10 Different Types of Jacks Explained

Different Types of Jacks
Photo by Obie Fernandez

Sometimes in life, we need to lift heavy objects beyond our powers, even if we were a hundred people trying.

We might wonder if there’s a technology that could make it easier; this is where the jack comes into play.

The jack is a tool to help lift heavy objects, like cars, trucks, or other things that weigh more than your body weight.

Jacks are in different types, shapes, and sizes, and in this post, we’ll discuss the different types of jacks available.

1. Scissor Jack

The scissor jack is one of the most common types of car lifts used today. They are simple to use and easy to transport because of their size; it works well for smaller vehicles such as trucks and SUVs. Also, a typical scissor jack is about 30 inches long, 10 inches wide, and 5 inches tall.

A scissor jack consists of two parallel arms that connect via a central pivot. One arm holds the weight while the other moves up and down.

Moreover, there are different styles of scissor jacks, including those that fold into a compact package for storage.

There is usually a marking on the ground where you place the jack under your vehicle. When raising your car, make sure to keep the front wheels level. The jack could slip out from underneath the car if you don’t.

2. Floor Jack

The floor jack is famous among the different types of jacks, but not everyone understands how it works. It raises a vehicle off the ground and comes in various sizes and strengths depending on what kind of vehicle you want to work on.

A hydraulic floor jack uses fluid power to lift the vehicle. You won’t find a manual floor jack because it’s too dangerous; you’d need to be able to control the amount of pressure being applied to the vehicle.

However, you’ll find hydraulic floor jacks in garages where mechanics do the heavy lifting. In addition to raising vehicles off the ground, floor jacks lower vehicles onto a concrete surface.

You can do this by attaching the device to the bottom of the car and lowering it down; a floor jack attaches to a stand, making it easier to move around.

3. Bottle Jack

The bottle jack is an old type of hydraulic pump that uses a mechanical advantage of high pressurized small diameter pistons.

A master cylinder pumps a smaller piston into a larger one, creating a ratio of about 10:1; the size of the two cylinders determines the ratio.

They are very versatile because they work in various ways. They commonly raise heavy objects, such as cars, trucks, boats, etc., off the ground. Also, they help lift people out of a hole or when they’re sinking in a boat.

A typical bottle jack consists of two parts: a circular base plate which the handle attaches, and a cylindrical section that fits over the base plate. A spring-loaded pin holds the base plate in place while allowing the jack to rotate freely.

When the handle is turned, the force exerted by the operator causes the pin to move out of the way, releasing the base plate and making the jack easier to operate.

However, bottle jacks have a few disadvantages. First, they quickly overheat and are slow. Also, the base plate does not provide much stability because nothing prevents the jack from rolling off the base plate.

Again, the jack requires constant maintenance because the internal components tend to wear out quickly.

4. Motorcycle Jack

We can classify the motorcycle jack among the different types of jacks too. As the name implies, this jack stably lifts a bike to allow you to perform minor repair work on it.

A motorcycle jack is handy because it holds the bike up while you do whatever needs doing. It also holds the front upright, so the steering head doesn’t fall over.

Motorcycle jacks usually comprise steel tubing, although some are cast iron. Some come with wheels attached, making them easier to move around. Others don’t have wheels but are still easy to transport.

The best motorcycle jacks have a handlebar grip, so you can use both hands to operate the jack.

5. Trolley Jack

Trolley jacks move heavy loads over uneven terrain. They have three wheels mounted on a frame, a handle, and a braking system, and the most common type of trolley jack is the hand-operated model.

These jacks usually weigh about 20 pounds and work well with no power source. However, larger models can weigh up to four tons and require electric power.

In addition, some types of trolley jacks include a brake, allowing you to stop the load quickly without pushing against it.

The trolley jack’s lifting arm extends from the base frame and attaches to the load while the carriage rides along rails mounted on the base frame. The lifting arm pivots around a horizontal axis near the base frame’s end.

Hydraulic cylinders are connected to the base frame and extend upwards into the lifting arm. When activated, the cylinders push down on the lifting arm. This causes it to move downwards, raising the load.

