Certain routine DIY tasks that any vehicle owner needs to do after a certain mileage include changing tires and changing the ride’s oil.
Whether you’ve done this task before or it’s your first time, you’ll want to do it right. After all, it’s your vehicle’s maintenance at stake.
So the first question you’ll probably ask yourself is this: should I use a vehicle ramp or jack stand to lift my car off the ground?
This usually sparks a hot debate, and today we’ll be analyzing both methods to let you know which the best is.
Compared to car ramps, most people find jacks and jack stands to be more complicated to use. But, if you’re familiar with your vehicle’s lift-point positions, you can easily set up and use a jack stand.
Most vehicle owners own and know how to use a car ramp.
That’s because when it comes to vehicle maintenance, the simplicity and ease of using car ramps is their biggest advantage over jack stands.
Jack Stands vs. Ramps: Features Face to Face
So which is best, a ramp or a jack stand?
Let’s analyze both pieces of equipment in detail.
A key factor that makes car ramps extremely popular in the auto-maintenance world is their safety factor.
As compared to jack stands, ramps are believed to provide higher stability. In addition, there is less risk of error with ramps because of their larger surface area available for supporting wheels and their overall contact with the ground.
In comparison, car stands must be positioned in the correct spot to ensure safety, plus they don’t offer a huge margin for error.
If you don’t set them up correctly under the appropriate lift points of your vehicle, a slight accidental shove could bring your car crashing down.
Ease of Use
As mentioned earlier, what makes ramps a more popular choice among vehicle owners is their ease of use.
You simply need to place them down, drive your car up a slope, and pop the parking brake making sure you set the appropriate wheel chocks. This is done, and you’re ready to go.
As for jack stands, you need first to pop the parking brake and chock the wheels touching the ground. Then, you need to jack up the car using a good 2 to 3-ton hydraulic jack.
After this, you need to put the jack stands under the appropriate lift points of your vehicle and slowly lower the jack until it completely supports your car.
Jack stands to take the points with this one. They’re excellent when it comes to providing greater flexibility in the work environment, depending on what work you’re doing. Standoff
For instance, if you’re working on brakes, you can’t just take the wheel off while your car is resting on top of a car ramp!
So a jack stand will be the only option in such a situation.
Ramps can be difficult to use in limited space since you need to move your car back and forth to adjust it onto the ramp.
Some extra low-profile vehicles might also have the issue of getting the front lip over the ramp without scraping it; however, there are lengthier low-profile ramps available to counter this problem.
In comparison, jack stands work exceptionally well in cramped spaces since they don’t need to be moved when lifting your car, and neither do you need to move your car.
Jack stands are generally more versatile as compared to car ramps, and we’ll tell you why.
Ramps are meant to be used on smooth and hard surfaces. This allows the weight of your vehicle to be distributed evenly on the bottom surface of the ramp.
If ramps are used on an uneven surface, they will most probably fail. Moreover, if a car ramp is positioned on a slippery surface, such as slick concrete or oily driveway, or even on a surface with scattered debris, there is the risk of them sliding while you drive onto them.
Also, attempting to use the most common car ramps made using high-strength polymer on a surface with pebbles or gravel can be seriously disastrous.
Most car ramps can support up to 1,500 pounds per ramp; however, the weight capacity is mentioned on the bottom of the ramp.
As for the most common jack stands, the classic 3-ton jack stands are the preferred choice for DIY car enthusiasts. They can hold a maximum of 6,000 pounds.
Also, a general rule of thumb is to buy a jack stand that can support double the weight of your vehicle. For instance, if you have a 4000-pound car, your jack stand should be able to support at least 8000 pounds.
Metal car ramps are more durable as compared to plastic car ramps. Also, for heavier vehicles, metal car ramps will be safer. But due to their simple design, metal car ramps are easier to use.
As for most jack stands, the ones with ratchet systems are durable. But compared to other locking systems, this design has the most risk of failing. In short, the best jack stand will be the one that supports the weight of your vehicle.
The last and possibly the most important consideration when choosing between a jack stand and a car ramp is your budget.
Generally, car ramps are more affordable as compared to jacks/ jack stands.
When to Choose a Jack Stand
Jack stands are available in various varieties and can be extended to different heights. The latter is also seen as the most considerable difference between them.
When choosing a jack stand for your vehicle, you must choose one that is either tall, short enough for your car, and will be able to lift its weight effectively.
Also, consider buying a jack stand that is ultimately cheaper in the long run, is durable, manufactured by a reliable company, and can be used multiple times.
And lastly, if you’re mostly working in small spaces and on uneven surfaces, a jack stand is a suitable option.
When to Choose a Ramp
When you’re mostly working on smooth surfaces in larger spaces and lighter vehicles that do not require effort to be lifted, car ramps are the best option.
Also, if you want to stay on budget, consider buying a car ramp that is cheaper but durable, manufactured by a reliable establishment, and can be used multiple times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Final Verdict: Who Wins This Standoff
So who wins in the debate against car ramps and jack stands?
Well, considering the safety factor and simplicity of use, car ramps are the sure winner, and any car enthusiast forum will undoubtedly give you the same answer.
Also, for beginners, car ramps are extremely useful and easy to use for do-it-yourself maintenance activities.
However, if you’re stuck in a cramped working environment or need to work on an uneven or slippery surface, a jack stand would be a much more practical choice.
In short, car owners must familiarize themselves with the proper use of car ramps and jack stands to be prepared in any situation.