Working under a car with a car ramp

How much do car ramps cost?

Car ramps can be made out of either plastic or metal, and you may assume that plastic car ramps would be cheaper than metal ramps, but that's not always the case.

It's best to have a budget of at least £50 for car ramps that can support two tonnes, with higher-quality ramps being closer to £100. They're sold in pairs.

Think of car ramps as an investment that'll save you money in the long term - they'll enable you to work safely under your car instead of having to take it to a garage to carry out the work. As a result, they could pay for themselves in as little as one home maintenance session.

What are car ramps used for?

Car ramps are a method of raising your vehicle so you can work safely underneath it, and are an alternative to axle stands.

If you usually work on your car by yourself, it is vitally important that you have a safe method of lifting the vehicle so you can perform tasks such as an oil change or suspension check. But why choose car ramps over other methods? Let's take a look.

Car ramps – by which we mean the metal or 'plastic' car ramps you drive your car up onto – are as synonymous with the car as the engine. Quicker and easier to use than a trolley jack, car ramps enable you to get under your car quickly and safely.

Some sports cars struggle to get up ramps if they have low ground clearance, but low rise car ramps or car ramp extensions are available to avoid you damaging the vehicle.

Can car ramps collapse?

Car ramps have been the subject of much discussion over the years, with many stating that they’re an accident waiting to happen, while others swear by them. And while we don’t mean to deliberately stoke the fires of debate, we are going to stick our neck out and say that, yes, car ramps are perfectly safe – as long they're in good condition.

Look at it objectively. The car ramp is generally constructed from sturdily welded angle steel, complete with lots of diagonals to support the load. You'll also find plastic car ramps for sale.

In terms of design, there is nothing wrong with the car ramp. Yet still, countless people end up in A&E every year because they’ve had a run-in with a car ramp.

Car ramps for sale – what to watch for

You'll find car ramps for sale at car accessory stores such as Halfords and Euro Car Parts. Remember these key points when you're looking to buy car ramps or have been using a set for years:

Cheap ain’t cheerful

Buy cheap, buy twice. In other words, expect to have to replace low-priced car ramps much sooner than more expensive ramps.

We're talking about something that you put your car on so you can go underneath. Why would you want to by cheap rubbish when your life is at risk? Cheap car ramps are welded poorly, they can’t support weight and as such, they may buckle and fail.

Out with the old

If you have a set of car ramps and you use them a lot, think about their upkeep. Give them a lick of paint every few years and keep them out of the rain and out of puddles. Are they starting to rust? Bin them. It’s £50 for a set of decent ramps. There’s no excuse.

Rusty car ramps

Damaged goods

If your car ramps get bent or buckled, you need to chuck them. The load-carrying abilities of car ramps lie within their design, and if that design is altered, you’re in trouble. The weight of your car will exploit any weaknesses within the ramp and crush them (and then the car will crush you).

How do I use car ramps?

You just drive your car onto car ramps, right? Well, yes. But what about the back wheels? Have they been chocked? Is the handbrake on? Are the ramps being used on a firm, level surface? All of this matters. Disregard the simple stuff and you’ll just hurt yourself.

Are car ramps dangerous? They're only a risk if used without the due care and attention they deserve. When you use axle stands, you do so with care and consideration – car ramps should be no different.

So instead of blaming the humble ramp, be safe, use them properly and you should have no trouble and there'll be no need to be on first-name terms with the staff at your local A&E.

A car ramp next to a car

Which car ramps are best?

Car ramps are simple tools, but there are still a few important things to bear in mind when buying a pair for your vehicle.

1. Ground clearance

Some cars struggle to get up ramps if they have low ground clearance caused by spoilers and diffusers, but low rise car ramps are available.

Regular ramps will work on the majority of cars, so it is only exotic sports cars, modified cars with non-standard suspension and racing cars that are likely to need specialist ramps, also known as car ramp extensions or low profile car ramps.

2. 3 tonne car ramps

When you're shopping for new car ramps, you'll find that they are rated to a certain capacity. A rule of thumb is that the ramps should be capable of supporting more than half of the weight of your car.

You'll find the kerb weight of your car in the Haynes Manual, AutoFix or often in the owner's manual. If you are buying ramps second-hand (always inspect them in person rather than buying them online), they should have a rating stamped on them – such as '2 tonne' or '3 tonne car ramps' – but if not and you have a larger, heavier car then proceed with caution.

3. Dimensions

The vast majority of car ramps are fine for all tyres, but some vehicles with especially wide wheels may be tricky to drive up onto some ramps. Make sure the ramps you're buying are wide enough for the job.

How do I stop my car ramps from sliding?

Here's an invaluable tip: If you find that the car pushes the car ramps out of the way when you try to mount them, tie a short length of thin rope around the bottom rung of the ramp and lay the rope on the ground.

Drive the car over it as you approach the ramps – as the weight of the car pushes down on the rope it will prevent the ramp from sliding. Voila! Sliding car ramps stopped.