How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won’t Lift | Technical Guide

A floor jack is your partner on the road. Its sturdy construction helps you lift vehicles when you want to examine them. But what if your floor jack deceives you when you need it the most and is not raising the car?  In such a scenario, you must know how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift?

This article will discuss different ways to repair the hydraulic jacks that don’t function well. We’ll first discuss the issue with the floor jack and then its solution. So, are you ready to learn?

how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift

How Does a Hydraulic Jack Work?

Before knowing the causes and solutions for a floor jack that won’t raise, you must know how does a hydraulic jack works? It works in the same way as a pump. Basically, it is the jack handle that works as a pump.

When you pull the handle, hydraulic oil passes through the discharge valve and reaches the cylinder. The higher oil level in the cylinder produces pressure. The higher the pressure is, the higher the jack will raise.

Floor jack’s failure; Causes

To understand jack’s failure, you must know the problem that a floor jack may encounter.

Here’re some most common reasons due to which floor jack won’t stay up:

1. Overloading

Can you work more than your stamina? I know your answer is “no.” Then, how can you expect a floor jack to lift more weight than its capacity? For instance, you will be doing a foolish act if you’re going to lift 10 tons of weight with a small jack.

Overloading is the most prevalent cause for a floor jack that won’t stay up. But how would you know that you’re overloading your floor jack? Well, an overloaded jack lifts the vehicles for some time and then fails to hold the pressure.

Such a jack is dangerous for your vehicle and yourself. So, it would be better to check the weight lifting capacity of the jack before using it.

2. Imbalance in the hydraulic oil level:

Another reason for the floor jack that doesn’t hold pressure is the improper oil level. A lower lubricant level means no enough pressure to raise the floor jack.

Two things could happen;

  • Very low oil level means no pressure at all during using the jack.
  • A higher liquid level causes oil leakage, leading to no pressure. It also leads to permanent damage to seals and rings. Eventually, you have to replace the floor jack.

Now the question is, how can you check the hydraulic fluid level? Well, you can remove the fill plug and see inside the chamber to check the oil level in the jack. Experts recommend the fluid level to one-quarter of the reservoir. However, make sure it is not less than 3/16 of the reservoir.

3. Loose valves

Are you pumping the jack handle, but your jack is not holding the pressure? It may be surprising for you if you’re not overloading and there is not an imbalance in the oil level. Well, loose relief valves of the jack pressure could be the reason.

A loose or broken valve means the oil pressure will start releasing. Ultimately, the floor jack won’t lift the weight no matter how much you pump the jack.

4. Damaged plug

Sad to hear that loose valves are not even the reason for your bad jack. So, a damaged plug could be the reason. It is the plug that is responsible for holding the fluid. You can say that this plug doesn’t allow the fluid to leak.

So, if the cylinder plug is broken, pressure will start losing pressure. Consequently, the hydraulic jack won’t stay up. 

5. Poor Maintenance

Lastly, poor maintenance is the reason for the bad floor jack. For instance, you’re not lubricating the floor jack, and rust is there. Any damage to plunger rings or seals that you have ignored could also be the reason.

Moreover, damage to the hinge and wheel also causes pressure loss. To sum up, it’s better to maintain your jack properly to avoid any significant loss.

How to Fix a Floor Jack that Won’t Lift; Step by Step Guide

Hydraulic floor jack troubleshooting is not a challenging task. You can implement the steps below to fix the floor jack, which is not lifting the car.

Let’s discuss all those steps:

1. Clean the jack:

Cleaning is something that you should do whatever the cause of poor jack is. It will remove any dust, impurity, or debris from the jack.

You can use a rag, or a hard bristle brush to clean the floor jack. The more debris you remove, the easiest it will be for you to repair the bad hydraulic jack.

The good news is that sometimes this cleaning process is itself a solution. And you don’t have to go for any other solution. Isn’t it great to have a functional floor jack back with a simple cleaning?

2. Find out how much weight the floor jack can lift:

You’re at fault if you think you can lift any weight with any floor jack. You must understand that every jack can bear the weight up to a certain level. Loading the jack beyond the limits means you’re responsible for the poor floor jack. Consequently, you will harm yourself or your vehicle.

Therefore, it is better to check the weight lifting capacity of your floor jack. Afterward, compare the weight lifting capacity of the jack with the vehicle you wish to lift. If both are not comparable, avoid lifting the automobile with such a jack.

To make this step easier, some floor jacks come with safety overload features. This feature doesn’t allow the jack to work when it is overloaded.

3. Replace the Hydraulic fluid

Does the imbalance fluid level or dirty fluid is the reason for poor jack? If yes, the solution to both issues is fluid replacement in jack.

Below are the steps that you need to follow while replacing the hydraulic fluid:

  • Remove the pug
  • Place the jack upside down
  • Let the lubricant drain out
  • Check the level of hydraulic oil
  • Pour the recommended amount of fluid into the jack
  • Replace the oil if it’s dirty

4. Fix the damaged release valve:

You can repair the jack’s release valve in several ways depending upon the issue it has. For instance,

  • Replace the valve if it’s broken or damaged
  • Remove the valve and repair it back in the right way if there is any tightening issue.

5. Fix the issues with the rubber plug

So, is it the rubber plug due to which floor jack is not lifting the SUV? If yes, you must replace it.

While putting in the new plug, make sure it’s clean. To put it, you just have to place it on the right hole and press. Make sure the plug is the right fit for the hole.

6. Bleed the air from Jack

Have you tried the process mentioned above but nothing works? If yes, it means air has entered into the jack.

To fix pressure loss due to air, you have to bleed the air out. Follow the steps below to bleed air:

  • Remove the release valve
  • Start pumping the handle
  • Keep pumping several times
  • Put the release valve into its position again

7. Examine the jack thoroughly

So, it’s time to know if the problems with the floor jack still exist or it’s gone. We don’t recommend you test the jack by lifting the car directly after you have solved it. However, we recommend lifting the arm and take it down. Repeat this process several times.

It will help you know either the problem exists or is gone. If you don’t notice any problem, you can test it with your van.

For this purpose, firstly lift the vehicle to few inches. Then start moving the jack upwards and see if there is pressure loss. Lower the floor jack also to check its function-ability. Keep repeating this process for five minutes.

If you don’t notice any problem, it means your floor jack is ready to lift weight compatible with its capacity.

fix floor jack

Maintenance tips for floor jack:

After you’ve learned fixing a hydraulic jack that won’t go up, it’s a must for you to know how to maintain the floor jack. By maintaining regularly, you can avoid its malfunctioning.

Below are some tips that will assist you in maintaining your floor jack:

  • Pull in the pump and piston while storing the floor jack
  • Never place the jack on its sides while storing it
  • Keep checking the level of hydraulic fluid. It should neither be too low or too high.
  • Store the jack away from dust and moisture
  • Clean the floor jack before you use it
  • Keep replacing the lubricating oil whenever it is dirty
  • Bleed the air from the jack whenever you notice any issue in the jack

Final thoughts..!!!

So, now you know how to fix a floor jack that won’t lift. If you follow these steps with care, you will not have to take it to a mechanic. Firstly, consider the weight you’re lifting with the jack. Then, try all the recommended repairs one by one. I am sure your floor jack will start working.

However, please never ignore a car jack that is not holding the pressure. Otherwise, you have to bear severe damage. Stay safe!


Mr. Rubel is an Engine Mechanic. He has more than 15 years’ experience on repair and maintenance of different kinds of vehicles. He is also providing training to mechanics and works as a Senior Mechanic of a well-known organization. He is sharing his knowledge to support the car lovers to solve the vehicle issues.

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