There may be times that you will need to get under your GM car or truck in order to do routine maintenance such as changing the oil or other minor repairs. Since you will be under your vehicle, you need to remember that safety is always first. You should never lift your vehicle without using a jack as supporting it on jack stands distributes the weight evenly.
If you are removing heavy parts like a transmission, always use a jack and jack stands, support the vehicle with a hoist and strap it to the hoist. This will stabilize the vehicle and keep you safe while working underneath it.
Here are the steps to prepare your vehicle for lifting for either an oil change or a transmission change.
- Park your vehicle on a level, dry surface that has been cleaned. Never use asphalt or dirt as neither of those surfaces will keep a jack stand level. If you only have those surfaces available to you, set your jack stand on plywood at least 3/4-inches thick and place a piece of plywood under the jack as you hoist your vehicle. If you are using a jack that is made to roll, it will move as the car is being lifted. If your jack does not roll, you need to set the vehicle in neutral in order for it to roll a bit as it is lifted. Failure to do this on a flat, level surface puts you at risk for injury or death.
- Remove all personal items from the vehicle. This will eliminate the possibility of something heavy shifting from side-to-side or end-to-end.
- Make sure that your jack, jack stands, hoists or other equipment has the proper weight rating for the job you are doing. It must meet or exceed your vehicle’s weight including contents. Your jack and lifting equipment must meet operations standards set by the manufacturer of the jack or lifting equipment. Never lift your vehicle by any part that is not designated as a lift point by the manufacturer. Keep all other areas of the vehicle away from the lift equipment and the jacks.
- Jack your vehicle up at the designated points and place the jack stands under the strongest place on the vehicle. A jack stand should never be totally relied upon, and for safety, you may wish to leave the jack under the vehicle as well.
- Never crawl under your vehicle until you have checked it for stability. You can do this by pushing the vehicle from side-to-side. There should be absolutely no movement at all. If there is, you need to work on the support system.
Should you not follow those instructions, you run the risk of damaging your GM vehicle and its contents or injuring yourself.
When lifting your vehicle, it is recommended that you use the various lift points. Since you will be putting the lifting equipment or jacks under the frame rails, make sure that you are not putting too much stress on those points by having an uneven load or too much weight for the lift equipment.
Most vehicles come equipped with a bumper jack that is used to change flat tires. These are extremely unsafe, and they should not even be used for the purpose intended. Generally, they are poorly made and can be dangerous. Never use a bumper jack to jack up your vehicle to crawl under it.
Other types of jacks include:
- Scissor Jack – This jack goes under the suspension and has a low center of gravity. It is not any safer than the bumper jacks.
- Hydraulic Rollaround Jack – This is the professional grade jack used in garages and shops. The wheels let it roll while staying in the same place on the vehicle. They can tip over and may fail either mechanically or hydraulically.
Jacks were never intended to be the sole support, so never rely upon a jack to hold up your vehicle.
Never use anything other than a quality set of jack stands to hold your GM vehicle up. Blocks and other makeshift items are never secure, and they can become unbalanced, which can cause the car to fall. Even some car ramps are unsafe due to their instability.
You can do your own maintenance and repairs at home, but never compromise on safety equipment when lifting your GM car or truck.