Safety when you get underneath the car

Never get under a car supported only by a jack … & other weighty issues

Plenty of jobs – for example replacing the brake pads – involve jacking up one corner, or one end, of the car. You can do that with the standard jack that comes with the car, or an aftermarket jack like a trolley jack that’ll achieve the same result (bit of the car up in the air) quicker.

Once it’s up there, never – never – get under it with any part of your body without some kind of supplementary support. The best kind is a purpose-built jack stand.

See, jacks are inherently unstable. Hydraulic jacks in particular are easy to let down quickly. The risk is that the car will come off the jack and crush you, obviously.

A really good set of 3000kg-rated axle stands will cost you $71.50 (Click here to see the AXLE STANDS). They’ll last, basically, for ever. Your life’s certainly worth more than that.

The rest of the safety checklist for jacking the car up includes:

  1. Chock the diagonally opposite wheel.
  2. Apply the handbrake.
  3. Put the car in gear (first or reverse for manuals, or ‘P’ for autos).
  4. Jack the car on as flat and level a surface as possible.
  5. If the surface is unstable or soft (as it often is if four-wheel driving) carry a load-spreading baseplate made from 6mm steel plate (or improvise using a barbecue plate).
  6. Don’t work under a car if there are people in the car (get the passengers out).
  7. Put your mobile phone in your pocket if you are working alone – just in case you need help in a hurry.