This happens more often than you think. Tons of people don’t know the differences between these two.
Even professionals have trouble deciding whether they need one or the other (or even understanding their differences).
In this article, we want to discuss all of them. Be it because you want the ideal jack for the job, the strongest, the most versatile, or just the easiest to use between these two.
Trolley Jack vs Floor Jack: What are the Differences?
Below, we’ll teach you all that and more!
What is a Trolley Jack?
In short words, you can describe a trolley jack as a product to lift vehicles in minutes.
It consists of a hydraulic jack with wheels, boasting a handle that works as a pump to increase the lifting height.
Because trolley jacks are made of heavy-duty materials, they can handle weights of 1 ton or even more.
These materials include the wheels themselves, typically designed to withstand a lot of movement and weight without losing their smoothness.
The wheels make it a mobile device. That means you can move it around and place it in the right place to safely and comfortably lift vehicles.
Normally, trolley jacks measure between 1.6 feet to 3.3 feet (20 and 40 inches) in length, only a few inches in width, and up to 6 inches in height.
This makes them strong enough to handle tons of weight but small enough to fit under most vehicles.
What is a trolley jack for?
The purpose is to lift vehicles, nothing less and nothing more. Of course, the type of vehicle the trolley jack can lift depends on the model, construction, and size.
Some of them are small to lift between 500 pounds and 1 ton. But others are large enough to lift multiple tons, ideal for trucks and other large vehicles.
How does a Trolley Jack Work?
Operating a trolley jack is super-easy, mainly because the way it works is straightforward. Here’s a small step-by-step explanation:
- Once the handle is lifted, the pump cylinder gets filled with oil. When the handle lowers, this oil gets pressurized.
- The pressurized oil is what lifts up the platform that connects with the vehicle. The more the handle is pumped (more pressurized oil goes into the cylinder), the higher the platform will go.
- This platform is called a saddle. And it is lifted by the arm that connects with the cylinder. Together, they make it possible for the jack to gain height and lift vehicles.
As you can see, using a trolley jack is a no-brainer. Adding up the wheels that make it easily transportable, then it is a product you can’t dismiss on any mechanic’s lair.
Advantages of a Trolley Jack
- Can lift vehicles of up to several tons (trucks and vans)
- Comes with smooth wheels that make it easy to move around
- It is a piece of cake to adjust, store, and install
- Typically deliver excellent reach for big vehicles
Disadvantages of a Trolley Jack
- Setting up a trolley jack can be difficult due to the wheels
- The wheels make it a bit unsafe and unstable on uneven ground
Best Trolley Jack Review
Want a trolley jack transmission jack? Then you won’t find any better model than the one below:
- Steel casters
- 500mm of max-height
- Blow-molded storage case
If we had to go for a trolley jack that didn’t have a single drawback to worry about, then the F-2315PE would be our first choice.
It is an affordable, easy-to-use, utterly stable, and super-sturdy option.
Thanks to an all-welded construction on a steel frame, it can handle up to 3,000 pounds of weight. Along with rust-resistant coating, the jack will last a lifetime.
But it is not the build that sets it apart. It is also a practical jack thanks to a set of swivel casters.
These casters are also made of steel as well. This construction ensures maximum durability and stability.
You can move the jack around easily. Even in slightly rough terrains, the jack will move with little effort so you can place it exactly where you need and lift vehicles safely.
This gets better with the carrying handle and sturdy pumping iron.
How far can you lift vehicles? Well, the jack can reach a total of 12 inches, starting at 5.25 inches.
While it is not the highest, this jack is high enough for more applications, including under-vehicle operations and the standard tire replacement.
And lastly, you get a blow-molded case that makes storage effortless.
Adding up every feature that makes this trolley such a great option makes you guess it is a total bargain for the cost.
What We Liked
- It is small and easy to store & handle
- Offers a decent weight capacity for its size
- The whole steel construction is rust-resistant
- Swivel wheels make it a piece of cake to position
What We Didn’t Like
- The lifting range is limited on the upper side
What is a Floor Jack?
