How To Work Under A Car Without A Lift? Experts Tips

There are several reasons to lift a car. Whether the reason is to rotate tires, change oil, bleed or work on brakes, or check exhaust catalyst, you have to lift your car. Whatever the reason is, you’ll agree with me that getting a two-post or four-post car lift isn’t affordable to every car owner.

If you fall into the category of those car owners who can’t or don’t want to spend thousands of dollars in acquiring a car lift, then car ramps, garage pits, Jack and jack stands may be the best option to lift your car off the ground and get your hands dirty.

The option of using car ramps, garage pits, Jack, and axle stands is simple, straightforward, and affordable. Getting the job done requires safety precautions, a set of wheel chocks, wheel spanners, a Jack, and a couple of axle stands. It also requires knowing where to set the jack and the jack stands.

In this article, we’ll discuss extensively how to work under a car without a lift and safety tips to adhere to when working under a vehicle that rests on jack stands.

Safety Tips Before You Start Work

best way to lift a car at home

I have been in this field for years and have experienced many adverse effects of working under a car without a lift. So, I’m not going to lie; there’s a real possibility of the car slipping off the jack stands. I’d hope you know what that means. Yea, disaster.

However, there are best ways to lift a car at home and mitigate the danger of working under a car without a lift.

  • Car jacks are produced to carry a designated weight. This means you shouldn’t use a small passenger car jack to lift SUVs. In any case, you have to know the weight of your car and that of the jack you intend to use in raising your vehicle. Consult your owner’s booklet or do a google search to know the weight of your vehicle.
  • Jack stands as no exception. They are designed to support a specified weight.
  • Do not forget to block off the wheels that are touching the ground with wheel chocks. The essence of the wheel chocks is to prevent the car from rolling forward or backward. Also, engage the hand brakes even if you suspend both rear wheels; the emergency brake works even in the air.
  • Lift the vehicle slowly and avoid wiggling the jack.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have wheel chocks. Any heavy object like a piece of wood, stone, or piece of building block can help. Just jam it on the front and rear sides of the wheels.
  • Do not go under the vehicle or place anything under it when lifting. You should only work under the car after you have secured it with Jack stands.
  • If you hear any pops or cracks coming from the car, jack, or axle stands when jacking the car, stop and cautiously inspect if the jack and stands are appropriately placed.
  • Lifting a heavier vehicle can be challenging. You may have to add extra pipe to gain leverage and make the work easier.

How To Work Under A Car Without A Lift

The following paragraphs explain how to work under a car without a car lift.

Let’s get high! Wait, scratch that.

how to lift car to work on it

Oil Change Ramps.

Oil change ramps are DIY car lifts. It is made of resin. Oil change ramps, as the name indicates, are produced for oil change purposes. However, you can use it for other minor underneath works. It is designed to help mechanics, and car owners lift their vehicles a little bit. They are not suitable for any major underneath work.

You can’t use an oil change ramp to lift all the vehicles, no matter the height you want to gain. You can use it to raise either the front or rear side of a car simultaneously.

However, it has its pros and cons. The pros of oil change ramps are simple, lightweight, and affordable to all car owners. The cons are limited access. It might not offer the desired height you want to gain. If you are looking for how to lift a car by hand, Oil change ramps are the option.

Jack And Jack Stands

This is the oldest and one of the simplest ways to raise a car without a lift. All vehicles come with a jack which means auto manufacturers know that jacks are essential. They are used for several things. Let’s see how to use jacks and axle stands.

Park on a level and strong floor: when working with Jack and jack stands, the no.1 safety tip you should follow is to work on level ground. This will help prevent the jacks and axle stands from sliding off.

Locate the jack points: Every vehicle make and model have jacking points. Before you start lifting your vehicle, locate the jacking points. If you are finding it challenging to locate, consult your dusty old manual. The manual has information on where to place your jack and stands.

Follow the instructions on where to place the jack and axle stands. Also, pay attention to the weight of your vehicle and the jack capacity limits.  If you want to know how to jack a car rally high, follow the instructions on your manual religiously and use jack and stands that are rated appropriately to lift your car.

Assemble your lifting gears: If you’re working on all the wheels, I advise you to lift the wheels two at a time. I.e., start from the two front wheels and later move to the back when you’re done with the front wheels.

Get your wheel chocks, jacks, and jack stand close. If you are working on one front or rear wheel, block the opposite wheel.

In any case, if you want to lift the four wheels at a time, you need to be cautious while doing this. Consider starting with one front wheel and the opposite rear wheel. Do not economize jack stands and put your life at risk by supporting two wheels with one axle stand. Ensure you use one axle stand on each wheel.

Block off the wheel: Shift your gear lever to low gear or put it in the park position. Then, block off the wheel on the opposite side you want to work on, or you may choose to block off the two rear wheels when working on the front wheels. Do the exact opposite when working on the rear wheels.

Lift your vehicle: Locate good jacking and supporting points. When working on only one wheel, it’s a good idea to lift the opposite side so both wheels will be at equal height. Get a strong jack stand and support both wheels.

Support the wheels: Support the vehicle with a quality axle stand. Make sure the opposite wheel gains the same height. I.e., both front wheels should be of equal height. The same goes for the rear wheels. Always get your stands in pairs.

