Learning How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won’t Lift

Any DIY mechanic will tell you the essence of a good floor jack. A hydraulic floor jack is easy to use, durable, and very efficient while working with them. Nonetheless, like any other mechanical tool, a floor jack is bound to fail. This failure could be frustrating, especially when it is the only tool you have at a stranded place. It is thus crucial for you to know common issues that may cause a jack not to hold pressure.

If your floor jack is not performing, there is most probably an underlying problem behind it. Fortunately, it’s something you can fix quickly, as you only need a few handy tips. Read this guide to find out “how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift easily”

Fix a Floor Jack

How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won’t Lift

1. Check the Weight

The first thing you ought to know is that a floor jack may not always fail to hold pressure due to a mechanical fault. Floor jacks have their lifting capacity; thus, you may want to cross-check that against your vehicle’s weight. Most floor jacks are fitted with a safety overload valve. This feature works to prevent the jack from working when overloaded. Typically, a Pittsburgh 3-ton floor jack won’t lift more than three tons even if you tried.

The rule of thumb applies. The law states that a floor jack should be rated at least three-quarters of your vehicle’s gross weight. If this is not the case with the floor jack and vehicle you intend to lift, then that may be the cause for your jack. Not only does exceeding a floor jack’s capacity stress it, but it also makes the entire process dangerous for you.

2. Inappropriate Hydraulic Oil Levels

Higher or lower oil levels than recommended may cause our floor jack not to work. This also lowers your jack’s capability. You should take off the fill plug from the floor jack and then peep into its oil chamber.

For most floor jacks, the recommended level is about 3/16 to a quarter over the reservoir. If you have to refill, make sure that the best quality oil is what you have first. However, if the jack’s oil level is higher than the recommended, you would have to drain up the excess.

Moreover, you should always make sure that you often examine the hydraulic jack to detect any debris or dirt in the oil chamber. You may as well consider disassembling the floor jack to check for any damaged parts which would lead to external or internal leakages. If need be, consult a professional.

3. Expel Trapped Air

Your jack’s failure could also result due to the presence of some trapped air in the floor jack. Fortunately, this issue is easy to resolve. The only thing you need to do is to find out how to bleed a floor jack. The process starts typically by placing the unit’s valve in a retracted position, which is anticlockwise of the handle. In the end, make sure you put back the floor jack’s oil fill screw and then try putting it into work again.

Lack of enough oil in the jack’s reservoir leads to air building up in the unit, preventing it from lifting. An extra useful tip is; you should not use different types, such as motor or brake oil, as it could cause damage to your jack’s interior parts.

Different oil types have specific viscosity levels that would best suit your unit for better performance. Moreover, these oils have different acidity levels and some chemicals that could swell, tear up, or even degrade the components of your floor jack.

4. Final Comprehensive Checkup

If all of the issues listed above are already solved, this does not necessarily mean that our jack is ready to work normally. A hydraulic floor jack troubleshooting is crucial to detect any other possible issues it would. You should ensure you check items such as cracked welds, some ruined parts, oil leaks, and everything else.

Moreover, you ought to check the jack’s ram by turning it on either side. Always ensure you examine it while it is in both the retracted and extended positions. If the floor jack has rusty pistons, this could lead to a potential issue that ought to be taken care of.

5. Regular Servicing

Servicing the floor jack from time to time goes a long way to make sure that it is always in perfect condition. For instance, applying lubrication on all movable parts is one of the most vital routines to adopt. However, the typical habit is to assume that all parts are efficiently working, which is not right. Lubrication assures you that the jack will run effectively as well as smoothly with minimum friction.

6. Check the Release of Valve

If the floor jack’s handle is pumping in the right way and its saddle is positioned correctly, but you find that the hydraulic jack won’t go down or up, check its release valve’s tightness. If it is not in the right place, adjust it accordingly. If this were the cause, the jack should resume working normally. Nonetheless, you should not have to wait until your floor jack fails, so you would begin to get worried. Taking good care of the jack guarantees you the best service you can get from a jack. 


If you’ve read this to the very last word, you have the know “how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift.” Having what it takes is just as important as figuring out the real issue causing our jack’s failure. Many a time, the underlying issues for your jack’s failure are the ones written in this guide.

They are easy to resolve, but if the problem is complicated, it would be better to ask for help from the experts. Also, you have to continually keep in mind that the most common issues that make your jack fail are overloading, oil underfill or overfilled rusty ram pistons, trapped air, and the rest.


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

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