Watch a Hydraulic Press Show What It Really Takes to Make Jack Stands Collapse


Tested first without a safety key in place, the stand withstood about 12,300 pounds before slowly buckling. Strangely, the stand failed more rapidly with the pin installed, though admittedly not before resisting some 18,600 pounds of force—more than 50 percent more than its pin-less brother.

A tube-style stand made from aluminum came next, with its three metric-ton rating surpassing the pyramid style by exactly half. Though being made from a lighter material, its design enabled it to resist around 27,500 pounds of force before beginning to collapse.

Last came a compact scissor jack like those often found in cars’ emergency maintenance kits. These aren’t truly stands, and are held in low esteem by mechanics as “widow makers” for reasons that quickly become obvious. Though it held 9,200 pounds before deforming despite being rated for a mere 3,300, its small footprint caused it to buckle diagonally rather than vertically. Because of this narrow contact patch with the ground, uneven surfaces (like roadsides) are known to make this style of jack unstable, and potentially make vehicles simply fall off them.

Note that all these tests were conducted using static forces, not with the dynamic forces a real vehicle can exert on a stand, and with perfectly flat opposing surfaces, rather than the often uneven (if not sloping) surfaces of many garages and driveways. Watching two-ton stand hold nine on the internet is not license to ignore your garage equipment’s stated ratings, and should only be done by those wishing to win that most cynical of accolades known as the Darwin Award.

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