BMW Jacking and Supporting for Repairs and Maintenance

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bmw jacking and supporting

One of the most basic yet nerve racking tasks for a BMW “Do it Yourself” mechanic is jacking and supporting their vehicle. BMW jacking and supporting is necessary for most repair and maintenance jobs. The BMW Repair Guide discusses the safest ways to jack and support your BMW so you can complete your repair job worry free.

If you are a BMW owner that fears having to jack and support your vehicle to do a repair, you are not alone. We have never conducted an official survey, but the overwhelming consensus among people we talk to is that BMW jacking and supporting is a dangerous proposition that scares the heck out of even seasoned home mechanics.

As with most vehicle safety issues, there are differing opinions as to what is an acceptable practice for BMW jacking and supporting. Since the BMW Repair Guide is published to help the amateur home mechanic complete basic repairs and maintenance issues (without being crushed to death), we only cover two methods of BMW jacking and supporting: the “four corner” wheel stand method for working extended periods under the vehicle, and the jack stand method for repairs and maintenance requiring a wheel to be removed with limited time spent under the car.

If you are conducting repairs and maintenance where your body will spend a large amount of time underneath the vehicle and a wheel(s) does not need to be removed, the BMW Repair Guide strongly recommends only using the four corner wheel stand method. We do not recommend and highly discourage ever working underneath a vehicle for an extended period of time that is supported solely by jack stands. No repair or maintenance task is worth putting your life in jeopardy over. At the BMW Repair Guide, we will never attempt a repair that requires removing a wheel and putting our body under the vehicle for an extended period without supporting it first on our professional 10,000 lb hydraulic lift; if your BMW also requires such a repair, we urge you  to take it to a qualified mechanic (unless you have a proper vehicle lift in your garage).

The “Four Corner” Wheel Stand Method

The four corner wheel stand method is the safest approach to jacking and supporting your BMW if you need to work under the vehicle. It is also easy; once you get the hang of it you should be able to have your vehicle jacked and supported in under 10 minutes. It consists of jacking the front and rear of the vehicle so all four wheels rest safely on wheel ramps or stands. The BMW Repair Guide uses the robust Rhino 16,000 lb. ramps in our shop. We know it’s a bit of “overkill” going with 16,000 lb. ramps, but it will give you a greater feeling of security when you are under your vehicle. And remember…these ramps will pay for themselves after one good Do it Yourself repair, so why not get the best. You will also need a good low profile jack. A regular size jack will not work on most BMW vehicles due to clearance issues. You will also need a pair of heavy duty solid rubber wheel chocks. Stay away from cheaper plastic wheel chocks…they won’t support your vehicle like solid rubber ones will.

The proper equipment needed for "Four Corner" method

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Floor jack – low profile

Wheel Ramps

Wheel chocks – solid rubber

Section 1
  1. Always jack and support your vehicle on a level concrete surface. Never attempt to jack and support your BMW on a sloped surface…this is extremely dangerous and could result in serious injury.
  2. Always start at the front of the vehicle. If your BMW is a standard (stick) shift, make sure vehicle is in gear and parking brake is applied. If your BMW is an automatic, make sure vehicle is in park and parking brake is applied. Place a solid rubber wheel chock snugly behind both rear wheels.Only use solid rubber wheel chocks
  3. Now you need to find your front jacking point. Most BMWs (starting in the late 90’s on) will have a rectangle jack pad under the front of the vehicle located approximately between the two front wheels (see 2005 E60 below); this is where you will lift the front of the car.  If you are working on an older BMW that does not have the front jack pad, you will need to find the steel frame crossmember under the engine to use as a jack point (see our jack point for a 1996 E36 below) . NEVER use the engine’s oil pan as a jack point to raise the front of the car. Place low profile jack under front crossmemberSome vehicles have jack pads on the front crossmember
  4. Align your jack under the front jack pad or frame crossmember and jack vehicle so front wheel ramps can be slid under front tires. Make sure wheel ramps are straight and aligned so tires rest in the middle of the ramp (not on the edge). SLOWLY lower car onto front wheel ramps.bmw jacking and supporting - Place wheel ramps under the front wheels
  5. Move jack to rear of car. The rear jack point on your BMW will be under the differential. Slide your low profile jack under car so it is aligned with center of differential and raise car until wheel ramps can be slid under rear tires. Once again confirm wheel ramps are straight and aligned so tires rest in the middle of the ramp, and SLOWLY lower car.bmw jacking and supporting - Always place jack under differential when jacking up rear of vehicle.bmw jacking and supporting - gently lower the rear of the car on the wheel ramps
  6. Do a final walk around to confirm all of your wheel ramps are straight and tires are resting in center of ramps. It is now safe to work under the vehicle.Al properly supported vehicle using the "four corner" method

