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Thread: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

  1. #1
    Flashaholic* milkyspit's Avatar
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    Default Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    I've been putting off buying some sort of hydraulic jack for a while now, but I can't wait much longer. Since some of you seem to have some garage expertise, maybe you could point me in the right direction?

    I'll tell you some uses I'd have for a jack. First the obvious, of course, of jacking up my cars for simple things like tire changes while they sit in our driveway. (The driveway's level but consists of small, packed gravel, if it matters.) Beyond this, I need something I can use to raise the front of my riding lawnmower enough to get decent access to the underside of the mowing deck so I can clean impacted grass out of it, change the blades, install or remove the mulching inserts, etc. I'm sure I'll find other uses for a jack in the future, but for now these are the main two, with the mower probably being the more immediate need.

    I'm only a homeowner who needs an occasional workhorse here, not some sort of auto enthusiast. That said, I prefer to buy a decent piece of equipment that will last for a long time; can't stand buying junk that fails in a year or two. I'll also mention that my grandfather used to do his own repairs on his cars and once had a hydraulic jack fail on him, pinning him under the car and nearly choking him to death. (A rod was pressing against his throat.) I'd like a jack where I can count on such a thing NOT happening! At least to the extent that I can count on anything.

    So the question would be, what do you folks suggest I buy, and how much should I expect to spend?

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    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick an a hydraulic jack, please.

    Don't scrimp too much on the jack. That said, hydraulics to a large degree are hydraulics.

    In addition, get some jack stands for when you will be UNDER a vehicle!

    The best feature for a floor jack, is to have the handle do both functions ie: twist to let down.

    We have two jacks, a cheapy from Sams that works pretty good, and a big bad garage jack that was given to us that ROCKS!

    For your use, I think the Sams would do. You MIGHT also check around at Pawn Shops and such...

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    Flashaholic* FC.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick an a hydraulic jack, please.

    Holmatro makes the best jacks.






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    Default Re: Help me pick an a hydraulic jack, please.

    How 'bout one of these babies!!

    http://www.bakerprecision.com/longacr20.htm

    In all seriousness, might go to your local Sears and see if the line of craftsman jacks would suit your needs. Been using a couple of them for years with no problems. Oh, and don't forget jack stands.


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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    I would suggest a jack and a couple of jack stands (a must have). What you are jacking up will determine the size (maximum and minimum height) of the jack and it's load capacity. The lower the object is to the ground, the less options you will have unless you can put the object on a ramp of some kind, at least enough to get the jack under it. For instance a hydraulic bottle jack will only get so low to the ground (minimum height). The gravel is not a problem, though you might want to put a piece of wood under the base of the your jack or jack stands.

    Sears, Walmart, Schucks, Napa......look for the sales. I got mine from Harborfreight and they are built every bit as good as the basic models you can get anywhere else IMHO. I also keep my cell phone within reach if I'm under something and I'm the only one home. If I get pinned and am alive and able, I can at least call for help.

    I have these....

    Farm Jack

    Bottle Jack

    Jack Stands

    mike


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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    Never trust a jack of any kind. Always block the vehicle or use jack stands etc. Block the wheels too or set the parking brake.

    A classmate of mine was killed when he crawled under a car that was raised with a bumper jack.

    You can buy ramps to run your car up on when you want to crawl under it. They might be the easiest way to elevate the lawn mower.

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    Flashaholic* avusblue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    These things are heavy, if you mail order one the shipping will kill you.

    I bought one last fall from Wal-Mart that's branded "Mack" (as in Mack Truck) and found it to be EXCELLENT quality for a very low price. It was bundled with jack stands. I was suprised by how good this kit is; my expectations were definitely exceeded. I recommend you check it out.

    And I agree, NEVER lay under a car supported only by a jack.

    Good luck,

    Dave

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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    A tip I got from a mechanic friend - avoid the jacks (I'm not talking about bottle jacks here) that have the little tiny saddles. Look for a 4" or 5" one. The 2" or smaller ones are not only harder to use, but if the manufacturer was scrimping there, where else did he scrimp?

