If you own a set of three or six-tonne Harbor Freight jack stands, check them right now. If covered by these NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) recall, there’s a risk they could collapse while in use.
The first recall - possibly involving as many as 454,000 stands - went out in March, covering six-tonne heavy-duty axle stands sold under the Pittsburgh Automotive brand built between June 2013 and November 2013. The part number you need to look out for is 61197.
When supporting a vehicle, a “potential shift in weight” could cause the ‘pawl’ to “disengage from the extension lifting post”. This would cause the supported vehicle to drop suddenly, with potentially very nasty injuries for anyone unlucky enough to be under it at the time.
In May, a second recall was issued, covering three-tonne Pittsburgh stands manufactured from December 2012 to December 2019 with the part number 61196, and examples of the same model made from January to March this year with the part number 56371. This one potentially covers up to 1,254,000 stands.
The three-tonne stands have the same possible problem, and the cause is blamed on the same factor - ageing tooling at the factory of the units’ producers, Jiaxing Golden Roc Tools Co in Zhejiang, China. In both cases about five per cent of the stands are thought to have the issue, and while only more recent batches are thought to have the defect, the NHTSA is recalling a wider range of them as a precaution.
The three-tonne recall notice states that other three-tonne stands sold under the Pittsburgh brand but built by manufacturers have been evaluated. However, no faults were found. Six-tonne stands from different manufacturers were also said to be under evaluation back in March. Although testing had been delayed by Covid-19, the recall notice stated that there had not been any reported customer incidents from units other than those covered by the recall.
Production on all the model numbers listed above has ceased, and completed stands have been removed from sale. Anyone customers with the stands in question are entitled to a gift card “equal to the shelf price”. As well as checking your own stands, it’s also worth nudging anyone you know who might have an affected product.
All of this is a reminder that when using axle stands, it’s worth having some layer of redundancy, be it an additional stand or some other measure. The potential consequences of failure, be it through a defect like this or operator error, don’t bear thinking about.