Types of Trolley Jack - Lift Capacity, Profile & Make

Trolley jacks essentially all operate in the same way - namely by means of a powerful hydraulic piston system which is activated after the operator raises and lowers the attached handle.

The main distinction between the different types of floor trolley jacks relates to their load-bearing capacity - this ranges from a jack with one-tonne capacity to a mega-powerful jack which can cope with a staggering 100-tonnes capacity.

Most jacks, however, fall within the 1.5 tonne to 3 tonne range. This range is where most motorists wishing to buy a trolley jack will find the product that will best suit their needs.

A 1.5 tonne jack is the smallest and most compact option available but it most certainly has easily enough capacity for lifting a small car. This size of jack is still very stable and dependable when it comes to getting your car raised to change a tyre or getting it up on axle stands for an oil change or some work to the undercarriage.

There's no shortage of excellent jacks in the category, including the budget Redline 24982 1.5 tonne lifting trolley jacks, which cost around £20 and the impressive Sealey RJAS1500 1.5 tonne aluminium/steel rocket lift jack, which will set you back almost £200. Other options are the Draper 80916 Light Duty Jack at around £30 and the Hilka 82815016 1.5 Tonne Aluminium/Steel Jack which costs around £110.

If you need to lift a small to mid-size vehicle, a 2 tonne trolley jack will almost certainly be just right for you. 

Which one you actually opt to buy is largely down to your budget - there are several which are very highly regarded in the lower price range if you a motorist who need a jack mainly for changing tyres or other basis maintenance tasks.

There are also other deluxe models which are more expensive which fit the bill for professional mechanics in vehicle repair garages and service depots. Some come with flanged side plates (15 inches wide) to help provide extra strength while under load and superior stability to prevent leaning and losing your load.

Despite being pretty powerful many of the two tonne jacks are very compact, portable and lightweight. Most of them also come with an overload valve to prevent use beyond rated maximum lifting capacity.

Three tonne trolley jacks are real powerhouses which designed for professionals and serious car enthusiasts - they will safely lift up to 3 tons of load (6,000 lbs) without breaking sweat, making them perfect for use with a large many types of vehicles including cars, trucks, minibuses, Land Rovers, vans or sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

These 3-tonne jacks may be big in power but, considering how tough and robust they are, most of them are surprisingly light in weight - 20kg is an average weight for several, which converts to around 44lbs.

A popular choice for 3-tonne jacks is the 'hybrid' type which comprises an extra durable steel lifting arm and a lightweight aluminium frame which allows for an impressive level of portability for moving the device around.

When it comes to choosing the material a trolley jack is made of, your choice is pretty much limited to aluminium or heavy duty steel - although there are some available which comprise a heavy duty aluminium and steel hybrid construction.

Steel jacks are seriously robust and are real workhorses - but they are also pretty heavy. Aluminium models, on the other hand, are lighter in weight, making them easier to move around. 

There are two profiles of trolley jack to choose from - standard profile and low profile. A low profile jack is tailor-made to roll under low vehicles where clearance is limited.

Another thing which distinguishes one type of jack from another is its lifting speed. A standard jack is likely to require around eight to 12 motions on the lifting handle. 

However, trolley jacks with dual lifting pistons or a quick-lift system can raise a vehicle to the same height with around half the number of motions. The Wolf 2-tonne lightweight low profile dual-piston jack is a good example of a device with quick-lift capability.

Draper, Arcan and Sealey are companies that have a commendable track record for selling excellent quality stands that are very reliable and robust. Hilka and Silverline have some cheap trolley jacks that are certainly capable of meeting the needs of most motorists with a standard car.

Liftmaster is another brand that is highly regarded and their jacks are normally in the mid-price range, making them an affordable choice for many people. Other leading brand names in the UK include Pandamoto, Delta, Dirty Pro Tools, Arebos, Clarke Clarke, Stag and Challenge Xtreme.

If you are buying your first jack, there's also the option to choose a complete kit which comes with a trolley jack, a set of axle stands, a carrying case and a non-slip mat to place under the jack.

Whichever jack you eventually decide to purchase, you should always take the time to read the accompanying user manual and safety guidelines carefully.

As mentioned earlier, all floor trolley jacks are built to lift a maximum height and weight - to attempt to exceed the limit is asking for trouble and could result in a nasty accident.

It's essential you use the correct jack for the job in hand or you could end up damaging the device, your vehicle - or worse still, yourself!