Bottle Jack vs Floor Jack: Which is Right for You?
If you prefer to do your repairs on your car, you’re going to need a jack to help lift it. Out of all the different jacks out there, bottle jacks and floor jacks are the most popular options. On the surface, these jacks may look similar, but there are quite a few differences between them.
They both perform very similar functions. However, they are best for different situations. To help you decide which one to choose, we wrote this complete guide to the differences between these different jacks.
A bottle jack is a type of hydraulic jack. The hydraulic cylinder is mounted vertically to the base of the jack. This makes it very compact. These jacks are smaller, which makes it easier to store. Their straightforward design makes them able to lift quite a lot of weight as well.
Bottle jacks can lift a lot of weight, especially for their small size. Truck owners will find them an ideal solution for truck maintenance since they can lift so much.
They also work well for higher elevation areas, where jacks might be a bit lower power in general.
Bottle jacks are tiny. As we have previously stated, they are built with the hydraulic cylinder mounted vertically. Because of this, it is much easier for them to be stored away when you aren’t using them. They are also extremely portable. Wherever you need to take them, they can go quite quickly.
However, they cannot be easily positioned when you’re in the process of using them. In this way, they’re a bit harder to get exactly where you want them.
Because bottle jacks are small, they are not nearly as stable as floor jacks. They are very narrow. For stability, you will need to rely on some other tool. They are not designed to be used by themselves. They only lift the car – not keep it lifted over a long period.
It can be downright dangerous to use them by themselves, which is why we highly recommend using other tools to keep your car stable after it has been raised.
Ease of Use
All jacks are pretty straightforward to use. However, bottle jacks are a bit less user friendly. They’re harder to position exactly where you want them and don’t work quite as speedily. For the average homeowner, this isn’t much of a problem.
But for professionals, their slowness can get annoying very fast. More professionals do not use bottle jacks for that reason.
A floor jack has a hydraulic cylinder mounted horizontally. This is the only difference between a floor jack and a bottle jack. However, this small difference leads to quite a few differences in portability and stability.
Because of the horizontal design, floor jacks can only lift a fraction of the weight a bottle jack can. As you might imagine, this can be a problem for those with trucks and other large vehicles. If you live in a high-altitude area, a floor jack might be substantially weaker, which can make it nearly unusable.
This is the main benefit of a bottle jack over a floor jack. Floor jacks aren’t very powerful, in general.
Floor jacks take up a lot of space. They require more floor space overall and need a dedicated storage area. Because of their larger size, it also takes quite a bit more maneuvering to get them set up correctly. The handles need a bit more room to operate, so you’ll need more room around the vehicle when you’re using them.
However, these jacks are very low to the ground, so they don’t require as much vertical space. They are also relatively easier to fit underneath cars, especially if they are lower to the ground than average. As you might imagine, this makes them particularly useful for those who have low-set vehicles. With that said, their limited power still needs to be kept in mind.
Floor jacks are a bit more stable than bottle jacks. However, they still shouldn’t be used by themselves. You should always use another tool to keep your car in place while working underneath it.
Ease of Use
These jacks have a long pump handle, which allows the user to pump very quickly. This is best in situations where you need to raise a car quickly, or when you’re going to raise many cars in short succession (like what might happen as a professional mechanic). Their longer handle also makes them easier to use overall, though it does limit their storability a bit.
Which is Right for You?
For those who don’t plan on using a jack very much, a bottle jack is likely your best choice. They’re a bit more of a headache to use, but this isn’t a significant difficulty if you’re only using it every once in a while. They are much more portable and can lift more than a floor jack, however.
A floor jack is best for professionals or for those that plan on working on cars a lot. They are easier to use, though they require a bit more room to store. You likely aren’t going to want to dedicate the room to one unless you plan on using them a lot.
Bottle jacks are much cheaper than a floor jack. Floor jacks tend to be at least $100 for the lowest end model, while almost all bottle jacks are cheaper than $100. If you’re on a budget, this may be something to consider while shopping. For those who don’t want to spend too much money, you’re better off purchasing a bottle jack. You can get a higher quality option for much cheaper.
With that said, floor jacks are often worth it if you need one. For shops and those who work on cars often, these jacks can make lifting the car far easier and less time-consuming.
There seems to be more floor jacks on the market than bottle jacks. Because of this, it may be easier to find a floor jack model that you really like. There are just more options out there!
With that said, this doesn’t mean it’ll be impossible to find a bottle jack that you like. However, floor jacks tend to have a larger variety of features and options.
Floor jacks and bottle jacks are very similar, but they are designed in slightly different manners. These slight differences add up to a whole lot when you go to use one. Be sure you’ve got the right product when it comes to lifting heavy objects with either of these jacks. As always, safety should be your top priority!
Featured Image: Fobosvobos, Shutterstock