Mini-Van Jack Fiasco
courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man
Thought you might have a comment/suggestion on this one. I've never needed to repair a flat on my 93 Mercury Villager mini-van until this past week. The car was parked on blacktop, on a level surface and the engine was not running. The rather smallish looking jack fits into a special notched part of the body, just behind the front wheel. The jack was placed, as instructed, perpendicular to the length of the car and there were no stones or other objects under the jack. I had loosened the lug nuts prior to raising the jack. After the jack had raised the car high enough to just have the tire clear the ground, I proceeded to pull the wheel off the car. Before I could completely remove the wheel, I witnessed the car lean forward and fall onto the ground. I had to use another jack to lift the car high enough to get the jack supplied with the vehicle out from under. I inspected the jack and it looked fine. I raised the car up again and as the car raised higher I noticed that the shape of the jack deformed with the weight of the car. On the ground with no weight, the jack looks fine, up or down. The higher it goes with the weight of the car on it, the more it wants to deform and twist so that at its final height, the center of the jack where it meets the car overhangs the edge of the foot of the jack, throwing the weight of the car off the center of the jack.
How do you suppose Ford expects me to change a tire with this flimsy thing? This was on flat, level ground. I hate to think of its performance on a gravely shoulder somewhere. Since this is unibody construction, there are few options for where to lift. The Villager has very low ground clearance and there appears to be little room anywhere in the front for a floor jack to lift it. What do you think?
My only suggestion goes back to shop 101 with shop safety. Make sure the car is in park, the emergency brake is on, and the axle opposite the lift point is fully secured by wheel chocks. It doesn't make sense why they would make a product that is so weak it will not lift the vehicle, but then maybe they assume that the car is secured from movement.
Bob, The Auto Answer Man
If you have a question for Bob send it to: . He's able to answer many of them personally and we'll include the best questions in future issues of The Dollar Stretcher.
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