Many mechanics and car owners benefitted from the invention of the hydraulic floor jack. A hydraulic floor jack can come in handy in a variety of situations, from replacing a flat tire to adjusting the vehicle’s undercarriage. Like other mechanical devices, they are not immune to failures and flaws. At times, they do need fixation.
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In this article, we will talk about some common floor jack problems and solutions for fixing them.
Some common problems that you might encounter while using a floor jack are:
- The floor jack leaks oil
- The floor jack isn’t lifting enough weight
- Jack’s case starts to crack.
- The floor jack’s wheels are jammed.
- Jack leaks foamy liquid.
Let’s talk about each problem in detail and see how you can fix it.
Common Hydraulic Floor Jacks Problems and Fixes
Problem # 1: Jack Leaks Oil
Due to some wear and tear, it is common that the chamber of the jack starts to leak oil. But this oil leakage shouldn’t be ignored. You need to fix this problem.
The solution to this problem is the replacement of the O rings of the floor jack. If you don’t know how to do it, you can follow the steps discussed.
Step 1: Examine the Jack
To check if there is a leak in Jack’s oil chamber, you must first lay the jack on a hard plain surface and examine it. Make sure that the work surface is strong enough to carry the jack.
Step 2: Release Valve Screw
In the second step, you need to release the valve screw that raises and lowers the jack. For that, turn the jack handle counterclockwise.
Step 3: Drain the fluid
Next, you need to drain the fluid from the jack. First fix the jack with clamps, such that it does not move. Set the drain pan underneath and drain the whole fluid from the valve screw’s hole. Then, return the jack back to its original position.
Step 4: Replace the O-ring
Since the faulty O-ring is the reason for oil leakage in the floor jack, you need to replace it with a new one. O-ring is placed on the valve screw; remove it with a screwdriver. Clean the screw and insert a new O-ring.
Step 5: Refill Jack and Insert Valve Screw
Since we drained out the oil from the jack, it is now empty. You need to refill with the new jack oil, the one recommended by the manufacturer. To do it properly, you can use a funnel. Fill the fluid until the fill line.
Insert the valve back in its place and turn the handle clockwise. Now, raise and lower the jack using the screw to make sure the valve is fixed in its place and no oil seeps through it.
Note: In some cases, the oil leakage is not due to the O-ring. In that case, you need to disassemble the whole jack to look for the leakage point/s in the jack.
Do read our ultimate guide to hydraulic jack oil.
Problem # 2: Jack doesn’t lift enough weight
Sometimes, you might notice that the floor jack is not lifting the weight it is designed to, or the jack is not holding the pressure needed to lift the vehicle up, for changing a tire, or anything else.
If the jack isn’t lifting the weights, then to resolve this issue you have to do the following things.
Step 1: Check the oil level
The first thing to check if the jack lift operation is affected is its oil level. Low oil level and oil above the fill line can cause damage and prohibit the jack from lifting weight, i.e. reduce its lifting capacity.
If the oil level is low, it is recommended to refill the jack with the manufacturer’s recommended oil. And if the oil level exceeds the fill line, drain the additional oil from the jack. If this was the cause of your jack’s failure, the jack will be able to hold pressure after you have adjusted the oil level.
Step 2: Bleed the Jack
It is not common but sometimes air gets trapped in the jack, preventing it from raising the weight. Thus, if you have a jack failure, attempt bleeding i.e. remove the air from the jack.
To bleed the jack, remove the oil filler screw and then turn the jack’s release valve anti-clockwise. Then, pump and screw the handle as many times as necessary until the air is evacuated from the jack and it starts working properly.
Step 3: Lubricate the Jack
Another solution to the jack lift problem is lubrication. Applying oil to all of the jack’s moving parts reduces friction and keeps them free of rust. Without proper lubrication, the parts wear out due to friction and rust. It is the most crucial thing to perform to keep the jack running.
Step 4: Examine the Release Valve
If you have properly placed the jack on the ground and pumped the handle, but your jack is still not lifting the weight, you should check the tightness of the release valve to see if it is tightened. If by any means, it is loose, the jack will not work.
Step 5: Make Sure you are not Overloading the Jack
Each floor jack has a maximum capacity that it can handle at one time. If you exceed the weight limit, this could be the cause of your hydraulic jack not lifting. So, try and check the weight limit. Ensure that you are overloading the jack.
Problem # 3: Jack wheels are jammed and aren’t rolling properly
Another common issue is jack wheels jammed or stuck in their place.
Usually, the wheel seizure problem can be fixed using lubrication oil. This condition is normal when you have not used the jack for a while and stored the jack someplace. Due to moisture, the wheels get rusted over time, and they get stuck in place. That’s why won’t roll. Using good quality oil will reduce the friction and rust and wheels will become functional. Avoid using regular oil as it might cause harm to the metal on the wheels.
Problem # 4: Jack’s case is cracking
Another problem you would notice while using a jack is that its body is being bent or cracked during the operation. This problem is very critical so you need to fix it as soon as possible.
So, if you find that the jack’s casing or frame is cracked, bent, or damaged, you should stop using it and replace it with a new one because it is no longer safe to use. Since the jack’s stability depends on the frame of the jack, if you see that the jack’s frame is bending, this indicates that the jack is unable to support the load, and using the jack would be dangerous.
A bent jack should always be replaced; don’t try to fix it. However, a scratch on the frame is not a severe issue.
Problem # 5: Jack Leaks Foamy Liquid
Oil leaks are a regular occurrence in hydraulic systems, however, sometimes you may observe that the leaking oil is not always black. Your floor jack needs to be repaired immediately if the color is foamy or milky in appearance. This indicates that water has built up inside the equipment. The color of the oil will change as a result of the water.
The simplest solution to this problem is to drain all of the oil from the hydraulic jack and leave it to dry. When the oil compartment is empty, refill it with fresh hydraulic oil. This procedure can be done in five simple steps.
- Look for the drain plug. It may be under the tray or on the housing.
- Clean the plug and open it using a wrench.
- Take a drain pan and drain out all oil from the jack.
- Using a funnel, pour the recommended oil into the jack.
- Remove the release valve and bleed out air. Then, insert the drain plug back inside.
So by now, you know to fix the common problem that you may face while working a jack. Hydraulic Jacks are a wonderful tool to use. To ensure that your jack remains functional, regular cleaning, bleeding, and lubrication are important. Before using it to left a heavy specimen, test it to see if it is working properly.