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Is my working area safe?


Hi all,

I’m fairly new to wrenching and I’m looking for feedback on whether my outdoor setup seems safe.

I have a gravel driveway area in my backyard where I want to jack my car up and go underneath safely (i.e. pull a transmission, diff, etc).

In my opinion, I’d say this patch of driveway is ‘very flat’, however it’s still not a perfectly poured concrete garage floor, and is also covered in small gravel.

I jacked up my car and gave it the ‘shake test’. I shook it hard as hell. As hard as I could without getting a running start. And everything actually felt really solid. But, I’ll admit I noticed very minor flex in things (perhaps because all of it is sitting on wood, on gravel, and on a not-absolutely-perfectly flat patch). Maybe this is normal even on perfect concrete?

At a maximum, the slope in this area doesn’t seem to be more than ~2% over any stretch.

I’m using 4x ‘3 ton’ HF steel jack stands to support a 1.5 ton overall car. The jack stands are placed on 12" x 12" x 3/4" pressure treated plywood, on the gravel.

Below is a picture of the driveway area in question, with the car up on the jack stands.

Thoughts on whether this seems safe? My backup plan was to build wooden wheel cribs for each tire. I assume the larger surface area and more solid construction would be safer, hopefully in spite of the imperfect ground. Or maybe there’s another recommendation that would work? (Perhaps some style of ramps?)


to me it looks to be safe even to put a mattress and sleep under there :slight_smile:

I’m not sure “wheel cribs” will help a lot, as likely you would need to pull tires at some point

That look’s like the same s my driveway the only thing I can add is to put a piece of canvas down before taking anything apart to catch whatever you will drop otherwise it will get lost & you will play heck trying to find it.

I don’t get under cars without ramps and even then don’t like it. I’ll let the mechanics check in but I would not trust HF jack stands and I believe that design is questionable for slipping from what I have read. Then gotta remember the weak point might be the sheet metal the jacks are supporting. A little rust in the area and the jack goes through the hole and down everything comes. I guess I’d like a little back-up but I’ll reserve judgement. Is that high enough to get a transmission out though?

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I have a gravel driveway and I do it the same way. I’ve never had the whole car on stands though, just one end. I’d be a little nervous under 4 jack stands even if they were on concrete.

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While it might not be quite as safe as perfectly level poured crack-free concrete 4-6 inches thick, it looks like a serviceable area to repair cars to me. Me, I’d probably use a little bigger squares of plywood, and maybe a little thicker too. I can’t speak to how safe your setup is via one picture, but make sure you are using the correct jacking points as specified in the owner’s manual where you place the jack-stands. On my Corolla for example I use a floor jack to lift the car fore or aft, placed at a center point, front cross-member, or rear support brace, then place the jack-stands at the edges, just before the rear wheels and after the front wheels, at points on the sills marked with a triangle. Those are the only safe places to support the weight of the car. Being in earthquake country, I always use a back-up: Several lengths of 6 x 6’s piled up to right under the sill area near where I’m working. And I keep the jack in place, raised to the jacking point, but with little to no weight on it. If I’m working alone I keep my cell phone within reach and set up so I can press a single button to dial for help. Just in case …

Those look like pretty sturdy jack-stands to me.

If you place a sheet of vinyl flooring material where you are working, you’ll be able to slide around easily, just like you had a creeper, only better b/c you’ll be lower so you have more room. That’s what I do.

I use a large sheet of corrugated cardboard from a refrigerator box. I like it much better than a creeper. And you can use it on crushed stone as well as concrete!

Yeah, it looks safe to me, but I’d rather have 2’X2’X2" solid concrete patio blocks under the jackstands, and I leave the hydraulic jacks under the chassis next to the jackstands as backups. It’s worth investing in a few “bottle jacks” for this purpose. I’m pleased to see that your stands are rated well beyond the expected load.

Go for it!

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I’d have no problem working under that setup. Just shake the thing before you get under there - you want to be sure that if it can fall off the jackstands, it does it when you’re testing that rather than when you’re under the car.

I think you will be fine BUT; as with anything there are no 100% guarantees in life. Murphy’s Law can rear its head anytime.

If it were me I’d try to block the wheels or at least add a few insurance jacks under there. Just in case.

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Looks fine to me. I’ve done a very similar setup at racetracks on grass. 3/4 ply under 4 stands. We used a sheet of 1/4 plywood to lie under the car to work. Because the grass can be wet and if you drop a bolt in the grass it is likely GONE unless the magnet on a stick can find it. And I have swapped a transmission in those conditions.

Agree, unless there’s a reason to have all four wheels on jack-stands, safer to leave two on the ground with brakes or transmission applied, and fully chocked.

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It’s normal practice to use four jack stands to hold a vehicle up.

That’s what I use to do before I got my lift.


If this is safe:

Then so is fully-jackstanding a car. :wink:

Whenever I’m in doubt about safety under a car, I stack a few 6x6" blocks of wood together, and place them next to the jackstands. Well worth the feeling of added safety.

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Looks safe to me, I also don’t like to use 4 jack stand unless I need to for the work. If it won’t bee in the way I leave my floou jack in place with it taking a little of the weight. I have been using HF 3 ton jack stands for 20 years with no problem but I make sure the ratcheting part is fully seated before it takes any weight.

I try to toss a spare rim and wheel under there as an absolute last resort where I will be working. That is just me.


You’re safer than this guy!

For the record, I know I just used this photo recently in another thread, but it was so relevant that I just couldn’t resist using it again. :laughing:

I am in the group that rarely lifts the whole car. Either way, I lower the jack a bit and let it sit there as backup. If I take a tire off, I throw it under the car. If I am lifting the whole car, I have another jack for the other end.

I also have my cell phone in my pocket to call 911 if needed. Do not trust my wife to do anything about it :slight_smile:

What’s the problem, he’s got the wheel chocked.

Is that red box a welder do you suppose? Is he actually welding under there with the gas tank or is that just a trouble light?

what are you doing? pulling trans? why do you need to have entire car in the air? i did that but i had ramps on the rear tires. it was a caddy afterall. pulled the trans. and had motor supported by cherry picker. what a nightmare. with subframe removed the motor was only held in place by wires.