back to 1000q: helpful mechanic tips
back to 1000q: B5.5 2004 2005 VW Passat TDI "how to" index
difficulty: 2/5 (the factory service manual is required because it can be dangerous)
The tips and pictures apply to my car, my driveway/jacking surface, and my exact situation/car loading only! Your car may be in different condition, different years of the Passat were slightly different, and your driveway surface may be different. Make sure to modify any and all information on this page to your exact situation. Not raising or supporting the car properly could result in serious damage to property, injury, or death to you or a third party. Never put yourself in a position where you or anyone else could be injured by the car shifting or falling due to improper support! If you have any doubt about the safety of your setup and your exact circumstances, take it to a professional mechanic. Refer to the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer. Unless you have a professional style lift available you're probably using jack stands or ramps to lift the car. Safety first! If there is any doubt about safety there is no doubt.
If you are not experienced in jacking up and supporting other makes and models of cars or are not 100% sure on how to jack up your car and safely support your car based on the factory service manual, consult a professional local mechanic or another local person who is qualified to help and supervise you. Any and all information on this page is superceded by the instructions in the factory service manual.
Some common mistakes that others make...Don't use cinder blocks as a substitute for jack stands or to carry the weight of a car. There is a strong and a weak direction to cinder blocks - if you don't know which is which, are you willing to bet your life that you guessed correctly? In general, if you use a cinder block to support a weight, it should a piece of plywood placed on top of it to spread out the load instead of focusing it at one point on the cinder block. Cinder blocks also don't show cracks, weaknesses, or defects well so they are not safe at all as jack stand replacements.
Make sure the ground is secure and level enough to safely lift the car.
Always double check all jack stands to make sure they secure before
getting under the car! Complacency and a car slipping off the jack
stands could can cause a fatal accident so never make an exception to this
rule! In the case pictured below nobody was injured but that cracked
pan could be your head and that oil spill could be your
splattered brains. Avoid
complacency in safety checks through discipline and a healthy fear.
Stay absolutely clear of the car while raising, lowering, or adjusting the car's position. This could possibly cause it to shift off the jack stands or support. When lifting one side or end, have a helper watch the other side because a common mistake is for it to move on the end you can't see. Always reinspect the supports after moving the car.
Hydraulic floor jacks are for raising the car so that you can put jack stands under the car. They are not for supporting the car while you are under it because they could suddenly fail.
Don't lift or support the car by any suspension or axle component that could move.
The "widowmaker" scissor jack in the car trunk isn't a substitute for jack
stands or a quality hydraulic floor jack. I would only use it for
emergency roadside wheel removal because they aren't very strong as shown
below. If it's used during an emergency, follow all cautions on the
jack and in your owner's manual. Also be careful that the ground is
strong enough to support the jack and stay clear to the side while using it.
Safety rules that I always follow when raising and supporting the car:Check the floor jack, jack stands, and the jack points on the car for proper operation and make sure they are rated for the weight you need to lift. Jack stands can dig into hot asphalt so also inspect the ground under the jack stand.
After you think the car is secure, try to rock it with moderate force to double check that it's secure.
In addition to making sure the car is in gear or in park with the parking
brake on, chock the wheels to make sure the car can't roll forwards or
backwards. I use my rain gutter guide (pictured below) because it's
relatively heavy and fits against the tire like a wedge.
I always use a backup to jack stands since it's not worth betting your life that the jack stand won't fail. Another pair of jack stands and using the hydraulic jack to just where it lightly touches the car (not supporting the car's weight) are the minimum backups that I use. I also use wood blocks whenever possible - see 1000q: wood blocks for an example.
Always make sure the parking brake is holding and put the car in gear or park.
How I lift my 2005 VW PassatTo avoid denting the undercarriage, I use a short, solid, and strong 2x4 wood block between the hydraulic jack and frame rail. Make sure that it's centered and not slipping as the car is lifted.
When lifting at the factory jack point, I put a thin piece of cardboard between the jack stand and jack point to prevent damage to the car.
To prevent the jack stand digging into hot asphalt, I put the jack stand on a strong, solid, and level wood board. This can also raise its height. It's very secure once the car's weight is carried through the jack stand because the wood will be pressed down.
Have a safety helper make sure the car is secure while lifting and assist in case anything goes wrong.
My personal hydraulic floor jack is the 3 ton aluminum Arcan floor jack from Costco for about $145 after tax. Because it's aluminum it only weighs about 58 lbs vs. 100 lbs for a similar steel jack. IT also has a lift range of about 3.7-19.3" so it will fit under most lowered cars but also lift high enough. It is not a racing "quick drop" jack so lowering it is safe and controlled, I avoid racing jacks in general. It also has a quick lift feature. My experience with Craftsman jacks is that they tend to leak and stop lifting after a while due to dirt clogging an internal valve. They can be cleaned and rebuilt but I avoid craftsman jacks now because of their current design.
Pictured below is the driver's side front jack point. The passenger side is similar. Lift the access panel on the lower moulding and you can see the reinforced jack stand pinch weld highlighted in green. This is also where you use the roadside emergency scissor jack to lift the car. The area highlighted in yellow is the frame rail where you can use a piece of wood to lift the car. Do not place a jack there because it will dent the rail and not support the car. If you have an adequate floor jack you can also lift the car by the subframe mount bracket shown by the area highlighted in blue to get the jack stand in place.
CAUTION - the area highlighted in red is the brake lines on one side and the
fuel lines on the other! Do not lift by that area or damage or crush these
The area just inboard of the pinch weld highlighted in green is also relatively strong. You can use a secure, level of wood on top of the jack to lift there but then it blocks the jack stand location.
There is also a spot for installing lift pads but I do not suggest them. The lift pads are only for use with 4 post car lifts since they spread out the weight of the car evenly. The jack stand could slip off the pads and cause damage.
Pictured below is the rear jack point on the driver's side. The area
below the arrow highlighted in green is the jack point and where you would use
the emergency scissor jack. I lift the rear of the car by the rear
subframe bracket. There was barely enough room for the jack stand with my
wide floor jack so make
sure your jack stand is in the correct place and secure. If your floor jack is too far back it
the plastic splash shield under the car.
Here is a photo of my other car, a VW Jetta, after raising it. It shows the wood
block between the floor jack on the frame rail. The weight of the car is on the jack stands at the factory jack stand location.
The hydraulic jack is for backup only and is only lightly touching the frame
rail - it isn't carrying the weight of the car! Hydraulic jacks can fail
or blow a seal, suddenly releasing the car, so never be in a position to be
injured while a hydraulic jack is carrying the weight of the car. The
other side has another jack and jackstand to secure that side. The rear
wheels are also chocked.
If you have any questions whatsoever about how to raise your car, ask a local. You can also ask in the forums or search the site: