In Brief: Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands
Wheel cribs and jack stands both keep your vehicle elevated. Wheel cribs use a box design whereas jack stands use a stand on a pyramid base. Wheel cribs support the wheel, whereas jack stands support the chassis. Wheel cribs offer high stability, maneuverability, and ease of use. Jack stands are cheaper, more versatile, and height-adjustable.
Once you have lifted your vehicle with a floor, trolley, or bottle jack you will need some type of stand to keep the vehicle elevated without relying solely on the jack.
But are wheel cribs or jack stands the better option? This guide will help you decide for yourself.
Differences Between Wheel Cribs and Jack Stands
|Feature||Wheel Cribs||Jack Stands|
|Design||Box design that supports the wheels.||Stand design that supports the chassis.|
|When to use||Work not involving the wheels.||All jobs that require vehicle elevation.|
|Maneuverability||Greater maneuverability under the car.||Can get in the way due to positioning.|
|Adjustability||Not height adjustable.||Height adjustable.|
|Versatility||Not suitable for some jobs.||Can be used for all relevant jobs.|
|Stability||Highly stable.||Unstable in some circumstances.|
|Ease of use||Very easy to use.||Requires some setup.|
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – How It Works
Wheel cribs are lightweight stands that cradle the wheels of the vehicle to keep it elevated and static.
They come in a variety of designs, heights, and sizes to suit any vehicle.
They are simple to use. All you need to do is elevate the car using a jack and slip one of the wheel cribs under each of the wheels.
Jack stands are a far more common solution to holding a car in position. Rather than supporting the wheels, they support the vehicle via jack points on the underside of the chassis.
They are typically made from aluminum or carbon steel.
To use a set of jack stands, elevate the vehicle with a jack and place the jack stands under each of the jack points on the underneath of the chassis.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – When To Use
Wheel cribs can be used for a wide range of jobs.
Because they offer more space under the vehicle than the typical jack stand, you have a greater degree of movement available under the vehicle if you need to work on the back end of the engine or gain access to the transmission.
Jack stands can be used for any job that a wheel crib can, plus a few more. Because wheel cribs support the wheels, you cannot take any of the wheels off.
Therefore, if you need to work on the suspension, the axle, the brakes, or simply need to change a tire, jack stands should be your port of call.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – Maneuverability
Wheel cribs offer a better maximum height than jack stands, which provides benefits if you often find yourself lacking space under the vehicle.
They also sit directly under the wheels and therefore do not take up as much space around the edge of the chassis.
Jack stands can get in the way and restrict your movement because they must be placed on the jack points.
If the jobs you want to perform require you to move around the underside of the vehicle a lot, then wheel cribs will offer greater maneuverability.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – Adjustability
On the other hand, wheel cribs are not adjustable. They are available in a range of heights, but once you have the wheel cribs you will not be able to change the height at which the vehicle sits.
Jack stands are height adjustable, so you can change the height at which the vehicle sits to suit the job at hand.
Adjustability has its costs. Because you can set the jack stands to whatever height you wish within its range, you will have to ensure that all of the jack stands are set to the same height each time you use them.
Jack stands that sit at even slightly different heights can damage stability and leave the vehicle open to tilting.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – Versatility
Jack stands are more versatile than wheel cribs for the simple reason that there are no jobs that you can complete with a set of wheel cribs that you could not also perform with a set of jack stands, but the opposite is not true.
With wheel cribs, you will be unable to perform any jobs that require you to remove a wheel, adjust the axle, or work with the suspension or braking system.
The wheel cribs utilize the structural integrity of the wheel and axle systems rather than the chassis.
If you need to do work on any of these systems on your vehicle then you will need a set of jack stands in any case, so if you are only going to buy either wheel cribs or jack stands then you should opt for jack stands.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – Stability
Wheel cribs offer greater stability than jack stands.
They are always guaranteed to be at the same height and they have a wide base that distributes the weight of the vehicle over a larger surface area than with jack stands.
Jack stands use relatively narrow bases with legs, meaning that the supports have less contact with the ground, which increases the stress per ground contact point.
The problem compounds on softer ground like asphalt or dirt.
The legs can sink into the ground and there is no guarantee that they will all sink the same amount, so the vehicle can quickly tilt and become unstable and unsafe.
Jack stands are also adjustable, which can lead to stability problems if they are not all adjusted to the same height.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – Ease Of Use
Wheel cribs are generally easier to use because you do not have to do any adjusting or set up to prepare them for use.
With wheel cribs, all you need to do is jack the vehicle up to the required height, slide the cribs under the wheels, then lower the vehicle onto them.
As long as the wheel cribs line up fairly accurately, your vehicle will be stable and ready to work on.
Jack stands require more precise positioning and accurately matched height adjustments. Before use, you need to set all of your jack stands to the same height to ensure the vehicle does not tilt.
Wheel Cribs vs Jack Stands – Price
Jack stands are far more affordable than wheel cribs, even for high-quality models.
Wheel cribs vary in price according to size, from $135 to $194 per set, whereas a good set of jack stands will only cost around $50, with cheaper options available for lighter vehicles.
However, be aware that as standard both jack stand sets and wheel crib sets come as a pair, so if you plan on supporting your entire vehicle on them you will need to buy two sets.
That means you could spend less than $100 to support your vehicle on jack stands, whereas it could cost you up to $400 to do the same with wheel cribs.
What Are Wheel Cribs?
Wheel cribs are specialist jack stand alternatives that support a vehicle after it has been jacked to the right height.
They come in a range of sizes to suit the height and wheel width you require. They are also lightweight, weighing as little as 5 lb each.
The wheel cribs sit under the wheels of the vehicle. The concave area on top of the crib keeps the wheel securely in place.
What Is A Jack Stand?
Jack stands use a simple design that has stood the test of time in keeping vehicles elevated to a specific height.
Many have wide pyramid-shaped bases to help provide support. Supported weight ranges from 2 tons to 12 tons in popular models.
Jack stands support the chassis using the pre-fabricated jack points that are present on most vehicles.
They are height adjustable and usually built of durable steel.
We hope this guide has helped you to understand the key differences between wheel cribs and jack stands.
Now that you know the areas in which they differ, you can make an informed decision over which design suits you best.
If you have any questions or comments about this guide or wheel cribs and jack stands in general, please feel free to leave a comment in the section below.