The Advantage of Car Lifts or: Stop Worrying, Love QuickJack
Before we get into the advantages of car lifts, we need to address the worried elephant in the room. We’ll call him Steve. Everybody say, “Hi, Steve.”
Steve travels the globe to perform his one-man balancing act—an argument that falsely claims jack stands to be just as safe and stable as other car-hoisting methods. As Steve tries to balance fictitious claim after fictitious claim about jack stands, car lifts, physics, etc., the foundation of his argument becomes harder and harder for him to stand on. (That’s Steve pictured above, balancing upon his ball of bad logic and misinformation.)
There are many “Steves” in the world. He writes to us on Facebook. He’s savvy on the car-talk forums. We see Steve at trade shows, often keeping his safe distance while he munches happily on his mustard-covered corn dog and overpriced chili cheese fries.
Truth be told, Steve is a knowledgeable car fanatic, long-time DIY mechanic and all-around skeptic, and he always says what’s on his mind. Most relevant to this discussion, Steve is not sold on the idea of car lifts replacing his jack stands. Not at all.
At a recent trade show, we caught up with a few Steves who asked us some very Steve-like questions. We feel that. Generally speaking, there are three versions of Steve. There’s “What’s The Point Steve,” “But-But-But Steve” and of course, “Steve The Convert.” Whatever their gripes may be, they’ve come to right place for answers.
Steve 1.0: “What’s the point?”
Steve finishes his lunch. Still glowering, he confidently strides toward the QuickJack exhibit. His arms are crossed. As he begins talking, he stuffs his hands into his pocket, shoulders contracted tightly around his neck. For Steve, this is where small-talk comes to die. He hits us with it: “Uh, why not just use jack stands? I really don’t see what the point of this is.”
None of us at QuickJack will ever say that jack stands don’t work, as they are fitted beneath cars successfully every day. That being said, a 2015 U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report concluded that 13,000 car-jack-related injuries occur each year. The report does not specify if the use of stands (as opposed to just the jack) is included in consideration of the statistic. Despite the solid experience and safety knowledge held by people like Steve, many thousands are still getting hurt doing things as routine as changing a tire. Examples of many sad stories related to jack failure can be found here and here.
On the other hand, QuickJack has been around for several years now, and we have yet to encounter any horror stories about sudden failure and/or catastrophic injury related to QuickJack. QuickJack’s safety record is no coincidence. As the frames of our car lift rise, you will hear a clean, efficient clink when the rugged tubular-steel arms automatically engage and clutch onto welded-steel safety locks. This fail-safe device delivers an added dose of safety, engaging either the mid or upper-level lock.
Now compare the lock release mechanism on the QuickJack to the release handles found on regular jack stands. The image below shows QuickJack’s silver, half-moon shaped release cam (bottom-center frame) purposely co-joined with the safety lock bars. The only way to physically disengage the tandem load-bearing lock bars is to re-energize the hydraulics by pressing UP on the remote control, then activating the release cam devices, basically rolling them over to the release position.
The release cams, when positioned in the “unlocked” (lowering) mode, act as an extra set of hands, gracefully guiding the lock bars up and over the solid steel lock blocks as the lift frames descend.
This is the only way to release the locks, so you never need to worry about bumping or knocking QuickJack around, just to have your Mazda, Camry, Ferrari, Corvette, etc. come crashing violently down on top of you.
Now take a look your average jack stand. While it’s foolish to even consider car jacks without using the stands, 13,000 injuries a year says it all. People still do it.
The release handles on typical jack stands, featured right, are entirely different. They need only the simple upward tap of a finger (or accidental nudge) to release the slender pawl from the petite ratchet notches. Although convenient, they’re not quite as fail-safe as QuickJack’s auto-lock design. In the event of a sudden and unexpected drop of a stand, jack stands offer no secondary backup to prevent your car from crashing to the ground.
Additionally, jack stands require repetitive checking, re-checking and triple-checking of their placement, and that gets cumbersome, time-consuming and stressful—FAST. People everywhere we look are simply sick of jack stands and wind up turning to car lifts for a better solution.
