Gearheads know that changing your oil is DIY Maintenance 101. Whether you're new to wrenching, a seasoned veteran, or are sick of getting upsold by the local quickie oil-change shop, a set of car ramps can transform the common oil change into a quicker affair.
With automotive ramps, you can find yourself in service position within seconds. In addition to their simplicity, ramps are more stable and far friendlier to rusty pinch welds, fiberglass bodies, and low-profile cars. Say goodbye to the tiresome jack-stand boogie and hello to the quick driveway oil change.
Our Top Picks
Things to Consider When Purchasing Car Ramps
You absolutely do not want to exceed this number. Safety is paramount when working under a lifted vehicle, so ensure each corner of the vehicle you're lifting is under the ramp's stated maximum. If you haven't weighed your vehicle like we do for all of our test vehicles, you can use the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of your vehicle as a proxy. This is on a placard that's usually located in the driver's-side doorjamb. It is important to note that the weight rating is for the entire vehicle; there are also GAWR (gross axle weight rating) figures, and you can take the number for the axle you're lifting and divide by two. This includes the vehicle's weight plus the maximum amount of cargo allowed, so should leave a comfortable safety margin. For example, if a vehicle has a 5000-pound front GAWR, it actually means each ramp should not exceed 2500 pounds per ramp, or 5000 per pair.
Clearance of Vehicle
For low-profile-car owners, the angle of approach is critical in order to avoid scraping the nose of the car. Race Ramps suggests you use the yardstick method to determine the minimum angle you'll need for your car. First, shove a yardstick beneath the front of your front tires. Next, lift the yardstick directly up until you hit the nose or underbody of your car. Measure how far off of the ground the yardstick is, enter that number into the calculator and voila, you've got your maximum angle of approach.
Your tires should fit securely onto the width of the ramps; you do not want your tires to hang over the edges. Compare the width of the ramps you're considering to the width of your tires before purchase. Most tire sizes are in a XXX/YYRZZ format, where those first three digits are roughly its width in millimeters. You can also look up your tires' specs on a site such as Tire Rack.
One downside to ramps is that they aren't exactly small. Some nest together, effectively halving the amount of storage space you'll need to carve out; others simply stack wherever you can find room in the garage. Still others are intended to be bolted down, so you'll need to consider where they will live for their lifetime. Lastly, consider how the ramp is carried: Does it have handholds cut into the ramp itself? Carrying straps? Or are you lugging it around like an unwieldy pet?
Location of Ramp Use
Ramps will behave differently depending on their location of use. Ideally, you should always use your ramps in a straight line on a clean, flat surface—never on a significant incline or slope, and not while the wheels are turned. If you are using your ramps on a smooth surface, such as finished cement, consider products that double down on traction, such as rubber mats.
How We Evaluated Car Ramps
When testing car ramps, we opted for a sensible approach, determining which ramp worked best for each situation and rating them on that metric. We took detailed notes on their specs and began our testing to confirm the following capabilities:
- Weight Rating
- Angle of Approach
- Ramp Height
- Oil Drain Plug Access
- Weight of Ramps
- Storage/Carrying Solutions
- Slipping or Movement
We compiled our notes to decide which car ramps are best for each application, narrowing down our top picks to seven standouts. Here are the best car ramps, as determined by the Hearst Autos Gear Team.
(Gannon Burgett - Car and Driver)