I’d like to change the oil in my car by myself. I want to buy car ramps, but some people say a car jack is better. I’d rather have the opinion of those with experience, so, which one is safer to use?
Don’t use a jacke by itself. You need jack stands. I have a set of ramps that I used when I did my oil changes. I had someone watch me to make certain that I didn’t overshoot the end of the ramp. In my book, it is a toss up as to whether the jack stands or the ramps are safer. However, do not crawl under a car supported only by a jack.
Ramps are stabiler than jack stands…they have a larger footprint. For maximum security, I have used all five: two jack stands, two ramps, and the floor jack left in place with a little tension on it. It must have worked, I’m still here!
I hate trying to drive up on those ramps. I have had metal ones and now plastic. I prefer the plastic, but they tend to slip if you are not careful and when you only use them once a year, it is hard to get comfortable driving up on them The first time I used them I did not get everything right and one slipped off. Very little damage, but I was not really happy. That said, I usually use ramps rather than jack stands and I have a hydrolytic jack and a couple of jack stands.
Many of the people who believed that a car jack is sufficient for working underneath a car are no longer with us, due to sucking chest wounds that they sustained when the car dropped onto their chest.
For your own health and safety, do not work underneath a car unless it is securely placed on either jack stands or ramps. As was said, ramps can be somewhat tricky to use, as they tend to skid across the floor when you are trying to mount them, and you literally have to stop on a dime once the car is up on the ramp. I prefer jack stands.
Changing oil does’nt get any simpler than this:
Drive up on my ramps
Flip the lever on the Fumotovalve.
Remove the oil filter by hand & spin a new one on hand tight.
I’ve been using the Fumotovalves for about 30 years. Neat little gadget.
Fram also makes a similiar drain valve which i’ve seen at Walmart.
Joseph makes a very good point about the ramps. If you use them on a slippery surface, they can shoot out from under the car as you drive up on them.
The only time I use jackstands is for doing brake jobs or tire rotation.
Never, I repeat never, get under a car that is just on jacks. People die that way. Jacks can and do tip over. You cannot breath with a 3000 pound car on your chest.
Ramps properly used are perfectly safe. I use them myself.
I use both ramps and jack stands depending on what vehicle I’m working on and what the job is - my ramps sometimes don’t give enough clearance under the vehicle, and ramps are useless if you want to take wheels off.
Its preference. However a jack must be used with jackstands. Never do jack alone unless you want to be one those yearly local news stories about some poor sap killed or severly injured by a car.
If you really want to get fancy, Sears sells a floor jack that not only lifts the vehicle, but also sets a jackstand in place when the vehicle is lowered.
To make sure the ramps do not move backwards when you drive the car on them, use two 6 ft long 2x4s, put them on the floor between the front of the ramps and the backwall of the garage. When the front wheels touch the ramps, they will not slide since the 2x4s are holding them back. I’ve used this for years and don’t worry about a slippery garage floor anymore.
Jacking the car up and then placing jack stands under the car works too, but is much more tedious.
If you do choose ramps, make sure the car will fit up them. What am I saying? I had a pair of older ramps, and my modern cars had such low bodywork under the front that the body hit the ramps before the wheels did. I think it started with the '84 Chevy wagon, pretty sure with the '87 Buick Century and certain with the '00 Camry.
Another consideration would be storage space and ease of moving the stuff to the work location, traded off for ease of use when you get there.
To the OP. Both can be safe. Ramps are more convenient if you are going to just change the oil. Get a jack and stands for work where you have to take off the wheels more than one at a time.
Some sheets of cardboard under my ramps kept them from slipping on smooth concrete. The ramps are much easier to use with RWD (right wheel drive) cars than wrong wheel drive.
I can’t get under a car with just a jack holding it or with jack stands. The stands look so flimsy and move around (wobble) too much. Call me a chicken, but I put some big timbers under some appropriate hard points before I go under with my creeper.
One vital point not mentioned in any of these posts is to ensure you BLOCK the rear wheels after the front ones are up on the ramps.
Do not rely on the Parking brake alone. (especially if its one that hasn’t been used regularly)
For extra insurance, when the wheels have to be free, jack the car up, leave the jack in place with some tension on it, and place the ramps (preferably, metal) under the car body. Three means of support is better than one. Live long and perspire!
You should get a good floor jack, jack stands, and ramps. For oil changes I drive the car up on ramps and then place jack stands under the car for insurance. I will put it up on jack stands for things like brake jobs and use the ramps for insurance.
I’ve always used a jack with jackstands, simply my preference. All the vehicles I’ve owned have had a high enough ground clearance not to need any lifting for an oil change, so I’ve never really had any use for ramps.
Do you mean jacks or jack stands?
I mean jacks, 'cause that’s what I read in the post. Good point, however.
I also like ramps better than jack stands, however jack stands are safe if correctly used and I do use them when appropriate.
Ramps. No question in my mind, but I usually don’t need them except on one car where there is just no clearance. On one car, I just jack it up a few inches to get enough clearance. So just make sure you actually need them.
I always had trouble with them sliding so what I did was weld slotted steel across the front. Then I drilled holes in the garage floor where I can insert a bolt through the slotted steel. You can adjust right or left depending on where the car tires are, and easy on and easy off. I have rubber plugs in the holes when not in use and you never notice them. I also made removable riser extensions for the really low clearance car.