How to Use a Scissor Jack to Lift Your Car?

Car Jacks have their own perks as being helpful in emergency situations for example when your car requires a tire change in the middle of the road. The car jack is a must for everyone involved with cars whether it might be owning a car, being a mechanic by profession, a weekend tinkerer, or even if you are a complete novice. Apart from having a car jack, knowing how to use one is also equally important. Improper use of a car jack can lead to serious damage. Here we will discuss How to use a scissor jack safely keeping all precautions in mind for lifting your car.

In the current market, there is a wide variety of car jacks that you as a customer can choose from the basic Scissor Jack to a Floor Jack. While all of these options offer a wide range of features, the basic scissor jack is the most opted by the customer even now due to its low cost and higher reliability along with the fact that it is easy to use. The following article helps you to get a good understanding of the scissor jacks and how to use them.

What is a Scissor Jack?

A Scissor Jack is the oldest and most commonly used car jack used in emergency situations for example changing a flat tire by lifting the vehicle off the ground cautiously. These are known as scissor jacks as the motion of the scissor jack is similar to the motion of a cutting paper with the help of scissors. Also, it has a diamond shape which represents two scissors facing each other.

How to Use a Scissor Jack to Lift Your Car?
Scissor Jack in a working position

A scissor jack is the oldest car jack used and also a very pocket-friendly option available for everyone. These are portable and are the best options if you are looking to carry them inside the trunk of your car for emergency repair. These jacks work on the theory of screw jacks. These are operated by turning the handle and this will require a huge amount of mechanical effort. This makes it an inefficient option for heavier vehicles.

Types of Scissor Jack

There are two main types of scissor jacks which are:

a. Hydraulic or Electric Scissor Jacks:

These jacks are mostly used by people in automobile shops, vehicle service centers, and related businesses. They require an electric or hydraulic power supply. These are more expensive than the manual ones.

Electric Jacks

b.  Manual Scissor Jacks:

These jacks are the common types of scissor jacks used for emergency repair. They require manual power for the working. This is the most pocket-friendly option available.

Manual Scissor Jacks

The scissor jack is based on the mechanical operation. It requires a significant amount of physical effort to start the lifting motion. The scissors jacks have a maximum lifting height of 15 inches to 30 inches only. It can lift small cars but is inefficient while lifting large trucks and minibuses. These jacks require minimum maintenance of greasing the screw. A scissor jack will wear out much faster due to its ineffectiveness in lifting heavy weights. The users should raise the vehicle by using the scissor jack and insert a jack stand for better support.

Constructing a Scissor Jack:

Scissor jack consists of an assembly in which two scissors facing each other and it has two base ends parts in the form of the seats. The screw thread is across these two parts which are in the form of scissors and through the corners. When we start turning it to get to the open position,  the two scissor-like parts move inwards together and come together in the middle in a vertical position thus raising the jack. When we start turning it to get the closed position, the two scissor-like parts move outwards together and come together at the middle in horizontal position thus lowering the jack.

Designing and Lifting a Scissor Jack:

How to use scissor jack to lift your car
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The mechanism of the scissor jack uses the theory of screw jack in order to get the desired power. As the screw is turned using the handle, the two ends in the form of the scissor may come close together. The force being applied will get amplified in the presence of gears of the screw and this will push the arms of the scissor up. The mechanism will take a small amount of force to turn the handle of the jack. These scissors like parts move upwards. The force of gravity is not sufficient to prevent the jack from opening or to prevent the screw from turning as the force is not directly applied to it. When you apply the pressure directly or move your entire weight onto it, the same person will not be able to turn it even when the weight of the car is very much greater than the weight of the person.

Is it safe to use a Scissor Jack?

The use of scissor jacks is safe when being used properly. These are designed for emergency use for example changing a flat tire. As they are solely used for this purpose and following the right car lifting procedures would make the use of scissor jacks perfectly safe.

Firstly, you have to familiarize yourself with the recommendations of your car. There are three basic rules that everyone needs to follow while using a scissor jack.

1. You should Block the Wheels of the Car:

To prevent them from rolling, A rock, board or broken piece of asphalt must be placed in the front and rear wheels of the car. The car should not be in an inclined position. The car, with the hand brakes on, should be in the first gear to reduce the chances of rolling.

