Jack points on my 2003 Jetta VW TDI

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This article shows the jack points and lift points on my 2003 Jetta VW TDI. 

This information applies to my car and my exact situation only, your car may be in different condition, different year cars may be different, your equipment may be different, your car may be loaded differently, your driveway/garage surface may be different, etc., so take all these factors and any other pertinent information for safety raising your car for your exact situation.  Refer to the TOS Agreement for the full legal disclaimer.  Damage to your property, injury, and death, or to a 3rd party are possible consequences of not supporting your vehicle properly and/or securely.  Never place yourself or anyone else in a position where you could be injured by an improperly supported car.  

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 and your own previous experience, consult a professional local mechanic or another local person who is qualified to help and supervise you.  It's not worth your life to take any safety risks when raising the car!

Safety rules I always follow for getting under the car:

If you have any doubt that the car is not secure during or after raising it, there is no doubt.  Secure it more.  After you're sure, double check the jack stands by visual inspection and by shaking the car.  Then visually triple check it.  It should be stable and the car must not shift on the jack stands at all.

Never get under the car far enough to get injured while raising, lowering, or adjusting the car.  Always check the jack during and after raising, lowering, or adjusting the car to make sure it's not slipping or moving.  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.

Never get under the car far enough to get injured if the car's weight is not securely resting on jack stands.  For example, hydraulic jacks are only for raising the car to where you can put jack stands under it because it's not safe to rest the car's weight on a hydraulic jack.  A hydraulic jack can blow a seal, break, fail, etc., and this can kill you.

Make sure your equipment and the car's jack points are in good condition.  Also inspect the driveway/garage condition because jack stands can dig into hot asphalt.

Always make sure your equipment is suitable and rated for the car that you're using it on.

Never rest the weight of the car on the suspension or axle - these are designed to move and are not safe jack points.

After raising the car, shake it a bit to check that it's secure.

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 holds the car (not supporting the car's weight) are the minimum backups that I use.

Apply the parking brake and put the car in gear as appropriate.  Also chock the wheels so that the car can't roll.

Some of my wheel chocks are these rain gutter guides - they fit perfectly on the wheel and are heavy enough to prevent movement.  When I'm done they even get to go back to being rain gutter guides!

The "widowmaker" scissor jack in your car is for emergency roadside wheel removal and is not a substitute for a floor jack or jack stands.  They are not sufficient to safely support a car and at no time while changing a wheel on the side of the road should you get under the car far enough to be injured because they can fail.

NEVER use cinder blocks to carry the weight of a car or as substitute for proper car jack stands.  Cinder blocks are stronger in one orientation and weak in the other - do you know which one is the strong direction?  If you don't and have used cinder blocks to support the car you've unnecessarily risked your life.  Cinder blocks supporting weight should always have plywood placed between the weight and the block to spread the load out.  Focusing the load can cause cinder blocks to suddenly shatter.  Cinder blocks also don't show cracks, weaknesses, or defects well.

Don't get complacent in safety checks!  That one time you say "it's good enough" could be when the accident occurs, like shown below (not mine).  Luckily no one was injured in the case pictured, but that crushed oil pan could be your chest and that oil could be your splattered brains.  For your sake, discipline and fear can help prevent complacency.

More of what I do:

When lifting from the frame rail, I use a piece of solid, even, and secure 2x4 wood between the hydraulic jack and frame rail to avoid damaging/pinching the frame rail.  Make sure it's centered or else it can slip.

I use a thin piece of cardboard between the jack and car to prevent it from scratching the car.

I rest the jack stand on top of a solid, even, and secure piece of wood to raise its height and prevent digging into my driveway.  Once the car's weight is being carried through the jack stand, the wood is effectively pushed firmly to the ground.

I have a safety helper double check my setup and assist in case anything else does go wrong.

My personal hydraulic jack is the costco 3 ton "arcan" aluminum jack.  Not every store may carry it.  It's about 58 lbs vs. 100 lbs for a comparable steel jack, has a lower padded bar to avoid scratching your car, is about $145 after everything, and has a range of 3.7-19.3" so it will fit under most lowered cars but lift high too.  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.

The jack stand can rest on the pinch weld highlighted in green below.  There is a stamped triangle on the lower sill right above the reinforced pinch weld to indicate where it is.  This is also where you place the roadside emergency scissor jack.  The pinch weld areas highlighted in red are not reinforced and you should not place a jack stand there.  Some cars have a corrugated look to the reinforced area.  If you use a hydraulic jack on the sill you should use an adapter to securely hold the sill.  You can use a small piece of wood or a hockey puck with a groove cut it it to match the sill.  Since you're making the adapter yourself, you take all responsibility for the design and safety of any adapter.

The area just inboard of it highlighted in green is reinforced but you must use a piece of wood (to spread out the weight) between the body and hydraulic jack to raise the car.  You can also use a piece of wood between the frame rail and hydraulic jack to raise the car.  The hole in the body is the spot for installing OEM jack pads.  These are factory parts that you install in the small hole for use with 4 post car lifts.  I don't use them because I already have jack stands and a good jack and because they are designed for use with 4 post car lifts.  Do not place the jack stand on the jack pad.

I put a small piece of cardboard between the jack and car to help prevent marring.  The previous owner didn't use anything to protect the body so the frame rails have some dents.

Here is another photo showing my car's front passenger side after raising it.  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 is not 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.

Here is the pinch weld jack point on the rear.  It's also below a stamped triangle on the sill.

External links

Audi TT jack pads on various cars (for use with 4 post lift) http://www.ottawa-vdubbing.com/forums/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=22984 , http://forums.fourtitude.com/zerothread?id=2220220

Safety is first!  If you have any questions about placement of the jack stands, do not hesitate to ask in the VW TDI forums or search below: