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Pelican Technical Article:

Jacking Up Your GTI

Steve Vernon

Time:

20 minutes20 mins

Tab:

$0

Talent:

*

Tools:

2-ton jack, jack stands, wheel chocks

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (1999-00)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)
VW Golf GTI GLX (2000-01)
VW Golf GTI VR6 (2002-05)

Hot Tip:

Stack the wheels under the car as an added safety measure

Performance Gain:

First step for all work underneath the car

Complementary Modification:

Check front & rear suspension bushings

About one-third of all tasks that you need to perform on your Volkswagen require it to be raised off of the ground. While simple enough for the experienced mechanic, the procedure of lifting a 3,000-pound car can be a bit unnerving for the amateur. In this project, I'll start out by showing you the best places to jack your car up and how to support it while you're working on it.

First, let's talk a bit about safety. Haphazard use of a floor jack can result in some pretty significant and expensive damage to you or your car. Before you begin raising the car, make sure that you have the wheels of the car blocked so it can't roll. It's also wise to have your parking brake on as well and the car placed in first gear. You should always use jack stands in pairs to support the car--not simply the floor jack. Even if you are only lifting the car up for a few minutes, make sure that you place an emergency jack stand loosely underneath the car on a frame rail just in case the floor jack fails.

Before you attempt to begin jacking up the car, make sure that all four wheels are carefully chocked and that the car is on a level surface. Keep in mind that if you raise up the rear of the car, the emergency brake no longer works (it works only on the two rearmost wheels of the car). If you place the car in park (automatic transmissions), it will only lock the rear wheels, so place a few 2x4 pieces of wood in front and behind each of the wheels to make sure that the car will not roll anywhere when you lift it up off of the ground.

If you are going to be working on your car I recommend you do not use the Volkswagen supplied jack but invest in a proper garage jack. The best jack I have ever found is the DK13HLQ from AC Hydraulics available at Pelican Parts. Manufactured with the highest quality in Denmark, this floor jack satisfies all of my requirements and has more than earned its place in my garage. With a minimum height of only 80mm (3.1 inches), the jack will easily fit under any of my vehicles. On the other end, the jack has an unusually high lift of 735mm (29 inches) that enables you to raise your car up onto floor jacks in one swift motion. Combine that with the easy-to-use lift foot pedal, and you have a superior jack that's perfect for any car enthusiast, regardless of which car they happen to own.

Safety is of paramount importance here. Never work under the car with it suspended simply by the jack--always use jack stands. Always use a backup jack stand wherever you place your primary jack stands. One tiny flaw located in the casting process can lead to a jack stand breaking and having the car fall on top of you. If you are going to remove the wheels from the car, be sure that you loosen the lug nuts before you lift the car off the ground, otherwise the wheels will spin and you will have a difficult time getting the lug nuts off. Take the wheels and stack them in pairs underneath the car--this is an added measure of safety in case something fails.

Once you have the car up in the air and supported on the jack stands, position the jack under the vehicle without lifting it, and push on the car and see if it is unstable on the jack stands. If the car moves at all, you do not have it properly supported. It is far better for the car to fall off the jack stands while you are pushing on it than when you are underneath it. Really try to knock it off the jack stands--you want to make sure that it's perfectly stable. Set the floor jack underneath the engine or transmission while you're working as yet another backup support. Again, it's a wise idea to set up a spare jack stand or two as a precautionary measure against one of them failing.

When lowering your vehicle, raise it up off the jack stands, remove the jack stands from beneath the vehicle and slowly lower the vehicle to ground. Make sure all your tools and parts are clear before you lower your vehicle. Be aware of where you are placing your floor jack. Sometimes you will not be able to easily remove the jack when the car is lowered, or the jack handle may crush or damage part of the chassis or something else on the way down. Proceed very slowly and also be aware that some floor jacks release very quickly. Also be careful to place the car in gear, or to engage the parking brake before you lower it. The car may have a tendency to roll away right after making contact with the ground.

Buy and use a good jack and proper jack stands.
Figure 1

Buy and use a good jack and proper jack stands. This is the best jack I have ever used and while you do not need to purchase this jack you should never use the jack provided with the car unless it is in road side emergencies.

At the front of the vehicle the emergency road side jack uses two indentations in the sheet metal where the panels meet (red arrows) to lift and support the car.
Figure 2

At the front of the vehicle the emergency road side jack uses two indentations in the sheet metal where the panels meet (red arrows) to lift and support the car. This area should only be used when using the supplied jack otherwise you want to slip your floor jack in to the frame rail area and lift from the frame rail itself (yellow arrow).

Once you reach the desired height, install the jack stands at the two front jack rails to support the vehicle (red arrows).
Figure 3

Once you reach the desired height, install the jack stands at the two front jack rails to support the vehicle (red arrows). Slowly lower the vehicle onto the jack stands until the full weight of the vehicle is supported. Check that the jack stands are not tilting or moving when the vehicle is lowered. You can add a second set of jack stands under the steel box section of body for added safety (yellow arrows) once the jack has been removed. You can lift and support the vehicle from the rails just make sure you give yourself enough room between the lift point (yellow arrows) and where you are going to place the jack stands (red arrows).

At the rear of the vehicle the emergency road side jack uses two indentations in the sheet metal where the panels meet (red arrows) to lift and support the car.
Figure 4

At the rear of the vehicle the emergency road side jack uses two indentations in the sheet metal where the panels meet (red arrows) to lift and support the car. This area should only be used when using the supplied jack. When working on your car you want to slip your floor jack in to the frame rail area and lift from the frame rail itself behind the seem close to where the suspension pick up points are.

The red arrow indicates the body structure area where it is safe to lift and support the vehicle.
Figure 5

The red arrow indicates the body structure area where it is safe to lift and support the vehicle. Make sure when lifting the vehicle you leave enough room for both the jack and the stands.

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:36:28 AM