Jack Stand Lawsuits
Between March 20, 2020, and May 3, 2020, Harbor Freight recalled more than 1.7 million Pittsburgh Automotive 3-Ton and 6-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands because they could collapse under load, increasing the risk of injury to people under or near a lifted vehicle. In July 2020, they expanded that recall after customers reported that the replacement jack stands were also failing.
In August 2020, Walmart recalled nearly 14,000 Hyper Tough 2 Ton Jack Stands, model 2TJS, again because the products could collapse and cause injuries.
Chaffin Luhana is currently investigating cases in which individuals using jack stands were seriously injured.
What is a Jack Stand?
Sometimes the only way to fix a vehicle is to get underneath it. That means the vehicle must be lifted off the ground to allow enough room to perform repairs. Both jacks and jack stands are used for this purpose.
A jack is the tool that lifts the vehicle. It is designed to raise the load but not to hold it once it’s up. It is susceptible to failure if left under constant pressure, so it’s best not to leave a vehicle on the jack alone. Experts recommend that individuals never put any part of the body underneath a vehicle supported only by a jack. Instead, it is best to always support the car with a jack stand.
There are different types of jacks. Jacks that come with a vehicle’s spare tire changing kit are small and lightweight. They are designed for use only in emergency roadside situations, and then only to change a tire, which does not require getting underneath the vehicle. For any other sort of maintenance requiring lifting the vehicle, larger and heavier jacks are best. These jacks may use a screw thread system for lifting, or as in the case of hydraulic jacks, may use hydraulic power to lift.
A jack stand is specifically built to reliably hold a static load once it’s been lifted. It is just as important, and perhaps even more important, as the jack itself, as it helps secure the vehicle in place so it won’t fall and injure the person underneath it or anyone that may be nearby. It is supposed to provide a safe, fixed support for a raised vehicle, and is designed to greatly reduce the risk of the vehicle falling. Though it is built to be a stand, it may have a lifting mechanism (jack) as well.
Some jack stands are designed to both lift and hold the vehicle. When using these jack stands, it’s important to be sure they are designed to hold a load over long periods and that they will safely do so.
Harbor Freight Recalls 1.7 Million Jack Stands
On March 20, 2020, Harbor Freight Tools notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it was recalling about 454,000 Pittsburgh Automotive 6-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands. These jack stands were produced between June 13, 2013, and November 22, 2019.
For certain units, the ratchet teeth on the jack stand lifting extension post could inconsistently engage the pawl to a sufficient depth. Under load, with a potential shift in weight, the pawl could disengage from the extension lifting post, allowing the stand to drop suddenly, potentially injuring people under or near the lifted vehicle.
Harbor Freight has determined the quality of these jack stands—which were manufactured in China by a company called Jiaxing Golden Roc Tools Co., Ltd.—had become “inconsistent due to aging of the tooling.”
On May 3, 2020, Harbor Freight again notified the NHTSA that it was recalling an additional over 1.2 million jack stands—this time, the Pittsburgh Automotive 3-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands. These jack stands were produced between January 1, 2020, and March 31, 2020.
The problem was the same—the ratchet teeth on the jack stand lifting extension post could inconsistently engage the pawl to a sufficient depth, increasing the risk that the jack stand could fail and drop the vehicle. Harbor Freight once again determined the product quality was inconstant due to the aging of the tooling at the manufacturing site.
In both cases, Harbor Freight advised consumers to stop using the products immediately and to bring them to a local Harbor Freight store to receive a gift card equal to the retail price of the jack stand originally purchased. Customers can also email the company for more information at email@example.com, or call the NHTSA Vehicle Safety Hotline at 888-327-4236.
The NHTSA alerted consumers to both recalls in a May 28, 2020 press release, advising them to stop using the products due to safety concerns. The administration noted that at least 11 injuries had been reported related to the defective jack stands—six from use of the 6-ton stands and five from use of the 3-ton stands. The injuries were reportedly not life-threatening.
According to the company, to find the part numbers on these products, look on the yellow part of the label on the base of each jack stand for parts 61196 and 61197, or check the item number on the label on top of each jack stand for part number 56371.
Harbor Freight Recalls Replacement Jack Stands for Welding Defects
Many customers, after returning their jack stands to Harbor Freight, used the gift cards to purchase replacement jack stands. Some of the replacements, however, didn’t work any better than the recalled ones.
One customer speaking to The Drive noted that his 3-ton Pittsburgh jack stand, which was purchased as a replacement for the recalled units, “split along a weld after being placed under his Volkswagen Golf during its very first use.” Harbor Freight investigated and discovered that some of the 3-ton Pittsburgh jack stands had a welding defect that could cause them to fail unexpectedly.
On July 7, 2020, Harbor Freight CEO and founder Eric Schmidt published a message to consumers apologizing for the issues with the jack stands. He acknowledged that the company had recalled both Pittsburgh 3-ton and 6-ton steel jack stands due to manufacturing defects. “We asked customers to return them and receive a gift card that could be used to purchase replacement jack stands,” Smidt wrote.
After discovering a welding defect in some of the replacement Pittsburgh 3-ton steel jack stands (part number 56373), the company added those products to the recall. “Unfortunately,” Smidt wrote, “this defect wasn’t discovered during the initial recall investigation….I want to apologize to all of our customers.”
Consumers were advised to stop using these jack stands and return them to the store for a gift card. According to the company, recalled stands can be identified by checking the item number found on the yellow part of the label on the base of each jack stand.
Walmart Recalls Nearly 14,000 Jack Stands
On August 13, 2020, Walmart notified the NHTSA that it was recalling nearly 14,000 Hyper Tough 2TJS 2-Ton Jack Stands (part number UPC 0085001232400). As with the Harbor Freight jack stands, these could also let go without warning, dropping the vehicle and potentially resulting in injury to people near or under the vehicle.
An independent third-party testing laboratory notified Walmart that the failure was due to a problem with the ratcheting bar. Due to this problem, the jack stand might not be able to support the load without collapsing unexpectedly.
Walmart advised consumers to stop using the products immediately and to return them to Walmart for a full refund. For more information, consumers can call Walmart at 800-925-6278 from 7:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. CT or check Walmart’s recall website page.
Types of Injuries Associated with Jack Stands
A jack stand that fails without warning can drop a vehicle and potentially cause property damage and cause the following types of injuries:
- Permanent scarring
- Crushing injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Amputation of fingers, hands, or legs
Tips for Safe Use of a Jack Stand
To help ensure safety when using a jack stand, follow these tips:
- Don’t work alone. Have someone nearby in case something happens. If no one is around, call or text a friend to let them know what you’ll be doing and to check back within a certain period.
- Park on level ground. Parking on a slope can increase the risk that the vehicle will fall off the stands.
- Use wheel chocks: Place these on the side of the vehicle you’re not lifting.
- Position the jack stand correctly: Refer to the vehicle manual to understand the recommended jacking points on the vehicle frame.
- Inspect the jack and/or jack stand: Make sure one or both are working properly before use.
- Lift the vehicle.
- Adjust the jack stands: Make sure each one fits securely under the vehicle, and make sure if you’re using more than one that they’re all at the same height.
- Lower the vehicle onto the jack stands.
- Test: Test the jack stand to be sure it’s secure.
Jack Stand Lawsuits
If you or a loved one used one of these jack stands and suffered a serious injury, you may be eligible to file a jack stand lawsuit to recover damages. Consumers were complaining about defective jack stands from Harbor Freight, in particular, for several months before the recall, yet the company waited to take meaningful action.
Chaffin Luhana is now investigating these cases and invites you to call today at 888-480-1123.