Question about jack stands

So in the next week or two, I have to get several projects done with my car that I have never done myself before. First, I am going to change the oil for the first time because the car has so many issues going on that I can no longer take it to a place even for an oil change. So I went to Walmart yesterday and bought two 2-ton jack stands for about $9 each - which you can see if you go to a Walmart with an auto section. I am a little uncomfortable with the thought of relying on these things to keep me from being crushed under the car, and I also have another problem. The only way I have to raise the car is the tire-changing scissors jack that fits in the trunk. I am not buying and have no way to transport or store a floor jack. The cut-out in the body of the car (where the scissors jack goes) is not large enough for both the jack and the jack stand to be at the same time - not to mention there isn’t enough room underneath that section of the car for both of them. So how can I raise the car onto the jack stands? Since I have to be under the engine area and between the two front wheels, I can’t have anything in that area - it has to be supported from the sides.

You bought $9.00 jack stands and you want to get under a car. Are you just trying to kill yourself? Second why are you even wasting your time and money on this old worn out vehicle anyway.

I use ramps for oil changes and the like. Much safer and mistake-resistant if they are on a solid flat surface. Jack stands only when needed for jobs where wheel(s) have to be removed…


Ordinarily Torin isn’t a terrible brand - at least, for occasional use - but the secret of Walmart is that they will order items from well-known manufacturers, but to their own specs. For instance, the Levis jeans you get there are of lesser quality than the ones you get elsewhere. People think they’re getting a bargain, but really they’re just paying less money because the product has lower quality.

I don’t know if they did that with the jack stands, but at $9 each, I suspect chances are fairly good.

That said, the design looks like it’s pretty decent so assuming they didn’t use really low-quality metal it will probably be fine. Get the car set on them and then shake the hell out of it. You’re trying to knock it off the jack stands or make the jackstands fail, because you want that to happen before you’re under it, not after.

If it passes that test, then toss the spare tire under the car next to one of the stands as a backup, and leave the jack in place too as a second backup.

The jackpoints for using jack stands will be on the centerline of the car. Your owners manual will probably tell you where they are, but most likely it will be on a cross bar that is in front of and below the engine. Since you didn’t say what year Cavalier you have, here’s a generic diagram that shows what I’m talking about, but be sure to verify the actual location on your car:

… And that brings us to the next point - the car’s jack is not designed to support the weight of the vehicle when 2 wheels are off the ground. You are very likely to hurt yourself trying it. You must either buy or borrow a floor jack. It’s just part of using jack stands. You can get them cheap if you buy used - I see them on Craigslist all the time. As for storage, they tuck under things or can just sit flush against the wall, so they really don’t take up much space. This is not optional when jacking from the floor jack points. You cannot put the car on the jack stands if you use the scissor jack – and frankly you shouldn’t use it anyway. Those things love to collapse even when used properly. They’re emergency jacks only and I avoid them like the plague because I like my body the way it is and don’t want to damage it. :wink:


Shadowfax, thank you for your thoughtful reply. To explain the parameters I must operate within is WELL beyond the scope of this forum but there will be no floor jack used. It isn’t any more of an option than spending more money is. I have previously worked under the car using only the scissors jack so this is a major upgrade that I could barely afford. And I have jacked-up all four corners of this car on multiple occasions over the last 17 years to deal with various problems - but now have this new problem of how to transfer the car from the jack to the stands. The only option I see is it jack up the car outside of the support points and hope the metal doesn’t give-way for those minutes it will be there until resting on the stands. There is no point on this car that I would ever feel comfortable with myself being underneath it other than those two front frame indentations near each tire.

.I bought a pair at Walmart years ago and they are pretty safe.I use them a lot.
If your car runs and go forward. get a pair of car ramps.

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There are very sturdy places in the front suspension where you can jack, or place jack stands.

Can you buy or borrow ramps? Or make them: stacked 2X10s of decreasing length, nailed or screwed together, for example. Once it’s sitting raised up on a ramp you can safely look for good places for a jack stand

But why take the risk of jacking and jack stands to change oil?