 

The Jack Stand Method

Since there are many repairs that need to be done with a wheel removed from the vehicle (brake maintenance being the most common one), the second approach to BMW jacking and supporting is the jack stand method. The jack stand method requires one end of the BMW to be raised in the air, and then jack stands to be positioned under the front or rear side jack points of the vehicle. All BMWs have front and rear jack points on both sides of the car (where the spare tire jack would lift the car for an emergency tire change). On newer BMWs these jack points are easy to find; they consist of a black plastic rectangle jack pad that protrudes from the bottom of the side frame rail near each wheel. If you are not sure where the side jack points are on your particular BMW or if the side plastic jack pads are missing, the general rule of thumb is to place your jack stand 12″ behind the front wheel well and/or 12″ in front of the rear wheel well.bmw jacking and supporting - The proper equipment needed for the "jack stand" method

Floor jack – low profile
Jack stands
Wheel chocks – solid rubber

  1. Always jack and support your vehicle on a level concrete surface. Never attempt to jack and support your BMW on a sloped surface…this is extremely dangerous and could result in serious injury.
  2. If you are jacking the front of the vehicle to remove a front wheel(s), make sure the vehicle is in gear and the parking brake is on. Place heavy duty wheel chocks behind the rear wheels.bmw jacking and supporting - alweays use solid rubber wheel chocks
  3. Now you need to find your front jacking point. Most BMWs (starting in the late 90’s on) will have a rectangle jack pad under the front of the vehicle located approximately between the two front wheels; this is where you will lift the front of the car.  If you are working on an older BMW that does not have the front jack pad, you will need to find a steel frame crossmember under the engine to use as a jack point (see our jack point for a 1996 E36 M3 below) . NEVER use the engine’s oil pan as a jack point to raise the front of the car.Always jack front of car under front crossmemberbmw jacking and supporting - Some BMWs have jack pads under the front crossmember
  4. Align your jack under the front engine jack pad or frame crossmember and jack vehicle so front jack stands can be slid under front frame rail jack pads. Make sure the jack stands line up with center of the plastic rectangle jack pad. If you are working on an older BMW that does not have the plastic jack pads or a newer vehicle that is missing a jack pad, line the jack stands up on the frame rail approximately 12″ behind the front wheel well.
    If you are supporting a vehicle that does not have the side plastic jack pads, use a piece of scrap wood between the jack stand and the frame rail to prevent damage. SLOWLY lower car on to jack stands.bmw jacking and supporting - Always position jack stand 12" behind front wheels if they don't have side jack pads.Use the side jack pads if your model BMW has them.A properly supported vehicle on jack stands
  5. If you are jacking the rear of the vehicle, make sure to chock the front wheels to prevent the car from rolling off the jack. Slide your low profile jack under car so it is aligned with center of differential and raise car until jack stands can be slid under rear frame rail jack pads. Make sure the jack stands line up with center of the plastic rectangle jack pad. If you are working on an older BMW that does not have the plastic jack pads or a newer vehicle that is missing a jack pad, line the jack stands up on the frame rail approximately 12″ behind the front wheel well.
    If you are supporting a vehicle that does not have the side plastic jack pads, use a piece of scrap wood between the jack stand and the frame rail to prevent damage. SLOWLY lower car on to jack stands.
  6. bmw jacking and supporting - Always chock the front wheels when jacking the rear of the vehicle.bmw jacking and supporting - Always jack the rear of the vehicle underneath the differential.bmw jacking and supporting - Place the jack stands 12" from the rear wheels if there are no side jack pads Use side jack pads for wheel stands if your model has them.
  7. It is not recommended that you spend an extended period of time under a car that is resting solely on jack stands. This method is for removing the wheels and working in the wheel well area.

 

Final Comments


It may appear that we are being “overly cautious” with our BMW jacking and supporting methods. Well…frankly we are. Your safety should always be the number one priority when working on your vehicle; no repair is worth getting injured over no matter how much money you are saving.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us. And congratulations for Doing It Yourself!