Best Jack Stands

Introduction 

Jack stands are some of the most under-appreciated maintenance accessories on the market today. Put simply, if you have to lift your vehicle for any type of maintenance, they can save your life.

Why? Because hydraulic car jacks can lose pressure, and other types of car jacks can fail in many other ways. If you plan to work underneath a lifted vehicle, use the best jack stands you can find.

After reviewing dozens, we found 8 of the best across a wide range of tonnage capacities, height ranges and price points. The Torin Big Red’s are excellent premium 3-ton jack stands, while the Pro-Lift 6-Ton and Pro-Lift 3-Ton are the best value for the money in our opinion.


Best Jack Stands of 2019

best jack stands red

The best jack stands of 2019 across all categories are (lock mechanism in parentheses):

  • Esco 3-Ton Steel (pin)
  • Torin 3-Ton Big Red Aluminum (pin)
  • Cartman 3-Ton Steel (ratchet)
  • Pro-Lift 3-Ton Steel (ratchet)
  • Torin 6-Ton Big Red Steel (ratchet)
  • Omega Magic Lift 6-Ton Steel (ratchet)
  • Pro-Lift 6-Ton Steel (ratchet)
  • OTC 1780 22-Ton Steel (pin).

Detailed individual product reviews are below.


ESCO 3-Ton Steel Jack Stands

ESCO is a premium maker of quality jack stands and is beloved by hobbyists and sports car owners.

esco 3 ton steel jack stand

These professional grade jack stands have premium features not found on other products in our review. The unique flat-top design with a removable rubber saddle provides the ultimate protection for cars and car paint. Circular base pads offer excellent stability and safety. Everything is top notch right down to the powder coating.

Reasons to Buy

  • Large 4-inch jack saddle
  • Self-molding rubber saddle cushion
  • Less likely to scratch paint on cars that have challenging lift points (as compared to stands with curved axle posts)
  • Class-leading 3-ton height range of 21.5 inches
  • Only stand in our review that is powder coated

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Minimum height may be too high for some low-slung sports cars (the 10499 low profile model is 2 inches lower and is designed for sports cars)
  • Premium price to match the premium brand (around the $100 mark)

Summary

The ESCOs are one of the best 3-ton jack stands available. Real luxury touches like powder coating and a large jack saddle make the ESCOs favorites of the high-end car crowd while the pin mechanism provides maximum safety. Perfect for car owners who value safety for themselves and their cars.


Torin 3-Ton Big Red Aluminum

Lightweight and looking like industrial works of art, the Torin Big Reds are our best aluminum jack stands.

torin aluminum big red jack stands

 

These are premium jack stands that look great and receive outstanding reviews. Using aircraft grade materials and weighing 10 pounds each, the Big Reds are easy to maneuver, even when you’re positioned awkwardly beside a car. The pin lock mechanism wont slip, thus providing extra security.

Reasons to Buy

  • Weigh 30% to 40% less than other 3-ton jack stands
  • Pin lock more secure than ratchet locks
  • Break down to a small size for easy storage
  • Small footprint causes less damage to garage floors
  • Great customer reviews
  • Meets ASME safety ratings
  • 1-year limited warranty

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Slightly lower max lift at 15.6 inches
  • Smaller base than A-frame stands cause some people to worry about stability

Summary

We like the Torin Big Reds a lot. They are one of the absolute best available and may be our overall favorite product. They come with a 1-year limited warranty.


Cartman 3-Ton Steel

The Cartman 3-ton set is a budget product that customers give good feedback.

cartman 3 ton jack stands

The Cartmans are a very serviceable set of jack stands at a very affordable price point. Like most of the top competitors in this segment, they have a one piece ratchet bar and a quick adjustment lever.

The Cartmans do not have any higher-end touches like rubber saddle pads, aircraft grade construction or a powder coated base.

Their main selling points are solid reviews and an unbeatable price.

Reasons to Buy

  • Outstanding price point (50% to 70% cheaper than premium models)
  • Meets or exceeds ANSI requirements
  • Quick release mechanism
  • Lightweight at ~12 pounds

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Some repair jobs require more clearance than the 16 inches provided by the Cartmans
  • Some reported quality control issues (<5%)
  • While these offer solid construction, the craftsmanship is a level below higher end models (e.g., end welds)

Summary

Usually priced at around $25, the Cartman 3-ton steel jack stands represent an outstanding value.


