When you need to get under your car, ramps are a good alternative to jack stands.
I love 2-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, 7-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
If you're a garage DIYer, at some point you've had to get your car in the air and get under it -- and more than likely, you've used the tried and true car jack to do it. But I'm here to tell you that there's another option: car ramps. Believe me, they'll change your life.
Here at Roadshow, we like to turn wrenches on a regular basis every weekend. To that end, we've assembled a list of our favorite car ramps available today. We've got low-profile car ramps used for low ground clearance, heavy-duty ramps meant for heavy vehicles, and lightweight ramps for low-profile vehicles. These recommendations for the best car ramps are based on a combination of user ratings on top shopping sites and, most importantly, hands-on experience. After our list of the best car ramps, stay tuned for tips on what to look for in a car ramp before you spend your hard-earned cash.
We like these auto ramps for their durable, high-impact plastic material and the grid traction hole design that allows dirt, snow and water to filter through for better traction. These plastic ramps' weight capacity is good for vehicles of 16,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. The ramps measure 35.5 by 12 by 8.5 inches and lift a vehicle 6.25 inches off the ground.
The auto ramp angle incline is about 15.6 degrees, so it should accommodate most vehicles. They do not nest so they will take up a little more storage space, but they come in at a lightweight 19 pounds.
Like the Black Widow ramp set, these RhinoRamps MAX ramps can handle 16,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight (or 12,000 pounds in non-MAX form), making them the perfect automotive ramp for almost any vehicle. Made of a rugged plastic resin with a diamond plate tread for plenty of traction, these ramps weigh just over 21 pounds and nest together for easy storage. At 13 inches wide, they provide a sturdy base for tires up to 9.5 inches wide and are 11.5 inches tall. However, the service ramp angle is a fairly steep 17-degree incline.
Even though the company touts the CoreTRAC nonskid base is featured on each Rhino Ramp, some reviewers and Roadshow staffers still report some sliding when trying to drive up them.
Yes, these are expensive, but we didn't tell you to slam your Honda S2000 to make an already low-profile vehicle even lower, did we? These extra-long Race Ramps mean the initial angle is reduced to 6.8 degrees, although it increases to 10.8 degrees toward the top. The ramps are wide enough to accommodate a 10-inch-wide tire and provide 8 inches of lift, and they come apart into two pieces so you can access the underside of your car more easily.
The company recommends these ramps for cars weighing less than 6,000 pounds; each ramp can handle 1,500 pounds. At 72 inches long they aren't the most compact, but again, they break down into two pieces for easier storage. They are very lightweight, each one coming in at just 14 pounds.
If you don't quite want or need a 72-inch long ramp, Race Ramps also produces durable ramp sets with more gradual inclines measuring 56 inches and 67 inches in length.
These ramps are for the car enthusiast who has a pickup truck and a lowered Mazda Miata. At 63 inches long and offering a 10.5-inch rise, the slope incline is gentle enough to handle the most slammed of vehicles. Yet each vehicle ramp can handle 7,000 pounds of weight capacity, so they're sturdy enough for heavier vehicles like a big pickup truck. At 16 inches wide it's the widest ramp set of the bunch here and it's made from heavy-duty aluminum.
The downside: Each ramp weighs 32 pounds, so be prepared to flex your muscles when maneuvering the ramps into place.
If you really need to lift your vehicle, this mini lift can get it 10 inches in the air. These steel ramps are a bit heavy, coming in at 33 pounds total, but some may feel more comfortable driving their car up on metal car ramps rather than plastic. Each steel ramp can support 3,330 pounds and is made rungs 3 inches apart. The 37-inch length means the incline angle is a bit steep, so it's probably best for trucks and SUVs with a larger approach angle.
Maybe you just need a little lift to slide a floor jack underneath your lowered car, or just need a little bit more ground clearance to work comfortably under your car. These little guys will only lift your vehicle off the ground by 2.5 inches and this low profile ramp is ideal for low clearance vehicles. Each Discount ramp can handle about 2,000 pounds and with an incline slope of just 9 degrees, they will work no matter how slammed your Acura Integra is. We like the honeycomb channels that allow dirt and moisture to fall through when using them, aiding traction.
Each low-clearance vehicle ramp measures 27.5 by 7.75 by 3 inches and weighs 4.5 pounds. They are quite narrow, so those with superwide tires should look elsewhere.
Getting your car up on a ramp means more room to perform routine maintenance like oil changes.
A car ramp is just what it sounds like, a ramp that you can drive your car up onto so that you have more ground clearance for you and your creeper. Even if you have a higher-clearance vehicle , using a wheel ramp means you have more room for leverage to remove that over-tightened oil filter. Car ramps are made of plastic or solid steel and are generally safer than using jack stands as the weight of the car is spread out over a larger area, not just resting precariously on one single point.
In order to safely use a car ramp, be sure your wheels are square and centered on the ramp. Drive up slowly and do not spin your tires. For these and all car ramps, we recommend having a pal spot you and using a redundant support, be it jack stands or a floor jack, in case of failure. Be sure to leave the car in gear or in P, set the parking brake and consider putting wheel chocks behind the rear wheels as well.
The first things you should consider when buying any car ramp is the size of your vehicle and how much clearance you need. Be sure to know your vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating, or at the very least its weight distribution. That way you can do the math and come pretty close to how much weight is resting on each wheel, and thus what size of car ramp you need. Some can hold 4,000 pounds, others just 1,500 pounds.
You'll also need to know how wide your tires are to ensure that you can safely drive up the ramps. You want your tires to be narrower than the ramps so they fit completely. Driving up a ramp with part of your tire hanging off the edge is dangerous.
You can also use car ramps to show off your vehicle at your local Cars and Coffee get-together.
Finally, you'll need to know your approach angle. This is the angle between the front bumper and where the tire meets the ground. Math is hard: Here's a website that can help you figure it out. Just plug in the bumper height and length from the tire to the bumper and voila -- approach angle calculated. Don't worry, there are pictures to help you out.
Once you have all the information, you're ready to buy some ramps and make your oil changes that much easier.
Most ramps will stay put while you're driving up them thanks to an antislip surface on the bottom. However, you may still experience slippage, especially if you have a smooth concrete garage floor. To mitigate sliding, use them on the flattest ground possible. You can also try placing the ramps on nonslip padding or bracing the ramps against a two-by-four placed horizontally and held in place with concrete blocks or other heavy objects. Heck, you can even use duct tape. No matter what you do, we recommend having a spotter to keep on eye things for you.
Remember to check your car's approach angle to the angle of the ramp. You don't want to scrape the bumper on the way up.
Having a set of ramps at your disposal makes it easier to perform oil changes, fluid flushes and other routine maintenance at home right in your own garage. When coupled with a floor jack and jack stands for tire and suspension swaps, you'll never have to pay expensive mechanic fees again.
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