I count myself as one of the lucky ones. With as many hours as I’ve spent underneath cars, I’ve never had a close call with a jack stand failing. I make an effort to have redundant safety measures in place, even if it’s a wheel or a big hunk of wood that’ll keep thousands of pounds of metal from squeezing me like a tube of toothpaste. When I was young, I never wanted to spend a lot on things like jack stands; that was money that could go into the car itself, not silly precautions. Now that I’m older and arguably wiser, I realize horsepower is irrelevant if I’m too dead to get to the track day.
This collection of jack stands isn’t made up of the cheapest you’ll find, even while they are on sale, but I’ve picked out high-quality pieces I would literally trust to hold a car over my head.
From Amazon. Price is per pair.
I know, these are a big change. They aren’t ratchet style, they have a big flat foot on them, and they’re aluminum. I’ve heard rumors they may be vegan and gluten-free as well. But after years of using ratcheting jack stands, I am a pin convert. I like being able to set the height and it stays there until I very intentionally remove the pin to slide it up or down. These might be only $5 off the normal price on Amazon, but my local big box hardware store wants over $100 for the same pair.
The big flat pad on the bottom spread out the load over a bigger area, which may not matter as much on concrete, but if you’ve ever used regular four-point jack stands on asphalt, or anything softer, you know they can mark up the surface—these are ideal for track day/autocross participants. The base is also easily removed and since they’re aluminum they weigh about 5 pounds apiece, so these are really easy to transport. The lowest height is 10.75 inches with 6 locking-positions up to a max of 15.625 inches.
From Northern Tool. Price is per pair.
This set from Strongway is rated at 6 tons, 12,000 pounds, per pair. So really these are 3 tons per single jack stand, which is still a whole bunch of weight. Unlike the aluminum stands above, these aren’t really meant for traveling, or softer surfaces. These are home garage workhorses that are going to be sturdy enough to pass on to your grandkids, and they have both a ratcheting mechanism and a locking pin. The height range is 15.5 inches at the lowest to 23.3 at the highest. They’re powder coated, as you would certainly expect, and weigh about 15 pounds per, which is pretty normal for something this beefy. They’re currently $15 off the normal price of $84.99.
From Harbor Freight. Price is per pair.
OK, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Harbor Freight had to recall its jack stands a few years ago. The company has since redesigned its products and now has far higher quality construction and material standards than average. These six-ton (per pair) jack stands use a cast-iron ratcheting lift-bar and a locking pin, like the Strongways above. They use welded foot pads to spread the load over a larger area, so they are safer to use on surfaces like asphalt or coated floors. The minimum height for one of these jack stands is 15.25 inches with a maximum of 23.75 inches. They weigh in at roughly 17 pounds apiece and even come in a choice of six colors.