Pro-Lift 3-Ton Steel 

The Pro-Lifts may are one of the best reviewed value stands available today and are our favorite budget options.

pro lift 3 ton jack stands

 

The Pro-Lifts are unique in that they have a double locking mechanism — the normal handle that ratchet stands have AND a pin as well (see above photo). Construction includes a high-quality caste iron ratchet bar and sturdy base.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great price given the features
  • Dual locking mechanism (ratchet and pin)
  • Hefty feel for a budget jack stand
  • Meets or exceeds ANSI and PALD standards
  • Truly outstanding customer service
  • Excellent customer reviews

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Max clearance lower than the ESCOs
  • Again, craftsmanship is a notch below higher-end competitors

Summary

Purchasing a set of jack stands that gets great reviews for around $30 is a deal that is hard to beat. Definitely check the Pro-Lift 3-Ton Stands out.


3-Ton Product Comparison Table


Torin 6-Ton Big Red Steel

The Torin Big Red Steels are some of the best selling, if not the best selling, jack stands of all time.

torin 6 ton big red

The Torins are classic style, “A-frame” ratchet jack stands with a traditional locking rack. The multi-position, forged iron ratchet bar features single-piece construction. The design offers very precise height adjustments.

Reasons to Buy

  • Perennial best seller with great reviews
  • Very lightweight for their tonnage capacity
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Excellent ~ 24 inch max height
  • Large saddle ensures stability
  • Meet ASME safety standards

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Initial assembly is a bit more challenging than with other stands
  • Some reported quality control issues (e.g., bent supports) by a very small % of customers

Summary

The Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands are a long-time best seller with over one thousand reviews. No guess work is required when purchasing the Torins.


Omega Magic Lift 6-Ton Black

The Omega Magic Lift Blacks are our best premium 6-ton jack stands.

omega magic lift

The Omegas are like every other traditional ratchet styles with two exceptions. First, they have class leading reach with a maximum height of 24.4 inches.

Secondly, their patented Magic Lift technology is an unusual premium feature. Just pull the lever and a gas spring automatically raises the ratchet arm. This is nice because you don’t have to guess at the height needed, unlike with a pin type.

Reasons to Buy

  • Best in class max height (24.4 inches)
  • Innovative gas spring assisted lift technology
  • Solid, heavy construction
  • Premium look and feel
  • Good customer reviews

Reason Not to Buy

  • Some reports of flaky paint
  • A little harder to maneuver due to extra weight (16% heavier than the Torins)

Summary

The Omega Magic Lift Blacks are good value 6-ton jack stands with some truly premium extra features.

Construction: Steel. Lock Mechanism: Ratchet. Tonnage: 6 ton. Range: 15.8 inches to 24.4 inches


Pro-LifT 6-Ton Double Pin Steel

These are the big brothers to the 3-Ton Pro-Lifts we reviewed earlier.

pro lift 6 ton jack stand with extended ratchet bar

 

Other than tonnage capacity, all the same features found on the 3-ton model apply here. They have the same double lock mechanism with a traditional handle AND pin as an added safety measure (see photo above).

Reasons to Buy

  • Our favorite 6-ton value jack stand
  • Dual mechanism for extra safety (ratchet and pin)
  • Meets or exceeds ANSI and PALD standards
  • Great customer reviews
  • History of good customer service

Reason Not to Buy

  • A bit lighter weight construction than our other two 6 ton jack stands (10% to 20% lighter)
  • Occasionally out of stock due to lower price

Summary

Build quality is top notch for the price, and the Pro-Lift 6-Tons have the double-locking mechanism for extra safety. That’s a tough combination to beat.


