Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

Scissor Jack Warning (mine collapsed this weekend)

I was using my scissor jack to jack up my Taurus this weekend when it suddenly gave out - sending the car (with loosened lug nuts) swiftly to the ground!! Now, I wasn't going to get underneath the car until the jack stand was in place (it was waiting by the passenger door and actually scratched/dented the car slightly as it fell to the ground), but still - the sight of this collapse shook me up a bit. Looking at the scissor jack, there is this puny 1" long solid block-like piece that sits within the frame that the threaded screw passes through. It appears that the inner threads of this block just wore out, causing the threaded screw to slide right through it! Should've known something was up because the jack had gotten hard to turn at very low height (with no load). I had lubricated it a couple times with no real effect, but didn't think to investigate it any further.



Two things I've learned about scissor jacks:



1.) Use them only as an emergency device (changing a tire out on the road). They're not designed to be used as your primary lifting device. Even though I own a floor jack, I had gotten in the habit of using the scissor jack to lift my car for just about everything I did to my Taurus around the house. Why? It was just more convenient. Lugging out the floor jack is a pain in the ### for me. Also, I don't have the slotted adapter that fits on the face of the floor jack to lift up my cars. I used a double 2x4 this weekend, but I'll be getting the adapter (or making one) very soon because I won't be using the scissor jack anymore.



2.) If you notice your scissor jack getting very hard to turn, this is probably the first sign of failure. Look very closely at the threaded screw and what it passes through. Make sure there are no metal strands wrapped around the threaded screw - a sign of failing threads.



3.) Don't use just any scissor jack on any car. I always used only my Taurus jack with my Taurus, but occasionally I'd use my Colt scissor jack too. I noticed this weekend that the design of these two scissor jacks is quite different. The Colt jack, made for a lighter car, is probably even MORE prone to failure than the Taurus jack!!!



Well, I'm going to need to buy a replacement scissor jack now. Any suggestions? Is there such a thing as a WELL-DESIGNED scissor jack? It has to fit inside my donut spare within the driver's rear wheel well and be able to be screwed in place to hold the spare tire.



Probably will have to get the Ford replacement, right?
«1

Comments

  • edited October 2007
    JMHO, but I don't trust any of them since they're made out of stamped steel. I've seen a few of them twist, and while they did not give completely out, led to the jacks going to the dump.

    A much better alternative is to carry one of those small, inexpensive floor jacks; preferably aluminum.
    Of course, the downside to that is sacrificing a bit of trunk space.

    I sincerely wish that car makers would use a jack setup like the old VW Beetles used.
    There was a square notch located near the area around the rear of the door on each side. The jack had a square fitting, was heavy duty, and one could simply plug it in, easily jack the car up while bringing both wheels off the ground if necessary, and not have to worry about the car rolling on the jack or the jack failing.

  • edited October 2007
    I'm guessing the car manufacturers supply scissor jacks because they're lightweight and they don't rely on fluids that can leak, rendering the device useless. But they really need to be more substantial than they are - especially the size and strength of the part that the threaded screw turns through!

    Never seen the Beetle jack. Sounds like it had a more positive contact with the car (instead of that stupid slotted head on the scissor jack), but what about the threaded mechanism? How was it better than the scissor jack?
  • edited October 2007
    Whenever I see a scissors jack, I wish to [a greater power] that Congress would make these [derogatory words] things illegal, and provide punitive actions against their makers and sellers, including the car makers. Not to seem like an alarmist, but, I can't help but wonder, "How many people have been injured, or killed, by these [derogatory words, again] things?!"
  • edited October 2007
    The old Beetle jack was not threaded. It more resembled an old time bumper jack but without the notches and relied more on prying the car off the ground.

    It had a square peg on the jack that fit into a square hole in the car and no way could it turn either direction on you. It was also very easy to operate, even in the dark on the side of the road.

    This is what they look like.
    http://cgi.ebay.com/V-W-Volkswagen-Bug-Beetle-Original-Jack_W0QQitemZ300165253666QQihZ020QQcategoryZ10781QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
  • edited October 2007
    The 1960's Porsche 911 and 912 used a similar (same?) jack, no surprise. It did, indeed, work great on my '69 912 -- until the body rusted out around the jack point and the car settled slowly to the ground as I jacked it up. I had to get a scissor jack to replace the original. And the car was only about 7 years old. (I realized a little later in the car's life that Porsches up to that era were believed to have super longevity only because their owners were willing to spend lots of money to fix them whenever anything went wrong.)
  • edited October 2007
    I wonder if the jack you were using had at one time been used for something other then jacking the intended car, that could of damaged it.
  • edited October 2007
    I believe that americar has a good point. The jacks supplied with the car are designed to be used to change a tyre when there is a flat and nothing more. That nothing more includes maintenance like rotating tyres. They are just not up to repeated usage. Any DIYer should invest in a good (not the cheapest or most expensive jack) and only use that OEM jack with great care for the one job it was intended for.

    BTW I recommend putting the spare tyre under the car before jacking and replace it with the take-off while you are installing the spare to provide just a little additional safety.
  • edited October 2007
    It's good to hear that you didn't get hurt. Your points above are good ones, but it should be said, NEVER get under a car that's supported only by a jack!
  • edited October 2007
    I am glad to hear you were not injured. I had a scary experience with a bottle-type hydraulic jack that simply fell over to the side while it was holding up the car. Luckily, I knew not to get under the car in that condition. That is when I bought a small floor jack and jack stands that I carry in the truck along with an additional full-sized spare. I have never used the scissor jack that came with my car, although I still carry it in case I need it.
  • edited October 2007
    These jacks are not meant for anything but emergency use and almost can be considered a few times usage item and then throw it out.

    The fact you had one involved with jack stands and see wear means that you probably use it on a regular basis which was never the intention of these.

    Also your using the jack incorrectly likely IMHO causing undue stress since to use jackstands I have seen you need to lift the car higher than replacing a tire (basically only need flat tire <1" off the ground to perform tire change safely).

    Glad your okay.
This discussion has been closed.