CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Lousy jack stands

Check out this article about harbor fake jack stands :laughing:

https://jalopnik.com/dont-trust-your-life-to-these-jack-stands-1843546730

3 Likes

Saw that article…

Spread the news far and wide!

Even before this article came out . . . I never considered buying harbor fake jack stands

Now I know it could mean death :skull_and_crossbones:

Apparently cheap tools can kill you :skull:

Wasn’t there a thread here about someone buying some really cheap jack stands from Wal Mart that most people said they would not trust them .

Were they “Torin” jack stands . . . those look to be total garbage, as well :frowning_face:

One point I might make is that you never really know who is manufacturing the item you are buying.

Some years ago while going through the slow torture thing with my wife at K-Mart i ambled off to the automtive section. On a whim I bought a mechanic’s creeper. It turned out to be pretty decent for 2 or 3 years until I rolled a caster into a crack in the concrete and broke it off.
No problem. I took it home and since the Snap-On guy was due the next day figured I would buy a SO creeper and hang the cost.

So the only thing he had was a Blue Point version; which for those of you who do not know is the SO house brand so to speak. About 6 months of use led to a repeat of the K-Mart creeper. Crack broke a caster off.

Something looked familiar on the caster and double checking with my KM creeper I found the same hidden manufacturer stamp on both casters. So K-Mart and Blue point produced in the same plant with the only difference being the inked logo and the color of the vinyl on the headrest. And the BP was considerably higher in price.

Same goes for Grizzly tools who providea a lot of woodworking and metalworking machinery. There is nothing special about their tools. I’ve actually run into several other retailers who provide the same tools; just with a different paint scheme. The owners manuals are all identical down to the last word of Chenglish and the place of manufacture.

6 Likes

On the now defunct woodworkers board, some of the guys had nothing but Grizzly and would defend them to the death while dissing any North American tools. Like usual though they look like industrial quality tools until you start unmasking them. Still probably a lot of domestic stuff is made in the same plant now with different color paint. Kinda think a fella might be better off buying 20 year old used stuff instead. Gee I bought my table saw 25 years ago used and is still fine for me. Hard telling when it was made.

I regularly buy used snap on on tools on ebay

As @Bing said . . . used good tools are often better all around than new junk tools

Some of the used snap on tools I’ve bought are considerably older than I am . . . but they’re still doing their job every day, and if they do happen to break, they’re warrantied for life

I had bought one of the 3 tons as a backup. I got the e-mail to returns them.

I have an older 2 ton Jack which I bought from Advanced Auto. Probably not the best quality either but has held up a few cars including minivans and SUV’s. I always have two jacks, tires, kitchen sink, etc under the car for backup.

My position is that they all can fail, so thread accordingly. I am going to return these and probably pick up their new version. For us weekend wrenchers, HF is a good place. I agree that if I was a real mechanic, I would have needed better tools.

I am NEVER getting under a vehicle “supported” by harbor fake jack stands

1 Like

Its funny yesterday my friend called me on the phone to warn me about this exact issue. The only jack stands I still have and use are waay older than I am and are of very high quality. This is not to say that I have not used these HF Death Stands before, to say that would be disingenuous. Those stands have cropped up seemingly everywhere…so coming into contact with them has become more frequent…and any impromptu car or truck lifting will inevitably progress toward “hey you got a jack stand?” and whammo…you are squarely in harms way…totally unplanned…by a device that is not rocket science and one you should NOT have to second guess.

Obviously we cant trust these and many other Jack Stands what with our “global” marketplace and all that BS.

If it costs 20 bucks to buy potentially deadly set of steel jack stands…How much are they charging for a hunk o tree trunk or block of Oak ? I never seen a hunk of Oak fail under…well… anything. They crib up steel ships with the things for God sakes. lol

I may have to look towards wood rather than steel moving forward in those infrequent times where a stand is needed. Go from high to low tech.