6-Ton Product Comparison Table

Preview
Best Seller
Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands: 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Capacity, 1 Pair
Best Premium
Omega 32066 Magic Lift Black Jack Stand - 6 Ton Capacity
Best Value
Pro-LifT T-6906D Double Pin Jack Stands - 6 Ton
Title
Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands: 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Capacity, 1 Pair
Omega 32066 Magic Lift Black Jack Stand - 6 Ton Capacity
Pro-LifT T-6906D Double Pin Jack Stands - 6 Ton
Construction
Steel
Steel
Steel
Locking Mechanism
Ratchet
Ratchet
Ratchet
Height Range
15.4 inches to 23.8 inches
15.8 inches to 24.4 inches
15 inches to 23.5 inches
Rating
Prime?
Price
$58.16
$93.50
$43.63
Best Seller
Preview
Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands: 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Capacity, 1 Pair
Title
Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands: 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Capacity, 1 Pair
Construction
Steel
Locking Mechanism
Ratchet
Height Range
15.4 inches to 23.8 inches
Rating
Prime?
Price
$58.16
Best Premium
Preview
Omega 32066 Magic Lift Black Jack Stand - 6 Ton Capacity
Title
Omega 32066 Magic Lift Black Jack Stand - 6 Ton Capacity
Construction
Steel
Locking Mechanism
Ratchet
Height Range
15.8 inches to 24.4 inches
Rating
Prime?
Price
$93.50
Best Value
Preview
Pro-LifT T-6906D Double Pin Jack Stands - 6 Ton
Title
Pro-LifT T-6906D Double Pin Jack Stands - 6 Ton
Construction
Steel
Locking Mechanism
Ratchet
Height Range
15 inches to 23.5 inches
Rating
Prime?
Price
$43.63


Best Heavy Duty Jack Stands 

There are two reasons to use heavy duty jack stands. The first and obvious reason is that you’re lifting something very heavy, such as a large Recreational Vehicle (RV).

The second reason is psychological. For some people, if they’re putting their bodies at risk underneath a car, they want the best heavy jack stand with the highest capacity. Even if the capacity ratings are overkill.

It may not be rational, but I’m a bit sympathetic to this argument.  Enter the OTC 1780’s and their awesome 22 ton weight capacity.

Construction: Steel. Lock Mechanism: Pin. Capacity: 22ton. Range: 12 inches to 20 inches.

Sale
OTC 1780 Jack Stand
  • Flat base to prevent sinking
  • Large support area for load
  • Meets all US standards for lifting equipment
  • Used in 3 inch increments
  • Pin style non ratchet has 3 positions

If you can make use of them, the OTCs are just cool. They have large, almost 4 inch saddles coupled with an 8 inch base for better weight distribution and added stability.

The OTCs are solid steel with no cast iron or other cheaper metals used anywhere. They tip the scales at a heavy 80 pounds and meet the most demanding U.S. certification standards.

The pin style lock mechanism is extremely secure. The pin alone is 1 inch in diameter.

The OTCs are much larger than they appear in pictures. “Photos don’t do them justice” is a common refrain from new customers.

Most car enthusiasts are tool junkies. As you might expect, top shelf, heavy duty accessories like these get rave reviews.

Even if you have a large SUV or truck, the OTCs provide way more capacity than you need. However, if you want added peace of mind and/or plan to purchase larger vehicles in the future, such as RVs, the OTCs may just be the best jack stands around.

Cons:

  • Not easy to move at 80 pounds
  • 3 inch increments on bar offers less gradation in height than traditional ratchet bars.

Jack Stands Buyer’s Guide 2019

What Is a Jack Stand

A jack stand supports a vehicle once it has been lifted with a car jack. Car jacks of any type are not suitable to hold vehicles up for long periods of time. That is the sole purpose of a jack stand. They prevent lifted cars from falling.

Unlike with car jacks, there aren’t many moving parts to break. As a result, these products are very strong, and some models can support in excess of 20 tons.

Most jack stands are pyramid shaped, or sometimes called “A-shaped,” which you can see if you look at them from the side. The pyramid base houses a ratchet bar which is adjustable in terms of height.

At the top of the ratchet bar is a “saddle.” The saddle is the part of the stand that comes into contact with the vehicle.

See product illustration below of a ratchet bar and saddle.

Parts of a jack stand identified

What Are the Most Common Types 

By car tool standards, jack stands are straightforward in terms of construction. The only real variations are in the height adjustment mechanism and the type of metal used.

In terms of height adjustment, there are two types: ratchet mechanisms and pin mechanisms. Ratchet style mechanisms have bars with teeth on one side (check illustration above).

