How to Use a Car Ramp: A Step-by-Step Guide for Vehicle Maintenance

Using car ramps for vehicle maintenance is a practical method that allows us to perform various tasks such as oil changes or underbody inspections safely and efficiently.

The quality and safety of the ramps are critical. We must ensure they can support the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW).

Engaging the parking brake and ensuring the vehicle is parked on a flat surface are essential steps in preventing the car from moving during the maintenance work.

A car drives up a metal ramp, tires gripping the surface as it ascends

As we use car ramps, we prioritize our safety by following proper procedures.

We place wheel chocks on the opposite set of tires to add an extra layer of security. This step is vital when the parking brake is engaged and before gently guiding the vehicle up the ramps.

Regular maintenance activities using ramps not only extend the lifespan of our vehicle but also provide us with the opportunity to become familiar with its underside components.

Selecting the Right Car Ramps

Proper selection of car ramps involves matching them with your vehicle’s specifications and ensuring they’re built to last. We’ll navigate through key factors that affirm your car’s compatibility with the ramps while prioritizing safety and longevity.

Assessing Vehicle Requirements

Before we introduce our car to a set of ramps, we must consider its ground clearance, especially if we’re dealing with a low-profile or sports car.

Specific ramps designed with a gentle angle accommodate cars that sit lower to the ground, avoiding any undercarriage damage as the vehicle ascends.

Material and Durability

Ramps can be fashioned from different materials, each offering unique benefits.

  • Steel ramps showcase high durability but are often heavy.
  • Aluminum ramps provide a balance between strength and a lighter weight.
  • High-impact plastic ramps are the most lightweight option and often have resistance to corrosion.

Each material presents its trade-off between weight and durability, and your choice may vary based on personal preference and the intended frequency of use.

Weight Capacity and Stability

We must ensure that the ramps we choose can support the weight of our vehicle.

Look for the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) in the vehicle manual or driver’s door sticker and match it with the weight capacity of the ramp.

Ramp Type Material Weight Capacity
Standard Steel Standard GVW
Low-Profile Aluminum Lower GVW
Heavy-Duty High-Impact Plastic Higher GVW

When considering stability, ensure the ramps have a firm grip on the ground and won’t slip when in use.

Some ramps come integrated with wheel chocks or rubber pads to enhance stability and prevent movement, which we regard as essential for safe use.

Steps to Safely Using Car Ramps

When we use car ramps, we prioritize safety and stability. Let’s ensure we follow the right procedures to avoid any accidents or damage to the vehicle.

Proper Placement and Chocking

Setting Up The Ramps:

  • Place the ramps on a flat, stable surface to prevent any potential slippage or roll back down.
  • Ramps should align with the tires. We ensure they are spaced correctly according to the width of our vehicle’s tires for a seamless fit.
Position Wheel Chocks:

Always use wheel chocks on the opposite end of the vehicle getting lifted. This adds an extra layer of safety to prevent the car from rolling.

Driving Up and Positioning

Drive up the ramps slowly and steadily, maintaining light pressure on the accelerator.

It’s essential not to overshoot the top of the ramps.

Listen for a distinct sound or feel for a gentle bump that signifies we have reached the end of the ramp, indicating it’s time to stop.

Engaging Brakes and Stability Checks

Once our vehicle is positioned on the ramps:

  • Immediately engage the parking brake (or emergency brake), and shift into ‘park’ if our vehicle is automatic, or in gear if it’s manual, to minimize the chance of rolling.
  • Exit the vehicle cautiously and perform a thorough check to ensure it’s stable.
  • Verify that our car is centered on the ramps and inspect to confirm there is no movement or wiggling.

Recommendations for Various Vehicle Types

Selecting the appropriate car ramp is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your vehicle. Our focus here is to match your specific vehicle type with the right ramp choice.

Options for Low-Profile Vehicles

Low-profile cars, including many sports cars and lowered cars, require ramps with a gentle incline.

For these vehicles, we recommend ramps designed specifically for low clearance, such as the Black Widow PSR295.

These ramps feature an extended length and a low angle to prevent the car’s underside from scraping.

For the safest lift, always ensure the ramps have enough width to accommodate your vehicle’s tires.

It’s also vital to verify the weight capacity of the ramps is suitable for the weight of your low-profile or sports car.

Solutions for Heavy-Duty and Sports Cars

Heavy-duty vehicles and some high-performance sports cars possess not only weight but sometimes wider tires. Consequently, they necessitate ramps with a high weight rating and sufficient width.

Ramp considerations for Sports and Heavy-Duty Vehicles:

  • Ensure ramps are built from high-strength materials capable of supporting the vehicle’s weight.
  • Check that the ramp width accommodates wide tires common in sports and heavy-duty vehicles.

In addition, for sports cars that may have both low clearance and high performance, select a high-lift, low-clearance ramp to combine the best of both worlds—a ramp that can safely elevate the vehicle without causing damage.

Maintenance and Care of Car Ramps

Maintaining Durability and Functionality

When it comes to prolonging the life of your car ramps, ensure they’re free from oil, grease, and other automotive fluids after each use.

If they’re designed with rubber components, check regularly for cracks or wear, as this can affect performance and safety.

Ramps should be stored in a dry, level place, away from extreme temperatures to prevent material degradation.

Quality Control

Before each use, inspect your ramps for any signs of damage such as cracks or deep gouges, especially if the ramps are constructed from plastic or lighter materials.

Frequent checks ensure that the ramps can support the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of your vehicle as intended.

Product Material Notes & Reviews
Rage Powersports Metal Sturdy, but may require a rubber pad for extra grip.
BiSUPPLY Vehicle Service Ramp Set Plastic Lightweight, easy for DIY, but check for load capacity.

Regular maintenance will increase the lifespan of your car ramps and make DIY maintenance tasks like oil changes faster, easier, and safer.

Always use a car jack to secure the vehicle’s axle when using ramps for any undercarriage repairs, and never exceed the weight limit of the product.

Remember that while pros of ramps include their convenience and simplicity, cons are that they can be bulky and heavy, making them difficult to maneuver for some.

Choosing the best car ramps involves reading reviews and selecting products that meet our specific maintenance needs while ensuring they are compatible with the concrete or surface area where we perform our repairs.

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