Which Type Of Jack is Right For You? Comparing Floor Jacks & Bottle Jacks For Your Next DIY Project Or Maintenance
If you own a 4Runner, chances are that at some point, you’ll need to use some sort of jack whether it be for a modification install or general maintenance. For the DIY crowd, the two most popular types of jacks are floor jacks and bottle jacks.
The latter is the cheaper option of the two, albeit a slightly less safe one. Floor jacks, however, are far less portable and will typically never leave your garage (unless you spend big money on something like a Pro-Eagle off-road floor jack). For simplicity, we’ll avoid the niche products and just compare basic floor jacks and bottle jacks.
Whichever option you choose, it’s important to remember basic safety when it comes to using jacks.
- Ensure that your jack’s weight rating exceeds that of what you’re lifting
- Always use wheel chaulks to prevent your vehicle from rolling
- Always use jack stands to help support the weight
- Only use jacks on flat, even surfaces
- Reference vehicle manual for appropriate jack points
Find It Online:
Regardless of the type of jack that you use, it will come with a max weight rating, measured in tons. The 4Runner in its stock form weighs between 4,400lbs and 4,805lbs, depending on the configuration. For good measure, let’s call it 5,000 lbs to account for common mods like larger tires or a roof rack. This converts to about 2.5 tons in total weight.
Jacks typically start at a 1.5-ton rating for vehicles and go into the double digits for commercial applications. For example, the factory bottle jack that comes with the 4Runner has a 2-ton weight rating. Although you could technically get away with lifting one side of the vehicle with a 1.5-ton jack, it isn’t advised. It’s always a good idea to have the extra weight-lifting capacity, just in case.
In most scenarios, you’ll be using a jack to lift one side of your 4Runner or at most, the front end. There is no realistic or safe way to lift your entire vehicle with a single jack. With that in mind, most people use an aftermarket jack with either a 3 or 4-ton rating. Anything more than this would just be overkill. However, it would require less effort to pump the handle if you had an 8-ton jack, for example.
As you can imagine, jacks get more expensive with higher weight ratings. For that reason, 3 or 4-ton jacks are a sweet spot for lifting capacity with some buffer room and cost.
Floor jacks are widely used in both home and professional garages for a good reason. They are extremely easy to use, safe, and can be used in low-profile applications.
Unlike bottle jacks which have a much higher minimum clearance height to their verticle construction, floor jacks can have clearances of as low as a few inches. While that may not be a concern for lifted trucks, floor jacks are also much easier to position under the center of the vehicle. The long pump handle also allows you to operate the jack without needing to crawl under the vehicle and feels effortless with the increased leverage.
I’ve placed and used a bottle jack under the center cross-member before, but that was neither comfortable nor safe, and I definitely advise against doing that.
The factory bottle jack that comes with the 4Runner uses a twist lever action similar to how you operate a scissor jack. This process can be cumbersome and takes forever when compared to the pump action of any aftermarket bottle jack.
While the 2-ton factory bottle jack makes a great backup, I wouldn’t use it as your primary jack.
Instead, I would go with a quality bottle jack kit from Safe Jack. This company uses high-quality Omega brand bottle jacks and makes accessories for extra safety. Safe Jack makes extended height jack pads specifically designed for off-road applications that make them much safer to use only lifted vehicles. You can choose to bundle them with a 6-ton bottle jack directly from Safe Jack or purchase them separately if you already have one.
How To Pick The Right One
To pick which type of jack is right for you, the main considerations are space and budget. Floor jacks can cost considerably more than a bottle jacks. They also weigh roughly 90 lbs and up and will take up floor space in your garage.
Bottle jacks, on the other hand, can be had for around half the cost for a given weight rating and can be stored on a shelf when not in use. You can also keep them in your vehicle at all times.
If space and money aren’t a concern and safety is your top priority, go with a floor jack. They have a wider space that makes lifting a vehicle much safer. The long pump handle and casters also make placing the jack pad more toward the center of the vehicle exponentially easier than crawling underneath to use a bottle jack.
Finally, you’ll need to consider the max lift height of whichever jack you choose. Ideally, it will be able to lift your vehicle enough at the frame to get a tire in the air to change it. Using my 4Runner as an example with a 3″ lift and 33″ tires, I need about 24″ of total jack height after factoring in suspension droop. If you have a long travel setup, you’re better off lifting at the axles rather than the frame.
In terms of portability, bottle jacks win over floor jacks, hands down. For a dedicated workspace, however, floor jacks are definitely the safer choice.
At home, I prefer to use a floor jack for its ease of use and more secure platform. While I’ve used bottle jacks in the past, they don’t inspire the most confidence once your 4Runner is in the air. I would always find myself immediately grabbing my jack stands as a safety precaution (as you always should), even though my bottle jack has a 4-ton weight rating.
I do, however, keep a bottle jack in my recovery kit for the trails. I don’t have the money or space for a dedicated off-road floor jack like a Pro-Eagle. A quality aftermarket bottle jack with an extended lift height should suffice if I ever need to change a tire away from home.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on floor jacks vs. bottle jacks. Which do you prefer? Do you own both for similar reasons as I do?
If you’re new to the idea of DIY work and jacks, I hope this served as a bit of guidance in what you need to get started. Thanks for reading!