How Does a Floor Jack Work?

Lifting big car with floor jack

Floor jacks come in various forms and sizes. Because of their versatility, floor jacks are often used to make heavy things easier to lift, be it cars, vans, and other heavy materials.

In this article, we are going to talk about how does a floor jack work.

What is a floor jack?

A floor jack is a tool used to lift heavy objects such as cars and construction materials. It comes in different types and categories.

Each type comes in various forms and functions. It is often categorized based on the amount of pressure applied upon use. 

How are Floor Jacks Categorized?

There are two categories for floor jacks. We have the mechanical jacks and the hydraulic jacks. Both types of jack vary in terms of the weight capacity and distance of the thread pitch.

Mechanical Floor Jacks

A mechanical floor jack comes with a screwing mechanism. This screwing mechanism uses the mechanical force applied to the tool’s jack body in order to lift the vehicle.

Mechanical jacks are very easy to use. Their screwing mechanism is adjustable. They make it easier for people to lift objects with minimal to medium effort.

Mechanical jacks are often used for car jacks and house jacks because of their capacity to lift. They are also handy and easy to store.

Hydraulic Floor Jacks

This category of floor jacks is more complicated compared to mechanical floor jacks.

Hydraulic floor jacks are composed of different kinds of levers, valves, and hydraulic pistons in order to lift heavier loads.

They use hydraulics in order to lift heavier loads. They are often used for heavy duty lifting.

What Composes a Floor Jack?

In order to understand how floor jacks work, we need to understand how they are made. A floor jack has a handle, and this handle is connected to the yoke.

The yoke is then connected to the jack bottle, which is also known as the main cylinder containing the piston.

The main cylinder is the most important part of the jack because this is where the liquid pressure will be stored.

Below the main cylinder, you can see two check valves and a release valve.  These two check valves consist of small balls that are attached to the spring.

It also contains several channels which allow the liquid pressure to travel to various parts of the jack. Right below it is pump cylinders and another piston which is connected to the handle.

For floor jacks, the bottle jacks are usually positioned parallel to the ground while its piston is attached to the handle.

These special joints help the handle move forward and backward of the saddle and the vehicle that is going to be lifted.

Also read: Best electric floor jacks

How Does a Floor Jack Works?

Floor jacks use hydraulics in order for the tool to lift objects on a certain height. Hydraulics use the liquid power that is taken from the applied force to move certain things using the same force.

In terms of the floor jack, the liquid pressure is added when we push the handle downwards while the jack lifts the vehicle upwards.

When a person lifts the jack’s handle, the pump piston moves upwards. In this sense, you are drawing the fluid power out of the bottle jack.

The fluid power will then fill the pump cylinder with liquid pressure.

When you move the jack’s handle downward, you are applying force to it. This applied pressure will then become the pressurized liquid.

The pressurized fluid that is contained in the check valve will then move to another channel. The pressurized fluid force will slowly fill the main cylinder. 

This movement will then push the lifting piston to move upwards. If you pump the handles a few times, you can lift a certain height of the car.

If you want to lower the vehicle, you can slowly turn the release valves. The release valves will slowly drain the liquid force from the main cylinder.

The liquid force will then move from the main cylinder to the reservoir. This will allow the jack to slowly go back to its original position.

Types of Jacks

 As mentioned, floor jacks vary in different form and sizes. Aside from floor jacks, here are some of the types of jacks used at home and for business purposes.

Scissor Jacks

Scissor jacks are also known as screw jacks. This type of floor jack is commonly used for personal purposes.

They are handy and lightweight. A scissor jack is easy to stow away in your car because it doesn’t take too much space.  

People often use scissor jacks when they fix flat tires or other minor car problems.

Bottle Jacks

Bottle jacks are also known as whiskey jacks. These jacks are typically built with a piston and a cylinder.

These are often used when you have limited space to do the lifting. This type of jack does not require a lot of space.

Nevertheless, it can lift up to 50 tons. This is often used on larger vehicles such as SUVs, delivery trucks, and 4WD.

Motorcycle Jacks

This type of jack is often used by bike and motorcycle owners. It can hold a weight lesser than 3 tons. It can’t lift vehicles. It can only hold the vehicle at a certain height.

Hi-lift Jacks

Hi-lift jacks are often used for heavy duty lifting. They can lift heavy trucks such as delivery trucks, tractors, and other vehicles with large tires.

They are more complicated to use compared to hydraulic and scissor jacks.

Check out: Best floor jacks of 2017


Knowing how does a floor jack work make it easier for you to understand how science is applied in such a small tool. This lifting tool is not only used for home purposes but also for commercial purposes.

Floor jacks come in a variety of forms of usage.

Each type has an equivalent weight limit which will help you determine the proper floor jack for your personal use.

Whichever type of floor jack you use, make sure that your product is of high quality.