From hydraulic jacks to scissor jacks to motorcycle-specific jacks, it’s frustrating when you’re ready to wrench, so you reach for your jack only to find it’s stuck in the up position.
Now you’re taking up physical space-time, mental clarity, and emotional energy,
And it’s even more stressful when you’ve already been wrenching on your motorcycle, and you finish up and start itching to ride only to find the jack that’s holding up your bike is stuck in the up position.
But why won’t your motorcycle jack go down?
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Here’s why your motorcycle Jack won’t go down:
The most common reason a hydraulic motorcycle jack won’t go down is low fluid levels or the damage the jack incurred resulting from trapped air pressure. Lack of lubrication on the critical jack joints can get a scissor jack stuck. Certain motorcycle parts can also get the bike stuck on the jack.
There are various types of lifts used on motorcycles, some more popular than others.
Particular types of motorcycle jacks are more economical for certain types of bikes—different types of motorcycle jacks get stuck in the up position for various reasons.
Don’t get stuck with your bike in the air; in this article, we’ll cover the various reasons the various types of motorcycle jacks get stuck!
Locking Bar Is Stuck in Place
Some motorcycle and ATV-specific jacks utilize a locking bar that locks in two or three different positions as the lift rises in the air.
If a lock-bar-equipped motorcycle jack won’t go down because the lock bar is stuck in one of the various positions, it’s likely due to tension in the locking mechanisms.
Try jacking it up instead of down, pull on the lock bar to release it, then try jacking the bar down again.
The lock bar is a safety mechanism that’s spring-loaded in a way that cultivates support from the jack’s frame.
Here’s a tip from a home mechanic who works with a jack like this often:
My Craftsman MC lift will only lower if the safety lock bar is released (upward, I guess it’s feasible with a broomstick) and then unscrew the lift handle a quarter turn ccw to release the hydraulic pressure. Apparently, I have an [older] design… they also make/made a version that has a foot pedal release.
The bar must be moved out of its locked position for the jack to lower.
If the jack is at its maximum capacity and won’t lower, check and see if any locking pins are preventing the safety bar from releasing. If not, yank on it until it comes loose, and you could be able to lower your jack.
Safety Lock is Engaged
Different types of motorcycle jacks lock in different ways. Sometimes, being unfamiliar with the jack in use leaves riders unaware of the extra safety features.
If the jack you use has a safety lock that clicked into place when you lifted it, the motorcycle jack won’t lower.
- First, pump the jack once or twice to raise it slightly to take some tension off, keeping the handle in the tightened position—on some jacks, the handle will turn in the loosening direction even though the safety lock is engaged. Don’t pull the safety release lever until you’re sure the handle is in the raised position, especially if your bike is stuck on the raised jack or your motorcycle could fall to the floor.
- Next, inspect the base of your motorcycle jack’s handle; you might find a chrome lever that must be pulled out and deactivated.
- Now, raise the jack slightly to release its height lock once again before lowering it by turning the jack handle counterclockwise to lower your motorcycle jack.
Motorcycle Jack Raised Too High; Overextended
If you’ve been with us since the first two sections and you’ve cringed every time we mention raising the jack because deep in your heart, you know you’ve already boosted the jack as high as it goes, then we’ve got good news and some bad news.
If you lifted your motorcycle jack when jacking up your bike, there’s a decent chance this is the reason your motorcycle jack won’t go down.
If you raise specific motorcycle jacks, the locking bar we mentioned in the first section gets stuck under the tension. Only now, you can’t raise the jack to shift the compression and release the tension.
Some people are tempted to get the jack down by having a friend sit on the bike while they release the locked bar, although this isn’t recommended as there’s potential for your motorcycle and buddy to come crashing down.
So what’s the safest way to lower a motorcycle jack stuck all the way up?
First, put tall enough blocks under the motorcycle wheels to lift the bike off the jack.
Then, place a motorcycle ramp inline with the motorcycle’s wheels, securing the ramp down thoroughly per its instructions.
Finally, remove the jack and roll the bike back down the mini ramp.