Many people confuse floor jacks with trolley models. But they’re not the same.
This one also has wheels, a cylinder that pumps the saddle (platform that lifts the vehicles), and works with a handle that needs to be manually pumped.
The front wheels on a floor jack only move forward and backward while the rear ones can pivot.
Mounted horizontally, you will find the cylinder where the oil gets pressurized.
And the handle that helps pump the jack typically has a two-piece design to help pump more efficiently.
It is mobile but large. A floor jack can weigh anywhere from 10 pounds up to 80 pounds in the largest models.
The length of a floor jack can vary between 3 feet up to 5 feet (36 to 60 inches), the width is typically 12 inches and can reach 10 inches of initial height but can be as low as 3.5 inches or less.
As for reach, they can get up to 16 inches or more.
What is a floor jack for?
Just like most jacks, the floor model is designed with the sole purpose of lifting vehicles. Because floor jacks are large and sturdy, they can handle vehicles from 3 to 12 tons of total weight.
Some floor jacks are mini, meaning they are often way smaller than the standard floor jack. But they’re typically not movable.
Either way, the idea is to lift vehicles, going from small cars to large trucks and vans.
How does a floor jack work?
The process is similar to a floor jack. It is simple and doesn’t require an engineering degree to understand. This is a floor jack operates:
- The handle is connected to a cylinder. Every time the user pumps the handle, this cylinder is filled with oil. When the handle lowers down, this oil pressurizes.
- The pressurization of the oil inside the cylinder is what lifts the arm. This arm has a rounded piece in the tip called a saddle. The saddle then touches the vehicle to lift it.
- To depressurize the cylinder, the user needs to turn the handle counterclockwise. This will lower the arm and the vehicle along with it.
As you can guess, using a floor jack is the simplest of tasks. However, it may differ in a thing or two, depending on the model you choose.
Advantages of a Floor Jack
- Operating a floor jack requires little to no effort
- A typical floor jack lifts between 3 to 6 tons
- It has a low-profile design that works on small vehicles
- The construction is typically super-sturdy for extra strength
- The wheels are easy to move around and ensure stability
Disadvantages of a Floor Jack
- The movement of a floor jack is typically limited
- Floor jacks can be bulky and hefty
Best Floor Jack Review
Now that you have a better idea of what a floor jack offers, it is time to take a look at one of the best models in the market:
PL-JA90201 floor jack
- 90mm of minimum height
- 20kg of weight
- 4000LBS of lifting capacity
Built to last and lift incredible amounts of weight, the PL-JA90201 floor jack is a heavy-duty device for mechanics who need a strong product in their garage.
It all starts with a lightweight but sturdy aluminum build. Weighing 20kg, the jack doesn’t take much effort to move around.
This matches well with the wide track wheels that move forward and backward. And with the side handles, you can maneuver and position the jack more easily.
But the sturdiness and easy movement of the jack is not everything.
The real advantage comes from the ability to lift over 2 tons of weight.
Yes, 4000 LBS of capacity will help you bring trucks and other large vehicles up without a single problem.
Yet, it is not the width or length you will appreciate the most, but the 90mm minimum height, making it a perfect choice for super-low-clearance vehicles.
The hydraulic lift system can reach 450mm of total height.
This makes it one of the highest jacks you can get for the cost.
Last but not least, the entire hydraulic system is sealed and well-designed, boasting overload and bypass valves that will release tension if you put too much weight under the jack.
What We Liked
- It can lift trucks, vans, SUVs, and other mid-sized vehicles
- Works on large vehicles as well as low-clearance ones
- The super-sturdy construction handles a lot of use
- Its hydraulic system is sealed and protected
What We Didn’t Like
- The heavy design makes it challenging to move around
Trolley Jack vs Floor Jack: Differences to Consider
Deciding whether you need a trolley jack or floor jack won’t be easy, even after learning a bit more about each separately. That’s why we decided to compare them a little deeper.
