Trolley jacks and floor jacks are very similar tools, but some key differences can make one more suitable than the other for specific jobs.
If you are in the market for one of these jacks, you should know what the main differences are between them.
This guide will take you through the differences between trolley jacks and floor jacks so that you know which one you should buy.
Differences Between Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks
|Feature||Trolley Jack||Floor Jack|
|Price||More expensive||More affordable|
|Design||Horizontal cylinder with springs.||Horizontal cylinder without springs.|
|When to use||Trucks, SUVs, and big cars.||Cars with low ground clearance.|
|Lifting Power||More lifting power.||Less lifting power.|
|Elevation height||Higher maximum elevation.||Lower maximum elevation.|
|Ground clearance||Higher minimum ground clearance.||Lower minimum ground clearance.|
|Size and weight||Bigger and heavier.||More lightweight and compact.|
|Portability||Not generally portable.||More portable.|
|Ease of use||Harder to setup.||Easier to use.|
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – How It Works
Floor jacks and trolley jacks function in almost the same way.
In both cases, the jack sits on caster wheels and slides under a vehicle. The long handle can be pumped to elevate the lifting arm and lift the vehicle.
The main difference is that trolley jacks utilize springs to increase the lifting power and elevation height.
Both types of jack use hydraulic pressure in a horizontal cylinder. Pumping the handle, which boasts enough length to be operated while standing, will increase the hydraulic pressure and provide the force needed for the lifting motion.
Rotating the handle, usually to the right, will release the pressure and lower the lifting arm.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – When To Use
The differences between trolley jacks and floor jacks can only be seen when it comes to ideal applications.
Trolley jacks boast a lot of lifting power, which makes them suitable for larger vehicles and heavier loads.
If you have a large car or luxury sedan, you will want to opt for a trolley jack.
Trolley jacks also suit trucks and SUVs due to their extra elevation height.
Floor jacks are best used for smaller cars. They are more portable, so can be stowed in the trunk of a standard, compact, or subcompact car.
They also suit vehicles with a lower ground clearance as they come in ultra-low-profile models.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Lifting Power
Trolley jacks boast more lifting power than floor jacks, which makes them suitable for heavy-duty lifting tasks.
They especially excel with lifting heavy vehicles such as trucks and SUVs, as well as big cars like luxury sedans.
Floor jacks, on the other hand, tend to be rated for 2 or 3 tons, which might not encompass the type of vehicle you have, especially if you own a pickup or a van.
However, for an average car, a floor jack will be perfectly suitable.
Remember, when picking a jack you need to ensure that it has enough power to lift at least 60% of your vehicle’s weight.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Elevation Height
Trolley jacks have a higher elevation height than floor jacks due to their longer lifting arm. The amount of height you can achieve with a trolley jack outstrips that which you can achieve with a floor jack.
The elevation height contributes to the trolley jack’s suitability for bigger vehicles. The advantage becomes clear when you consider a pickup truck with 20” wheels.
If you buy a floor jack with a 15” elevation height, you will barely get the wheels off the pickup truck’s wheels off the ground before you run out of height.
With a trolley jack, elevation heights start much higher and reach much further. If you have a vehicle with large ground clearance and big wheels, you will want to opt for a trolley jack.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Ground Clearance
The ground clearance of low set cars also plays a part in whether you should opt for a trolley jack or a floor jack.
Floor jacks are smaller and come in ultra-low-profile models. You can get floor jacks that will fit under even the lowest sports cars and sub-compact cars.
Trolley jacks are bulkier and therefore have a slightly higher minimum required ground clearance. The difference may be small, but we are dealing with matters of inches and a small difference can make a jack entirely unusable on a certain model of car.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Size & Weight
As mentioned, trolley jacks are both bigger and heavier than floor jacks.
When it comes to storage, floor jacks are easier to pack away than trolley jacks. You could even pack away a floor jack in the trunk of a vehicle so that you always have it when you need it.
Floor jacks can quite easily be carried around should you need to transport them. Trolley jacks will need special planning if you need to move them somewhere else, so they tend to stay in the garage or workshop.
That being said, trolley jacks do come in a range of sizes, whereas floor jacks tend to come in standard or compact sizes only.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Portability
Trolley jacks are not portable unless you have a particularly large vehicle to transport them in. They take up too much space and weigh too much to easily transport from place to place.
Floor jacks are lightweight enough to be carried and small enough to fit in the trunk of a vehicle. If you have to choose between these two types of jack and portability is a primary concern, you should opt for a floor jack over a trolley jack.
However, neither of these jacks are particularly portable. If you need a portable jack to keep in your truck or to take from job to job, you would be better served with another type of jack entirely, such as a bottle jack or scissor jack.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Ease Of Use
Both types of jacks are relatively easy to use compared to the other tools you will likely have to use alongside them.
Floor jacks are perhaps easier to use because they are far quicker to set up and maintain than trolley jacks. If you are a beginner choosing between these two types of jacks, the floor jack will be the easier one with which to get to grips.
Professionals prefer trolley jacks for the added lifting power and elevation height, and with some experience, you will get used to set up a trolley jack for use as quickly and easily as with a floor jack.
Trolley Jacks and Floor Jacks – Price
If the budget forms a major part of your decision on whether to buy a floor jack or a trolley jack, then you should know that the former will cost you less.
Floor jacks are more affordable than trolley jacks due to their smaller construction and lack of springs.
Trolley jacks cost more because they are professional tools that get used a lot in the industry. The extra durability and power you get from a professional tool make them more value efficient for people who need them to make a living.
For a cheap option for the home garage or to keep on standby in case of emergency, a floor jack will suffice.
What Is A Trolley Jack?
A trolley jack is a manually pumped hydraulic jack with a horizontal cylinder, lifting arm, long handle, and assistive springs.
They are aimed at professionals who prefer them for their increased lifting power, elevation height, and durability.
Compared to floor jacks, they are more expensive but also more flexible and powerful.
What Is A Floor Jack?
A floor jack is a manually pumped hydraulic jack with a horizontal cylinder, lifting arm, and long handle.
You will find floor jacks in garages all over the country as they are suitable for many common vehicle types, especially those with low ground clearances.
They are especially affordable but lack the power of the professional-grade trolley jacks.
We hope this guide has helped you to understand the differences between trolley jacks and floor jacks.
People often mistake these two jacks for the same type, but the key differences show that they are suitable for different types of people and applications.
If you have any questions or comments about this guide or jacks in general, please feel free to leave them in the section below.