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I recently purchased a floor jack and a jack stand set and would like to know about their proper usage. I noticed some people use rubber pads for their floor jack and jack stand contact areas - some of them are bought, some make them from hockey pucks, some use wooden blocks (I think I've heard of simply using a towel instead of rubber as well). I assume this is done to prevent damage to the underside of the vehicle or prevent slippage. However other people seem to not use anything and just jack the car up metal to metal and place it on bare jack stands. So which one is the way to go, are pads worth purchasing/making?

Is this necessary?

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It partly depends on the car you are using them with - in the photo you've added, the pad on the stand has a slot in - so I'd guess it's being used with a car that has a lip on the sill - that lip would sit in the slot and the top of the pad would be against the sill of the car - thus avoiding damaging the lip.

The most important thing is to make sure the car is secure - once jacked up, you should not be able to move the car by shaking it. If you do use anything on top the stand, make sure it is something solid, that won't crush or crumble under the weight. It is also important to make sure the bottom of the stand is secure, and can't move or slip.

Personally, I've never used anything, just put the car straight on the stands, metal-to-metal.

  • Don't most cars have a lip on the sill? However I thought that the lip is for emergency lifting and is intended for the emergency jack. I usually see jack stands placed elsewhere, is the sill also a good place? – I have no idea what I'm doing Jun 17 '15 at 10:15
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    again, it depends on the car - most will have other places that are better to use, but some might not... It also depends on what you're doing, for example if you're dropping the suspension, you can't jack it under a suspension mount and so have to use somewhere on the bodyshell. – Nick C Jun 17 '15 at 10:29
  • I use a rag folded over a couple times to avoid scratching up the car. Depending on the exact location, sometimes the lip ends up just getting a little crushed. It's rare to see a car nowadays that doesn't have a flattened lip at the jacking location. Is it bad, yes, but it's not the biggest issue long term. :-) – Brian Knoblauch Jun 17 '15 at 15:45
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    @BrianKnoblauch I don't remember the model, but I was recently working on a car that had the lip pre-flattened for about 2 inches near each wheel. That way, you can use the jack that came with the vehicle (with a slot for the lip) or a "racing jack" which just has a flat pad. – Moshe Katz Jun 17 '15 at 16:34
  • I see, thank you for you answer. I'm thinking about making something like this to avoid damage and distribute the pressure a little better: i25.photobucket.com/albums/c65/tonka_1981/jack%20stands/… – I have no idea what I'm doing Jun 18 '15 at 5:39
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This is most readily left up to user preference.

As for me, it depends on what I'm asking the jack stand to do. The rubber pad is there to protect the underside of the vehicle. As you can tell with the jack stand you have shown on the left, the metal top alone concentrates a lot of weight in a small area. The rubber topped one spreads this out some. This gives some level of protection. Seeing as how it is rubber (even if hard rubber), I wonder how long it is going to last.

Personally I utilize a scrap piece of 2x4 (or 4x4 if I need further clearance) between the jack stand and the car frame (or wherever I'm placing the jack stand as a mounting point) so as to spread the weight concentration over a larger area. If I'm using a mounting point which is cast or solid (like the rear axle on my truck), I place it directly on the jack stand. This gives the most solid use of the stands for my purposes.

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