As you pull the bar upwards, the locking handle engages and holds the bar at a given height. Simply raise the handle and the ratchet bar will fall back to its starting point.

Pin lock mechanisms are straightforward. As you can see in the photo below, simply set the bar at the level you need and insert the pin.

Pin type aluminum jack stand

 

In terms of metal used, most are made from steel. Some higher end models, like in the photo above, use aluminum. The type of metal mainly affects weight and ease of use.

All are clearly labeled in terms of how much weight they can support regardless of their underlying construction material.


How to Operate a Jack Stand

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 8,000 Americans are injured in jack related, but non-tire, accidents and 2,000 in tire-related jack incidents.

Clearly, it is very important to know how to operate a set of vehicle jacks safely. One thing that makes the process MUCH safer is using jack stands.

It probably goes without saying but you need to know how to use a car jack before even worrying about jack stands.

How to Operate a Car Jack 

  1. Check the weight capacity of your jack and stands to make sure they exceed the weight of your vehicle.
  2. Make sure your car or SUV is on a solid AND level surface. Do not attempt to raise the vehicle if it is parked on dirt or other soft ground.
  3. Check to ensure the vehicle is in ‘Park’ and engage the emergency brake.
  4. Set wheel chocks underneath the tires not being lifted to prevent accidental movement.
  5. Raise the car by placing the jack underneath the appropriate lifting points (refer to owner’s manual) and pumping the lifting handle.

How to Operate a Jack Stand 

  1. Locate the points to safely place the jack saddle. Usually these will be the frame, bulk head or pinch welds of the vehicle.
  2. Adjust the jack stands to the appropriate height and position them according to Step 1. Note: the rule is one jack stand per elevated tire.
  3. Gently lower the vehicle until it settles on the jack stand saddles. With a hydraulic jack, twist the release valve and the jack will slowly begin to lower until the jack stands are fully supporting the weight of the vehicle.
  4. Standing away from the vehicle, just gently nudge the side of the car to make sure it is securely settled on the jack saddle.

At this point your car should be safely elevated and you can perform whatever maintenance is needed.

For those of you that are visually inclined, check out this extensive video on safe usage.

For an illustrated guide, check here.


Most Important Safety Tips 

These concepts are embedded in the process above, but it is worth keeping them top of mind.

  1. Car jacks are not meant for supporting weight long term. If you need to lift your car for more than a few minutes, use jack stands. They have higher weight capacities on average and have almost no moving parts to break.
  2. Do NOT, under virtually any circumstances, get underneath a lifted car unless there are jack stands properly installed. Vehicle jacks break and/or slip all the time.
  3. Use only points that will firmly hold you car and not cause any damage. For example, never place either a jack or jack stands on the lifting plate of the engine or transmission.
  4. Match the number of jack stands used to the number of wheels lifted. If you raise the entire rear of the car, be sure and use TWO not ONE.
  5. Practice a bit of overkill on weight capacities. If you have a 5,000 pound SUV, use 3 ton jack stands at a minimum.
  6. Lastly, at the risk of sounding like your mother, always check the instructions. Jack stands are relatively uniform, but there could be brand-specific nuances that prove to be critical.


Purchase Considerations

Weight Capacity. Jack stands are available in tonnage capacities ranging from 2 tons all the way up to a top rating of 20+ tons. For most compact and midsize passenger automobiles, 2 tons should be fine. For large cars, SUVs, half ton pickup trucks, 3-ton or 6-ton jack stands would be advisable. The rule is that the jack stand capacity should exceed the curb weight of your vehicles PLUS any added cargo.

Height Range. Most car jacks do not exceed 20 inches when fully elevated. A few low profile floor jacks will go up to 24 inches, but those are exceptions. You need to match the lift range of your jack stands to your car and car jack. If you have a low profile sports cars, you need short jack stands. For cars and SUVs with normal profiles, jack stands of 22 to 24 inches should be fine.

Material. As we noted earlier, most jack stands are made out of either steel or aluminum. Steel is by far the most common of the two. Generally, this is a tradeoff between price and weight / ease of use. Aluminum jack stands are lighter and easier to move around. However, they can cost 50% to 100% more than their galvanized counterparts.

