We often receive calls from customers who need to raise their car to perform service on it and they will sometimes interchange the terms Car Lift and Car Jack. They mistakenly believe the two term mean the same thing. They do not mean the same thing.
A car lift raises the entire vehicle off the ground, meaning all four tires or wheels will be propped up off the ground. Car jacks raise the automobile one wheel at a time, or one axle at a time. If all four wheels are off the ground at the same time, there are greater service capabilities. Servicing the auto will also be much quicker as well on an auto lift. Jacks are more cumbersome to work with, and you won’t be able to raise the car as high as you would with a lift. Generally, the maximum lifting height for most floor jacks is in the range of 19 to 24 inches.
You will need to get on your back while working on a vehicle while using a floor jack. Using a creeper will make it easier, but not nearly as easy as when working on a car that is placed on a full rise auto lift. Some lifts only raise the vehicle 26 or 48 inches. These would primarily be used for wheel and brake work, and body work. Full rise lifts, like a two post lift, raise the car to a comfortable working height so that you can actually stand under it.
Reminder – You would always need to use jack stands when using a floor jack. Using a floor jack without a set of jack stands is taking a big risk for no reason. The amount of time it takes to set up a pair of jack stands is nothing compared with the potential hazard if not used.