    The nicer ones seem to be in the $150+ range, but I've seen them on sale for $99 a few times.

    You can save a lot of money by purchasing a bottle jack, but they're much more inconvienent to use. That said, will you be able to utilize a wheeled one on a gravel driveway? If not, a bottle jack might be a better choice.

    Either way, invest the money/time in getting/making good chock(s) for the opposite end of the vehicle.

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    Flashaholic* milkyspit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    eluminator, good advice for sure. Sad about your classmate. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

    avusblue, is there a model number for the specific jack you purchased?

    Bill.H, what's a "saddle" as it pertains to jacks? Also, do you mean bottle jacks are inconvenient because you have to carry them to the work instead of rolling them? That's probably not a big concern for me. Or did you mean something else about them? Hmm... and what about the chocks... what makes for a "good" chock vs. a "bad" chock?

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    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    A lever type garage jack has one major advantage over a bottle jack. It will almost certainly start from a lower to much lower position when lifting.

    On something like my F-350 a bottle jack works fine. On my Dads El Camino, if all you had was a bottle... GIVE UP!

    The saddle is the part that contacts the item to be lifted. A bottle jack doesn't have a saddle. Look at some pics on the web to see what I mean.

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    Flashaholic* FC.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    OH, I see you don't like my jacks [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mad.gif[/img] . just kiddin' [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    milkyspit said:
    Bill.H, what's a "saddle" as it pertains to jacks? Also, do you mean bottle jacks are inconvenient because you have to carry them to the work instead of rolling them? That's probably not a big concern for me. Or did you mean something else about them? Hmm... and what about the chocks... what makes for a "good" chock vs. a "bad" chock?


    [/ QUOTE ]
    PlayboyJoeShmoe already answered about the saddle, and he's also right about a standard bottle jack not fitting well under many cars.

    Convenience: You have to crawl under the vehicle to place a bottle jack, and, while you're under there, jack it up. With the rolling type, you can do most of the work without laying down (not fun in a gravel driveway).

    The difference between a good chock and a bad chock - a good chock will stop the vehicle from rolling. A brick is a bad chock. A piece of scrap 8x8 cut at a 45 is much better. You can buy ones that are large, plus they dig into the surface to prvent sliding, even better. If your driveway is fairly flat you won't need much.
    Concrete blocks slide fairly easily on asphalt driveways (don't ask). [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon23.gif[/img]
    The small base on a bottle jack also makes it rather easy for it to tip over (don't ask how I know that, either). [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* avusblue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    milkyspit said:

    avusblue, is there a model number for the specific jack you purchased?


    [/ QUOTE ]

    I have to confess, the reason I was a little vague in my original post, is that I don't have it handy to give any more specifics; I loaned the kit to my friend and it's been living in his garage all summer. He's got a much nicer garage than me, and he lets me change my oil over there, so I think I'll leave it.

    I do recall that the kit came with a wheeled floor jack, two jack stands, and a carry case, all for about 30 bucks. It's painted silver and has the "Mack" logo on it. I know it seems unbelievable that something so cheap could be any good, but it really is. Smooth jacking action, good low-to-high range, and it shows nice craftsmanship and finish. Sorry I can't be more specific about the PN or specs.

    I also did buy a "Mack" extendable lug wrench kit, it has a reversable bit to fit any lug bolt, and a very nice carry case, for about 15 bucks. It's nice too.

    Next time you're at the friendly neighborhood WallyWorld, check 'em both out.

