If you’ve ever had to remove a transmission, you know just what a bear it can be. The limited space can make the job feel cramped enough to be a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare. In addition, there is the unsettling fact that the object you intend to remove weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds as it dangles precariously above your head. Finally, the time the job takes starts to take a toll on you as each facet of this long job starts to wear you down. Perhaps this is why dropping and reinstalling your tranny can get so expensive if you have your local mechanic service your vehicle for you.
However, if you are willing to sacrifice a little pain (figuratively speaking), you can achieve a great gain by performing this type of work yourself. You stand to save a lot of money if you remove your transmission yourself and then take it to a mechanic that services it as opposed to paying the mechanic for the many hours of labor. How much money can you save you ask? Well depending on the type of car, removing a transmission can cost upwards of 1000 bucks. The cost of paying a mechanic is much higher than the cost of the tools to do the job properly.
When it comes to sourcing the proper tools to remove and reinstall your transmission, the fortunate news is that the tools are relatively cheap and make this job much less time consuming. The most difficult task when removing and reintalling your transmission, whether it’s an automatic or a manual, is the physical act of lowering it from the car safely during removal and raising it safely into position during reinstall. The tool that makes both of these operations significantly easier is none other than the transmission jack.
Transmission Jack Comparison
If you already know about transmission jacks, we have compiled a quick recommendations chart below just for you to save you some time. If you just need a quick recommendation, you can pick on off this chart with confidence. If not, skip ahead and read on for a more in depth look at what makes a good transmission jack.
OTC Low Lift Transmission Jack
Grizzly Transmission Jack
Powerbuilt Triple Lift Jack
Torin 1000lb Roll Under Transmission Jack
Torin Half Ton Pedestal Transmission Jack
What Is A Transmission Jack?
A transmission jack is a hydraulic device that is designed to support, raise, and lower a transmission once it has been disconnected from a vehicle. A transmission jack typically consists of a stage that the transmission can be rested on or mounted to. This stage is usually mounted above a hydraulic cylinder which is actuated by the user via an extended hand lever. At the bottom, a transmission jack typically has a small frame with casters so that the jack is mobile and can be easily repositioned. Transmission jacks vary in height and range from very low profile for home garage use to very tall which is more ideal for auto shop use where there is a dedicated car lift.
While most tranny jacks are designed to be solely dedicated to this purpose, it is not uncommon to see transmission jack adapters that are designed to convert a normal floor jack into one suited for transmissions. These adapters are typically cheaper and essentially consist of a stage and a way to attach it to your floor jack. It should be noted that you will already need to have a decent floor jack to be able to make use of this type of adapter.
Finally, it’s important to note that this type of jack is not limited solely to transmissions. They also make great tools when it comes to removing subframes, differentials, drive shafts, and other heavy under-car components.
Transmission Jack Safety
When it comes to working on your car, you need to regard your safety with the utmost importance. Even one mistake or oversight can cost you your health in the form of an injury or even your life. Working on transmissions is serious business that requires a particularly high amount of care as you are working underneath your car. Below are some basic safety tips to keep in mind when working on transmissions or any other driveline components.
1. Always make sure your car is completely supported before climbing under.
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get this simple step wrong. First, never trust a jack alone to support your car as they are prone to failure. When working underneath your car, make sure you have one jack stand per wheel that doesn’t touch the ground. You can read more about jack stands here if you are unfamiliar. You should also use wheel chocks at a minimum on at least one wheel that’s touching the ground to ensure your car doesn’t roll (unless you have all four wheels lifted off the ground). Prior to climbing under your car, give it a shake to make sure your setup is sturdy. Doing this will cause your car to fall if it’s not sturdy, but at least it won’t fall on top of you.
2. Never try to lift your transmission or differential out of your car manually.
It may seem easy enough to bench press a 200 pound transmission once you’ve decoupled it from your engine, but the reality is that these components are heavy with weight that is not distributed evenly. In other words, they are awkward to hold and easy to drop since they are not so easy to balance when you are holding them. In addition to the fact that they are awkward, trying to manipulate them under your car in confined space often times places your body right under these components leaving little or no room to get out of the way if something goes awry. Using proper equipment will avoid any potential for dropping a transmission or differential on your head.
3. Inspect your tools prior to use.
It’s easy to overlook the fact that hydraulic tools are wear items when you are in a hurry to get an automotive repair done. Nonetheless, doing so is crucial to your safety. Make sure to inspect the hydraulic cylinders in your jacks. If you see any leaks, it’s time to replace the tool or have it rebuilt. Additionally, if you are using an adapter on a normal floor jack, inspect this connection to make sure everything is installed correctly and fully secured.
What to Consider When Buying A Transmission Jack
There are a few considerations that you must take when buying a jack for your transmission. While the weight of your transmission may seem like a large issue, even the lightest duty transmission jacks can support the vast majority of transmissions. Unless you know you have an especially heavy tranny, most any jack will achieve your desired weight capacity. More important is build quality. Unfortunately we aren’t all material scientists who carry a Rockwell hardness tester in our back pockets. As such, we aren’t going to be able to verify the alloy of aluminum or steel used to construct the device, nor will we be able to confirm that the heat treat on the critical parts is correct. Fear not though, because the fit and finish are typically good indicators of the build quality of the rest of the tool. The best transmission jacks are going to have a crack and flake free finish. They will also typically have very clean and even welds. If you don’t have the ability to put your hands on a potential purchase, you can also rely on the reviews from experts who have already done the work for you, such as the reviews we have posted below. A final consideration is the height of your car when you work on it. If you have a professional shop lift you’ll need a tall transmission jack whereas if you put your car on a set of jack stands when you work, you’ll need to find something with a lower profile.
