PSA: Stop using these Harbor Freight jack stands immediately

Ah, Harbor Freight. It’s like the McDonald’s of tool stores. You know it’s probably not good for you, but when you’re working hard and need a quick fix so you can get on with your project, their easy access and dirt cheap prices are there to lure us in. Sometimes that lack of planning comes back to bite us in the ass, like when one of the most important tools in your arsenal — jack stands — become the subject of an NHTSA safety recall.

The recall affects both 3-ton and 6-ton jack stands. As reported by Road and Track, both “have the potential to disengage their support pawl under shifting weight, causing the stand to drop suddenly.” We don’t have to tell you that this would be very, very bad if you happened to be under the car when it occurred.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the defect stems from old tooling used at the factory that produces the jack stands. Over time, the location of the pawl armature hole became inconsistent as the machines stamped out millions of these things.

The initial NHTSA recall dated March 20, 2020 affected 6-ton jack stands, model number 61197 We doubt many JNCers have a set of these unless you also own a truck, but on May 3, 2020, the NHTSA added 3-ton jack stands with the model number 56371 or 61196.

We know there’s at least a few of you out there who own a set of these 3-tonners, as Harbor Freight sold 1,254,000 of them and 454,000 of the 6-tonners. Even though the NHTSA suspects the defect only applies to recent production batches and 5 percent of the total number sold, it thought it would be safest just to recall them all.

The suspect stands can be identified by the model numbers on the labels, which may have come off due to age. So if you bought your jack stands at Harbor Freight from late 2012 through the end of 2019 (see the links to NHTSA above for specific dates), stop using them right now.

Harbor Freight has already stopped selling the affected stands, and if you bring your old ones into the store they will issue you store credit equal to the price of the stands.

However, we would venture to say that even Harbor Freight stands made beyond this time frame should be considered suspect. In fact, the ones we bought on Amazon could have come from the same factory, even though we paid more than double what Harbor Freight charges. The best insurance is just to slip a wheel under the car.

We know JNCers can be cheap bastards — no judgement, we have shopped at Harbor Freight ourselves — so consider this a public service announcement. Also, we can’t really afford to any of our five readers.

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6 Responses to PSA: Stop using these Harbor Freight jack stands immediately

  1. Mark Newton-John said:

    Well, even at the lowest level, the jack stand is still higher than a tire…

  2. F31Roger said:

    I still have my orange ones from years ago. But I’ve learned like everyone else to put additional support just incase.

    In this sense.. I hope nobody got hurt. A lot more people doing a lot more projects with COVID19 means people are trying save money where they can and the savings are with HF..

  3. socarboy said:

    That’s why when I crawl under an automobile I leave the jack just touching the frame as a second line of defense. My late father-in-law was almost killed when a Dodge van he was under fell on him

  4. bryan kitsune said:

    Yeah, just used these (along with some Craftsman) on my FR-S a few weeks back when installing a TRD catback. Used them last year when changing fluids all around as well. Guess I dodged a bullet (didn’t have backup wheels in place). I do generally leave a jack in place as backup, but it was going to be in the way when I was working on the exhaust.

    Anyway…looks like I’ll need to return these. Thanks for getting the word out (I’ve seen it a couple places now).

  5. Rotsun77 said:

    Should be common sense to anyone who used a harbor freight tool before. If you can’t even trust a socket from them I wouldn’t trust them with something that could easily get me killed.

    Hopefully nobody got hurt, Jack’s and Jackson stands arent the place to skimp lol

  6. James Smith said:

    I only use these jack stands for doing like brakes one wheel at a time and then use 2 at a time. For getting under the truck or car I use my set of home made pin lock stands I made for working on tractors. outer round pipe, 3/4 in holes every 3 inches, 13 in rims with bracing from the rim to the stand pipe, pipe is 3 in., then a solid pipe inserted into the stand pipe with no holes. the pin is used as a stop for the inner pipe. sounds bulky im sure but if it goes in the air it needs bulk to hold it safely. jmo! one thing about these is they’re completely adjustable, just drill another hole where you need it (never use heat to cut a hole). The thing is you can make jack stands any size you want them just keep in mind the base to the floor should be wide enough to support without rocking and heavy enough to not fold up. WORK SAFE AND PUT YOUR HEAD IN SAFE MODE.

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