How Likely Is It for Your Jack Stand to Fail?

When you lift your vehicle on a jack stand, you may wonder just how safe it is to then get under it.

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on cases involving injuries associated with “jack failures” found that in one year, an estimated 4,822 people nationwide were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries resulting from the failure of a jack while engaged in an activity involving a motor vehicle.

Most of these incidences involved the jack or vehicle slipping and falling or the jack itself failing or losing pressure, causing the vehicle to drop. About three-quarters of the people injured were hurt as a result of being struck by the vehicle as it fell from the jack.

To reduce your risk of these sorts of injuries, be aware of jack-stands that have been recalled because they pose failure risks, and make sure you follow all safety precautions during use.

Jack Stands Recalled in 2020 for Potentially Dangerous Defects

On March 20, 2020, Harbor Freight Tools recalled about 454,000 Pittsburgh Automotive 6-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands. For certain units, the ratchet teeth on the lifting extension post could inconsistently engage the pawl to a sufficient depth, causing the stand to potentially drop the vehicle under load.

Harbor Freight 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 recalled an additional over 1.2 million Pittsburgh Automotive 3-Ton Heavy Duty Steel Jack Stands for the same problem. Customers were advised to return these stands to the stores where they purchased them for a gift card or exchange, but many customers found their replacement jack stands didn’t work any better than the recalled ones.

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 as well.

Then on August 13, 2020, Walmart recalled nearly 14,000 Hyper Tough 2TJS 2-Ton Jack Stands (part number UPC 0085001232400). These could also let go without warning, dropping the vehicle and potentially resulting in injuries.

If you purchased any of these jack stands, check the links for the model numbers to see if yours may be affected. If so, return the products to the store where you bought them for a refund, gift card, or exchange.

How to Use a Jack Stand Safely

To reduce your risk of jack stand injuries, always follow these safety tips:

  • Always make sure you’re jacking up your car on solid, level ground. Never do so on gravel or dirt, and never on a slope.
  • Don’t use the jack that comes with your car for anything other than changing a tire. Though it’s fine for side-of-the-road emergencies, it’s not made for working under your car. Choose a more substantial jack stand for that.
  • All jack stands come with a weight limit—make sure yours is capable of lifting the weight of your vehicle.
  • Check your vehicle’s handbook for safe jacking points and never lift a vehicle by putting the jack under the engine, gearbox, or any plastic undertray.
  • Once the vehicle is lifted, use wheel chocks to keep it from rolling.
  • Gently shake the vehicle after it’s settled to be sure it’s secure before you get under it.
  • Consider car ramps as a safe alternative to jacks or jack stands. They provide large, solid points of contact that are unlikely to fail.