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Danger! Harbor Freight Lightweight Racing Jack

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Danger! Harbor Freight Lightweight Racing Jack

Old 03-31-13, 12:25 PM
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Danger! Harbor Freight Lightweight Racing Jack

Last year I was at an SCCA National Tour event, and had the FD jacked up on one side.
The guy next to me saw that I was using the Harbor Freight Lightweigh Racing Jack, and told me he had seen a few of these collapse while being used.

The issue is that on uneven surfaces or sloped surfaces, the jack gets loaded unevenly and the frame will twist, eventually twisting so far that it will drop the car back on the ground.

After that event I relegated that jack to the garage for light duty use, and put Harbor Freight 2 Ton Racing Jack in the truck instead. It is quite a bit heavier than the lightweight jack.

So the other day I thought I would use to the small jack just to pick up the right side of the car enough to get a jackstand under it so I could make some coilover adjustments.
Space is tight, and I didn't want to drag the Heavy Steel Low profile Jack over there.

I normally put a 12 inch 2x4 on the jack as a pad to distribute the weight a bit. Normally this is not a problem if the jack is placed perpendicular to the car.

In this case though the jack has to be at an angle, as there isn't enough room to do otherwise. My garage floor is smooth, but has about a 2 degree slope.

As I started jacking the car up, something didn't look quite right.

Yikes! Take a look at what happens to the jack in this case:



That right rear wheel is about .5 inch off the ground!

I let it back down and got the other jack.

This may not have happened if I had just used amall 4 inch long pad on top of the jack, as there would have been less side load placed on the jack due to any uneven loading.

Even so, no more heavy stuff for me with this jack.
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Old 04-16-13, 11:44 AM
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Yea that's happened to me before too.
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Old 04-18-13, 07:26 AM
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Don't skimp on floor jacks. Also, ALWAYS use a jack stand! I've had a craftsman unit fail on me before and scared the you know what out of me. I was working on the shift linkage and the jack failed and the car came crashing down on the jack stands.
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Old 04-18-13, 10:39 AM
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The other thing is no jack should be used at an angle like that. They are not designed to jack in such a way that it would twist them greatly. If at all possible jack should be perpendicular to the rocker panel.
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Old 04-18-13, 11:02 AM
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Unless I'm rotating tires really quick, I usually support the car on jackstands and use the jack as a safemeasure. I don't trust the jack to hold the car up for a long period of time especially if I'm under it
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Old 04-18-13, 10:32 PM
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Jared, is your e-brake on in that picture? I just tried this on my car:

* jack under frame at 45* angle, raise up car. jack goes all cockeyed, wheel an inch off the ground.

* remove ebrake, repeat. jack sits square on teh ground, and was able to roll it a little.

TL;DR
If the ebrake is on, the rear wheels cant roll as the car follows the arc of the jack.

I guess if you have to jack up the car on a slope, this is inevitable..
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Old 04-18-13, 11:11 PM
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I'm not a fan of Harbor Freight, or other super-inexpensive (cheap) tools. Period.
It's worth it to me to search out good tools which will safely last a lifetime.

I'm glad you caught the failure before it became a catastrophe.
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Old 04-19-13, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh18_2k View Post

I guess if you have to jack up the car on a slope, this is inevitable..
Good points Josh, and yes, my garage floor has a slope.

At last count I have 5 floor jacks, so there's really no need for me to use this one where there is a chance of collapse.

The low rise Pittsburgh Jack from HB works great on an FD, it is just kind of heavy to drag around the garage. Small price to pay for peace of mind however.
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Old 04-20-13, 10:43 AM
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No offense (and I know that means I probably going to post something that will offend) but I don't really see the point. Given the width of the jack, if the car doesn't roll with it as it raises it will teder like that on uneven surfaces. Any jack of the same size will do that which shows the rigidity of the jack (that it doesn't twist which would be is even worse). A floor jack with a wider stance may not show it has much.

Personally, I don't use floor jacks to support the any car longer than needed which is just typically just long enough to get a jack stand under the side. If I'm just changing tires I typically don't bother with jack stands but any real/extended work shouldn't be done supported by any consumer hydraulic floor jack.
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Old 04-20-13, 10:59 AM
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Kinda hard to bitch about something that costs 1/4 of a reputable brand and works as good as the reputable brands 99% of the time.

