Jacking up a unibody car

I have a 2003 MazdaSpeed Protege that is exhibiting signs of an exhaust leak. I want to jack it up to check for the leak, but I’m nervous about it. I have jacked this car up before, but I had to do it from one side of the car because I was unable to find any good jack points on the front of the car. I couldn’t find the frame, so I assume it’s unibody construction and has no real “frame”. I can’t use ramps because the car has a body kit and it only sets about 4 to 6 inches off the ground, so I’m concerned that it would hit the front bumper on the ramps on the way up or down.

My question is, is it okay and safe to jack a car up on its side? I will need to start the car once it’s up there to check for the leak. Also, if I need to get the car up higher, can I block up one side once it’s jacked and then jack up the other side to block it and just have it all up on blocks. I sure wish I had a lift, that would make my life so much easier.

Can you think of any other ways I can do this? Also, do you know of any good tricks for finding an exhaust leak?

As always, you folks rock and any information that relates to this would be very welcome.

Thank you.

When jacking up a uni-body vehicle with a floor jack, jack up on the pinch weld of the body. This is the strongest portion of the uni-body.


Where is this located? So far, we’ve been jacking it up on the existing jack points on the rail along the sides of the car where you would jack it to change a tire.

That’s the pinch weld.


Since you will be starting the car and crawling under it to check for leaks you need to get a small floor jack like at Sears, they are cheap, and jack on the suspension and then put jack stands under it. DO NOT TRUST THE FACTORY OR OTHER JACK WHEN UNDER A CAR!

Oh, definitely!! Already got one. Safety first!!

Just keeping it current. I was hoping to get more input on this.

Jack up one side and use jackstands, one front . . . one back. To check for exhaust leaks . . . start the car and have someone hold a folded car towel over the exhaust outlet (tailpipe) while you lay under the car, listening for the leak. Do this cold so you can feel around for the leak if you can’t see it. Rocketman Oh, one more thing . . . keep this well ventilated, outside if possible.

Thank you. I thought there was something about blocking the tailpipe…I seem to remember doing that before, back in the day when I was working on older Chevys. Great input.