The following section compares all their essential features so you can have a clearer idea of what they offer individually:
Construction & Size
There’s no significant difference between these two types of jacks when it comes to construction.
You can find both made of aluminum or steel.
But you can still find a slight difference worth nothing. Floor jacks are typically larger, wider, and thicker.
While the materials and overall build don’t change much, you can find floor jacks to be a bit bulkier than trolley jacks. Being larger, floor jacks tend to be sturdier and more durable.
Here, you can find that most trolley jacks can lift weights going from 500 pounds up to 3,000 pounds (3 tons).
In contrast, a small floor jack lifts anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 pounds (1 to 5 tons). A large one can reach 12,000 pounds (12 tons) of lifting capacity.
It is important to note that it depends heavily on the model and purpose of the jack.
Some trolley jacks can be as capable as a medium-sized floor jack. Generally, though, floor jacks are two to four times as strong.
The lifting range of a jack is essential to consider, mainly if you’re a mechanic who needs to work below the vehicle to lift.
In this case, you will find that most trolley jacks offer 10 to 15 inches of lifting reach.
This should be enough to change tires and do other small jobs under the vehicle. On the other hand, floor jacks can lift anywhere from 14 inches to 21 inches or a bit more.
It is not only the total reach, though. You also want something that goes low enough to fit under low-clearance vehicles.
In this case, floor jacks are the ones that get low enough, reaching 3 inches or even less. Trolley jacks are typically limited to 5 inches of low-end reach.
Ease of Use & Movement
Considering most trolley jacks are smaller, you can guess they’re also easier to use.
But they also offer an advantage over floor jacks: their wheels typically swivel.
Such type of casters allows better lateral, forward, backward, and sideways movements.
Floor jacks typically only offer front and backward movement. In a selected few cases, they can provide the same mobility as a trolley jack. But it’s rare.
Similarly, being larger than trolley jacks, floor models are heavier and bulkier.
This makes it harder to operate and move around.
Lastly, the size and weight make floor jacks harder to store too. So, if you’re looking for a portable, easy-to-use, and practical machine, go for a trolley jack instead of a floor jack.
When it comes to price, trolley jacks win. There’s no doubt they offer lower prices, mainly because they’re smaller and much more portable.
And considering you can lift a lot of weight still, they’re the best bang for your buck.
Floor jacks are not necessarily expensive, as some small models can be almost as affordable as trolley jacks. But the largest models are much pricier overall.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We answered tons of different things within this article. But we may not have answered a specific doubt you have. You may find the answer to it below:
Floor jack or trolley jack for trucks?
Naturally, we would choose a floor jack. But it depends on the model and size of the truck. Small one-cabin trucks that weigh less than 3,000 pounds can be lifted with a trolley jack without problems. Otherwise, a floor jack is your best bet.
Are trolley jacks safe?
Considering trolley jacks come with smooth casters, you may think they can be a little unsafe. But they’re not. Everyone from typical commuters to professionals use them without a problem.
How much does a trolley jack cost?
It depends on what type of trolley jack you’re looking for. Some models can reach prices of over $200 with heavy-duty builds and tons of lifting capacity. But typically, trolley jacks are less than $100, with some models being as affordable as $30.
What does low-profile on a jack mean?
This obviously means that you can use the jack on lowered vehicles without a problem. The average clearance of a car is 8 inches. Vehicles reduced to less than that (as low as 3 inches) is considered low-clearance vehicles for which a low-profile jack is ideal.
Picking between the trolley jack vs floor jack was difficult when you didn’t what they offered.
But now that you know their difference, picking the ideal type of jack shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Follow the ideas behind this article to choose what fits your demands and you shouldn’t have much of a problem later on.
If you consider the different models we reviewed, then that will make it even easier.
Just remember, trolley jacks are more movable due to their small design and casters. But floor jacks are stronger and more reliable overall.
So, what is the ideal type of jack for your work? Consider this article as a fool-proof guide and save yourself some disappointment.