    Good luck,

    Dave

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    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    Anyone ever seen a "reasonably priced" air powered floor jack?
    I think it'd be a nifty thing to have a jack that I could hook up to my air line and just feather a throttle control to lift the car. I don't mean the types I've seen that use an air bag, but just a regular 3-1/4 ton floor jack with an air input-
    I suppose there must be some technical or liability issues that prevent it from coming to the general market, being such an obvious next step, and it doesn't seem like it'd be very difficult to design (implementing the required safety mechanisms)

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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    Wingerr said:
    Anyone ever seen a "reasonably priced" air powered floor jack?
    I think it'd be a nifty thing to have a jack that I could hook up to my air line and just feather a throttle control to lift the car. I don't mean the types I've seen that use an air bag, but just a regular 3-1/4 ton floor jack with an air input-
    I suppose there must be some technical or liability issues that prevent it from coming to the general market, being such an obvious next step, and it doesn't seem like it'd be very difficult to design (implementing the required safety mechanisms)

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Wingerr - There are several Air/Hydraulic jacks, but most are heavy duty for truck fleet operations, and are in the 20 ton and greater range. If all you are looking for is higher speed, look for floor jacks with a quick action lift pedal. The quick lift pedal allows you to raise the jack saddle or lifting pad quickly to the lifting point, and as soon as the weight starts to be lifted, you use the long pumping handle for the heavy lifting. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]

    Here's a link to Northern Tool, a company that sent me a catalog. I have not done business with them so you may want to check with the BBB where they are located. Link

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    Flashaholic* avusblue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    MikeF said:
    Here's a link to Northern Tool, a company that sent me a catalog. I have not done business with them so you may want to check with the BBB where they are located. Link

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Northern Tool and Equipment is based in Minneapolis / St. Paul, and they have numerous retail stores here and other metro areas. They used to go by "Northern Hydraulic" and so of course that's what most folks around here still call them. They are reputable and have a good standing as a fun place to browse for those of us "more power - ungh ungh ungh!" guys. Their mainstay is offering house-brand gear, that isn't usually the cheapest, but seems to be good quality.

    That said, I still recommend checkin' out the Wal-Mart offerings before you buy.

    Dave

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    Flashaholic* snuffy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    I picked up one of these at Sears today. On sale for $100. It's a 3 1/2 ton with a 4" saddle and weighs 82 lbs.

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    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    MikeF said:
    Wingerr - There are several Air/Hydraulic jacks, but most are heavy duty for truck fleet operations, and are in the 20 ton and greater range. If all you are looking for is higher speed, look for floor jacks with a quick action lift pedal.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I've seen the speedi-lift jacks, but haven't yet gotten one or tried them out. My interest in the air jack is more out of laziness, and the fact that I have a nice compressor just sitting there willing to do all the work for me- [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
    I just didn't see why there's nothing on the market for the light duty applications; I have nothing approaching 20 tons myself-

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    Flashaholic* milkyspit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    snuffy, that's a lot of jack! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] The only thing that gives me pause is the 82 lbs. weight. In my case, I will almost definitely need to carry whatever jack I get out of the back of the garage (too many obstructions in the garage to roll it, then there's the gravel on the driveway) to the car or riding mower sitting outside. 82 lbs. is quite a little bundle to be carrying around! Maybe I could look on it as getting a little weight training mixed into my maintenance work. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    avusblue, I was in the local Walmart tonight, and saw a Mack jack in a plastic carry case, but no jack stands. I also saw a Mack jack (in cardboard box, so not sure about a case) with a pair of jack stands, a four-sided lug wrench, and what appeared to be a poor quality pair of collapsible chucks. Price on each package was $28.xx. Is yours anything like either of these?

    Also, it looked like the Mack jacks had the dreaded 2 inch saddle; should this concern me, given what's been said about the saddle in this thread? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif[/img]

    Finally, if memory serves at least one of the Mack jacks I saw had some kind of locking pin. It looked like the idea was to jack up the object in question, then insert the locking pin, which would keep the jack from lowering more than a little bit in the event of failure. Seemed like a good idea to me, but is this truly a reasonable safeguard?

