Join Date: Oct 2006
Review: Arcan 2-Ton Aluminum Service Jack ALJ2T
Sometimes, it is those little things in life that just make everything so much better. The Arcan jack in this review is one of those "little" things in my opinion among the plethora of options you have to lift your car.
Sure, you could use the little emergency jack in your trunk to lift the car for whatever project you are doing, but it takes forever spinning the handle while holding the jack in place, and that bit of an uneasy feeling putting the weight of your car on something so flimsy, especially on rough ground or if there is the slightest slope. I know this from initially doing a little work on my car this way. Besides, it's called an emergency jack for a reason.
Soon after I "upgraded" to an actual floor jack I bought from Kragen for $30 with included jackstands. Ok, not as much fear of the car dropping if the jack collapsed, but there were still many issues with this jack, like being hard to pump, annoying loose handle that you had to take out for lowering, needing to use the emergency jack to get my then lowered car high enough off the ground to even fit the Kragen jack, and then only being able to barely lift the car high enough to get the tires off the ground.
The years following, I had access to some of my first low-profile aluminum "racing" jacks of the 1.5-ton variety. They were other peoples' well used jacks, but I didn't have to pay to use them, so no complaints here. Now I was able to lift the car a further off the ground to a more practical height for doing more. The jack was similar to a Harbor Freight aluminum jack. Bare minimum, I would definitely go with one of these as it gets the job done, and a great value at $60 or less when they are on sale. In exchange for the great price and features though, was an all around crappy part. Lifting the car was still difficult, the lowering of the car was nice in that you didn't have to take out the handle to unscrew something, but if you weren't paying close attention you would drop the car instead of lowering it. Not surprisingly, in the end, the jack's quality showed even more. The rear wheels of the jack were attached with screws that perpetually loosened, which made the body of the jack drag on the ground, and make the jack unable to move if there was weight on it. The hydraulics worsened until the jack would barely lift, and the the funniest and scariest part was that one of the supports on the side of jack simply fell off. I have no clue how, but a good portion of the jack just fell off. This jack has since been retired.
After a few months of no Jack, forcing me to not doing any mods, I finally got an actual floor jack, and after the first time I used it, I knew what my automotive life has been missing all these years. Everything you could imagine about the jack is just about perfect. Sure, it does have some thickness to it, but at a lowered height 3.5" you can get under most anything. Once under the car, the jack lifts to a lofty 19.25", which is a significant ~5 inches above what the previous cheap aluminum "racing" jack could do. No need to worry about slipping with a cup shaped life point with a rubber pad inside that protrudes slightly to prevent any marring of underbody. Then there is actually using the jack. The hydraulics and motion of the jack are... orgasmic. Pulling down on the thick-walled and deeply knurled aluminum handle, and from vertical to horizontal it will pump fluid. There is very little effort needed, even though there is a significant amount of lift per pump. 3500 pound cars can be lifted with one hand and no bodyweight by an average person. With the 2000-3000 pound cars I deal with, the car goes up almost too easy, but I have no complaints because it still takes very few pumps to get to max height, and when you do get to max height, there is a heavy duty height limiter that prevents anything unsafe, and any extra pumps will return to the reservoir with a quiet hiss that you can feel through the handle. Safety wise, I don't think I could feel any safer. I still use jackstands for everything, but if the stands failed, I know the jack would hold the car and not tip. Size and weight wise, the jack is huge. It is much wider, longer, and made out of much thicker metal than cheaper "racing" jacks. A 1.5-ton Harbor Freight jack looks like a toy in comparison, and even though this jack is made out of nice anodized aluminum, it weighs in at 50 pounds. A bit on the heavy side for a jack, but I have no problem lifting the jack into the trunk of a car, and is light enough to whip around a concrete floor. A comparable sized steel jack, like Arcan's 3.5 ton steel jack on the other hand, is downright scary to pickup at over 115 pounds, and is heavy to even roll around. If your jack is so heavy that it is taxing to move around to where you need, you will be much less likely to use it. This 2-ton Arcan is light enough that I see myself using it for everything I can, most recently lifting a relatively light horizontal beam for constructing a storage rack. In conclusion, this jack is so nice that it will be worth more than it's $200 price tag to you. After 3 months of hard use, it still is bring a smile to my face every time I use it, when really for most of my stuff, I could have just lived with my emergency jack and cheapo Kragen jack.
If you are a true DIYer, give yourself a break, and reward your efforts with a quality Jack.
Last edited by mkodama; 03-19-2011 at 04:57 AM.