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When the most you will have a place do it is twice a year. And on this old thing I might not do it but once a year.

Using jack stands for an oil change is overkill. If I’m working on my car and not removing the wheels, I use ramps. They have a wider base, making them more stable.

It never hurts to have both jack stands and ramps. When my car is up on ramps, I setup the jack stands to catch the car if the ramps fail. When my car is up on jack stands, I setup the ramps under the car to catch the car if the jack stands fail or tip over.

You don’t have to buy a full size floor jack. A small one like this one can be stored in your trunk:

If you can’t afford that, get a decent bottle jack like this one:

However, and this is important, bottle jacks tip over easily, so be very careful if you decide to use one.

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The problem I’ve had with ramps is the extremely short stopping and steep slope. They could be a pain to use.

So I built my own out of pressure treated wood.

. Instead of the ramp part being something like 10" long - mine is 3’ for a nice gradual climb to it’s max height of 8"
. The top of ramp is 4’ long. I don’t have to give the car gas and then brake suddenly when I get to the top.
. And lastly - the ramps are 16" wide.

Made them out of pressure treated wood. Don’t have to worry about slipping because the ramp is only about 9 degree incline. Even when wet - vehicle doesn’t slip.

Their heavy, but I just leave them in the corner of the garage. I also put a hinge on them so they fold up nicely.


Long before opening a shop I found that using old wheels under the tires was by far the safest way to support a car to work under it and used them at the shop for years and have 6 in my shop here at home now. They won’t tip over or roll or break and they’re virtually free. A jack that will raise the wheels is required though but they aren’t expensive.


It’s not really a question of if, but when, a scissor jack will fail. They’re meant for temporary and rare use on the side of the road when you have a flat. They are not meant for regular service. If you continue to use the scissor jack to service your car, you significantly increase the chances that you will be hurt. At least do what @Whitey said and get a jack that’s less prone to sudden and catastrophic collapse.


never use the walmart $9 jack stands that was one of my very first mistakes i used one and the top literally peeled off of the body when the car shifted so my suggestion never waste your money on walmart automotive equipment


I’m not going to read everyone’s response but I don’t like jack stands. For oil changes, I’ve never had to do anything except raise the front end a little with a screw jack to be able to reach under the car. I’m never under it. I like the ramps if I really need to get under a car. For brakes or something, I’ll do one wheel at a time using the jack and I use jack stands as a back up under solid points on the frame. I know some talk about supporting a whole front end or car on jack stands but it wouldn’t be something I’d be comfortable with. Also, with a little age, those side jacking points are susceptible to rust and I’ve had the jack go right through on several cars, so I just don’t trust those jacking points unless on a relatively new car. That’s me and others may disagree, but I’ve been under a car when an engine slipped from the hoist and its not fun.

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You people are a riot!

Ever watch an episode of


Every vehicle goes four jack stands when they’re worked on.

Even Heather Storm crawls under vehicles on jack stands

And she’s a GIRL!


You might look at a bottle jack and use the jack lift points @shadowfax provided. Do not get any part of your body under the car until safe. Bottle jacks are relatively inexpensive, auto parts store I looked at a 4 ton was $25.

But those are not $9.00 stands from Wallyworld.

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I get the impression that people are frightened of jack stands in general.

Not where they’re bought or how much they cost.


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Only the OP can decide on his/her situation and what risk to take. This is for information only.

The link below is to an Autozone page showing placement of a 1995-2000 Cavalier on jack stands.
Fig 3 shows putting the front end on 2 jack stands placed under the frame rails. The OP can check and decide if the same is correct for a 2001 Cavalier.

Given the situation, I would suggest that IF the OP proceeds, s/he use the stands AND the emergency jack (on one side, AND at least one tire removed and laid down on the other side) to provide as much of a ‘belts and suspenders’ approach as possible.

Sticks and stones etc. but calling me a girl doesn’t bother me. It’s not necessarily the jack stands (although that may be an issue too) but where the jack stands are positioned on the car. You rely on the sheet metal pinch welds since there are not many heavy frames anymore.