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How to Lift Cars with Very Low Ground Clearance

By Ralph Kalal

There are many sports cars, including Corvettes and Vipers, that have ground clearance so low that a typical floor jack will not fit underneath. There are two solutions to this problem. First, you could buy a low-profile floor jack. A number of manufacturers produce jacks that have cradle heights specifically designed to fit under low clearance cars. They are usually among the more expensive floor jacks on the market. Second, you could just lift the car enough that a regular floor jack will slide underneath it. To do that, make homemade ramps. These are very low ramps made out of wood boards, not the steel ramps designed to lift the car that you can buy at parts stores.

wood blocksUsually, the clearance problem is only at the front. Raising the front end about three inches is enough to provide ample clearance for a conventional floor jack to slide under it.

The width of your ramps may be dictated by the dimensions of the scrap wood you have handy. A piece of 2 x 6-inch or 2 x 8-inch board is ideal.  

Position the two boards so that one is directly on top of the other. Measure a distance of two or three feet, and then mark an angle across the sides of the boards. When cut, this will form the approach ramp. The lower the angle, the easier it will be to drive onto the finished ramps.

Set one board aside, and cut it apart at the spot where you marked the angle, using a circular saw set at the same angle. Do the same with the other board. Then reposition the boards back on top of one another, with the cut ends pointing in the same direction, and screw them together to form the completed ramp.  

low clearanceTo lift the car, first drive it onto your home made ramps. Once you have the car off the ground, you may find the ramps are in the way and move them. If you do, put them where you’ll be reminded to reposition them under the wheels before lowering the car. Otherwise, you will not be able to remove the jack from underneath the car after you lower it, and the body or handle of the jack could come in contact with the structure or body of the car.


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