Hopefully, you’ve relieved enough tensions from the jack for it to drop down when you hit the release lever and turn the handle counterclockwise, hit the pedal, or however your jack works.
If the tension doesn’t release once the bike is down, the jack itself might be broken; at least your motorcycle isn’t stuck in the air anymore!
Regardless, from here on out, we suggest you never jack your motorcycle up to the highest locking position, or your motorcycle jack won’t go down.
Ratchet Straps Are Adding Tension
It’s never a bad idea to use ratchet straps to hold your motorcycle in place while you’re wrenching.
That said, while tightened ratchet straps help to hold the bike and jack both into position, they also create tension that can seemingly lock the motorcycle jack, so it’s stuck in the raised position.
If you’ve been twisting the jack handle or stomping on the jack pedal trying to get it to lower with the straps still tight, it’s likely as simple as replacing the straps and letting it down.
However, since you’ve been cranking on the pedal or handle trying to get the jack to lower, make sure the controls have been restored to the raised and locked position before you release the straps.
Otherwise, you might find the jack’s already in the lowered positions; when you relieve the ratchet strap’s tension, your bike could come flying down!
No Spacers; Motorcycle Components Interfere
On some motorcycle models, the crankcase protrudes down between the two sides of the engine frame, making it the low point, lower than the frame points that should be the jack contact points.
The way some types of motorcycle jacks work means that, on a motorcycle with a crankcase lower than its frame, the jack is pushing up on the crankcase rather than the frame.
On these bikes, riders need to use adaptors or spaces between the jack and either side of the bike frame, so the frame absorbs the pressure and is the point of contact and tension, and the bike’s crankcase isn’t touching the jack.
If your motorcycle’s crankcase is the point of contact for the jack, the full weight of the motorcycle is coming down on the crankcase. Not only can this damage your motorcycle’s crankcase if the crankcase folds up around the jack, but your motorcycle jack also won’t go down.
If this is the case, you might not be able to use the cinderblock method outlined above, though it sometimes works in these scenarios.
In addition, you can take two more motorcycle jacks and put them on each side of the frame to lift the bike up off it.
Finally, lower the crankcase-pinching lift first, taking care not to damage the crankcase further.
Once the bike’s weight is transferred to the other two jacks, examine the crankcase for damage.
If it has indeed been compromised from being pinched between the bike weight and the jack pressure, it will need to be replaced. You can do it now while it’s jacked up, or you can take it into a pro, as it can be a pretty involved job.
Trapped Air Pressure Trapped
The most common reason a motorcycle floor jack won’t go down is due to trapped air pressure in the hydraulic pump. Trapped air hinders the range of lowering capabilities a hydraulic floor jack is capable of until the air is bled out from the jack.
Here’s How to Get a Motorcycle Jack Unstuck:
- First, twist the jack handle to the right until it stops.
- Next, back up the jack by no more than two turns.
- Now pump the jack between 10 and 15 pumps to release the trapped air.
- Finally, crank the handle to the right to close the leak valve.
In some cases, the jack still won’t release. In others, riders don’t feel comfortable bleeding the trapped air out of the jack with their bike wobbling around in the air.
When asked how to get a motorcycle off a stuck to bleed the air out of the jack, one experienced home mechanic had this to say.
One way would be to get 2 hydraulic jacks (or other jacks) and thread a bar under the lift plate to have it rest on both jacks. Then lower these alternating between them progressively.
It may not be able to lower enough to be able to pull the lift out, so you should add some blocks, bricks or something for the wheels to rest on.
Once you have the jack lowered and the motorcycle safely returned to the ground, wheels first, we suggest lubricating the hydraulic floor jack arms with grease, per the jack manufacturer’s instructions.
You’ll want to treat the following components with the brand-suggested machine-lube application to the following parts:
- The release valve joint.
- The male end of the handle (after removing)
- The handle’s base is on the handle receiver’s inner surface (while the handle is still removed).
- Pivot pins.
- Front-wheel axels (if applicable)
- Caster wheel bracket bearings.
- The back rollers that connect to the pump plungers.