Jacks are essential tools that aid in lifting and moving heavy loads, including cars, and are extensively used in different fields. However, they come in different types, used for specific purposes, with the most common ones being mechanical and hydraulic jacks. These jacks are typically differentiated or categorized based on the mechanism used to generate power for lifting loads.
For example, while mechanical jacks utilize screw thread to lift heavy equipment, hydraulic jacks uses hydraulic power. However, this article is only concerned with hydraulic jacks. Here, we will explain what hydraulic jacks are, who uses them, how they work including the advantages and disadvantages of hydraulic jacks.
Hydraulic car jacks are mechanical devices used in lifting heavy loads. And are commonly used in the automobile industry to lift vehicles from the ground, generating enough space underneath the car to carry out repairs. No wonder people refer to it as a hydraulic car jack.
While several jacks come in handy in lifting and moving loads, there is always something that distinguishes them. For example, while pneumatic jack works with air pressure, hydraulic jacks use incompressible liquid, such as hydraulic fluid or hydraulic jack oil. However, let’s see how hydraulic jacks work.
Hydraulic jacks typically lift a load using a force generated by the pressure in both cylinders. How? It first creates pressure by moving the hydraulic fluid through both cylinders via a pump plunger. The pressure generated forces the plunger to be drawn back, allowing the suction valve to open and draw oil into the pump chamber.
As the plunger pushes down, the hydraulic fluid gets transported through an external discharge valve and onto the cylinder chamber. After which, the suction valve closes, resulting in the build-up of pressure within the chamber. Invariably prompting the piston inside the chamber to rise and lift heavy weights.
However, note that jacks are typically load-rated. They have a load capacity they can lift, measured in tons or pounds. How many tons they can lift relies heavily on the force generated by the hydraulic cylinders. So, let’s look at the advantages of the hydraulic jack and its disadvantages.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hydraulic Jacks
Hydraulic jacks come with great benefits which makes people choose them over other jacks. Here are some of the benefits of hydraulic jacks.
- Most hydraulic jacks are smaller in design, so they take less space.
- It’s hard for rust to form on the screw thread, making it less likely to jam.
- Another mechanical advantage of hydraulic jack is that its load capacity can be increased by hydraulic pressure.
- It’s a good fit for lifting very heavy loads such as large trucks and even buses.
- It can lift a load with minimal effort.
- Much lighter than screw jacks.
- Hydraulic jacks are very easy to install and use for changing oil or other repairing jobs.
While hydraulic jacks have enormous benefits, it also has its disadvantages. So here are the drawbacks of hydraulic jacks.
- Its speed is slow, so it takes time to get a job done.
- A hydraulic jack uses hydraulic oil to function, which isn’t changed regularly. So overused warm oil can make the equipment emit a foul smell.
- Hydraulic jacks are susceptible to overheating.
- It can fail if the oil seals get worn.
- Because hydraulic car jack runs on low synthetic oil with low viscosity, they leak oil more frequently, which can contaminate the soil and water.
- It has a high maintenance cost, and its parts are hard to find when they are faulty.
Hydraulic car jacks are safe to use as long as recommended. But, it can also be dangerous if care is not taken. One of the most important things to remember is that you should not go under your car without jack stands. What does it mean?
A hydraulic car jack and other jacks can fail, trapping you under the car. So even after jacking with your hydraulic jack to your desired height, still support the car with Jack stands or blocking (cribble).
People mostly utilize hydraulic jacks in the automotive and construction industries. And its application also covers a wide range of other fields. It can lift vehicles to have enough space to work underneath, like changing tires, draining oil, etc. It can also be used in raising houses.
In some agricultural machines, hydraulic jacks are used to lower and raise tools or equipment to desired working height. You can also find it helpful in railway construction, laboratory, shipbuilding, aircraft, etc.
Yes, working with hydraulic jacks is relatively easy. However, you can be inviting danger if you fail to apply caution. So here are safety precautions to take when using a hydraulic jack for car.
- Ensure you work only on a flat surface and have proper lighting. It can be dangerous if the jack doesn’t get seated on a flat surface and if you do not see what you’re doing properly
- After lifting with the jack, don’t go under your car to work without supporting with car jack stands or its alternative
- Do not use it to lift weights higher than its load capacity. For example, avoid using a 2-ton hydraulic jack specification to lift a 3-ton load
- Use hydraulic jacks for only what they are designed for, as they come in different designs. For example, what you use a hydraulic bottle jack might not suffice for a low-profile floor jack.
- Every car has specific places strong enough to hold jacks, your car’s manufacturer has points designed in your vehicle to jack it up. So ensure you place it there to avoid jacking up other things. If your jack is placed on the wrong spot, it can damage your car.
- Suppose the jack has not been used for some time; clean and test it. For example, you can jack up a load and let it sit for a while but be sure the jack doesn’t retract. If it pulls back, there is probably an internal leak within the seals. And can fail in this condition.
- Ensure you know how to use a hydraulic jack. That is, you must have learned or read through the instruction manual.
- Ensure you have someone around you in case something happens and you need help. Don’t do it alone. This is even more important for those using jacks for the first time.
Hydraulic jacks are essential for moving and lifting heavy loads, especially automobile. However, there are enormous advantages and disadvantages of hydraulic jacks. So you should weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding whether to opt for it or other jack types.
While hydraulic jacks are pretty easy to use, they can be a disaster if not handled properly. You should not go under your car without supporting the car with stands; jacks can fail and fall. You don’t want to be under your vehicle when a jack fails.