After placing the jack stands on the supporting points, lower the vehicle slowly until the whole weight rests on the jack stands evenly. Ensure support of the front and rear wheels with a pair of jacks.

Check each jack stand: Visually inspect the jack stands. Make sure the vehicle is resting on them evenly. Wiggle the car a bit ( I did not ask you to push it down). If you notice any movement, consider re-jacking the wheel and reset the jack stand properly.

Start work: whether you are an entry-level mechanic, DIY, or a petrolhead, no matter your experience in this field, you should know that leaving a car on 2 jack stands or more unevenly can turn a simple brake system bleeding into a disaster. You need to support the vehicle properly before you start work.

Jack and jack stands are affordable to all, making them excellent and famous, but the downside is safety issues.

Entry-level Scissor Style Hydraulic Lifts

The entry-level scissor-style lift operates like a scissor. They have a scissor-like mechanism that makes them function like that. You’ll face some difficulties lifting long-wheelbase cars because these types of lifts work between the wheelbase of vehicles. Long vehicles have a long wheelbase, making it challenging to raise them with entry-level scissor-style hydraulic lifts.

Most entry-level scissor lifts raise vehicles from the rear and front wheels. This makes it difficult and unstable to lift the car with a biased weight on the opposite side. If you’re swapping your engine or transmission, this lift is not the best option. Instead, I recommend using jacks and jack stands.

Most often, manufacturers of these lifts use cheaper quality hydraulic systems, which implies there might be a compromise on the hydraulic force. They leak and even fail sooner than four posts and two post car lifts. Despite these disadvantages, they cost nearly the same as two-post car lifts.

Garage Pit

A garage Pit is another means of working under your car without a lift. The benefits of garage pits can not be overemphasized. However, it comes with its downside. Let’s look at what the garage Pit has to offer.

  • There is no system downtime or hydraulic failure with garage pits.
  • The garage Pit makes it possible to work under the vehicle and on the interiors simultaneously. Even the most recognized four-post car lifts do not offer this benefit.
  • Setting up garage pits is easy and cost-effective.
  • Having a garage Pit will make it possible to work safely underneath your car. It offers a huge advantage for maintenance and inspection.

Although most mechanics and DIYers do not like garage pits. They see it as a dirty, crumbling pit dug for the wrong set of people. However, this is just their opinion and misconceptions of the advantages of garage pits.

Using a garage Pit is as simple as ABC. You only have to drive your vehicle to the pit and drive it out once you’re done with the inspection or maintenance.


Q: How can I lift my car without Jack’s stands?

If you’re uncomfortable or don’t want the idea of lifting your vehicle with jack stands, there are better and safer alternatives to use. After all, jack stands are the oldest means of supporting vehicles on air. I don’t blame you. Here are the safer and better alternatives;

Some of these alternatives are not only safer and better than jacks and jack stands, but they also come with more benefits.

Q: Can I put my car on 4 jack stands?

Though it’s not recommended to suspend all four wheels on jack stands, that doesn’t mean the probability for an accident to occur is high.

In any case, ensure you have a co-worker or a friend with you while you work. He’s not just there to help you with only tools but also to get emergency services in case the vehicle slips off the jack stands.

Q: Can you change the oil without jacking the car up?

On some passenger cars, it is impossible to change the motor oil and oil filter without lifting the vehicle. While on some higher vehicles like Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi L200, you can easily slide under the car with a lying board and drain the engine oil.

Replacing motor oil requires draining the old engine oil and replacing the old oil filter. That means jacking up the car is not part of the work. The jacking process is only to gain enough room to change the oil.

Another way of doing an oil change is by using a garage Pit. With garage pits, you can service both SUVs and Small passenger cars without jacking up the car.

Q: What do you do if you don’t have a car jack?

Knowing what to do if you don’t have a jack when changing tires, doing oil changes at regular intervals, or when doing minor maintenance is Paramount as a mechanic. There are several alternatives to jack stands, including commercial four posts or two-post car lifts, mini ramps, kwik-lift, and garage pits.

Although garage pits are not an alternative to jacks when changing tires, it is a better and safer option for other maintenance jobs.

Q: Can I leave my car on a jack stand overnight?

Straight to the point, the answer is yes. I and some other certified auto mechanics do leave cars on jack stands for months without stories.

All you have to do is to ensure you jack the vehicle on a level and firm ground and support it with jack stands that are rated for the weight of the car, and you’re good to go.

Q: Can you work under a car without a jack?

Yes, of course. Almost all the garages in the state have 2 or 4 post-car lifts. As stated earlier, car lifts are a safer alternative to jacks.

Another means of working under a vehicle without a jack is by using garage pits. They’re an incredible option to consider.

Final word

Regardless of other better and safer options to jacks and jack stands, it is essential to know how to lift a car with a jack. You can use jacks anywhere, unlike garage pits that are dug in one place.  Speaking of car lifts, you won’t have to think of it when you have a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.

At this juncture, we’ve unveiled how to work under a car without a lift. And also discussed the safety tips to follow and lastly, the alternative to jack and jack stands. We hope this article has answered your question on how to get your hands dirty under a car without a lift.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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