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Claim check: The inflatable Titan Exhaust Jack

Consumer Reports News: July 22, 2009 01:12 PM

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The Titan Exhaust Jack makes crawling on the ground to position a jack under a car a thing of the past, according to the company Web site, which also claims that it is the safest, quickest, and most reliable way to jack a car. Instead, it uses an inflatable bladder and hose connected to an idling vehicle’s tailpipe to lift the car off the ground.

Our testing found that those claims might be somewhat optimistic, but that the Titan did at least work for some people, some of the time, on some vehicles. Therefore, in some situations, it could prove quite useful.

We tested two Titan models, a three-ton capacity model for cars, and a four-ton model for light trucks. We purchased both from different Web sites, and the smaller model was actually the more expensive to acquire. We paid $142 for the three-ton model, and $115 for the four ton. Both prices included freight.

CRO-ExhaustAir-Jack-SiennaUsing the Titan Exhaust Jack
Care must be taken to avoid placing the Titan under fuel tanks, brake lines, or other areas that could be crushed under the weight of the vehicle. You also have to avoid choosing a spot where it might come into contact with hot parts like exhaust system components that might melt it, or sharp edges that could cause a puncture. Doing all that will not only likely require a certain amount of crawling around, it also requires enough mechanical knowledge to be able to identify the parts to avoid.

Once a suitable location is found, you then prepare the car for jacking like you would any other, including setting the emergency brake, making sure the transmission is in park, (or in neutral on manual transmission vehicles) and chocking the wheels.

Hooking up the hose is a matter of connecting one end of it to the bladder, and the other to a rubber cone that slips over the end of the exhaust pipe. Two cones are supplied, for fitting to small and large pipe ends.

CRO-ExhaustAir-Jack-Hose-connect And this presents the next set of challenges. We found neither cone would work with some types of exhaust pipes, including some with decorative or angled tips, dividers that turn one pipe into two, and some dual exhaust systems. Leaky systems are also out, but the Titan doubles as a great device for locating leaks. Most become more noticeable with the cone pressed over the tailpipe.

If one of the cones does fit, it still must be held firmly against the end of the pipe while the car is being jacked, or exhaust pressure will weaken the seal or blow it off altogether. Care must be also taken to avoid kinks in the pipe, or the device will not inflate. Using a tag team strategy works best, with one person holding the hose in place while the other starts and stops the engine and checks the hose for kinks. Obviously, you must avoid breathing the fumes or using the Titan in a closed space.

Once the vehicle is lifted, a check valve in the hose keeps gas from escaping the bladder, and we found in testing the Titan would hold a vehicle clear of the ground for at least 20 minutes, sufficient time to change a tire. Releasing the gas is a simple matter of disconnecting the hose with a quick twist.

Bottom line
We found both Titan jacks did a good job of raising vehicles they were compatible with in a minute or less, and vehicles felt stable and secure when raised. Still, we’re not sure most people wouldn’t be better off with a conventional jack. The Titan might be good for using off pavement on irregular surfaces or in slippery conditions, but it can be awkward to use. And even when collapsed into its storage bag, it measures more than two feet long and is about the size of a decent sized gym bag. It is a large item to store in a car trunk, but it would have distinct appeal for occasion use for off-roaders or when driving on a beach.

Learn more about car care, maintenance, and tires.

Jim Travers

   

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