Floor Jack - safe to use at an angle?

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You're fine. As you correctly muse, the biggest concern is or should be allowing the jack to roll while its lifts as it'll pull its base under the car via the arc of the lifting arm. Follow all the normal safe jacking rules.

The only concern I'd have, and it's minor, is having a car slip off the jack and going sideways while the mechanic is between a fender/ door and the garage's immovable wall. We all recognize the under-crush hazard, but what about the side-crush? Plan an out, and ensure the rear wheels (both) are chocked and e-braked real well. I can't imagine what forces would cause a car to fall sideways, but I mention this for your vigilance.
 
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Have a fence on one side of my driveway that gives me 2 feet of room on that side. I always have positioned the Jack exactly the way you show in your drawing without issue.
Like others have said, I also use jack stands and also slide a removed tire under it.
 
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I've jacked up cars with the jack at an angle, but you have to be careful. With the jack perpendicular, when you lift the car high enough the jack will roll inwards towards the center of the car. Not much, but it will roll inwards. When the jack isn't inserted perpendicular the jack cannot "float" because the wheels are being loaded sideways. When not perpendicular, if I lift it high enough, I can actually see the lifting arm on my jack tweak sideways slightly - and I have a high quality, all steel, professional quality jack.

That said, I do the non-perpendicular thing on occasion, but only for a quick look at something with the wheels on it. I'd never lift the car high enough to put jack stands under it. If nothing else it's hard on your jack.

Scott
 
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JHZR2

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Ive done that a number of times, for a number of reasons. I think the key is to ensure that the jack rolls… I know on many surfaces that are just the slightest bit rough, like my asphalt driveway, a jack wont roll… if it doesn’t roll, and twists as a result, at an angle, I see that as a concern…. Use a piece of 1/8” underneath, and make sure that the jack rating gives you enough margin to support the weight. That means a decent real floor jack, not one of those small trolley jacks that flexes easily.
 
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I cannot think of any logic that explains why you cannot do that, assuming we are talking about following standard jacking proceedures. I.E., never rely on only the jack while underneath the car no matter the jack's orientation. I assume we're talking about a decent quality floor jack, not a trolley jack, etc..
I did a bit of internet search. I found one "professional" article that recommended only using a floor jack perpendicular, 90 degrees to the car side, but didn't say why. I found a half dozen forum posts that said no problem at all, just like many replies here. I found one forum post that suggested that lifting the car on one side, causes a pulling force towards the opposite side, and that a floor jack at an angle could not adjust/move correctly and might stress it.

EDIT: Just saw slo town/JHZR2 posts. I think slotown's key statement is "if I lift it high enough" side forces happen. In my case, I never try to lift any higher than getting the tire off the floor. To do any more sometimes results in starting to lift the rear wheel and I worry about twisting the unibody.

I'm going to observe more carefully next time I do this. I've been doing the angle thing for decades.
 
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I've done it as long as the jack itself is on firm level ground, and under the car in a location suitable for jacking the car. But I wouldn't ever go under a car that didn't have jack stands properly placed under it.
 

DIY4quality

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I did a bit of internet search. I found one "professional" article that recommended only using a floor jack perpendicular, 90 degrees to the car side, but didn't say why. I found a half dozen forum posts that said no problem at all, just like many replies here. I found one forum post that suggested that lifting the car on one side, causes a pulling force towards the opposite side, and that a floor jack at an angle could not adjust/move correctly and might stress it.

EDIT: Just saw slo town/JHZR2 posts. I think slotown's key statement is "if I lift it high enough" side forces happen. In my case, I never try to lift any higher than getting the tire off the floor. To do any more sometimes results in starting to lift the rear wheel and I worry about twisting the unibody.

I'm going to observe more carefully next time I do this. I've been doing the angle thing for decades.
I think you found the same article I found. That's what gave me cause for concern and my question. Thanks for your feedback.
 

DIY4quality

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Interesting post. I was going to buy an Aluminum jack that's lightweight so I can carry it around. Now I'm thinking I should get a heavier steel jack and just deal with the weight.

 
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Independence Ky
Not a problem as long as you have properly secured the vehicle from being able to roll. Also once up relieve the floor jack by use of a jack stand.
 

DIY4quality

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I’ve done this several times. Dumb question though, does your vehicle have a central jackpoint that you can get at from the front?
Good question. Yes, and now I'm planning to use the central jackpoint instead of lifting from the side. After considering all the responses, I realized that going in at an angle works okay if the distance the jack arm moves up is short. I'm referring to the distance from the point of contact where the jack pad touches the frame, up to the height lifted. Short lifts can tolerate sub-optimal jack positioning.

However, if the jack arm moves a long distance from the point of contact with the frame to the max lift height, the jack pad and arm moves backwards from the front area of the jack towards the center of the jack body as it is raised. As this happens, the jack naturally moves forward on its wheels. If the jack is perpendicular to the vehicle, the jack will easily move forward and under the vehicle. However, if the jack is at an angle, it will twist and be less stable than otherwise. This problem was demonstrated in the post I shared above from another forum (post #29).
 
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