It's the weekend, and you've finally got a few hours to wrench on your project in the sanctity of your own garage. You might be doing simple maintenance or maybe swapping a transmission—either way, you're going to have to get your car up in the air. Not the end of the world, but for lowered cars like ours, it can be a hassle—using your Tetris skills to figure out the right combination of wood blocks and jack stand positions to make sure your car is lifted safely.
The time spent getting the car off the ground, secured and eventually brought back down to earth cuts into your wrench time, and if you're anything like me, free time is at a premium between family obligations and general life obstacles. My dream solution includes a full 2-post BendPak lift system, but the giant load-bearing beam running across my garage's ceiling says that's never going to happen. Fortunately, Quickjack has the ideal solution to make garage life much easier. Their clever system will get your car up in the air without having to lift one side, one end, or even one corner at a time. Based on a pair of platforms that are placed under each side of the vehicle, a power source pushes fluid through quick-disconnect lines that in turn lift the vehicle to 1 of 2 positions. The platforms are a little over 3 inches when collapsed and lift to over 16 inches high when fully extended.
There are six models to choose from, each offering a different weight limit. I opted for the BL-3500SLX model due to its lighter weight frames (60lbs each) and they lift up to 3,500lbs—more than enough for the type of vehicles I work on regularly. Each of the ramps has small wheels at one end to make them easy to move around, and for the power source I chose Quickjack's AC 110V unit. The group also offers an option to power the system using a 12V source, like a car battery, which is ideal for trackside maintenance.
A pair of boxes separate the platforms with an extra box delivered with the power unit. All of the pieces are packed neatly and securely, and the kit includes complete instructions with plenty of warnings for the utmost safety. You're probably sick of hearing this regarding DIY stuff, but please, do yourself a favor and read the instructions first as there are some key points that will make your life easier and keep you and your vehicle safe.
With the items laid out you can see the hoses needed for operation, the various fittings you'll need to install, and the rubber blocks included to suit various heights and vehicles. These rubber pieces sit between the Quickjack and the vehicle.
With the L-fittings, one end is equipped with a rubber grommet while the other end requires some Teflon tape to seal, which is also included with the kit. Quickjack recommends facing these fitting toward the 10 o'clock position for maximum line clearance.
Going the same direction that the fitting will be turning upon install, the tape is carefully placed and pressed over the fitting threads before tightening with a pair of wrenches.
The short, quick-release line is secured to the newly installed L-fitting and will stay connected permanently. Compressed air is then added to the shock body and Quickjack is adamant about the pressure being 40-50psi without going beyond that pressure. Due to the shock's compact design, very short bursts of compressed air are all that is needed to fill the cylinder. If you're using a large compressor, a little goes a long way so be sure to only use small amounts of air in short increments and check your pressure with a dependable gauge.
On the AC power unit, a pair of quick-release fittings is secured. Each features a rubber O-ring so no tape is needed. I recommend tightening port B first, as doing port A first doesn't leave enough space to get your wrench in place once the top fitting is installed.
The fluid that will push through the lines is stored in the power unit's reservoir, accessed by removing the plug. A little over two quarts of standard ATF was enough to fill the tank.
After double checking all of the fittings, I plugged in the power unit and began the initial testing. It takes a few moments for the fluid to make its way through the lines for the first time but once it does, the platforms begin to rise steadily. Quickjack's instructions warn users to never lift the unit all the way up without any weight on the platforms, as they may not come back down.
One platform lifted slightly faster than the other, but not by much, and it was rectified after the next step: bleeding the system. I lifted the platforms back up to the first locking position and loosened the Allen head screw at the end of the shock body. This allows any excess air to escape and a small amount of fluid will leak in the process, so I placed an absorbent blanket under the platform. There was a good amount of air in the slower moving platform and none that I could see in the quicker one. After bleeding the system, a few more up and down patterns had the platforms lifting at almost exactly the same rate and once they had some actual weight, they'd even out entirely. It was time to test them on a car.
With the initial assembly a one-time affair, actual lifting proved to be quick and simple. The quick release lines supplied by Quickjack are very solid and feature a complete seal when disconnected in order to avoid leaking ATF from the lines. The short lines on the platforms stay connected at all times, so you're only required to connect the main lines that take only a few seconds.
The ramps weigh in at 60lbs each, and with wheels at one end, they're easy to maneuver around the vehicle. Quickjack also offers a handle that can hook onto the edge of the platform and gives you additional leverage to push and pull the unit into position under the car.
After double checking the lines and making sure the platforms were as close to even on both sides as possible, I activated the lift enough to recheck the contact points with the rubber blocks—satisfied, I took the Quickjack all the way up. In less than 30 seconds, I reached the second (highest) locking point and was ready to work. Add to that the 3 or 4 minutes it took to get the platforms in place and connect two lines and the Quickjack easily proved itself as being far faster and more secure than using a jack and jack stands.
As the Quickjack lifts the vehicle, its rolling lock mechanism allows the support arms to continue its ascent, and you have two heights to choose from. Once you get to the height you'd like the car to remain, lifting the lock upward allows the "foot" of the support bar to settle on the frame perch. When it's time to lower, lift the car slightly then flip the rolling lock back over and it will automatically slide over the frame perches and allow you to bring the car all the way down.
The Quickjack system is as quick and easy as the manufacturer claims, and having gone up and down at least 40 times at this point, I haven't seen any signs of fluid leakage and the consistency has remained rock solid. Currently my favorite tool in my home garage arsenal, it's the type of device that will leave you wondering why you didn't pick one up years prior.