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If you own a vehicle, then you have probably considered buying your own car jack. And when it comes to car jacks, the two most common options are a floor jack and a scissor jack.
But what are the differences between floor jack vs. scissor jack?
The scissor jack has diagonal metal elements connected together by hinges and screws to form a diamond shape.
You can often use this tool in most vehicles except for those that need high clearance like trucks.
The floor jack, on the other hand, is one type of hydraulic jack. Hydraulic jacks make use of a small and large piston.
To get the work done, the small piston makes a pushing motion to deliver force to the large piston. The force becomes greater through the use of hydraulic fluid.
In the case of floor jacks, a piston pushes a crank connected to the lift pad. With the pushing motion, the pad is lifted.
It has a long handle, which is used to operate the hydraulic lift pad, and a low ground unit with four wheels, which allows you to move it around easily.
Floor jacks are usually seen in house garages and automotive shops.
The scissor jack is the one you often see in people’s car trunk. It is stored there in the case of an emergency.
For instance, if you suddenly get a flat tire in the middle of a highway, you don’t need to call a repairman.
Instead, you just have to get the scissor jack from your trunk and change the tire yourself. Because of its size, you will have no problem bringing it along on a trip.
The floor jack is what you use for major repairs and maintenance. Though bigger than the scissor jack, it is easy to move around and operate.
This tool is usually considered the workhorse of the jack family as it is most helpful in assisting a mechanic that needs to get under the vehicle.
Also read: Best floor jacks of 2017
The scissor jack has a mechanical nature. Thus, it requires physical effort to initiate a lifting motion.
However, if you don’t want to exert effort, there are available electric scissor jacks for you to buy.
The scissor jack can fit under most vehicles, but it has only a maximum height lift of 15 to 30 inches.
Its lift capacity is one to two tons. It can lift small cars but is useless when it comes to lifting large trucks and minibuses.
In contrast, the floor jack does not require much physical effort. Its hydraulic system allows the operator to raise the vehicle with less pressure. It is arguably the easiest and the safest to operate.
The floor jack is capable of lifting any vehicle higher than other kinds of jack. It also has a big lifting capacity, being able to lift vehicles of 10 tons or more. Its maximum lift height is high.
To use the scissor jack, you only have to place it under the spot you want to lift. Then, you have to turn the screw using a handle to lift or lower the vehicle.
Usually, the tire’s iron functions as the handle of the scissor jack.
To use the floor jack, you have to wheel it below the vehicle first. Then, you have to pump the attached handle connected to the socket.
When the lift arm makes contact with the vehicle’s undercarriage, you will be able to raise it. To lower the car, you only have to turn the pressure relief valve.
The scissor jack requires minimal maintenance. What you usually need to do is to just grease the screw.
The floor jack, on the other hand, needs to be consistently checked. Because of the presence of the hydraulics, you have to check for leaks. Once in a while, you also need to bleed the hydraulic jack.
In the case of storage, the scissor jack as the upper hand because of its light weight and small size.
In fact, it is specifically made to be easily stored without compromising its ability to fit the lifting spots on most cars.
Sometimes, the scissor jack is even mistaken as the screw jack, another tool known for its compactness.
Meanwhile, the floor jack has a sturdy construction which can be attributed to its large size and substantial weight.
Though it has wheels that make it easier to transport from one place to another, you can’t store it in small storage areas like your car trunk.
The small, compact, and lightweight scissor jack can easily be moved from one place to another.
Though bigger and heavier, the same can be said with the floor jack. The floor jack has wheels, so you can simply push the tool towards your desired location.
In other words, when it comes to portability, both the scissor jack and the floor jack have the same standing.
Check out: 5 Best jack stands of 2017
Because the scissor jack can’t support much weight, it can wear out faster. Moreover, its diamond-shape design is prone to failure under heavy load.
Using a jack stand is not an option as the scissor jack can’t raise the vehicle high enough.
Thus, if you are fond of doing auto maintenance at home, it is not advisable for you to purchase the scissor jack.
Unlike the scissor jack, the floor jack is designed for repeated heavy usage. Thus, it can last longer and take more abuse. It is strong enough to get any job done.
The scissor jack is designed to undertake one simple task. That task is changing the tire. It is useless for any other jobs.
You can’t use it in lifting a truck or changing the oil. If you force it to perform a job it’s not supposed to do, it will most likely break.
The floor jack, however, can adapt to any kind of lifting task. Because it can lift the vehicle high enough for an operator to slip underneath, it can be used for any DIY auto repair projects.
You just have to keep it well-maintained to avoid any accidents.
Considering their design and function, the scissor jack is clearly cheaper compared to the floor jack.
Thus, if you have an issue with regards money, it’s best that you stick first with the scissor jack until you can buy an upgrade.
Examining floor jack vs. scissor jack, it can be said that the tools are different in more ways than one.
The scissor jack is cheaper, more portable, and more compact. However, the floor jack is stronger, more versatile, and more durable.
When deciding which jack to use, it’s best that you consider your purpose first.
When will you be using the jack? If you just want it to change your tires every now and then, then buy the scissor jack. However, if you want it for your vehicle’s regular maintenance needs, buy the floor jack.
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