Reviews of the Top Transmission Jacks and Adapters
Now that you know the basics, it’s time to get into the reviews. Below you’ll find reviews of some of our favorite offerings and exactly why we like them.
Wilmar Transmission Adapter
We’ll start our reviews off with the Wilmar Transmission Jack Adapter. This is a nice budget option that fits on many floor jacks. It should be noted upfront that you need your own floor jack to be able to make use of this adapter; it doesn’t come with its own lifting device. You also need to make sure that you have a removable saddle with a 1 5/32″ shaft. This is pretty standard on many jacks by OTC, Arcan, Wilmar, Powerbuilt, Torin, etc, but we recommend running out to your garage to do a quick double check before you pull the trigger. In any case, the greatest benefit to this adapter is cost. It costs a cool 65 bucks or so, which may sound steep until you compare it to a decent dedicated transmission jack that typically costs over 100 bucks. While quality isn’t perfect, it’s certainly very decent and for somebody who infrequently drops their tranny it should more than suffice. The adapter features a tilt adjustment, safety chain, and a relatively high degree of adjustability due to the slots for the brackets. All in all, this is a great cost effective solution if you need the capability to lift your transmission but don’t want to break the bank.
Powerbuilt Triple Lift Jack
The Powerbuilt Triple Lift Jack is another one of our favorites, and although it is significantly more expensive than the Wilmar above, it adds a lot of value for the money nonetheless, but in a very different way. Not only can the Triple Lift be used to lift transmissions, but it is versatile enough to also be used to lift cars, motorcycles, and even ATV’s. For this reason, this jack is a bit of a one stop shop and likely the only jack you need for all your vehicle related projects. Naturally it has a removable saddle, but it also has padded lift rails which is what allows you to lift so many different types of vehicles. This particular tool features a 4000 pound lifting capacity, which is overkill for pretty much any car transmission out there. Another interesting feature is the locking safety bar that creates a hard stop for the jack once it has been raised. Powerbuilt claims this can replace the functionality of a jack stand, although we somewhat disagree. We view this bar as an added safety feature and added level of security, but not an outright replacement in the event that you are lifting more than one wheel off the ground with this jack. You can read more about jack stand safety here if you are interested. The overall build quality is great and cosmetically the jack is pretty attractive. For the price, you get a lot of functionality and for that reason you simply can’t go wrong with the Powerbuilt Triple Lift.
Torin 1/2 Ton Pedestal Transmission Jack
A pedestal transmission jack is designed to be used with a full sized lift. While most of us don’t have the luxury of having a car lift installed in our home garage, there are a surprising number of people who do have access to one in some fashion or another. As such, we would be remiss to omit a high quality pedestal jack from our lineup. Other names for a pedestal jack include telescopic transmission lifts or high transmission jacks. What functionally differentiates this type of jack is the height range, as well as the basic geometry. All other aspects are pretty much the same. In this case, Torin’s 1/2 ton has a minimum height of 49 inches and a maximum height of 69 inches. Overall steel construction and dipped enamel finish on this particular tool are pretty darn good considering a price that sits in the mid 100 dollar range. Compared to some of the premium guys that offer their pedestals for upwards of 500 bucks, the Torin is clearly a value play and aside from some nuance details is every bit as good as more expensive jacks. With a 1000 pound capacity, you should have no problem handling any road-going vehicle’s transmission out there. The smooth gliding ball bearing casters rotate a full 360 degrees to allow for easy positioning and transport. The versatile saddle is equipped with a safety chain and tilts in multiple directions to allow for easier access and easier attachment to your driveline components. All in all this is a great mid-range tool for a low-range price. If you need a pedestal jack, we highly recommend you consider the half ton Torin as we suspect that you won’t be disappointed.
Grizzly 1250 Lb Low Profile Transmission Jack
If you are looking for a dedicated low profile transmission jack, Grizzly makes an elegantly simple version with all the necessary features to get the job done. Grizzly is best known for their machine tools for woodworking and metal; namely CNC machines, lathes, routers, band saws, etc. In the machine tools arena Grizzly is very well respected. However, it is lesser known that they excel at making automotive tools as well. While they may not show up first on everyone’s radar compared to the likes of OTC, Torin, Arcan, and the other big boys, we believe long term that their quality will soon make them better known for their automotive tools. Their low profile jack for transmissions is a rather spartan design that consists of four 360 degree casters allowing for easy positioning, a hydraulic cylinder with a hand actuated lever, welded steel construction that is both sturdy and well made, and an adjustable saddle platform that will fit pretty much any transmission. The saddle comes equipped with a safety chain as well. The height ranges from 6-5/8″ to 24-5/8″ which would allow you do work on both cars and trucks. The finish is a rather attractive (if we do say so ourselves) seafoam green that is very well done. All in all, Grizzly makes an awesome jack and their price is extremely reasonable at just a shade north of 200 bucks. One of the biggest reasons we recommended them is because you likely don’t think of them when it comes to automotive tools. Give Grizzly a try and we are confident that their tools will serve you well!
Congratulations on making it through this guide! You are now an expert and should have no trouble finding the best transmission jack to suit your needs. While the ones we have chosen above are all outstanding, remember that there are many other great offerings out there too that we just didn’t have room for. Feel free to check more transmission jack options out by clicking here. Thanks for reading and happy wrenching!