Unlike low profile floor jacks for cars, bottle jacks offer a more compact design, small stature, and can reach that higher frame of your truck, or help you work on that construction job with ease.
The best bottle jack will support effortlessly, while safely lifting your truck, motorcycle, or shed up without creaks and fears of collapsing.
What makes a bottle jack the best, though? We’ve got a buyers guide to get you started.
Buyers guide for a hydraulic bottle jack
Bottle jacks are offered in several tonnage ratings, sizes, and lift heights.
The most important feature for you, however, is the max lift height in comparison to your jack point.
If you don’t buy a jack that will reach your jack point, and lift higher than that, you’ve just wasted space in your garage.
Measuring the distance from the jack point on your vehicle or structure to the normal height of the jack is vital. Then, the tonnage rating will be next.
Compared to their large, behemoth-sized brethren, the floor jack, bottle jacks are minute and compact. They take up more space vertically than they do horizontally, and weigh considerably less.
The downside to bottle jacks are that they need to be on a very flat surface to safely work, so keep that in mind where you’ll be using it.
You’ll want a jack that can handle at least your vehicle’s tonnage, ideally a bit more. Now, that doesn’t mean owning a 3 ton truck and buying a 20 ton jack makes sense; only buy more tonnage if you feel like you’ll be using it down the road.
Bottle vs floor jack?
There are many different applications for whiskey jacks, but only a select few are application specific, such as for automotive uses. Example: a bottle jack does work well for lifting transmissions, rear ends, and engines up short distances.
Most won’t fit under vehicles for standard work — i.e., tire changes, brake pad changes, etc. — because of their height. This makes them less useful for regular vehicle work and gives the upper advantage to a good low profile floor jack in your garage.
Bottle jacks are rated by how much weight they can lift and how high they lift.
There are models that vary in weight capacity that can be connected to an air compressor, but most are operated by pumping the handle. Most brands make a selection, and there are many to choose from.
Cost is subjective, so we will stick to the weight and height.
The two ton capacity is good for odd projects like changing a tire or leveling a small shed. They are strong and durable, most are equipped with a threaded adjusting head for extra lift range.
The next step up is the 4 ton, they have some that are a lower profile that allows for better clearance in tight spaces. Most have the adjustable height head as the previous model. Some are even equipped with a second piston for added height in lifting.
The next step up from that is a 5 to 8 ton, and then a 10. Most come with the standard adjustable head, and some with the second piston for added height. The 5 ton can be used on smaller farm equipment and some tractors, while the 8 and 10 are more than ample for that kind of a work load.
A decent variety of these common sizes come equipped with the ability to be connected to an air compressor for faster and less labor intense work.
The 20 and 50 ton variety are for structural work like straightening floors or leveling beams. They can be used for the big jobs like changing tires on large farm equipment or even moving mobile homes or houses.
Sometimes one is not enough to get an even lift even though it may be rated for the job. Sometimes it takes 4 that are rated for the job, just to ensure a safe work environment.
Sometimes knowing how big to go can be a challenge, but commonly things come with paperwork, and in the paperwork you should be able to find the weight. The only thing that will have to be estimated is raising a house, and most times, that is best left to someone with professional experience in the field. If this is you, carry on!
For floor leveling and straightening beams normally a 10 ton will do. To err on the side of caution a 20 ton is not too much for the job, and may make the task easier, given the working load and the capability of the jack.
Cribbing is blocks of wood or timber used to support the work while the jack is either being moved, adjusted, or removed. The jack is just used to lift the work, not support it.
Remember to ensure the footing of the bottle jack before you lift. The base of the jack isn’t very wide and they exert tons of pressure. It is wise to put something like cribbing under it to keep it stable and level.
If you are lifting something very large, like a mobile home, make sure that it is lifted evenly. Making sure to lift evenly from end to end, and side to side. This needs to be done to ensure that the load does not slide off of a jack. We all know what would happen and it isn’t good.
It is okay to use a jack that is rated much higher than the load, as long as it will fit under what you are lifting. If you are contemplating some projects that might call for a ten ton jack, and one you need a twenty ton for, get the larger one, it wont hurt anything. If the one you want is an inch or two too tall, look for one rated the same but a lower profile!