty junky. It works well enough for most jobs.
I need a new one not because it's worn out, but because it won't jack up my Element.

I agree a 2 or 3 ton would be better, but the price jumps considerably with increased capacity.

If you jack 2 tires off the ground, you won't have more than 66% (my estimate) of the car's weight on the jack. 1-1/2 tons (3000 lbs) should suffice for most users. You can't lift the entire car with only one jack anyway.
You can figure out the car's weight by the door-jamb plate/sticker they put on the car.

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One caveat, no matter which jack you buy. I have a nice one I picked up, oh, I forget where. The problem is that I have a truck with a very high ground clearance, so the jack doesn't really work well for the truck. Be aware, because I see your son has a Blazer.

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I would also agree that NAPA has a good line of non-professional stuff that will do what you need.

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Just checked with son and he has jack stands. Wants the floor jack to get it up high enough to put the jack stands in (on?).

Thanks everyone for the advice, suggestions, and warnings. If anyone has anything else to add, please do so.

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Just checked Amazon. They have a 3-ton Torin for $70. I have Prime, so free shipping. Anyone heard of that brand?

Going further, they have a lot of floor jacks.

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Jacks are jacks. Get a trolley jack.
The bigger the rating, the easier to jack up your car.
Having one with an obvious carry handle would be nice.
So are the ones with the pump handle storage. I have two jacks with no handles, for some odd reason.
There may be places under your car you don't want dents. Hockey pucks are good for this. Get them at various garage and yard sales. You can grind channels in them to fit.
Check local sales. Advance Auto had a set sale- creeper, jack and two jack stands in one box. Oreilly just had a jack and jackstand sale.
BTW, did anybody tell you to never get under a car without jackstands? You usually get to screw this pooch only once. Big PITA for your spouse to find.