A bottle jack is a common type of hydraulic jack that is used to lift heavy items, including cars. Becoming familiar with a bottle jack's parts will help prolong its life. One of the essential components of a bottle jack is its hydraulic oil. Checking hydraulic oil regularly will promote effective and efficient function.
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Bottle Jack Parts and Testing Oil
A bottle jack is, like its name suggests, shaped a bit like a bottle and is quite convenient, as it only takes one person to operate the lift. Bottle jacks come in a variety of sizes, from 1-ton to 200-ton capacity. Many do-it-yourselfers prefer smaller models when working on equipment at home. Garages and repair shops commonly own larger ones.
In order for a bottle jack to continue to operate efficiently and effectively, it needs hydraulic oil. Oil helps lubricate the bottle jack's internal mechanisms, protecting the metal parts inside and preventing friction damage. It also acts as a power transfer device.
Replacing Oil in Bottle Jacks
Over time, the bottle jack parts use up the oil, so it will eventually need to be replaced. Adding hydraulic oil isn't a difficult task, but it's essential to do it correctly. Regularly checking your bottle jack's oil will ensure that you never run out of hydraulic oil, which can damage the internal bottle jack mechanisms.
The oil tank on most bottle jacks is sealed with a rubber plug. You'll need to remove this to test its oil level or to add more oil. In most bottle jacks, the easiest way to remove it is to pry it open with a screwdriver. Be very careful not to damage the plug or it might leak once you put it back on. Once the seal is open, insert a clean, straight object into the hole. Withdraw the object and check the oil mark left behind. If the oil levels are low, it's time to add more.
Adding Hydraulic Oil to a Bottle Jack
Before you add hydraulic oil to your bottle jack, make sure that you're buying or using the correct type of oil. It is critically important that you use hydraulic oil only. This is because oil helps hydraulic tools transfer power throughout the hydraulic system. Luckily, hydraulic oil should be very easy to come by. You can buy it in hardware stores, auto parts stores and even some big-box stores. Furthermore, it isn't very expensive.
While you may already know how to remove the plug from the oil cap, before doing so, you should lay down newspaper (or a similar material) to prevent any spilled or splashed oil from damaging your surface. Then, place the bottle jack carefully on a flat surface.
Remove the cap and using a funnel, add the hydraulic oil to a clear squeeze bottle with a pointed tip. Use the bottle to slowly add oil to the bottle jack, testing the levels periodically. The proper fill level is to the bottom level of the opening itself. Once this has been completed, replace the cap securely and test it for leaks. Remember to continue checking your oil level when you use the jack.