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2. You Should Ensure that the Jack is Properly Positioned Before You Lift the Vehicle:

Keeping the scissor jacks in an incorrect position would destabilize the car which may cause it to start rolling. So get a basic understanding of proper lift points of your car. Lift the vehicle only as high as you need it. Place a jack stand as a safety measure.

3. Where Do You Put the Jack When Changing a Tire?

To find the correct position where you need to put the jack, locate the closest lifting points where you want the jack to be placed. If you don’t know where that is refer to the owner’s manual, and if you don’t have that you can probably find it online. It is extremely important to jack a vehicle only at the lift points. These are built in such a way that they can take the extra load without cracking or bending.

Lifting/Jacking Points in a Car

How to Use a Scissor Jack to Lift Your Car During a Tire Change?

After catching up on all of the safety precautions, these steps below are to be followed to jack up a vehicle:

1. We should ensure that the car should be on a leveled ground before working on the tire change.

2. In order to prevent the vehicle from rolling, ensure that the parking brakes should be put on.

3. Before using the scissor jack, ensure that the jack is not damaged or there are no flaws present in it. Wipe of any dust or dirt on the jack. Also, work on raising and lowering the jack a few times without a load to ensure that it is working perfectly. In case the jack feels tight while operating it, spray some lubricants on the screw to loosen it.

4. The scissor jack should be positioned as close as possible under the lift point/jacking point.

5. Start turning the handle in the clockwise direction to raise the jack upwards. Continue to turn the handle until the saddle comes nearly in contact with the vehicle but not touching it. Adjust the jack until it is positioned perfectly.

Turning the handle for lifting up the car

6. When the topmost portion of the jack starts the vehicle, it will become very difficult to turn the handle further. Ensure that this jack will stay in the position and it doesn’t move from there. The vehicle is lifted until it is at a position where you can change the tires easily.

The Scissor Jack on reaching Maximum Position

7. (Only if you are using jack stands) The jack stand is placed under the vehicle near the jacking points. Start lifting the stands and continue until they are high enough to just fit under and lock them in place. Lower the jacks until the jack is resting on these stands.

The car placed on Jack stands

8. For lowering the jack, start turning the handle slowly in an anticlockwise direction. This will transfer all of the weight of the vehicle from the jack to the stands. After ensuring that the stands are perfectly holding the vehicle, lowering the jack should be done to remove it from underneath the vehicle.

Replace the tires, keeping a look on the jack or the jack stands at regular intervals.

9. As soon as the work gets finished, the jack should be placed back to its original position, and then the jack stands should be removed. Start to lower the vehicle to the ground by simply turning the handle in the opposite direction and get the car back to the position where the tires touch the car and then carefully remove the jack.

For any further clarifications on how to, watch this video on how to use a scissor jack:

Precautions to be Taken While Using a Scissor Jack

  • Ensure that the specifications of the jack are cross checked before using the jack.
  • The scissor jack should not be damaged from anywhere.
  • The vehicles should be jacked only at the lift points.
  • The car should be in a leveled position.
  • Ensure that the car is in the first gear with the hand brakes on to reduce the chances of rolling.
  • Properly position the scissor jacks otherwise it could destabilize  the car causing it to roll. We should place the Jack Stands as a safety measure.
  •  A rock, board or broken piece of asphalt must be kept in front and rear wheels of the car to prevent them from rolling.


  • Is the use of scissor jacks safe?

The use of a scissor jack is safe when used following the proper precautions. These are designed for use in emergencies like replacing the tires. If used solely for the purposes it is designed, it is completely safe and should not be mishandled.

  • What is the most important factor a customer should consider while buying a scissor jack?  

The most important factor a customer should consider while buying a scissor jack is the maximum lifting capacity of the jack. The value shouldn’t exceed the weight of the vehicle for safety reasons.

  • How important is placing the jacking correctly?

The correct positioning of the jack is extremely important as it prevents cracking or bending if there is any extra load on the jacks and can prevent the car from any serious damage.

  • Is it safe to use a scissor jack as support while changing the oil?

It is not at all advised to use a scissor jack as support while changing oils as these can cause serious damages. Use jack stands for instance for safety purposes and ensure that you have placed the jack stands at the correct position before getting underneath the car.

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