Reader Question: Jacking Points?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Todd asks: I’m 17 and just learning to work on cars and can’t figure out where to put the jack to raise my car (2001 RAV4). Can you help?

My reply: I’m glad you asked – before you jacked! It used to be pretty easy to know where to place the jack, back in the days when most cars had clearly identifiable frames (like most trucks still do). There was clear separation between the structural frame – which was capable of supporting the weight of the car – and the the floorpans, say.

Which were not capable of supporting the weight of the car.

But today, most cars are unitized – which means the structural part and the other parts are welded into a single piece. It’s pretty easy to put the jack underneath a non-structural part of the car and cause structural damage to the car by trying to jack it up there.

Most unibody cars have specific jacking points, often identifiable by a slot/cut-out that is sized to fit the factory tire-change jack. Check the owner’s manual to assure you have the right spot. Then jack up the car carefully – slowly – eyeballing as you go to watch for any signs of something bending.

In which case, stop – and release the pressure on the jack.

Speaking of that: Buy yourself a good floor jack. The tire-change jacks are generally flimsy and not very stable. Never get underneath a car raised by one of these – especially without having slipped a jackstand under some structural point, to act as a failsafe in case the jack slips.

The best advice I can give you applies generally to all car repairs: Be careful, take your time and do not proceed unless you are pretty sure you know what you’re doing and how to do it. If unsure, get advice/get help!

. . . 

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

If you like what you’ve found here please consider supporting EPautos. 

We depend on you to keep the wheels turning! 

Our donate button is here.

 If you prefer not to use PayPal, our mailing address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

PS: Get an EPautos magnet or sticker or coaster in return for a $20 or more one-time donation or a $10 or more monthly recurring donation. (Please be sure to tell us you want a magnet or sticker or coaster – and also, provide an address, so we know where to mail the thing!)

My eBook about car buying (new and used) is also available for your favorite price – free! Click here.  If that fails, email me at and I will send you a copy directly!

Share Button


  1. Long ago and far away, in my old common labor shoes, I tried to raise a friends 96 Accord with a floor jack. Damned if there was an obvious place you could raise it without bending the floor. He had no idea about the original car jack and I was going to be under it so that was a no go. I don’t remember everything I did to it but seems like I added a suspension part like a sway bar or some similar plus I changed the oil and filter and would have needed something to twist the filter off…..whatever that might have been except for some really long filter wrench I didn’t have and he didn’t have.

    I took about 4′ of 2×4 and finally niggled it across enough of the floorboard I could see it wasn’t bending it as I slowly jacked and looked as did a couple others. Once through I declared is was a car built to take to a dealer and use some special mounts for a lift, probably a 4 arm lift or just a drive-on lift.

    Then I worked on a 98 Tahoe. Put the floor jack under the differential and set a couple jack stands and pulled the jack out and installed an extremely large anti-roll bar that years later would save the owners life because it handled an emergency turn at highway speed the stock vehicle wouldn’t have made. He called not long after to tell me what happened and where. I agreed that was too close a call and glad I’d put that bar on there. Of course, changing oil and filter and greasing parts was easily done the same way in the front. Guess which one I’d rather work on.

    The wife’s Cutlass was easy since it had an axle to jack up and a crossmember in front.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here