Best trolley jacks: 2018 group test

What’s the best heavy lifter for DIY work? We test eight of the best to find out…

Many DIY tasks, such as checking fuel and hydraulic pipes, swapping brake pads or rotating tyres, need your car to be raised. It may be tempting to use the jack supplied to change the tyres, but you should resist; these are for emergency use only when faced with a puncture away from home. Their lightweight build and clumsy operation make them ill-suited for garage work.

A trolley jack is a much better option, and even the most expensive option among those we’ve tested here won’t break the bank. Unless you have a particularly hefty vehicle, the eight jacks we rate should be more than equal to the task. 

How we tested them

We compared the various specs, not least the starting height – vital for owners of sports cars and those with lowered suspension. The maximum height is also a factor where taller SUVs and crossovers are concerned. We counted the number of pumps needed to reach 200mm – a common height for car jacking points.

We expected good instructions with each of our jacks and, ideally, on the jack arm. The saddle size was logged, plus a strong case is always useful to keep it clean and make it simple to carry in the car. Finally, we factored in the price. 

Verdict

A better price and warranty help the Wolf Black Jack snatch the win from the identical Clarke Strong Arm, with the new Sealey keeping them both honest. 

  • 1. Wolf Black Jack 2.25T Low Profile Trolley Jack
  • 2. Clarke Strong Arm 2.25 Tonne Low Entry Trolley Jack with Sockets CTJ2250LP
  • 3. Sealey 1050CXLE 2 tonne Low Entry Short Chassis Trolley Jack
  • Reviews Wolf Black Jack 2.25T Low Profile Trolley Jack

    Price: Around £42
    Rating: 5 stars 

    For the average car, a 2.25-tonne capacity is easily enough, and a starting height of just 80mm would be good for all but the most ground-scraping spoilers. Nicely made, the Wolf Black Jack has twin double-ended sockets, covering most cars, and the handle features a 1/2-inch drive. At 97mm wide, it was very stable and while the 55mm saddle isn’t the biggest, it would handle most situations. We couldn’t ignore the similarity between it and the Clarke, but it’s a bit cheaper and has a two-year warranty. 

    Clarke Strong Arm 2.25 Tonne Low Entry Trolley Jack with Sockets CTJ2250LP

    Price: Around £50
    Rating: 4.5 stars

    Our winner last time has the same spec in 2018, and the low entry point and joint highest max reach give an impressive 300mm span. The 360-degree turning handle socket is useful for tricky situations, and we liked the two double sockets and long, 480mm handle. Instructions were comprehensive and the removable saddle pad was ideal for avoiding paint damage when lifting. But its price and single-year warranty demote it. 

    Sealey 1050CXLE 2 tonne Low Entry Short Chassis Trolley Jack

    Price: Around £40
    Rating: 4 stars 

    The new Sealey has a lower starting point than our top two, albeit by 2mm, but tops out 30mm lower, at 330mm. Instructions were sparse, yet it was the only one with spare seals – handy as the jack ages. Its 60mm saddle is the biggest here, and the 505mm handle took some of the effort from pumping. With 17 strokes to 200mm, it matched the Wolf and Clarke, and while it’s shorter than them and trails on span, we liked it.

    Halfords 2 Tonne Trolley Jack Low Profile

    Price: Around £35
    Rating: 3.5 stars 

    While this jack is described as low profile, it started 10mm higher than our winner. But with a max height of 330mm, its span of 270mm was the third best on test. Its price was great, as was the largest saddle (60mm), and we liked the instructions and fully adjustable handle socket. It looked like a contender until we recorded 34 strokes to 200mm. Even with the longest handle here (525mm), it would be annoying to use frequently. 

    RAC 2 Tonne Trolley Jack HP218A

    Price: Around £30
    Rating: 3 stars

    The RAC offering is the best of the smaller jacks, thanks to a slightly more competitive price. A blow-moulded plastic case made it easy to transport, although the central plastic carry handle had to be removed to close it. The lowest position of 130mm was conventional, but it won points for its max of 340mm, 10mm up on the Silverline, Draper and Sakura. Photos and instructions were good, plus it took an average 15 strokes to 200mm.

    Silverline 2 Tonne Hydraulic Trolley Jack 633935

    Price: Around £25
    Rating: 2.5 stars

    As with rivals, the Silverline started at 130mm, with a span of 200mm – limiting taller vehicles. The 420mm handle is the joint shortest, yet it took only 14 strokes to reach 200mm. The instructions were complete but short, and those on the jack arm were very limited. We liked the 55mm saddle and the strong case, which was worth the extra, giving it an edge over the ‘naked’ Sakura.

    Sakura 2 Tonne Hydraulic Floor Jack SS5191

    Price: Around £25
    Rating: 2.5 stars

    The Sakura still trails the RAC and Silverline, but not the pricier Draper. Its 420mm handle is the joint shortest, so pumping could be harder work than some, yet 14 strokes to 200mm was good. Its start height of 130mm and 420mm length may hold it back. The instructions covered key points, but we’d have liked more on the jack arm. Still a contender, yet with no case, it trails the Silverline.

    Draper 2 Tonne Light Duty Trolley Jack 27634

    Price: Around £35
    Rating: 2 stars

    At around 8.5kg, the Draper is light enough to carry easily. We rated the instructions, with their handy photos and exploded diagrams. Its specs are all but identical to the others in this class, although it edged ahead with just 12 strokes to 200mm and a slightly longer 425mm handle. Yet it lost out with the smallest saddle on test and by having no case. And the price is too high. 

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