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What methods are there to "fool proof" raising a vehicle.

After a long search, some of the items I found include using ramps and jack stands (which ones are safest?) , placing tree stumps underneath and chocking the rear wheels (can also the front be chocked on a ramp?).

Are the above sound ideas and what other methods are there to fool proof raising a vehicle?

Thank You.

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    If I have to remove the wheels I slide them under the rocker panels along with jack stands under the frame. – mikes Aug 6 '14 at 22:53
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As TDHofstetter says, nothing is foolproof, so use as many backups as you can.

If I'm using stands, I jack the car up with a hydraulic jack, put the stands under, lower it onto them, the try to shake the car to make sure it is solid and well settled onto the stands. I then leave the jack in place as a backup to the stands, and slide a wheel under the sill as another backup. I also minimise the time I spend with any body parts under the car!

It is always wise to chock the wheels that remain on the ground, and apply the handbrake and/or leave it in gear/park to prevent the driven wheels turning.

Also make sure you know the safe places to support the car - these should be listed in the manual, but (if it's an older vehicle) it's worth checking they are properly solid before relying on them...

Also, if possible make sure someone knows where you are, or is with you, so if the worst does happen they can rescue you...

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  • thanks, I forgot about leaving it in gear, since it is stick. It is a '65 c-10, how do I ensure solid support points? – Greg McNulty Aug 7 '14 at 22:38
  • If you've got a workshop manual or similar, they should show you where they are supposed to be - then it's just a case of making sure those points aren't rotten... If not, under the axles are usually good points, as are suspension mounting points, as they are designed to take the full weight of the vehicle. – Nick C Aug 8 '14 at 13:29
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Nothing - NOTHING - is foolproof. People get killed every year by "foolproof" things. There are lots of ways to improve your chances of NOT becoming one of those statistics, though.

First and foremost... any time you or anyone else will be underneath a vehicle, make sure that something else is under the car with you - something THICKER than your head, THICKER than your chest, and strong enough to withstand the full impact of your vehicle falling on it WITHOUT yielding. It needs to be wide enough to spread the falling vehicle's load over plenty of ground surface - if it's thin, the falling vehicle may simply drive it into the ground like a stake. I like big truck wheels under a vehicle with me - they're large, they're thick, they're astoundingly strong.

DO NOT use concrete blocks as sacrificial "vehicle catchers", and ESPECIALLY don't use them with the webs horizontal. They simply won't tolerate either the impact or the weight. Not reliably.

Even big commercial pneumatic or hydraulic or pneumatic-hydraulic lifts should not be used to hold a vehicle in the air while people are under it UNLESS a failsafe is used to catch the vehicle in the event the lift's valves fail. The same applies to chain-operated lifts; chains can and do break. Again, I've seen commercial lifts drop vehicles.

Ramps... are useless and dangerous IF they're not built heavily enough to easily handle the vehicle's resting weight. They're also useless if the ground is so soft that they can be pushed into it by the vehicle's resting weight, or if the ground is so sloped that the vehicle can tip (in any direction) off the ramp, or tip over the ramp itself. Don't laugh, I've seen ramps fall over.

If using ramps, always chock the wheels that are NOT on a ramp. It's a good idea, too, to set chocks ahead of those same wheels just before you drive up a pair of ramps, with the chocks carefully laid out at the right distance such that the non-ramped wheels come into contact with the chocks just as the ramped wheels are ready to roll off the far side of the ramps. Again, I've seen people overdrive their ramps, resulting in the car looking silly with ramps under the doors instead of under the wheels.

Likewise, jack stands are useless and dangerous if they're not built heavily enough for the vehicle, or if they can be pushed into the ground, or if they can fall over.

One of the safest ways I know to lift a vehicle a short distance is to use short pieces of wood planks stacked up to the necessary height. The planks need to be on a level concrete floor, and they should be AT LEAST as wide as the tires they're supporting. If long enough, they can be used as simple ramps, even. Even up on stacked planks, though... you should never be under there without a "catcher".

Don't screw around with your life. If you ever catch yourself thinking "that's probably good enough", rethink. If you're ever going to get old, it should be several times as good as it NEEDS to be... and there should always be AT LEAST TWO solid things between that car and your headstone.

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  • smart advice, this is very helpful. I am curious about the wood planks. What type of wood is this? Why is it safer than "engineered" ramps? You just make it yourself or is this a product? – Greg McNulty Aug 7 '14 at 22:41
  • You just make it yourself, on the spot, to whatever height you need. Lay the longest plank on the floor, stack the next-longest on top of it so the ends furthest from the wheels are even with each other, repeat with the next-longest again, and so on. It's safer than any steel ramps I've ever seen because the stack is solid all the way down, and you could support a hundred tons with it if necessary... and the load is spread over a very large area, so you can use it on soft ground where you couldn't dream of using steel ramps. – TDHofstetter Aug 7 '14 at 23:30
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Modern vehicles are designed primarily to be raised/hoisted by a service quality ramp/hoist, which all have safety features to prevent the ramp dropping. The next safest way to raise a vehicle is with a service quality trolley jack. The trolley jack is used to raise the vehicle and axle stands are placed at the points on your vehicles body to support it in the raised position. The vehicle should be raised on solid ground, and you must not go under the vehicle until it is supported on stands, AND lowered onto those stands. Cheap, weak equipment introduces the dangers that there are in raising vehicles, made worse by familiarity and complacency to those dangers. If you feel you need to have tree trunks and concrete blocks under the vehicle with you, then find a mechanic, local to you, who will demonstrate the correct way to do it.

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  • thanks, I am interested to know the correct way to put tree trunks and tires underneath. – Greg McNulty Aug 7 '14 at 22:40

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