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    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    You'll regret getting an 82 lb jack if you need to lift it regularly to get it to where you need it.. The Harbor Freight racing jack is in the 30's, and I picked one of that type up (physically that is) at Costco, and it's a genuine benefit, having a lighter weight.

    harbor freight

    If you have a place to stow it where you can roll it over, then the heavy jacks would be fine, and a better value.
    You would be better off looking for one with a wider saddle; less chance of the car slipping off with the wide saddle. I usually cut up some old tires to use as jack pads, to protect the car from getting gouged by the lip; they work really well, and the price is right! You could also use them to provide a non slip base for wheel chocks and ramps (place them under the tall end to prevent them from sliding as you start up the ramp) If you do try to cut up old tires, the only way you can go through the steel belted ones is with a reciprocating saw; nothing else will do, I found.
    Didn't mean to hi-jack your thread... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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    Flashaholic* snuffy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    milkyspit : Check this out. They have several on sale now, some that are lighter in weight and include jack stands.

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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    milkyspit,

    Would you accept a bit of advise from a guy who work a long time in the automotive repair field (me)? Don't scrimp on the jacks or jack stands! You'll want to get a floor jack with a strong frame (welded, not stamped) and a wide base, particularly since you're working on a uneven surface. Same goes for the jack stands. The last thing I think you want is something that is going to fold over on you (which I have seen with the cheap stamped frame floor jacks and jack stands [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/eek.gif[/img] ). Consider the Sears that was posted as a starting point and add to that four 5-ton (minimum, because they have wide bases) jack stands like these 6-ton Sears . The money you spend on good equipment always pays itself back through the reduction of injuries and vehicle damage. Also, pick yourself up a sheet or two of 3/4" plywood, rip it in half length ways. Then cut one of the halves into four squares. These will serve as footings for your jack stands. The remaining half can be used as a runway, to roll the floor jack under the car. Take your time and make sure that the car is secure, before doing any work. 'Nuff said for now, I hope this helps.

    Dan
    ASE Master Mechanic 1982-2000

  23. #23
    Flashaholic* Stingray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    I agree that the bigger and sturdier the jack stands, the better off you are, safety wise. But sometimes the bigger jack stands require you to jack up the car really high in order to get them underneath it, which stresses out the wheel bearings on the opposite side. So...you have to then jack up both sides of the front or back and put the jack stands underneath each side. Sometimes you just need to do a quick repair, and the smaller jack stands come in handy. I use 3 ton stands for that.

    I have been using floor jacks, bottle jacks, and jack stands alot lately (car repairs, motorcycle upgrades etc) and I have found that it's much easier when you have a selection depending on what you're doing. So, a small inexpensive 2 1/2 ton floor jack like the Wal-Mart or Sears ones, a big 5 or 6 ton floor jack, some small jack stands and some big ones, a $10 2 ton sears bottle jack, and some decent wheel chocks are what I'd recommend. This doesn't add up to much money, the only expensive thing is the big floor jack. I have some ramps too, but honestly, they hardly ever get used. You can't take the wheels off with them, and they're always in the way when your under the car. Occasionally they come in handy.

    Also, when working on a car with a wheel removed and the car on a jack or jack stand, I always put the removed wheel under the frame rail, just as a backup precaution. If the jack slips, at least the car won't go all the way down with part of you under it. You might ruin the wheel, but better that than your hand or arm. hth

    Oh, one more thing, make sure the floor jacks have a built in carrying handle, and are the kind that raise with one stroke before contacting the car.

  24. #24
    Flashaholic* milkyspit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    PercaDan, do you mean this Sears floor jack? Is it welded rather than stamped? I don't see any mention of that in the listing. Also, this one is listed as 3.5 tons, not the 5 or more you recommended. Am I missing something?

    Stingray, you guys are both making lots of sense to me, and your advice overlaps. One very small question, though. If that big floor jack doesn't have a handle, is there a way I could add one later? Or if you have an example of a "big" jack meeting all the criteria including handle, could you please tell me where to look or perhaps link to it?

