Best trolley jacks: 2020 group test

What’s the best heavy lifter for DIY work? We test eight of the best trolley jacks to find out…

DIY jobs such as working on brakes, exhaust, suspension, wheels and even oil changes often require your car to be raised off the ground. The best and safest way is to use a trolley jack (with axle stands); you should never use the jack supplied with your spare wheel, because this is meant for emergencies only and is definitely not suitable for garage work. 

As can be seen in our eight test samples, a trolley jack isn’t a costly option, especially if you consider it as an investment and a way to help save cash compared with a dealer’s service bay. These jacks are rated at between two and three tonnes, which is ideal for the average vehicle, but you should check your car’s weight before making your final decision.

How we tested them

Every jack’s vital statistics were compared; the starting height is important, especially on cars with lowered suspension. The full height is also a factor, and those with taller vehicles should make sure a jack is suitable before buying.

We logged the number of pumps taken to reach 200mm (a typical jacking point for many cars) and then its maximum. We looked for good instructions – particularly for safety elements – and, ideally, warnings on the jack arm. The larger the saddle the better, and we wanted a rubber pad to prevent damage to the underside of the car. Some jacks came in plastic cases, which helps keep them clean and easy to carry, and the final factor was cost.

Verdict

Our top two were separated by a hair’s breadth, the Black Jack ahead of the Clarke, with the 2-Tonne Halfords only a little further behind and barely in front of the fourth-placed Draper offering. 

  1. Wolf Black Jack 2.25T Low-Profile Trolley Jack
  2. Clarke Strong Arm 2.25-Tonne Low-Entry Trolley Jack with Sockets CTJ2250LP
  3. Halfords 2-Tonne Low-Profile Hydraulic Trolley Jack 657099

Reviews 

Wolf Black Jack 2.25T Low Profile Trolley Jack

Spotting the difference between the multi test-winning Wolf and the Clarke (right) takes some doing. Apart from the colour, the specification was a match all the way through and, this year, the prices are just a penny apart. 

We liked the build quality and the two double-ended sockets housed in a plastic holder fixed to the chassis. Starting at just 80mm, it would get under all but the lowest of low-riders, and its 300mm span would suit most of us. With 16/39 strokes to 200mm and the top, using it would be quick. It stays top thanks to its two-year warranty.

Clarke Strong Arm 2.25 Tonne Low Entry Trolley Jack with Sockets CTJ2250LP

Clarke’s 2.25T jack is unchanged for 2020, mainly because there was little need to alter what was so right. The 65mm-diameter front wheels made it feel extremely stable, a feeling no doubt aided by their 35mm width. 

As with our winner (left), the handle could be usefully stored on the twin chassis clips, and the Clarke got to the maximum height in just 37 strokes, and reached 200mm in 17, making it easy to use. Only the shorter warranty gave us a way to separate this from the Wolf.

Halfords 2-Tonne Low-Profile Hydraulic Trolley Jack 657099

This Halfords newbie made a good impression from the off. Physically, it was very similar to our winning pair, with clear instructions on the jack arm and a very impressive A5 booklet in the box. Together, these two sources covered all aspects of safety and maintenance.

At 85mm, it had a good low starting point and a span of 300mm. The pumping results were virtually the same as those of our top two jacks, as were the width and length. The saddle diameter was a welcome 5mm more (albeit without the rubber pad) and this larger saddle just gave the Halfords jack the edge over the Draper (right). 

Draper 2-Tonne Low-Entry Trolley Jack 02082

Incredibly, this is yet another trolley jack in our test that appears to have more than a little in common with the Wolf and Clarke. 

The Draper had large, safe front wheels, at 65mm diameter and 35mm width, matching the Clarke’s. Meanwhile, the 17 pumps to 200mm and 42 strokes to the maximum height were par for the course.

The 47mm saddle was the smallest here, but the instructions, which covered all manner of safety and maintenance points with diagrams and photos, were good. 

In the end, with the Draper so close to the Halfords, that saddle proved decisive.

Halfords 3-Tonne Hydraulic Trolley Jack 657107

This is the big brother to the Halfords 2-Tonne model (Page 58). Its extra capacity meant that it was longer and wider than all the others, and its 67mm saddle and 85mm x 35mm wheels were the biggest on test. 

It had a minimum height of 140mm, which could be too high to fit under some low-riding cars, but the maximum height of 430mm would suit many SUVs. 

The extra-long 620mm handle gave plenty of purchase, but took 61 strokes to get to the top, and allowing for the height differences, almost twice as many strokes to 20cm as the Wolf. Still, if you need extra capacity and height, the price is right. 

Sealey 2-Tonne Low-Entry Short-Chassis Trolley Jack 1020LEHV

This jack is part of Sealey’s latest range, with the HV in its name standing for hi-vis, and the searing green paint scheme is certainly that. 

The spec was similar to those of other low-entry jacks, with a useful 300mm span and impressively long 520mm handle. However, pumping the jack up to 200mm took 27 strokes, and it took 63 strokes to get to the full 385mm top height. 

We liked the large-diameter 70mm front wheels (second-tallest on test), although curiously, they were only 20mm wide. If you can live with the extra effort required, it’s a good jack, but a bit pricey.

Silverline 2-Tonne Hydraulic Trolley Jack with case 633935

The first of our two cheaper jacks, the Silverline was very similar to the Sakura.  Its lowest height of 130mm gave it a 5mm advantage, although they both only had an arm length of 200mm, so lost out to the others in this test, which were around 300mm. 

We liked the 55mm saddle, which matched our winning pair, but there was no rubber pad and the instructions were limited. 

Finally, the short 420mm handle made the pumping process harder work than usual.

Sakura 2 Tonne Hydraulic Floor Jack and Case SS5337

A standard plastic case was handy, keeping the Sakura dirt-free and making it easy to transport. 

The physical size and performance were very similar to those of the Silverline (above), although the min/max heights were slightly higher at 135mm/335mm. The performance was identical, with just 14 strokes to 200mm, although it started 50mm higher. 

Both of these smaller jacks would be relatively useful for casual or mobile use, but in truth, much better jacks cost only a little more.

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