Can using only 1 jack stand cause damage to a vehicle?


#1

Greetings!

I recently had a relative help me with my 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan. We were changing out the oil pan. He jacked it up with a floor jack then used a single jack stand on the front passenger side. I believe it was placed on the bar that goes across from wheel to wheel. Sorry I don’t know the correct term for that. It was like that for probably about 4 hours since we had to go to the auto parts store mid project.

The reason I ask this is because a day or 2 after that I noticed a noise whenever I go over bumps on the passenger side of the van. I had a mechanic shop look at it and I was told it was either bushings or something where they would have to take it apart to examine then replace parts as needed.

I appreciate the feedback. If I left any other pertinent info out please let me know.

Thanks,

James


#2

Anything can affect a car, no matter what. Jacking is tough on old cars with unibody construction. Two stands might be better but you also need room to work. Maybe the noise will stop. Sorry, I didn’t think about the bar being the sway bar. I bought an old LTD that somebody towed out of a snow bank by attaching to the radiator support. It would have been nice if I had remembered the story of the radiator turning into an ice skate. Oh they used plenty of wire to hold it up but I would have liked to keep the factory stuff.


#3

Well there are designated jacking points and places to put the stands but doesn’t sound like he used a reinforced point or frame. The other thing with jack stands is that they are rated as a pair for weight so using just one will not support the rated weight. I usually just use them for back up though.


#4

hpw do I locate the jacking points and stand points?


#5

Check the owner’s manual. Also, they sometimes have jacking instructions on the emergency jack or the cover of the panel where the jack goes. BTW, the piece he probably put the jack stand on is called a crossmember. Most of the time, these are very sturdy reinforcement frame or subframe pieces that can hold up the van just fine. The noise may be coincidental. Or, you may just now notice it because your a bit more sensitive to noises after such a repair. On a 10 yo vehicle, it is not unusual to begin hearing noises, creaks, and pops.


#6

It sounds like the single stand was placed on the sway-bar which connects both lower control-arms together. This part was never designed to support the weight of the car…Perhaps it has been bent or the supports and bushings that mount it have been damaged…Jack stands should always be used in pairs, placed on the jack support points…


#7

^
+1 to Caddyman’s comment.
Although we are all theorizing in regard to “the bar that goes across from wheel to wheel”, my first thought was the same as Caddyman’s, namely that these folks used the anti-sway bar to support the weight of the vehicle. If that is the actual case, then…Yikes!

All I can say is…get the car to a reputable mechanic a.s.a.p., as this is a potential safety issue.


#8

One other possibility - having that side of the car jacked up put the suspension at full extension, which can result in noises from worn components, like a shock/strut. How old are yours?


#9

Sounds to me also like he put the jack stand under the sway bar. Yeah, that could absolutely cause your symptoms. The sway bar brackets and bushings aren’t designed to support the weight of the car. Spring steel is pretty tough to bend, but that possibility certainly cannot be discounted either. And, depending on where on the bar he put the stand, he probably damaged a sway bar link. Their main structures and joints at their ends are pretty spindly to be trying to hold up a car.

You might want to find a reputable shop for your future oil changes.


#10

I’ve used a single jack stand to change a flat tire, but never while going under the car. For working on a car from underneath, you should use both jack stands. That is why they are sold in pairs.


#11

I am assuming that the right front wheel was resting on the rebound limit i.e. that side hanging free, and the left front wheel compressed more than usualy i.e. the front tilted to the left. If so, the sway bar is cranked hard. The left end is hard up and the right end is hard down. Thus the sway bar bushings would be stressed up on the left and compressed down on the right. Also the sway bar links would be under compression on the left and tension on the left. If any of these bushings and/or links had succeptible/aged rubber it/they might have cracked leaving extra play in the sway bar system. This might be the source of the noise when you go over a bump asymetrically i.e with one wheel only.

Hope this helps.


#12

Thank you everyone! I had a another mechanic look at and he said he thought the sway bar linkage were loosened/damaged by the way it was jacked up. It should be too difficult to fix but at least I know what it is now. I really appreciate all the advise so I could talk intelligently about the issue with the mechanic.

I still need to figure out how to properly jack my van up for future repairs but that will be for another day.


#13

Buy a good set of ramps and chock the wheels that are still on the ground.

If you then need a wheel off to ie;brakes etc…you can just jack the one side up off the ramp, and pull the ramp out after putting a jackstand under it.

When using a jack stand always let the vehicle’s weight onto the jackstand. Never presume that if the jack gives way the jackstand will catch the car.
Also I always…after removing a wheel …slide it under the vehicle, enough so that if something goes wrong, the vehicle will fall onto the wheel and not crush vital parts on your car or you.

Yosemite


#14

" It should be too difficult to fix"

So…you aren’t going to have it fixed?
I think that is a bad decision.


#15

A typo I am inclined to believe. I don’t think there has been much resultant damage from the years of people changing flat tires properly jacking up one wheel. Improperly done, damage can result.


#16

+1 to Yosemite. It’s especially easy to drive up on a set of ramps with front wheel drive.


#17

It’s critical on today’s vehicles to only place jacks and jack-stands at points approved by the manufacturer. Otherwise damage can result. Also it is not safe to work on a car not properly supported. There’s often only a couple places allowed for jacks and jack-stands on each end of the car (front and back), and these are usually shown in the owners manual. If not there, a visit to the dealer service department may be necessary for a copy of the jacking points diagram.

Edit: I don’t think I’ve ever just used one jack stand. I use them in pairs. Why? First, w/my Corolla there’s a jacking point in the center for the front end of the car, so I can lift both sides up at once, then put jack stands at the edges (where you’d normally jack the car if it had a flat tire on the road); second, because if both sides are lifted, there is more room to work, and I like to have plenty of room; and third, it seems unsafe to have the car tilted like it would be w/one stand. It might could slip of the jack stand easier.


#18

I totally agree with Yosemite on sliding the wheel under the car after removing it. I’ll even add a 2x8 or two on top if there is still a big gap. This way I feel safe using just a floor jack. I never trusted jack stands. I prefer ramps with wheel chocks if I’m not removing a wheel.


#19

With respect, james, getting under cars can be extremely dangerous for someone not mechanically inclined enough to determine how to elevate the car safely. People die doing this. I strongly recommend that you leave any work that requires elevating the car to a professional. You life is not worth risking simply to save a repair cost.


#20

well since he wants to learn to do it properly I think he ll be ok. everyone needs to start somewhere