There is a wealth of products on the market to aid mechanics working underneath a
car. Each designed to deal with a specific situation. The following is a list of products
that are most commonly used along with a description of their function.
Access to the underneath of the car
Car lifts allow a mechanic access to the underneath side of the car in it entirety. The
car is supported by its four jacking points and lifted to a desired level. They are by far
the safest way to work underneath a car as they provide the most stable support for
a car while also being designed to support over the desired weight.
Standard car jacks such as scissors jacks and trolley jacks can be used to gain
access to the underneath side of a car but are mainly suited for lifting the car to a
substantial height for working on brakes or changing tires. If a standard jack was to
be used to access to underneath of a car, a car creeper would need to be used. This
means of working underneath the car has many disadvantages including, a restricted
working area and a danger of jack creep (the jack compressing while in use) causing
the car to fall on the mechanic.
Car creepers are used to gain access to the underneath of the car when the car is
only raised a short distance off the ground. The advantage of a creeper is that one
doesn’t need to own a car lift to work on the underneath of a car. This means they
are ideal for use in small garages or home used. They have some disadvantages
however. For example, they only allow a limited working area. They also cause
straining of the neck due to the position of the mechanic. Many older mechanics
dislike creeper due to the fact than they require one to lower one’s self onto the
device prior to work and then pick them self up post work.
Before car lifts became popular garage pits were more common. They allowed total
access to the underneath of the car along with the freedom of movement for the
mechanic. In recent years however the pit has become less popular as it poses
many dangers. The risk of falling into the pit is an obvious one but a danger that
most people fail to think about is that of a fire hazard. If a fuel leak occurs the
flammable vapour emitted is heavier than air and consequently sinks into the pit and
lodges there, a simple spark when welding could cause the vapour to ignite. For
these reasons pits are rarely seem in modern garages.
Axel stands are used to support the weight of the car when positioned a short
distance from the ground. They are used in conjunction with a regular car jack to
provide an element of safety when the mechanic is positioned underneath the car on
Ramps can also be used to achieve access to the underneath of a car without the
need for a jack. Once again they are used in conjunction with a creeper. The car is
simply driven onto the ramps and the hand brake applied.
Stop blocks are used as a safety device to ensure that a car doesn’t role while being
lifted and while in the air. They can be a separate part or can be built into certain lifts.
Lifting equipment while underneath the car
Transmission jack (high level)
These jacks can be used to support various components of the car when they are
being removed. They are used with the car is raised above head height on a car lift.
Although they support weigh the parts must still be manually pulled out of place by
Transmission Jack (low level)
These jack are used when the car is raised a short distance of the ground. Once
again the object being removed is supported but has to be manually pulled from its