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Trolley Jack vs Floor Jack: What’s the Difference?  

Torin T83006 Big Red Hydraulic Trolley Floor Jack-

Elevating your car to change a tire, work on brake assemblies or to fix a leak is best accomplished with a jack. When choosing a jack, the important aspects to consider are the types of tasks to complete and the safety measures that we want to ensure.

Although a trolley and a floor jack are basically the same, they have a few key differences. The decision to choose between the two should depend on which jack will lift the type of vehicle we’ll need to work on with the least effort while optimizing our safety so that we can perform the work.

Trolley Jack

trolley jack
Image Credit: Ton Bangkeaw, Shutterstock

Most professional mechanics own a trolley jack but so do numerous car owners. Trolley jacks are available in different weight classes, enabling us to lift all types of vehicles. That also means we can’t rely on a specific trolley jack to handle all vehicle types. It’s common to find trolley jacks in car trunks. The wheels on the jack make it easy to roll it into position under the car.

After we’ve ensured that the small lever is turned to the right, we can insert the handle and pump it until the cradle reaches the jacking point. When we want to lower it down, we take the handle out and twist the small lever counter-clockwise.

If a car has lower than average ground clearance, a trolley jack is perfect since it contains low profile jacks. That is especially useful for lifting sports cars. Trolley jacks are available with an aluminum chassis, which is lighter than steel counterparts. It provides maximum maneuverability, and the aluminum chassis is an essential requirement for racing jacks.

Trolley jacks provide a high lift or a long reach. That enables us a greater lifting range, as well as flexibility. Another feature that certain trolley jacks contain is the rocket lift, which ensures that we complete the job with a minimum number of lifts due to its larger or dual pistons.

Although a trolley jack is designed to lift a vehicle, it’s not designed to keep it up for a specific period. Since using a trolley jack by itself is unsafe, we should always work on a vehicle that’s also supported by axle stands to optimize our safety.

Pros
  • It works great on cars with low ground clearance
  • Provides a good lifting range and minimizes the number of lifts
  • Also used on heavy vehicles such as trucks, vans, and buses
Cons
  • It won’t work well on uneven or gravel surface
  • Not a one-size-fits-all for all vehicles
  • Can be complicated to set-up

Floor Jack

floor jack
Image Credit: thanom, Shutterstock

A floor jack is a manually operated hydraulic jack that has a cylinder mounted horizontally, enabling a low profile. That enables floor jack users to lift low-profile cars, but most make use of this type of jack on heavy vehicles. After rolling the jack until the saddle is underneath the lift point, the user pumps the handle. That results in the hydraulic cylinder raising the lift arm until the saddle touches the vehicle.

Users will appreciate a floor jack for its ease of use due to the wheels and swivel casters.

The front wheels are locked, resulting in forward and backward movement, whereas the back wheels pivot. That enables the user to move back and forth, as well as to the side. That provides effortless movement to ensure that we can fit the floor jack faster and with less effort.

A floor jack has an extended handle, allowing us to lift the car without bending over, and the large lifting pad provides great support under the vehicle’s frame. Floor jacks are available in two sizes. The original was 4 feet long, 1 foot wide, and could lift 4 to 10 pounds. The compact model arrived later and was 3 feet long and could lift 11 to 12 tons. Manufacturers make mini-jacks, but most users do not consider these to be the typical type of floor jacks. Floor jacks tend to be heavy, so they’re not the type of jacks that an operator will transport to other places.

Pros
  • Easy and quick to use
  • Large lifting pad
  • Hydraulic mounted cylinder
Cons
  • Reach isn’t as high as some jacks
  • Tend to be heavy

Conclusion

A trolley and a floor jack are similar in many ways, but they differ slightly, and the differences could thwart us from performing the job to its maximum capability. Setting up a trolley jack can be more complicated than a floor jack. Although floor jacks come in several weight classes, it’s generally found in most mechanic shops due to its heavy weight. Trolley jacks are more commonly found in car boots than floor jacks.

The high reach on trolley jacks provides great clearance off the ground. Floor jacks also provide good clearance, but, generally, are lower than trolley jacks. A floor jack’s casters allow quick and hassle-free movement. They are generally heavy and tend to take up quite a bit of space.


Featured image credit: Torin T83006 Big Red Hydraulic Trolley Floor Jack, Amazon

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