Car Lifts and Jack Stands: What’s the Difference? | JMC Auto

Car Lifts and Jack Stands: What’s the Difference? | JMC Auto

Posted by Juan E. Chavez on 27th Sep 2019

When repairing your car, it’s important to have the equipment you need to get the job done while also staying safe. Whether you are at your car repair shop or working on your own cars at home, you need to elevate your car. There are many tools that can accomplish this, and each have their own benefits and uses. Read on to learn about the differences between car lifts and jack stands: pros, cons, uses, and all you need to know to make an informed choice.

What’s the Difference, and Why Does it Matter?

You may be wondering what the big deal is about the difference between car lifts and jack stands. As long as it elevates your car, do the details really matter? But car lifts and jack stands have different functionalities, and understand how to choose which is the best fit is crucial in keeping you safe while working on a car.

Car Lifts

A car lift is a machine that lifts a car vertically, and typically has a large range of adjustable heights. Similar to a forklift, lifts are controlled electronically. They come in many different styles and are often used to repair or store cars. Car lifts can elevate a vehicle much higher than jack stands, even making it possible to stand beneath the car.

Car Lifts

Jack Stands

Jack stands are used to hold a car after it has been elevated using a floor jack. They are available in different heights and weight capacities, but typically can not lift a car as high as a car lift. Jack stands are significantly less expensive than car lifts, as they simply hold the car in place rather than doing the work of lifting.

Esco 10493 Jack Stand (1), 10 Ton, Folding NEW

Using a Car Lift

Car lifts are great for doing routine car maintenance, saving space, or displaying your prized cars. As a heavy duty piece of equipment, a car lift is a safe way to spend long amounts of time working on a car. Car lifts are designed to hold a lot of weight for extended periods of time.

The heavy duty nature of a car lift can be great, but it does come with a cost - literally. Car lifts are typically $5k or more, a significant investment if car repairs are a casual hobby. For those who spend a lot of time on car repairs, however, it can be an investment worth making. After all, doing your own routine maintenance will save you thousands of dollars hiring a technician.

Car lifts also take up a good amount of space, which means you need to make sure that’s something your home or shop can handle. However, they are typically tall enough that a car can fit underneath, which means owning a car lift can also be a great way to save space in the right circumstances.

Check out The complete guide on installing a 2 Post Car Lift for your Shop or Garage


The durability and convenience of a car lift does not, however, exempt users from the need to use extreme caution. Lifting a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds is never a low-risk situation. When using a car lift, be sure to heed every precaution and stay well-informed about how to use the lift correctly.


There are many reliable brands of car lifts, each with their own style and benefits. Some of these brands include Bendpak Lifts, Challenger Lifts, Titan Lifts, Backyard Buddy Lifts, and our very own JMC Equipment Lifts! Check out our website to learn more about these brands and their products.

JMC Equipment BendPak

Challenger Lifts Backyard Buddy

Using a Jack Stand

Jack stands are an important tool to have for any car owner, and are particularly good for less frequent or less involved maintenance. Jack stands are a low-budget way to be able to work on your car, but offer less flexibility than a car lift. They are used exclusively for repair - you probably would not want to use jack stands to display your car.

One major pro of using a jack stand is that they are significantly less expensive than car lifts. Jack stand prices can vary greatly, from $50 to $500 per stand, and since you will need four stands to hold your car this means you can plan on an expense of $200 to $2000. Although this is a wide price range, you can expect a smaller financial investment than you would need for a car lift.

Jack stands also take up significantly less space than a car lift, but you will need to plan on having a reliable floor or scissor jack as well. Without a jack, you won’t be able to elevate your car onto the stands in the first place. Although they are less expensive and take up less space, jack stands are also a little harder to work with. Working under a car that is held by jacks can feel cramped pretty quickly, and you will also spend quite a bit of time getting your car positioned and ready for work.


The most important thing to remember when using jack stands is this: check, double check, and triple check that the car is secure. After all, you will be lying under several thousand pounds of metal in a very cramped space. It is essential that you read the manual for your car and your car jacks to learn the safest way to secure, balance, and elevate your car. Check out these 10 Commandments of Putting a Car on Jack Stands for tips on how to stay safe while working on your car.


Jack stands come in many different weights and weight capacities. Be sure to check out your car manual to determine what size is right for your car. Some great brands to check out, all available on our website, include Norco, Bendpak, Esco, Ranger, Titan, and Zinco.

For more tools to keep your car in shape, check out our products or contact us with questions!