1 Like

it was determined that product quality had become inconsistent due to aging of the tooling

They probably shouldn’t have bought the tooling at Harbor Freight…

Depends what you get from them. Their bandsaws are pretty nice, especially for the price. I grabbed a Shop Fox 14", which is made by the same outfit. It’s been great. Cost several hundred less than Jet, which itself has a better reputation than it deserves.

I’ve seen hit or miss reviews on their planers, though, and if I were buying a new table saw, it’d be Sawstop.

Can’t wait to hear from the regulars here who keep saying Harbor Freight tools are just as good as the name brand stuff.

1 Like

I don’t know anyone anywhere who says that… Except the marketing guys at Harbor Freight.

More often the sentiment is more along the lines of yes, HF stuff sucks compared to Snapon, but unless the tool is making you money, you probably don’t use it enough to justify the price difference.

5 Likes

I saw a guy using a cheapo ball joint tool kit. It was obviously a copy of the otc tools that many mechanics have. I think it was harbor fake

Anyways . . .

The tool broke and I had to walk away very quickly, so that the guy didn’t see me laughing :laughing:

He told the boss that the ball joints were so tight, that his tool broke

Later on, another guy . . . I forget who, but it wasn’t me . . . used his otc brand master ball joint tool kit. The tool made short work of those ball joints. No hammering. No penetrant. No torch.

For some jobs, there is absolutely no substitute for good tools

3 Likes

For noncommercial home use, tools from HFT will absolutely get the job done as well as professional brands costing 3 to 10 times as much. Even the floor jacks, engine lifts, and jack stands which people constantly make fun of here in this website.

Obviously, HF tools are not able to hold up to the rigors of professional usage, and anyone foolish enough to use them in this setting will be disappointed. These are cost-effective tools for home use–not professional grade tools for contractors or professional mechanics, and they are priced accordingly.

BTW, I have not one but two sets of the jack stands mentioned in the article. Two of those jack stands are holding up my Sundance, and have been doing so without issue for a year and a half. I have used HFT floor jacks and jack stands for years and not had any problem with them. Of course, I make sure the jack stands are properly positioned, and test to be sure that the mechanism is engaged properly before doing any work to the car.

I need to lift a vehicle maybe 10-15 times in a year. If a Snap-On floor jack costs $1000, and can last for 100,000 lift cycles, even if the $100 HFT floor jack can only last for 5,000 lift cycles, it will still be sufficient for my purposes. If you are a tire dealer, and need to use a floor jack 100 times in a day, obviously the HFT floor jack won’t stand up to that.

I disagree somewhat. I follow the adage that if it can kill or maim you, you shouldn’t buy it at Harbor Freight. I include jacks and especially jack stands in that category. All it takes is a bad weld made at a factory with low quality control, and you’re dead.

But a ball joint kit? Sure. 99% of the time it’ll work fine for home use, and since most home wrenchers don’t replace 100 ball joints in their lifetimes, the odds are fairly good the Harbor Freight one will be fine.

2 Likes

Back in my 20s when working a dealership, I was working on a car owned by a man in his 70s with a badly deformed face. He asked me if I wanted to know about his face, and then proceeded to explain that years earlier he was working under a car and it fell on him.

He drilled into me the need to reinforce any supports when working under a car. I never forgot that lecture and have always been grateful he shared it with me.

2 Likes

Yep. I always have at least one failsafe when I’ve got a car on jackstands. And if I’m physically under the car, I have more than one. One of those failsafes is positioning the jack so that it’ll catch the car if a stand fails, which is why I also don’t buy my floor jacks at Harbor Freight. :wink:

2 Likes

Depending on what I’m doing, I will always have at least two “methods of protection” (MOP). I always leave the jack in position and holding only a fraction of the weight while the stand takes almost all of it. If one or either fail, the other is there as a backup. This makes the likelihood of total failure much more remote possibility. If I take off a wheel, I will also slide that under the car. It’s out of the way and providing a third MOP.

I use the same approach as shadowfax. The likelihood of failure and more importantly, severity of injury if it fails, drive the decision on quality of tools needed to do the job. It’s not just about anticipated lifetime, it’s about propensity to fail at any moment…

4 Likes