Whether you are working under your project car or your daily driven vehicle, there is no doubt that personal safety is the most important consideration, followed by the safety of your vehicle. To provide that safety, your tools need to provide stability if you don’t have access to an in-ground lift. There are different ways to lift a vehicle off the ground that most of us are familiar, such as with a floor jack or with a set of ramps. Similarly, the most common way to support your vehicle is with a set of well placed jack stands.
However, there is a lesser known alternative to jack stands that many people like called wheel cribs. A set of wheel cribs is a lightweight and safe way to hold your vehicle off the ground so long as you don’t need to remove the wheels and tires to complete the work. Wheel cribs are platforms designed to be slid under your wheels once your vehicle is in the air. Setting your car on wheel cribs has the same effect as raising the ground underneath your wheels.
Wheel cribs have some important features that make them functional. Perhaps the most important differentiating feature between brands is the concave top surface which your wheel settles into which prevents the vehicle from rolling during use. Since they sit under the wheels, they also do not encroach on your work space when under your car. With most wheel cribs, you can use a pair to lift one side of your vehicle, one end of your vehicle, or you can use a set of four to lift the entire vehicle so long as you use wheel chocks in the scenarios where only two wheels are off the ground. Before attempting this, we suggest reading the owner’s manual for your cribs. The variations are limited but the opportunities are not.
If your garage has limited floor space for storing tools, cribs will also stack vertically to reduce their footprint and they are also lightweight enough to fit inside a storage cabinet should you have the space. Considering the critical safety nature of wheel cribs, we typically recommend that you buy quality and don’t cheap out so that you can work confidently without fear of failure. To save you the trouble of having to research, we’ve done the digging for you and have reviewed our pick for the best wheel cribs below.
The Best Wheel Cribs
Race Ramps offers a set of wheel cribs that provide the safety and flexibility you need when working under a vehicle. Similarly, they are clean and smart looking, which makes them ideal for elevating your car for display at car shows.
The cribs are offered in 8″ (RR-WC-8), 10″ (RR-WC-10), and 12″ (RR-WC-12) heights and typically come in a set of two (a pair of cribs). Beyond the standard heights, the cribs are also offered in an adjustable height version that has two stacked halves to equal the offered height (i.e. two 4” halves add up to the 8” version), although we prefer the standard version since they have a cost and simplicity advantage. The varying heights offer flexibility to lift the vehicle higher or lower as required.
The Race Ramps wheel cribs are made from a durable composite (high-density expanded polystyrene that is coated with a hybrid polyuria) that doesn’t weigh much at 10 pounds per set (5lbs for each crib) and their construction won’t scratch or mar your floors in the garage. Each crib will support up to 1,500 pounds (3000 pounds per set), so a complete set of four should be able to hold up an average sized SUV without concern. The curved shape will hold tires from 24” to 30” in diameter easily. The ramps won’t transfer heat or cold during use, so they are ideal for inclement temperature and they will also be immune to rust during their lifetime thanks to the material choice. We should note that they should be used on a level surface to make sure the bottom of the crib solidly touches the ground around the entire edge for the safe and sturdy operation.
When it comes to least expensive retailer, Amazon’s competitive price makes it the best value when considering the size of the ramps and the usual high cost to ship large items from many retailers. Overall, wheel cribs are a great alternative to jack stands that are extremely durable and resistant to rust over time. Without a doubt, Race Ramps makes by far the best sets available, although you do have to be willing to pay to play as they cost what a mid-range jack stand would cost. If you can swing them, we think you’ll be very happy and they will serve you well! Happy wrenching!