What is a Bottle Jack & How to Choose the Right Size?

Have you ever had to lift something heavy, like a car? Well, there are particular kinds of jacks that can help. A car jack is a tool that uses air or hydraulics to lift an automobile so that work can be done on the undercarriage.

Bottle Jacks, also called Cylinder Jack, are one type of this device, and they work in much the same way as other jacks do. You simply place it beneath your vehicle’s frame or the load you want to lift and pump it until it has enough lifted weight for you to get the job done.

Bottle jacks are taller, which means that they have more height than other hydraulic jacks – floor jacks, scissor jacks, or electric jacks. This has a drawback. You need to provide enough space for the jack to fit in. 

If a bottle jack has a 12-inch minimum height, you should provide at least 13+ inches of clearance for its installation. That’s the reason, floor jacks which have low height are mostly used for lifting cars while bottle jacks have uses for other lifting purposes too. 

Now that you know a little bit about a bottle jack, let’s get into choosing the right size for your needs. This will help further explore what is a bottle jack. 

What Size Bottle Jack Do You Need?

Answering what size bottle jack you need requires in-depth research over the jack’s features – load capacity, lift range, and more. Let’s read about each feature one by one and see how these aspects help you find the right size bottle jack for your needs. 

What is the Load Capacity of a Bottle Jack?

Load capacity is the lifting capacity of a jack. How much weight can you raise with a jack that can be found under this feature? It is mentioned in tons. A bottle jack could be 2 tons, 4 tons, 8 tons, and so on. This means that you can lift a 2-ton load, 4-ton load, and 8 the load with the jacks respectively. 

Now the question is what load capacity bottle jack should you prefer? Well, it’s simple. How much mass do you want to lift with it? 4 ton (8,000 lb), 8 ton (16,000 lb), or 20 ton (40,000 lb). Then pick a bottle jack with an equal or higher capacity than the weight. 

Lift Range

Besides lifting power, the lift range of a bottle jack is another feature that should be noticed before the purchase. You will find two types of lift ranges in a jack – the minimum lift range and the maximum lift range. Both matter in choosing a jack however the first one is crucial. 

The minimum lift range is the lowest height of a jack. Or in other words, it’s the clearance a jack will need for lifting the load. Now you would know why it’s crucial. If you want to raise something in an industry or construction site, and the load has 10 inches of clearance beneath, how would a 12 inches collapse height jack fit under?

The best decision would be to find a bottle jack with the lowest height so that it fits most situations.  Remember, with the min-height becoming low, the max-height becomes low as well. 

The maximum lift range is the extended height of the jack or the height a load would be lifted from the ground surface. It also varies depending upon the jack. 

So you know two things here. First, the minimum height of a bottle jack should be less than the clearance of the load. Second, determine how high you want to lift the load, and find a jack with that much max height. 

Pump System.

Check if the bottle jack has an air hydraulic pump or oil hydraulic pump system or both. The air pump system is easy to use but it can be hard to find jacks along with valves and tubes attached. Oil hydraulic systems are less likely to find oil spills during the usage of the machine. But this type is very difficult to operate because you will need to move the handle up and down so that the jack keeps on rising. 

How to Use a Bottle Jack on a Car – The Right Way?

Follow the steps below and lift your car safely with a bottle jack.

  • Park your vehicle on a level surface and apply the parking brake. Engage the lugs if you have a flat tire.
  • Raise the car slowly, making sure that the car is resting completely on its suspension or frame when being lifted off of its wheels. You can determine this when there is no more play when moving the handle up and down, but be careful not to lift the jack too high as this could damage your vehicle’s undercarriage or worse cause it to fall and injure you.
  • Place some jack stands under the car after it is lifted with the jack. They will hold the load. 
  • Never get under your vehicle but after you install the jack stands. 
  • When the load is resting on the stands, you can remove the jack to have some space available.
  • Once the work is finished, again install the jack and raise it until the load rests on the jack, not the stands. 
  • Remove the stands.
  • Slowly lower the jack and the car will come down.

Is a Bottle Jack Good for Vehicle Lifting?

Yes, a bottle jack is good for car lifting. As long as you can fit the jack under your car, and has enough capacity, you can use it for lifting purposes. However, a floor jack is the better option. The difference is in the lift range and the pump.

A floor jack has a lower minimum lift range than a bottle jack which means it can also be installed under low-profile vehicles. And it can have a dual piston pump that lifts loads quickly. So a bottle jack is one of the options but not the best one.     

Are bottle jacks worth it?

Bottle jacks are a worth-it option for lifting heavyweight. They are reliable in terms of safe lifting and allow you to work peacefully under a vehicle. However, you should always take added safety and put jack stands under the vehicle. 


Now that you know what a bottle jack is and how to choose the right size for your needs, make sure to pick well-known brands in the market. Always cross-check the features with the vehicle or load you want to raise with it. 

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