Let’s just say for argument sake that the dual safety lock bars collapsed on your QuickJack (remember, just for argument’s sake—like that could even be possible) with your car securely raised. What would happen then? Both the lift and your car would gently descend as the pair of hydraulic cylinders, acting as load-supporting shock absorbers (of sorts), would gracefully release fluid through a controlled velocity fuse (integrated valves), lowering your car to the ground.
There’s no sudden collapsing and slipping like you see with failed floor jacks and misplaced jack stands, and it surely would not be instant, violent or deadly.
“Nothing is perfect,” says Steve, softening his once-withering glare into genuine concern. “That’s just life. Things go wrong. But what exactly happens if the hydraulics fail?”
Good question, Steve. In the worst-case scenario, if QuickJack loses significant fluid pressure, nothing would happen; the frames would go nowhere, as they’d be resting securely on the safety lock blocks. With the arms engaged, QuickJack is fully certified to safely hold a vehicle indefinitely.
Furthermore, QuickJack’s ground-contact surface area is over 5x that of jack stands. Fig. 1 below shows the surface area that QuickJack covers on the ground, and Fig. 2 shows the approximate surface area covered by conventional jack stands. It’s simply physics that covering more surface area increases stability and reduces pressure when objects are subject to heavy load.
To make matters even worse for jack stands, the narrower base and vertical rise of the ratchet arm make jack stands easy to tip in all four directions (side-to-side and front-to-back). Even with the weight of a vehicle applying pressure and supplying additional security, they can still be kicked or bumped out of place. On the other hand, it’s virtually impossible to tip over QuickJack length-wise, with or without weight, and darn near impossible to tip it over side-to-side with zero weight added.
Of course, applying downward force from a vehicle makes it all but impossible to knock QuickJack out of place from its sides, as well. Simply put, superior engineering makes QuickJack verifiably safer than traditional jack stands.
So, Steve: you have 13,000 injuries a year with floor jacks vs. QuickJack that has yet to report a single instance of catastrophic failure leading to severe injury or death. But just so no one thinks we’re being light on the issue of safety with our product, we insist all QuickJack operators fully read and understand the QuickJack owner’s manual before installation and/or use; car lifts are not toys, and all recommended safety measures must be taken to ensure a safe lift. Whew!
“Thanks,” says Steve, whose eye is suddenly caught by an attractive car model across the floor. “I’ll think about it.”
Steve 2.0: “Those are some fancy words.”
The next Steve we encounter is a little friendlier at the onset of our conversation, but we can tell that, much like our first Steve, he doesn’t want to waste his time with chitter-chatter. “It’s good marketing,” he says, a half-smile creeping over the left side of his face, “but… BUT… 14-gauge steel, hydraulic cylinders, auto-locking safety arms, velocity fuses, all this is just supposed to make me ooh and ahh?”
We know where Steve is coming from. Countless products are thrown past our eyes and ears; in a given day, we see hundreds of ads, marketing ploys and market-tested (“mother-approved”), wallet-grabbing schemes. To Steve, QuickJack is just another flash in the pan, the next latest and greatest fad “you just can’t live without.” If only it were so simple, Steve.
We know most, if not all, responsible DIY’ers could live without car lifts. So could you! Just like you could live without a microwave, smart phone, Bluetooth stereo, that microchip you implant in your dog in case it gets over the fence, etc. And Steve, that suitcase you’re rolling around the trade show floor and tripping people with… why not just carry it? Do you really need those wheels to move your things?
Each of these items makes life a little better in its own way: microwaves save time; smart phones are now ingrained into how we live; Bluetooth brings personalized streaming music stations to your daily commute; Rover is returned home in minutes and you let him lick your face, even though you have no idea where he’s been.
This isn’t just hype (although we do love us some hype). While we work hard to get the word out on QuickJack, our customers are doing most of the work for us, boasting about QuickJack across the web. Our glowing reviews pop up all over car-talk web forums. In order to present a small sample as authentically as possible, they have been edited for space but not spelling/grammar.
They said it, we didn’t. (We have plenty more where these came from.)
