When it comes to doing the maintenance of our car, it is essential to have at your disposal all the necessary equipment to work well and safely. The ramp for cars is essential to access the under-body. Car ramps are a suitable tool to lift the front of your car without using a jack. If you are a mechanic enthusiast and you prefer to do maintenance work yourself, with a pair of ramps, you can create an adequate space under the car to have access to the bottom and components that are otherwise difficult to reach. These practical and inexpensive accessories, therefore, make the presence of a lifting platform or a hole in the ground unnecessary.
Although car ramps cannot always be used for any type of repair. Having the best models available allows you to perform simple routine maintenance jobs, easy to use for low-profile vehicles, which save you time compared to positioning the car on the stands.
What we recommend is always to buy a pair of car ramps (never one), which are quality and can support the weight of your car. Whether they are made of plastic or metal (solid steel), it does not matter: it is essential that they are suitable for this type of work and that they are certified. Read this post by Car in my DNA on vehicle ramps with reviews of the best products and buying guide.
Maximum load for car ramps
When buying a pair of ramps, the essential feature to take into account is the maximum load capacity.
The maximum load value refers to the fully loaded mass of the vehicle that can be lifted (find this information on the vehicle registration book). The maximum rated load of the ramp should be higher than the full load mass of the vehicle, to make sure some margin of error and also to work on those cars with the front heavier than the rear.
The value takes into account that normally, you use two ramps so that the mass of the car is unloaded on both supports.
Before choosing, it is advisable to be well informed of what you can find on the market, read the reviews of the different models, evaluate the opinions of other users.
Oriented to the purchase of certified items, produced in well-known countries (such as Europe or America) that comply with precise paragraphs of law to guarantee the safety and quality of materials. A ramp must not yield under the pressure of a load less than the maximum, it affects your safety.
Using car ramps
Since these supports are used on the floor of the garage, that has a smooth surface, make sure that the ramps have rubber elements that prevent slipping while the car gets on.
Always consider models that ensure good friction on the floor to prevent them from moving. If your ramp is dented or broken in several places or has rusty parts that do not guarantee the necessary solidity, change it immediately before starting work because, without the safety of sturdy material, you may have problems.
In any case, the ramps must be positioned in front of the front wheels in contact with the tires: position the inclined face in the center of the tread, to immediately facilitate the uphill grip. Obviously, the same operation must be done with both wheels.
It is always advisable to work on a flat and hard surface, avoiding wet and slippery floors. Otherwise, the wheels may slip, making it difficult to climb.
Most models are equipped with a small raised edge that allows you to perceive when you reach the ramp limit, and you are correctly positioned on the platform of the structure. In case of difficulty, do not hesitate to get help from someone to coordinate the maneuver.
When you are positioned above the ramp and have lifted your car, pull the parking handbrake, so you will avoid the vehicle from moving backward. Remember to put two wedges, one in front and one behind the rear wheels: this additional safety measure locks the car in place, preventing it from moving on its own.
Advantages of car ramps
The most significant advantage of using car ramps is the factor of convenience and reliable use. It takes a lot less time to drive your car on a series of ramps and lock one of the wheels rather than using the floor jacks and placing the jack stands.
Since a car ramp does not have moving parts, it does not necessarily require the use of stands to ensure maximum safety; however, their use is always recommended as an additional precaution.
The most obvious disadvantage of using ramps is that the wheels must always be in contact with the structure. This means that in this way, it is not possible to alternate the position of the wheels, purge the brakes, change the brake pads or perform other types of automotive repairs that require the removal of the wheels. Also, unlike the floor jack, the height is not adjustable when your car is resting on ramps.
Working safely with car ramps
To ensure total security, while you are intent on working under the body, you need to observe basic protocols and use some common sense.
- Always make sure that your car is fully positioned on the flat part of the ramp. Never leave it on the slope of the ramp: it may slide backward, even if it is blocked with the handbrake.
- Place your car in the center of the ramp. The wheels must not protrude from the sides of the structure. A wheel that exits even a small part of the ramp can potentially push the structure from under the machine by sliding it backward and dropping the front forward. Fortunately, this problem is easy to avoid. Before you start working under your car, do a short check and check each wheel to make sure it is correctly positioned. If even one wheel is not perfectly in place, repeat the ramp alignment maneuver until the car is in the correct position.
- Remember always to block at least one wheel with wedges. This is a security imperative. Once you place the wheels on the ramp, lock at least one of the wheels that still rest on the floor. This operation should not be confused with locking the wheels on the ramp. When placing a wedge, place one in front and behind to prevent the wheel from moving in both directions.
Choosing ramps for cars
The positive side of ramps is that, being such simple structures, there are few considerations you need to make when buying a set of them.
- The first thing you need to worry about is the ground clearance of your car. Most ramps are suitable for almost all vehicle models. Still, particularly low cars, such as sports, elaborate, and racing cars, may require a more extended and less inclined structure: too steep ramps may cause friction with the body when climbing, damaging it.
- The other thing you need to consider is the relationship between the range of ramps and the weight of your car. The ramps are often classified according to the maximum capacity, a fact that you can generally read on the product sheet or a special nameplate. If you have a light car, virtually all ramps on the market will work well, and you could also buy portable car ramps. If you have a heavy truck or SUV, you will need to pay a little more attention to the carrying capacity of your ramps. The typical rule of thumb is that the ramps should be able to support more than half the weight of your car. This will give you enough safety margin. And even if your car does not have a precise and balanced 50/50 weight distribution in all directions, you will still be guaranteed.
Wedges for car ramps
As far as the wedges are concerned, there are even fewer considerations to make. As mentioned earlier, it is necessary that at least two of them are used per wheel and that the rubber of which they are made is relatively soft.
Hard rubber tends to slip on the surfaces of the garage floor, which can frustrate the purpose of locking the wheels. A softer material will provide more grip and prevent slipping. If you want more security, we recommend that you always have a complete set of 4 wedges and lock both rear wheels.