The car ramp – by which we mean the small metal ones you drive your car up onto – is as synonymous with the automobile as the engine.
But are car ramps safe to use? The humble car ramp has 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, the car ramp is perfectly safe. The issue is operator error.
Look at it objectively. The car ramp is generally constructed from sturdily welded angle steel, complete with lots of diagonals to support the load. In terms of design, there is nothing wrong with the car ramp. In fact, it’s loadbearing engineering 101. Yet still, countless people end up in A&E every year because they’ve had a run-in with a car ramp. Here’s why:
1 Cheap ain’t cheerful
Buy cheap, buy twice our dad says. And dad isn’t wrong. We are talking about something that you put your car on so you can go underneath. Why would you want to cheap out on that? Can car ramps fail? Cheap ramps are welded poorly, they can’t support weight and as such, they buckle and fail.
2 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. Bent them by accident? Bin them. Are they starting to rust? Bin them again. It’s £50 for a set of decent ramps. There’s no excuse.
3 Damaged goods
As we touched on above, if they get bent or buckle, 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).
4 Read the manual
But you just drive your car onto them, right? Well, yes. But what about the back wheels? Have they been chocked? Is the handbrake on? Are the ramps being used on a level surface? All of this matters. Disregard the simple stuff and you’ll just hurt yourself.
Are car ramps dangerous? No, 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.