Will never go back to jack and jackstands, way too cumbersome and with more potential to damage the car’s lift points, plus jack barely fits under the carstock, and wouldn’t fit at all now with the lip on it. It’s very nice to have total access to the underside of your vehicle. – Vracer111, Honda Tech
I have a QuickJack and absolutely love it. Fits car pefectly and is very easy to use. Never use a regular jack anymore when at home – Eric5280, Rennlist
I have a quickjack and love it! I can’t believe that I didn’t buy it sooner. It lifts the car a lot higher than jack stands and is so quick. I have even left my car jacked up on it for a week lol. – evo8904, Mustang6G
We have liftoff!! This thing is amazing!!! — burnt350, Nissan 370Z
No wobbles. I feel it’s much safer than jack stands. — Nathanbrummer@SCS, Mustang6G
Had a cheap… jackstand collapse.Lucky no damage or death, since there was a secondary protocol set in place..if you consider a log a protocol. At this price point it’s worth every penny, I mean let’s face it it’s only your life. – Jay F, Facebook comment
Steve 3.0: More “But-but-but…”
QuickJack’s goal is to take the mystery out of car lifts and present you with simple, transparent facts about QuickJack’s rigorous testing procedures. All the tests undergone by QuickJack are completely necessary. DO NOT accept anything less than a lift provider that has years of extensive experience in structural engineering and structural component analysis. They MUST be able to provide the following for all of their machinery:
- Structural engineering calculations and an analysis of the entire design per AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction), as well as a full report on the carrying capacities of all load-bearing structural components.
- Finite element analysis of all load-bearing structural components.
- Structural stability analyses (e.g. nonlinear buckling analysis) to make sure that the lift structure and all mechanical components do not buckle, even under absolute worst-case loading conditions.
Car lifts, as conveniences, will save you save time, reduce the overall effort you put into repairs, improve your own personal safety and preserve the well-being of your vehicle. But there’s something that gets lost in all of this. When used according to factory standards, QuickJack, like other car lifts, is safer than any jack stand on the market. And we’re willing to prove it.
Mark Twain is credited with saying, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure,” It is our duty, as practical calculators, to prevent the liar from “figuring.” In other words, to prevent the Steves of the world from perverting the truth in the interest of some unfounded or ego-centric theory they wish to establish. How can we do this? By being absolutely fair and totally transparent.
The blue-and-green image with the color-coded scale you see on the right is called an FEA (finite element analysis). It represents the force a given vehicle will apply against QuickJack, measured in PSI (pounds per square inch). Our engineers utilize these reports, as well as long-math equations, in order to determine any pressure points, structural weakness, areas for improve, etc. In other words, we cut no corners and spare no expense to ensure QuickJack is of the finest structural integrity.
So what are we looking at? The image shows QuickJack resting at its lower lock level. The blue indicates a minimal amount of pressure; we see most pressure is applied at the contact points between QuickJack and the floor (which makes sense in terms of both the involved physics and common sense), while some pressure areas are in the middle, or “green,” section near the frame trays. It makes sense that the points at which QuickJack is applying force up against the vehicle are the points at which it experiences the most pressure.
The important thing to note is the dispersal of force across the frame structure. Car lifts only last as long as their parts, and with QuickJack, no one area experiences excessive forces. This means you can leave a vehicle lifted indefinitely, and QuickJack won’t fail due to frame collapse, and the risk of frame failure essentially remains zero. At the max rise position, QuickJack is even safer than it is at the lower lock position, as the frame experiences minimal horizontal stress.
To Steve and everyone else, we say this: FEA reports are not usually materials used for marketing. They’re kind of “boring” (we don’t think so) and alienating to some folks. Of course, there’s something else at play here. Your floor jack and jack stand manufacturers, in addition to other car lifts on the market, often don’t conduct or don’t want you to see their reports. If they did, they’d rethink their fluffy marketing strategy to look a little more like ours: fact-driven, verifiable and third-party tested at all times. Mic drop.
Steve 4.0: “You got me. How can I buy one today?” (The Convert)
And last but not least, our favorite Steve of all. QuickJack can be purchased right from our site, of course! Make sure to take your vehicle measurements before you call, so we can set you up with the model that best fits your lifting needs. Thanks, Steve!
Ladies and gentleman, the elephant has left the building.
TL;DR: Some people are skeptical that QuickJack is as good as we say. They offer a few objections, but ultimately, most people are won over when we show them our safety features, engineering reports and overall ease-of-use compared to traditional jack stands. People who buy QuickJack tend to promote it themselves on car forums and among friends because they’re so happy with it.