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How to Repair a Floor Jack That Won’t Lift  

how to fix a jack that won't lift

You can have the best-equipped garage with the best tools in the world, but none of it will matter if you can’t get to the components of your vehicle that need to be fixed or replaced. A floor jack should be in your toolbox if you need to change your oil, replace a flat tire, or make other repairs to your car or truck.

Unfortunately, no matter which floor jack you choose, there might be a time when it doesn’t work like intended, and you’ll need to do some troubleshooting.

So, here is a handy guide for learning how to fix a jack that won’t lift.

How to Fix a Jack That Won’t Lift

Confirm the Lift Capacity

It’s not always an issue with the jack; sometimes, it’s the sheer weight of the vehicle that you’re trying to lift.

Locate the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) on the sticker in your driver’s door jamb to find out the right tonnage capacity for your vehicle. The weight of most vehicles is also divided into front and rear weights. Make sure that the jack you purchase can lift more than the heavier of the two weights. For example, if you need 3100 pounds in the front (just over 1-1/2 tons), get a floor jack that can bear at least 2 or 2-1/2 tons.

Exercising a floor jack beyond its capacity stresses it, making the process dangerous for you.

Check Fluid Levels

One of the most common reasons a jack won’t lift is incorrect fluid levels. First, remove the oil plug and look into the chamber to check the oil level. The suggested level for most floor jacks is 3/16 to a quarter above the reservoir. If you need to replenish, make sure you have the highest-grade oil possible.

If the jack’s oil level is higher than the required level, you will need to drain it. When a jack has more fluid than necessary, it risks blowing out seals, producing internal leaks, and causing the jack to lose pressure.

A jack with a low oil level will generally work correctly, but the low fluid level will significantly reduce the jack’s height. Hydraulic systems are closed-loop, which means the fluid level should never fall below zero. If it does, there’s most likely a leak someplace, which you’ll need to rectify before using your jack.

Use only the hydraulic oil recommended by the manufacturer; using anything other, such as hydraulic brake fluid or transmission oil, could damage the seals.

Look for Trapped Air

A jack can be tilted during shipping, allowing air to enter the cylinders. As a result, when you first pull a new jack out of the box, it’s critical to bleed out the air before using it.

Additionally, it would be best to repeat this practice monthly or whenever you notice any lapses in lifting capacity. Bleeding the jack every month will help your jack perform at its best. To bleed your lift, follow the steps below:

With the valve open, pump ten times.

Close the valve and elevate it to the full height.

Continue to pump ten times while at full extension.

Lower the cylinder by releasing the valve.

If required, repeat two more times to expel all air from the cylinder.

Most of the time, this will completely bleed the jack. If not, gently pull the oil fill plug on the side after the cylinder has been freed and lowered to help remove any trapped air.

Test the Release Valve

If you’ve done everything above and it’s still not bearing pressure, you should check the release valve.

Check the valve for leaks and make sure it’s airtight. If it isn’t, it will let the pressure out and allow air back into the system when you try to raise something.

A leaking valve will almost always have a greasy coating around it, indicating a leak.

Routine Maintenance and Cleaning

It’s essential to do a comprehensive check-up even if you’ve been able to get the lift working by this point. Looking over all of the lift’s parts can prevent a future issue.

You should look for cracked welds, destroyed parts, oil leaks, and anything else that isn’t in working order. You should also check the jack’s ram by flipping it on both sides. Always inspect it in both the retracted and extended states. If the floor jack has rusty pistons, this could indicate a problem.

Regular inspections are necessary for your lift. For example, examine where the jack was stored for any fluid leaks and inspect the housing for any cracking or rust and the piston rod for scoring or other damage. You should also look to determine if excessive wear in any areas could cause problems. Finally, keep an eye out for any foreign things (metal shards, dirt, rocks, etc.) that could harm the device.

It’s also essential to clean the hydraulic jack after each use before storing it. Wash the jack’s exterior using a gentle soap solution. Make sure that you do NOT CLEAN the hydraulic components that move. Oil your parts regularly to avoid premature wear. It would be best to grease the caster wheels, the front axle, the elevator arm, handle base pivot bolts, and the release mechanism with a general-purpose lubricant. After each use, inspect the seals for possible oil leakage and replace them as soon as possible.


Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how to fix a jack that won’t lift. Regular maintenance is, once again, the most straightforward approach to avoiding malfunctions and future difficulties. Maintain your jack as much as possible by regularly keeping it clean and dry and lubricating it.Should you need parts for your lift or a new jack altogether, SVI is here to help you. We have everything that you might need for a safe and reliable floor jack. Contact us today at (800) 321-8173 and we can offer you same-day shipping on in-stock parts!

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