    All, I'm sorry for my extreme ignorance, but I need to understand even the most basic things. Most importantly, what do I make contact with under the car to lift it with the floor jack? And what on the car do I attach the jack stands to? If I'm going to all this trouble to get super strong jack and jack stands, it would be tragic to put them under parts of the car that won't bear the weight! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif[/img]

    Whatever the answer is for the car, I assume it's similar for my riding mower?

  25. #25
    Flashaholic* snuffy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    milkyspit said:
    PercaDan, do you mean this Sears floor jack? Is it welded rather than stamped? I don't see any mention of that in the listing.


    [/ QUOTE ]
    I can field that one since bought it yesterday. The frame is 7/32" thick welded steel.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    milkyspit said:
    PercaDan, do you mean this Sears floor jack? Is it welded rather than stamped? I don't see any mention of that in the listing. Also, this one is listed as 3.5 tons, not the 5 or more you recommended. Am I missing something?

    You misunderstood, 5-ton jack stands. As to the jack, that's a good one. See the thick steel side plates (as opposed to stamped sheet metal plates)? The only thing that I see as a negative is the smallish jack pad (lifting saddle).

    Stingray, you guys are both making lots of sense to me, and your advice overlaps. One very small question, though. If that big floor jack doesn't have a handle, is there a way I could add one later? Or if you have an example of a "big" jack meeting all the criteria including handle, could you please tell me where to look or perhaps link to it?

    Walker and Lincoln have been industry standards for quite some time now. The OTC in a previous link is also good. I know very little about the General Hydraulics that Harbor Freight sells and I can only conjecture that they are made in China. I'll allow others to provide some links for you. Also, I can't imagine a floor jack without a handle nor (without any specifics) could I tell you if you could add one later. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img]

    All, I'm sorry for my extreme ignorance, but I need to understand even the most basic things. Most importantly, what do I make contact with under the car to lift it with the floor jack? And what on the car do I attach the jack stands to? If I'm going to all this trouble to get super strong jack and jack stands, it would be tragic to put them under parts of the car that won't bear the weight! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/icon15.gif[/img]

    Frame (if full-framed), frame boxes (if uni-body), sub-frame or cross-members (careful on these, it takes some experience) and sometimes suspension members and axle housings (once again, careful). Now mind you, these are all generalities and a lot of this requires common sense. For instance, don't jack a vehicle up by its bell housing (or any other cast part), its not strong enough to support the weight....etc., etc., etc.. Check your owner's manual for specifics. Also, many cars have special jacking points welded on the underside of the vehicle's floor pan and what pertains to jacking also pertains to the jack stands.

    Whatever the answer is for the car, I assume it's similar for my riding mower?

    Yep. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] Procede carefully. Later.

    Dan


    [/ QUOTE ]

  27. #27
    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    [ QUOTE ]
    PercaDan said:Also, I can't imagine a floor jack without a handle nor (without any specifics) could I tell you if you could add one later.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I think he means carrying handle, not the actual pumping handle- Most of the big floor jacks don't have handles for carrying, as they're meant to be wheeled around, and not lifted; it's only the smaller/lighter jacks that usually provide carrying handles.

  28. #28
    Flashaholic* milkyspit's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    Yes yes, meant carry handle. I didn't even think about that statement causing confusion, but I was sadly mistaken. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  29. #29
    Flashaholic* Wingerr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    Here's one that seems similar to the racing jacks sold by HF, with carrying handles, and about 40lb weight.
    Haven't seen it personally, but $79 seems quite a bit cheaper than the Craftsman one-

    lightweight with carrying handle

  30. #30
    Enlightened
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    Default Re: Help me pick a hydraulic jack, please.

    I have one of these http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=42820

    It was on sale for 99.00 it is not the best quality out there, but it is overkill for the jobs I do around the house. I like it, and have had no problems with it.

    I also got a pair of these http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=38847

    They were on sale for 19.00 a pair, they look very beefy, and will hold any of my vehicles. I have been very happy with both of these items.

    George

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