Once you reach the desired height, the cylinder retracts, allowing the lifting arm to return to its original position.

6. Pneumatic Jack

Though the name sounds unfamiliar, the pneumatic jack is among the different jack types. A pneumatic jack is a lift that raises and lowers loads such as vehicles, boats, and equipment. And its technique uses compressed air rather than hydraulic fluid to operate.

This jack uses a piston inside a cylinder to move up and down. When the piston moves down, it compresses the air inside the cylinder.

Therefore, it causes the pressure inside the cylinder to push against the bottom of the piston. As the pressure increases, the piston rises, lifting the load above the ground.

The term “pneumatic” refers to the fact that it uses air to power the jack. Hydraulic jacks work similarly, except they use pressurized oil instead of air.

In both cases, the operator controls the force applied to the piston by controlling how much air or oil is pumped into the system.

In some applications, you must place pneumatic jacks under a vehicle or structure to support it. For example, a truck driver might use a pneumatic jack to pull his trailer out of a mud pit. A crane or forklift may be used on larger jobs to place the vehicle onto the jack.

7. Forklift Jack

A forklift jack moves large loads around warehouses. It can lift heavy objects, such as boxes, crates, and pallets, and place them where you want them. Also, you can use a forklift to load and unload trucks, trailers, and railroad cars.

There are different forklifts, including electric, gasoline-powered, diesel-powered, and hydraulic. Electric forklifts are generally smaller and lighter than gas-powered models, but gasoline and diesel forklifts are heavier and more prominent.

However, hydraulic forklifts are powerful and can do almost anything a regular forklift can do. They are usually bigger and stronger than common forklifts and can lift much more weight.

The most common type of forklift is the pallet jack. Pallet jacks pick up and carry small items like boxes, crates, and bags and can hold them while moving them around. If you don’t have enough space to put a pallet jack next to a truck, trailer, or railroad car, you can rent one. 

8. High-lift Jack

The High-lift jack is one of the different types of jacks that raise heavy vehicles, like buses and trucks, out of muddy terrain. It consists of a base plate and a lever arm that raises and lowers the car; this type of jack is typically common around farms where tractors often become stuck in wet soil.

When working with a high-lift jack, you must know what size base plate you require. There are three different sizes: 8″, 10″, and 12,” and each size requires a specific amount of leverage to operate correctly. For example, a 10″ base plate needs less power than a 12″ base plate.

The most common use of a hi-lift jack is to pull a car out of mud or snow. To do this, you must stand behind the vehicle and push down on the lever arm while pulling upward on the handle.

When the car is raised high enough to clear the ground, you detach the lever arm from the base plate and push the vehicle forward into dry land.

9. Hydraulic Jack

Hydraulic (mechanical service) lift heavy loads such as boats, cars, trucks, and even aircraft. You can find them on the rear end of a vehicle where there is no space for wheels. These jacks’ style requires using hydraulics to raise and lower the load.

A typical mechanical jack consists of a base plate attached to the ground and a cylinder mounted. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down inside the cylinder.

As the piston rises, air pressure pushes against the piston creating force and raising the load off the ground.

The piston drops when the operator presses down on the handle, causing the air pressure to drop. This causes the piston to move downward, allowing the load back onto the ground. 

10. Strand Jack

If you’re looking for a tool to help move large objects, look no further than the strand jack. This hydraulic device lifts explicitly and lowers loads weighing up to 10 tons. 

The jack consists of a steel cable wrapped around a drum containing a piston. When the operator turns a handle, the cylinder expands, pushing against the line and raising the load. Once the load reaches its destination, the operator turns off the pump and lowers the load.

Strand jacks come in different sizes, depending on how much weight they must lift. For example, one model weighs about 5 tons, while another can lift 10 tons. 


Different types of jacks are available, but they all do the same job; they lift heavy loads. However, some jacks are more suitable for specific jobs than others. Regardless of which jack you choose, make sure it’s strong enough to support the weight of your load.

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