If you’re debating whether to buy a steel versus and aluminum floor jack, you face the same challenge that many other auto enthusiasts face when choosing the best floor jack for their garage. The reality is that the differences between them are pretty nuanced for the average garage mechanic, and there are few situations where one material works decidedly better than the other. No less, there are some subtle differences which we have decided to detail in this article.
Before we get too deep, it is important to understand exactly what we mean by aluminum versus steel jacks. When referring to floor jack material, this specifically refers to the frame (body) and the handle of the jack. All jacks, whether built with aluminum or steel construction, have some steel components. These include parts of the hydraulic ram subassembly, pins, screws, some bearing surfaces, and other fasteners for which steel is the ideal engineering choice. That said, the frame and handle are responsible for most of the material in the jack, so making the right choice between steel versus aluminum is still important.
Perhaps the biggest consideration when comparing aluminum versus steel floor jacks is weight. In general, aluminum jacks tend to be lighter than their steel counterparts when comparing jacks with the same rated lifting capacity. This tends to make aluminum jacks easier to transport than steel floor jacks, which makes them a favorite racing jack for wrenching on your car between runs during track days as well as for mobile mechanics. Aluminum jacks are also a little bit easier to lift and move around your garage, as well as easier to roll and position when they are on the floor. Click here to see some examples of aluminum floor jacks.
When it comes to strength, a common misconception is that one type of jack is stronger than the other. The reality is that the strength of a floor jack relies entirely on its construction. That is to say that you could build an aluminum jack or a steel jack that would pretty much support any car you need it to so long as it has the rated capacity. That said, so long as you purchase a floor jack that has the appropriate capacity, it doesn’t really matter at all if it is made from aluminum or steel. They will both be strong enough to get your vehicle into the air.
While aluminum tends to win out on weight, steel jacks tend to win out on cost. Steel jacks tend to be a little bit cheaper on average for a rated capacity than aluminum jacks. Because of the weight savings, aluminum jacks tend to be marketed as premium products. If you aren’t terribly concerned about weight, do yourself a favor and save yourself some coin by buying a floor jack constructed from steel. Click here to see some examples of steel floor jacks.
Hopefully the above breakdown helps solve the aluminum versus steel floor jack debate. As you can see, there is no single best floor jack material; it completely depends on your priorities. We hope that you have found this guide helpful. If you are looking for more info about floor jacks, take a look at our comprehensive buyer’s guide to choosing the best floor jack. Happy wrenching!