Height Adjustment Mechanism. As we noted earlier, the two primary adjustment mechanisms are ratchet style or pin style. Ratchet style products are far more common. They are easy to use and allow for a finer gradation in terms of height adjustment. Pin-style models are considered more durable as there are no teeth or other weak points to break.

Saddle. The primary concern with the saddle is whether or not it is large enough to securely hold a car so there is no slippage. Some of the best jack stands have a rubber padded saddle. The foam rubber protects car paint from scratches, especially when using jack stands on the side of vehicles.


Conclusion 

Do not ever work underneath a lifted vehicle until you know it is well supported and secure. This means supported by the best stands and NOT a car jack.

The good news is that there are many great jack stands available at very affordable prices. Because they are simple products with few moving parts, there are dozens on offer that get excellent reviews.

In terms of 3 tons, the ESCO 10498 jack stands or Torin Big Reds are top notch and will last a lifetime. If you need more capacity, the Omega Magic Lift Black Jack Stands are a well constructed, premium product that gets great customer reviews.

The rationale for jack stands is pretty simple. They don’t cost very much, AND they can literally save your life. If you’re a DIY’er, do yourself a favor and get some.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Are these sold in pairs?

Yes, all the ones we reviewed come as a set. The ESCO 10499 Low Profile Performance Jack Stand that we did not review but mentioned as a good option for those with low-profile sports cars is the only one sold as an individual stand. Always double check as retailers update their product listings all the time.

What are the most important safety considerations?

We covered this in our review, but it bears repeating. Do NOT put your body underneath a lifted car if it is only supported by a car jack. Use one jack stand for every wheel that is being lifted. Check to make sure your stands have a sufficient weight capacity rating. Only place your stands on manufacturer approved lifting points.

Are aluminum jack stands better?

There is not a performance difference in terms of holding capacity. If a jack stand is rated at 3 tons, it’s 3 tons regardless of what metal is used. The only tradeoff is cost and ease of use. Aluminum is lighter and easier to move around. But, it costs more. In the end, it becomes a matter of personal preference versus heavy jack stands.

Are jack stands sufficient to hold up cars?

Yes, assuming the right weight rating and proper usage, they are sufficient to hold up cars. That said, some people get extra support before crawling underneath a lifted car. For example, if tires are removed, sometimes they are also placed underneath cars as an added element of protection. If you do this, be sure that whatever you add does not in any way interfere with correct installation and operation of your jack stands.

What range do you recommend?

Before ordering, you should measure the distance from your car’s lift points to the ground. Most car hydraulic jacks have a maximum lift range of 16 to 20 inches. A few models go up to 24 inches.

As you will notice, most of our 3 ton jack stands have a max height of ~16 inches and the 6 ton models ~24 inches. Know your vehicles’s profile and the max lift of your car jack, and check to make sure any jack stand that you  buy matches.

What are the most common complaints?

Like with car jacks, most of the data is not quantified. As far as shop accessories go, these get excellent customer feedback. That said, our take would be:

  • Lock mechanisms that don’t secure properly
  • Saddles that are too small or don’t hold well
  • Concerns over welds and ability to hold on budget models (product quality control)
  • Bent or crooked ratchet bars.

What are the safety standards that must be met?

The most common language you will see is “meets ASME safety standards.” ASME stands for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

They are usually referring to the ASME Portable Automotive Service Equipment 2014 guidelines. Always check to make sure any product you purchase meets these top guidelines.

Are any of these made in the U.S.A.?

All of the top brands are manufactured in Asia. Hein-Werner used to be made in the U.S.A. After some ownership changes, Hein-Werner now has some parts from and assembly in the U.S.A. However, Hein-Werner tools are still considered to be made in Asia by most people.

Are there any integrated models available?

Only a few. Usually the combination is a hydraulic bottle jack and a jack stand. This combo is not that common because most of the time people need multiple jack stands. Powerbuilt makes a 2 ton model that has been moderately well received by customers.

Is is worth it to spend extra money for the best car jack stands?

Clearly this is just a matter of opinion. For us, the answer is yes. We prefer both a premium product and a little bit of overkill in terms of weight capacity. For example, if I had a 4,000 pound vehicle, I would get 3 ton jack stands versus 2 ton or lower rated capacities. As always, the best argument for spending a few extra dollars for top quality is that the best jack stands can save your life.

 

 

Leave a Comment