Whether you’re a DIYer or an experienced auto mechanic, safety should be a significant concern when jacking a car. And there are many right and wrong ways to lift a vehicle.
Some folks argue that the safest place to place a jack is the car differential. Placing the jack on the diff in a car will make the jacking process easier and faster. This is because you’ll be lifting two wheels at the same time.
Others argue that the safest place to place car jacks are the manufacturers’ recommended jacking points. Auto manufacturers always draft the recommended jacking points on the owner’s booklet.
This brings us to the question, is it safe to jack under differential? Here, we’ll focus on this subject to see whether the differential is a safe place to lift a car.
Is it safe to jack under differential?
Yes, it is safe to use differential as jack point. ASE-certified mechanics and other professionals often lift their cars from the differential, even though manufacturers do not list the diff as a car jack point. They usually get away with this because of their jacks, equipment, or training. Let’s be honest; I do this most of the time.
But most DIYers try to do this with their “little widow-makers jack” because they see some vetted mechanics jack vehicles on the diff. But they forget that these jacks are unsafe and should be used only for emergency and roadside repairs.
When it comes to where to put a jack under a truck or car, everyone has their view, whether they are right or wrong. I know we haven’t given you the answer you want yet. If you ask your mechanic friend or neighbor, he will probably tell you that he usually lifts his car from the differential and leave it for a long time. As a result, he may tell you that he hasn’t incurred any casualty.
Others will ask you to consult your owner’s booklet and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. This is an excellent and straight-to-the-point answer. The owner’s booklet is the manufacturer in print.
From the first and second answers, if the differential is probably a safe Toyota Tacoma jack point, it doesn’t mean it is safe.
Here’s the thing. Those vetted auto mechanics are probably safe if they jack cars on the diff when it is not recommended. And, you’re probably safe if you do that as well. But, if the manufacturer recommends to use the Blackhawk Jack for lifting a car from the differential, then you are definitely safe.
Here’s our stance
Millions of people in the States and outside the country are going to lift their cars from the differentials this year. While they may not incur any casualty, do not jack your truck from the diff unless the manufacturer says so. Safety should always be your no. 1 priority.
Exceptions to the rule
We all know that there are exceptions to specific rules in life. As reiterated above, lift your car from the diff only if the manufacturer says so. However, when replacing shock absorbers and some other suspension components, you’ll have to jack the car on the diff, no matter what the manufacturer says.
It will enable the truck to compress so you’ll jack safe enough to carry out your work. Meanwhile, you must use a safe jack and place jack supports on the differential stands.
What is a differential pumpkin?
A differential pumpkin is a part of the differential that looks like a pumpkin. It sits between the two rear axles in your truck. You will also see it in front if you own a truck or a four-wheel drive car.
This component is vital enough to carry the total weight of a truck even when the vehicle is sitting on the ground. If it couldn’t, the axle tube will break. For this reason, expert mechanics believe it can carry the truck when they lift the vehicle from the ground.
The differential pumpkins are not only powerfully designed to carry the weight of the truck. If you have a truck, it’s safe to say that the auto manufacturers know that you’ll be picking up stuff, which will add extra weight to the truck. So, they have these in mind when designing the differentials and the axles.
So, the differential is a suitable jacking point when working on a truck with safe jacks and proper training. We don’t mean you should always jack your car on the diff. Instead, we’re saying it is probably safe when playing the exception rule above. In the next section, let’s look at how to jack up a truck from the rear.
How to safely jack up a truck
Working underneath a car can cause severe casualties if you do not correctly lift and support the truck. It can lead to severe injuries, damage to the truck, or loss of life. Likewise, you should not slide underneath a lifted truck with no jack stands. You have to be cautious about this process and learn the pros & cons of jacks. Here’s how to safely lift a truck or any vehicle.
Step 1: Park the vehicle on a solid and flat floor
Drive the vehicle to a safe, strong, and leveled floor area in your garage or driveway. If you try to jack the vehicle on a soft or bent spot and the jack slips, it can cause severe injuries or even death. Park the car on solid pavement or asphalt and proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Put the vehicle in park
Shift the gear selector to the park position if you have automatic transmission. But, if the vehicle is manual, shift the gearstick to the first gear. Then, remove the key from the ignition and proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Block the opposite wheels
This step is so crucial. Block off the opposite wheels to prevent the vehicle from rolling off the jack when lifting the truck. For instance, if you want to lift one of the rear wheels, block off the opposite front wheel. However, if you lift two front wheels at a time, block off the two rear wheels.
Step 4: Lift the vehicle from a secure jack point
Grab your jack and ensure the pressure relief valve is closed correctly. Look for any sign of damage on the jack before using it.
If all seems right, locate a secured car jack point and lift the vehicle slowly until you attain the desired height. Contact your owner’s booklet if you’re unsure where to place the jacks. There are jacking points behind each wheel and an additional spot in the centre of the front and rear wheels.
Locate the rear differential jack points if you want to lift the two rear wheels on your truck at the same time. That is the surest spot to place the jack.
Step 5: Support the truck with jack stands
Jack stands are the safest equipment to suspend a truck in the air. Look for a good support area and place the jack stand. Ensure you use a jack stand that can withstand the weight of the vehicle.
Lower the vehicle once you place the stand in the right spot. Gently wiggle the vehicle from the edges to ensure it is appropriately secured. Adjust the jack stands if needed. If everything seems right at this point, proceed with your work.
Step 6: Lower the vehicle once you finish the repair
Once you’re done with the repair or oil changing, place the jack back on the jacking spot. Lift the vehicle a bit and safely remove the jack stands. Now, slowly lower the vehicle and remove the jack.
After that, remove the wheel chocks and test the work you did. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Do not compromise safety for any reason when working on your car. You’ll no longer ask, is it safe to jack under differential? This article has provided a simplified and straight-to-the-point answer. Disregard any person or information that says otherwise. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when dealing with your car. However, there are always exceptions to certain rules in life. So, sometimes you may have to jack your vehicle from the diff even if the manufacturer did not say so. Although, you have to take all precautions and use safe equipment.