You get what you pay for and if you are gonna complain buck up and spend the extra cash...
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Old 04-20-13, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mymmeryloss View Post
Kinda hard to bitch about something that costs 1/4 of a reputable brand and works as good as the reputable brands 99% of the time.

You get what you pay for and if you are gonna complain buck up and spend the extra cash...
You should probably read the entire thread.

This was not a complaint, but a warning.

I have several much sturdier jacks that I use.
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Old 04-21-13, 11:16 PM
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I used to love mine, until the front wheel bearings blew out so it no longer rolled properly. Took about 1 year to fail.
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Old 04-22-13, 04:28 PM
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I go through 1 of these every 1-2 years. Tried more expensive ones from the tool trucks. Same issues. Blown seals eventually. The harbor freight ones work just as well as the expensive ones from my experience and dont have a substantially shorter life either.
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Old 04-22-13, 04:40 PM
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I love mine! lol. Then again I immediately put the car on jack stands
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Old 04-22-13, 10:23 PM
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just gotta ride that extended warranty ;-)

i'vebeen getting free batteries from autozone for years- just leave the lights on a little before it expires, and swap it out. harbor freight doesn't even need a good reason to exchange their stuff..
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Old 04-22-13, 11:10 PM
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jkstill, would you repost this in the Product Reviews section? This is the kind of information that I would like to see more of so everyone can make informed decisions about jacking...

After being unimpressed with the range of my previous "2 1/4 ton" floor jack, then having it eat its seals when lifting a S4 NA transmission after correct usage since day 1, I went all-out and got a big, beefy 3-ton monster from Harbor Freight

It lifts the car up nearly 20" and is completely overkill for the application. Even at an angle similar to what you posted, it does the job with no fuss. Of course, I always use jack stands (again, 3-ton ones from HF) and the jack stays in place in contact with the chassis as a backup due to uneven surface.

The downside is that it weighs 80lbs. Since my basement stairs aren't the greatest and would become a bit spongy when I would carry it back down in addition to my own 170lbs, the jack lives in my kitchen now

The plus side to the weight is that no matter how modified my car is, the jack is never loaded past 50% capacity. It also gives you impressive biceps.

You call it overkill, I call it reliable.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:57 AM
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Our first light weight jack we bought from costco, it now leaks and wont lift ****.

since then we carry our harbor freight jacks to all events 4-6 road races a year and never had to replace a HF jack. they dont lift as high as i would like, but tire changes, brakes, coolant these jacks make life much easier.

Everyone's motto should be that you never stick something under the car without jack stands you cant afford to loose...
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Old 04-23-13, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Akagis_white_comet View Post
jkstill, would you repost this in the Product Reviews section?
Perhaps one of the moderators could link this to the Product Reviews section?

I could make a new thread, but then replies would be in 2 different places.
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Old 04-23-13, 07:30 PM
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I would like to Add my experiences.

I've owned one from e-bay. (I dont remember the maker. It was low profile, cheap & blue with flames on it is all I remember.)

I now have a craftsman. It lasted a little longer. It is also low profile. But ultimately it expired prematurely as well.

My next Jack will be jack number 3. Gonna spend a little more on the next one.

Planning on a lift one day.
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Old 04-23-13, 08:26 PM
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Weird, I bought the same jack over 6 years ago. 0 Issues.
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Old 04-23-13, 10:17 PM
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I have the same jack and have not had any issues yet, I also bought an engine lift too and had zero issues. I stand by Harbor Freight, because if it was not for their prices and quality on SOME of their tools and equipment I would have never been able to perform my 13B T swap.
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Old 04-25-13, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh18_2k View Post
just gotta ride that extended warranty ;-)

i'vebeen getting free batteries from autozone for years- just leave the lights on a little before it expires, and swap it out.
Got a good laugh out of that.
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Old 05-17-13, 12:40 PM
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ive gone through 2 of those jacks already and wont buy any more from Harbor freight. Good price but crap quality!
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