Nothing like getting old and realizing that most of your joints hate you. I bring this up because I have two manual pump floor jacks that I have used countless times over the years and the oldest is probably 25 years old – literally. Well, let me put it this way – I had no problem pumping the handle to lift cars and trucks 25 years ago but starting about two years ago, the action really started to cause elbow and shoulder injuries I had to flare up. It got so bad that I had to make a choice either to stop working on vehicles or to find a different approach.
I work on cars and trucks in our driveway so a permanently installed lift was not an option. It had to be something portable. My first thought was to get a low profile air-over-hydraulic jack that is mounted in its own wheeled carrier. They have an incredible lifting capacity (around 22 tons) but they are heavy (around 80 pounds), slow (air over hydraulic is many things but fast is not one of them) and expensive (they start around $200 and just go up from there). What really stopped me was the weight and the cost. I can’t lift or drag as much weight as I used to and the entry-level units were a tad more than I wanted to spend.
So, I kept digging and ran across pneumatic/air jacks. Think of the air suspensions you see under a big rig. Basically one or more air bladders fill with air and lift the top of the jack. They max out in terms of lift height around 18 inches and 3 tons of lift but it depends on the model. Definitely spend some time researching before you buy. I found that I needed to think about:
- How low I needed the unit to collapse down to fit under our cars to get in position prior to lifting
- How much weight did I need to lift
- How high I needed the unit to lift
- How much did it weigh?
- What was it going to cost?
I then started reading listings on Amazon plus paying careful attention to review scores. I also talked to a mechanic friend of mine about the safety of the unit and what his thoughts were. He told me to consider two things: 1) always immediately put jack stands in place and 2) don’t lave the unit out in the sun and weather thus harming the rubber. Those suggestions made a lot of sense to me.
On January 8, 2019, I wound up buying a Mophorn Pneumatic Jack, 3 Ton, Triple Air Bag, with a 16″ lift height for about $150 with free shipping. The unit arrived with just little bit of assembly needed. I recall I had to install the handle and the pressure line but that was it.
As you can guess from the sticker above, the lift is made in China and the instruction sheet is pretty terse but it’s really not that hard to figure out. I do want to cover a few specifications with you and convert them from metric to US customary measures – these are from the owner’s manual included in the kit unless otherwise noted:
|71 to 142 PSI
|Air pressure from label on handle – presumably the recommended pressure
|-69C to +50C
|-92F to 122F
What have I lifted with it?
When I say “lift”, I am talking about the front end or the back end – not the whole vehicle.
- 1994 Toyota Corolla DX
- 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser
- 2000 Toyota Camry
- 2006 Toyota Solara
- 2008 Toyota Highlander
- 2016 Ford F150 Transit
- Others more or less along the lines of a Camry or Highlander
There are a few things I have noticed
First, let me point out that I like this unit and would recommend it but there are a few things I want to point out:
- The highest my lift will go is 15″ and that may be a function of my only running 90 PSI to the jack
- I don’t think it actually can lift 3 tons. It bogs down on the front of our old 96 Landcruiser and also our full size F150 Transit. Again, I think it’s my lower air pressure. This summer I might plumb a dedicated 120 PSI line and see what that does. It will depend on time and money.
- There are stabilizing cones made from steel inside the jack. Maybe 1 in 20 lifts they need a whack to start coming down. I may polish and lube these if I get a chance.
- The rubber is pretty thick on the bladders. With that said, I do store it indoors away from the sun and the weather. I’m writing this a year later and the bladders show zero signs of wear.
The One Little Thing You Must Do: Blue Loctite Your Screws!!
I have used my jack many times since I bought it. Starting around September I was hearing faint air leak and thought the jack had bent. When I had time I found out that the bottom screws had loosened up and air was simply escaping from between the gasket and the bottom plate. I was surprised and disappointed to note that none of the screws had any thread locker applied to any of them. Many were in varying states of coming lose.
I then did the same thing to the top plate as well just to play it safe. No more leaks.
The following is the exact jack on Amazon that I bought and this review is about:
I would buy this again and recommend it as well – just due the Loctite thing I mentioned. Note there are other Chinese suppliers on Amazon also but they do not get as good of reviews as the Mophorn units so my recommendation is only for that brand.
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