How do you jack up a car properly?

If I am going to be changing a drive belt on a Nissan Sentra S 2007 2.0 L, do you have to jack up at only both front tires, or only 1 or what is necessary?

Would I have to put a jack stand under the cross member of the car like at 2:16 in this video How to Jack Up Your Car (The Right Way) - YouTube. I don’t even know what part of the car this is since I have never done this or know if my car has it? I take it all cars do? Is there ever a wrong way to jack up a car if I will be getting under it or anything else that is not just a simple tire change?

Why not just call a local shop and ask them for an estiment ? With what you are asking I really don’t think you should be doing this .


your owner’s manual should show you where the jacking points are on your vehicle. always use jack stands too. as far as the belt change, take a picture of the routing location just in case. most vehicles will have a diagram somewhere under the hood.

How to replace the drive belt on the Nissan Sentra 2007 to 2012 - YouTube

but maybe you should leave this to the pro’s if you never even jacked your vehicle up.


Others will disagree but I would not get under a car with a Jack or Jack stands. I prefer ramps with additional support. It’s not fun being under a car when they come down.


I think the passenger side wheel has to be removed to replace the serpentine belt on this thing . So that kinda eliminates ramps. To the shop we go .

Some serpentine belts can be a bear to replace.

That’s why they make specialty tools to do the job.


I missed the part about the serp belt. I used to be able to replace them in about 5 minutes except for the aurora. But the new cars are a bear with limited access. Cost me about $50 or less to have a pro do it.

The main thing to keep in mind after jacking up a car is that Murphy’s Law is always present.
When I jack one end of a car up and plan to use jack stands I use 4 of them; not 2. And I leave the jack in place also.

Many people have died from things like this including a long time friend who was crushed and died in seconds. Two others in my area suffered the same fate.


Could you tell me if the tools you pointed to in that video would be enough and doing it the way he shows in the video for my car? Or would I have to remove the fender and use a 14 mm box wrench on the nut end of the tensioner, to replace only the belt, as I saw another youtuber commented to another way of doing it. Or what is the easiest option? Thanks!

No experience with that engine or car, haven’t watched the vdo, but it appears from what I see the best tool to loosen the auto-tensioner bolt is an appropriately long wrench w/an offset at the end of the handle. This allows clearance between wrench handle & an interfering pulley. Apparently inserting a 6 mm diameter rod (like a screwdriver shaft) into a hole allow you to hold the tensioner in place while you work on it. Avoid putting hand or other body part anywhere in that area in case tensioner releases accidentally. A lot force in the spring.

As far as what you have to remove for access on your car, no idea. Pro mechanics can figure that out from a quick inspection. Generally I expect to have to remove one or both under-engine shields and likely a wheel when I replace drive belts on the Corolla. You may find it beneficial to turn the front wheels with the steering wheel to improve access.

If you’ve never jacked up your car, placed jack-stands, etc, suggest this isn’t the job to start learning the process by yourself. Too dangerous. Jacks can slip, jack-stands can tip, etc. Suggest to either secure a car-repair experienced friend who will help you, or hire this work out; no harm to ask your shop staff if you can watch the tech do the job to learn the methods and tools needed.

The only other advice I can offer about improving access, usually it is better to remove too much stuff than too little.

Listen to the advice.

Changing belts used to be a simple job that could be accomplished with nothing more than a long screwdriver but with horizontal engines and tight clearance, no more.
Besides the problems of actually getting to the belt, replacing the belt, prying off the belt and special tools, some of these tensioners will break at the drop of a hat and then you’ll find yourself deeper in the swamp.

While I’d encourage you to learn to do this yourself, which with with proper instruction is probably well within your capability, to rely on UTube is a major “three missing fingers” mistake.

That what my son has done. :slight_smile:

That video is giving bad advice. The welded unibody frame rail under the unibody vehicle is strong enough to use to jack up the vehicle. Care should be taken to not scratch the undercoat or paint off though, so use a piece of wood on the jack. In the back where the square frame gets smaller is where you have to be careful, but in the front it is fine to use it for jacking. The sub frame under the engine can also be used for jacking. You can usually jack it up in the rear by going under the rear wheel cross member right in the middle too.

Second, the place under the rocker panel with the notches is the correct place to jack the vehicle, but the Toyota jack is made to fit over the pinch weld. The floor jack is not, and it will bend the metal and knock off the paint. Also, he is using the floor jack on a gravel driveway. What happens is the wheels on the floor jack get stuck and can’t roll. Then the jack pulls the vehicle toward the jack while trying to drag the opposite wheel. This can result in the jacking point on the pinch weld getting bent all the way over.

I use a piece of 2x4 with a groove cut in it and some wood scrows perpendicular to the grain to make sure it doesn’t split. I put that under the jacking point. The groove fits on it like the toyota jack. You can also buy rubber things that do the same thing. Use the jack under the square frame with a piece of wood, then put the jack stand under the proper jacking point using the piece of wood or the rubber piece. Then let the jack down and push on the car hard to make sure it can’t slip off the jack stand.

You can both jack and use the jack stand on the pinch weld, but if you get too far from the jacking point you can bend the rocker panel up. Newer cars have stronger rocker panels so it’s not as much of an issue. You can see if it starts to bend too much

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Could you guys tell me if using 2 jack stands like in this video is enough to do a wheel alignment? Fix Wheel Alignment for Nissan Sentra 2009 - YouTube

Some other people have told me this is the wrong way since the weight is resting on the the car itself and not the tires as with an alignment machine.

Here is what they said: “It is done that way because the alignment angles are measured based on a loaded vehicle. If you use a jack stand to hold up the vehicle, then all the angles are wrong because suspension heights - based on the load on the springs or air bags support changes for each inch of suspension height changes.”

I’m just wondering why people are doing it this way then since there are so many youtube videos out there like that.

That’s correct, it should be done on the ground. The alignment technically shouldn’t change much with it jacked up but a small change in alignment will probably result from it being jacked up. Maybe he is doing a major alignment and then he can tweak it once the wheels are on the ground. He should use some kind of anti sieze or rust protection liquid on the threads of the alignment threads.

After the alignment is done on the ground then drive it a bit and recheck afterward. When ball joints or tie rods are worn, the alignment will change when the front wheel drive is pulling the vehicle forward versus coasting. So you can never get it right until the parts are replaced.

I’m confused then. Is a wheel something I could do on my own then or would I definitely need the alignement machine to do this (or could I just rest the car on the ground?)? What is a major alignment and how is it different from what was being shown in that video or what is actually necessary?

My major alignment I mean that his vehicle was very badly out of adjustment. It’s easier to do the alignment with the wheels pointed straight ahead, which requires you to be under the car. If you aren’t under the car, then you have to steer all the way right to get at the left wheel alignment adjustment. Then steer it straight and possibly drive it a bit to verify that it is correct. Having to steer right and left a bunch of times and then set up the measurement tools each time takes longer.

Based on all your posts I’d say that clearly this is not something YOU can do on your own. Not trying to be harsh but you don’t understand that alignments, even just setting toe, are very precise tasks.

I can do alignments at home, on a flat surface, with a couple of simple tools and have for 40 years but I understand all the details.


Well then why do people put up videos like this if it wasn’t something instructional for others to attempt? Not trying to be rude either, but videos like this or any instructional, should be more concise and consider all variables, rather than just giving half a story on something if something like wheel alignment was indeed the issue.

Because they can and do not have to prove that they actually know anything.