How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won't Lift: An Easy Guide

How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won’t Lift: An Easy Guide

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Floor jacks are an excellent tool that will help lift your car in emergencies. Even though they are not the biggest, they are quite robust. They have quite a sturdy construction, which allows them to lift cars.

All you need to do is some cranking and pumping, and it will lift tons of weight. Then again, on some occasions, they fail to do so. This begs the question: how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift?


How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won’t Lift

No matter how sturdy floor jacks are, they are still vulnerable to damage over time, or if they have or have not been used too much. Thankfully, there are solutions to this issue. We will walk you through a complete guide on how you can effectively fix a floor jack that is unable to lift a vehicle.

Issue: Overloading

This is the most common issue. If the floor jack is unable to lift your vehicle, you first need to check what its lifting capacity is. Note that several floor jacks come fitted with a safety feature in case there is an overload. This will prevent the jack from working altogether when you are trying to lift a vehicle that is higher than the maximum weight capacity.

In line with this, check your car’s weight and then the floor jack’s maximum weight capacity. You can find your car’s overall weight in the user manual. The jack’s weight can be found on the jack itself. If you are exceeding it, this is the cause of the jack’s failure.

Typically, most jacks that have a maximum weight capacity of two or three tons are capable of lifting light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles with no issues.

However, keep in mind that when you do use a jack beyond its maximum weight capacity, it will not only prevent from lifting the vehicle but will also end up stressing it. Ultimately, this will affect the jack’s quality and could potentially be hazardous as well.

Issue: High or Low Hydraulic Oil Levels

Another reason why the jack isn’t lifting the car could be if there is a lower or higher level of oil than recommended. Having incorrect levels of oil will not just affect the lifting capacity of the jack but also its capability to lower back down.

If you think that this is an issue, you can check the oil level by taking out the oil fill plug and looking inside the chamber. The optimal level of oil for hydraulic jacks will be about 3/16 to a quarter over the oil reservoir. This is where the user manual will come quite in handy to find the optimal levels of oil in the jack.

If the level of oil in the floor jack is lesser than the recommended level, then you can refill it. Make sure that you use the best hydraulic oil and not some cheaper alternative. If the level is higher than the recommended level, then you will need to drain some of it. Once the levels are at the recommended point, your floor jack will be able to lift vehicles and lower them properly.

When you do take a peek inside the chamber, look for any debris or dirt. These could also be a reason behind the jack’s failure. Take out the oil and use an air compressor to blow all of it out.

Issue: Trapped Air

Floor jacks not being able to raise vehicles could also be caused by air that is trapped inside the jack. Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this problem, and it is commonly referred to as bleeding.

Bleeding is a process that will require you to place the jack’s release valve in a position that is completely retracted. By that, we mean on a counterclockwise position of the handle. Then, you will be able to remove the screw of the oil filter.

It is essential to screw and pump the handle multiple times in order to remove all the air that is trapped. You can then replace the oil fill screw and try lifting your vehicle with the floor jack again.

Issue: Too Tight Release Valve

If the jack saddle has been placed correctly, the handle has been pumped, and yet the jack lowers or just does not lift even by the slightest bit, then you should take a look at the release valve. You should begin by examining the tightness and then adjust it appropriately.

If it was indeed tight, then fixing it will help the jack to start working correctly again.

Issue: Rusted Parts

If you have done all the above steps and the floor jack still refuses to lift your vehicle, then it is essential that you do a full examination of it. You will need to check whether there are any cracked welds, oil leaks, missing or damaged parts, and so on.

You will also need to inspect the ram. You can do this by simply turning the floor jack to its sides. Examine it closely in both the retracted as well as the extended positions. Scarred or rusted pistons may be the issue of why the jack isn’t lifting the vehicle.

Issue: Not Enough Lubrication

When you do general maintenance for your floor jack, it is imperative that you apply the recommended amount of lubrication oil to all of its moving parts. Ensure that you are lubricating parts, such as the hinges and the wheels, so that they are able to run more smoothly and effectually.

Also, make sure that you don’t cut costs by buying cheaper lubricating oils. Only use high-quality ones.


With our complete guide on how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift, you can now effectively find the issues and fix them on time. If your jack does not elevate your vehicle, always begin by looking out for the common problems.

Some of the common causes of a malfunctioning jack is an oil leak, oil underfill or overfill, trapped air, damaged or missing parts, scarred or rusted ram pistons, overloading of the jack, and more. As seen in this article, these issues all have quick and easy solutions.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

michael adel - November 30, 2019

I don’t understand this sentence under Trapped Air: “Then, you will be able to remove the screw of the oil filter.”

    Thecead - March 8, 2020

    Screwing and pumping the handle several times is what you need to do next to remove the trapped air.

    Una Plude - April 15, 2020

    Do you have a second to help me with a question I have? Do air compressors with vertical tanks work better than air compressors with horizontal tanks? From what I’ve been told the vertical tanks can hold more air. I appreciate the response.

    APKun - April 22, 2020

    Either higher or lower oil levels than what is recommended will likely cause your floor jack to fail. The wrong oil levels limit not only the jack’s lifting capacity but also its lowering capability.

    Worries - April 22, 2020

    One of the most vital routine maintenance requirements for a floor jack is that you apply some lubricating oil to all the moving parts. Lubricate parts like the wheels and hinges to ensure they run smoothly and effectually. Remember, the common problems that lead a jack to fail are – an oil overfill or underfill, an oil leak, some trapped air, rusted or scarred ram pistons, and damaged, missing or even loose parts. Don’t forget the one we looked at first – overloading the jack.

    Med Advice - April 23, 2020

    Either higher or lower oil levels than what is recommended will likely cause your floor jack to fail. The wrong oil levels limit not only the jack’s lifting capacity but also its lowering capability.

    Daysis - April 23, 2020

    By the by, you might also want to examine if there’s dirt or debris in the jack’s oil chamber; these could also be behind the unit’s failure. Feel free to drain the oil so you can properly check for unwanted agents. An air compressor will help you blow them out. If you’re having a failing jack, there’s likelihood of there being some trapped air within the jack, causing it not to lift.

    Lady - April 24, 2020

    Either higher or lower oil levels than what is recommended will likely cause your floor jack to fail. The wrong oil levels limit not only the jack’s lifting capacity but also its lowering capability.

Taylor - January 12, 2020

Amazing guide on Floor Jack that Won’t Lift….. I was curious as i am using arcan jack for quite a while and now i feel like i need a new one. My friend suggested me using jack made in USA due to quality. And give me the reference given on website section. What are your thoughts on it.

Robert - January 27, 2020

Excellent information and guide.

At any point in using a floor jack for a long time, anyone could fall into this situation. Lately, I came through this issue, and I thought the jack was done! After I read this helpful piece of content, I know what the fix is. Thanks so much.

Off to share.

rutland - April 24, 2020

Нey there just wanted to give yoս a quick heads up.
The text in your article seem to be running off the screen in Chrоme.
I’m not sure if this is a formatting isѕue or something to do with
browser compatіbility but I thought I’d post to ⅼet you
know. Tһe style and design ⅼook great though! Hopе you get the ρroblem resolved soon. Kudos

Ryker Mcdermott - May 3, 2020

Ahhh I had too tight of a release valve. This is honestly a reoccurring problem in my life. I always screw things too tight! Doesn’t matter if it’s the pickle jar or a bolt nut. Thank you for sharing your expertise in this article and helping me solve my issue!

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