Placing your Car on Jack Stands

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Placing your car on jack stands is a simple process that will allow the average enthusiast to perform lots of work on their car from the comfort of their garage.

Tools required

  • 4 jack stands set at the same height (same brand and model for all 4 stands is highly recommended)
  • 1 hydraulic jack
  • 1 2x4x2 wood block

A picture of the tools required to place a car on jack stands.  4 - jack stands, 1 hydraulic jack and a wood block

Procedure

Find a flat, clean surface to park the car on. Once parked, shut the car off, put the transmission in gear and apply the parking brake. Next, place the 4 jack stands alongside their respective jack points (4). The stand points on a 240sx are the same places where you would lift the car to change a flat tire. They are denoted by a reinforced metal slug located behind the body seam on the underside of the car where the seem has two upside down U-shaped slits. The metal slug behind this area is a reinforced metal structure designed to support the weight of the car. For further clarification or to find jack points for other cars, simply refer to your user’s manual.

A blow-out of the underside of a 240sx showing the jack points

The red circles show the location of the factory lift points. (Note: The FSM also shows points to use on the frame itself but I have seen many a 240 with crushed frame rails so I am advising against using the frame locations.)

The front will be lifted first so proceed to the front of the car with the hydraulic jack and the wooden block. Place the hydraulic jack under the front cross member, then place the wooden block onto the contact point on the lift arm of the jack and begin to raise the jack until the wooden block has made contact with the center of the cross member. Once you have ensured that the the hydraulic jack, wood block and cross member have made a good connection, slowly lift the front of the car until the two jack stands at the front can slide under the lift points. Line the stands up to where the top of the jack stand will make contact with the reinforced metal slug. Slowly lower the front of the car until the jack stands are contacting the lift points. Lock the hydraulic jack and walk to each side and verify that the stands are making contact where they should. Once verified, go ahead and slowly release the remaining tension from the hydraulic jack. The weight of the front end should now be supported by the jack stands.

The factory service manual blow-out of the front suspension

The front cross member is the grey area in the suspension diagram.

The hydraulic jack lifting the front of the car/

The front of the car is lifted until the jack stands can slide into position.

Lifting the rear of the car is the same as the front with one exception. The rear will not be lifted at a cross member, it will be lifted at the rear differential. The rear differential is the spherical unit where the drive shaft, and the two axles for the rear wheels meet. Simply place the hydraulic jack under the rear diff and repeat the previous steps to lift the rear.

The rear end of a 240sx being lifted by a hydraulic jack at the rear diff.

The rear end is lifted by placing the hydraulic jack under the rear differential.

Finishing up

With the car lifted, give the stands one final visual inspection to make sure that all 4 stands contact the reinforced metal sections of the lift points. Sometimes one of the stands will not make complete contact for various reasons and if this happens, a single wooden shim can be placed between the stand and the body to ensure that all 4 corners are load bearing. Finally, give the chassis a gentle shake to make sure that everything is solid. Once satisfied, you can work under, around and in the car uninhibited.

Note: Lowering the car is as simple as reversing the process described in this how to.

By 240am

Chris Simmons is a race car driver, instructor, business owner and all around gearhead. His passion for motorsport started in the drifting community over 10 years ago and progressed into wheel to wheel racing of all kinds. When off track Chris can be found training and working on a myriad of projects. After a hiatus from writing, he is back to share his passion, knowledge and experience in regard to motorsports on and off the track.

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