Whether you find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire or you've decided to do a bit of auto maintenance, you should know how to correctly operate a floor jack to safely lift your vehicle from the ground. Having a basic knowledge of car jacks and how to use them can ensure your safety if and when you need to use a jack. Put in the wrong place, a car jack can damage the vehicle or even worse, give way and send the vehicle crashing down to the ground.

Before you go hoisting your car off the ground, you're going to need a few items to assist you in the process. If you're planning to lift only one end of the car, you may want to get your hands on triangular wooden blocks to wedge between the tired and the pavement. This will ensure the wheels still on the ground will be unable to move.

You will need another wooden block to place between the car and the jack. This will prevent the car from sliding around on the jack, which may otherwise scratch up the spot where the jack is placed. Now you're ready to hoist your vehicle in the air. Refer to your owner's manual to determine the points under your vehicle that can support the jack and jack stands. Each vehicle is different, but it is important to find the correct access points.

Using the jack in a different spot can damage the parts located on the underside of the vehicle. Only certain spots are equipped to bear the full weight of the vehicle when it is in the air. Use the jack to lift the car, and then place jack stands in the appropriate location. Never use a floor jack to hold a car up. It is only designed to lift vehicles, but the stands are meant to bear the weight of your car for longer periods of time. Do not attempt to use anything else in place of a jack stand, as the rock or log you found in your backyard is not meant to support a car, but a jack stand is specifically designed with this purpose in mind.