Monday, December 5, 2011

Vehicle Maintenance: continued

When performing vehicle maintenance in-house or on the road in the event of an emergency, be sure that the person doing it has been trained in safety procedures for doing so, is qualified and doing it in the safest manner.

Jacking your vehicle up is no trivial matter when it comes to car safety, so be sure to support it safely with jack stands. You're taking thousands of pounds and dangling it over your body while you tinker underneath.

Vehicles come with either a scissor or a bottle jack, and these are great to have in a emergency to change a flat tire, but for anything beyond roadside service, it is recommended to use jack stands. Jack stands offer more strength than your conventional jack, and more stability, meaning the vehicle is less likely to fall off of them while they are in use.

Never crawl under a vehicle only supported by a jack.

It only takes a second to securely support your vehicle safely while you work on it. A pair of jack stands should be one of the first things you buy when equipping your shop, company, or yourself for vehicle maintenance and repair.

When using jack stands, they must be placed in certain spots. These spots can be found in your vehicle's owner's manual, or more often than not can be pointed out by looking under the vehicle. They most often appear as square cuts in the frame, making it easy to see where they line up the jack stands. All vehicles, especially trucks can be lifted by the frame.

Make sure the jack is fully functional (All wheels free to roll, handle free to turn, and hydraulic pump raises and lowers without leaks) and will support the weight limit on the jack label. To double check this information you will need to consult your vehicle manual to find the weight of your vehicle. Usually this is only a problem when you are using a jack that did not come with your car.

Lift your vehicle with a floor jack, and place the stands under the lift points at both sides, adjusting them for the height you need to do your work. If you do not own a floor jack, you can use the bottle jack or scissor jack that comes with your vehicle. However, if you do this, you must raise one side of the car at a time and place stands individually, rather than lifting the whole vehicle and placing them together.

Lower the weight of the vehicle onto the stand so the vehicle is not supported by the jack. Most people doing home auto repairs don’t know this, but using a jack stand to support the weight of the car is a safer alternative than supporting your vehicle with the jack.

After your vehicle is safely resting on the stands, remove the floor jack so it isn't in your way while you're trying to do repairs. Then go to the bumper of the car closer to where your stands are and shake it. If the car shakes, be sure that your stands are under the correct and closest lift points, and adjust accordingly. It's always better to test and have the vehicle fall on its wheels than to fall on you.

When lifting or working under the vehicle using jack stands, apply the emergency brake and put blocks behind wheels that touch the ground.

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