By on July 7, 2020

Harbor Freight

The Harbor Freight saga continues, with the company now issuing a recall of the jack stands meant to replace earlier jack stands recalled due to their collapse risk.

After calling back its 3- and 6-ton Pittsburgh brand stands, the tool company learned of a mechanic who did exactly as he was told, trading in his old, defective 3-ton stands for a new set. However, the new stands couldn’t handle the weight of a Volkswagen Golf. So here we are.

A notice on Harbor Freight’s webpage lists the item numbers of an expanded list of products, describing what kind of refund or store credit owners can expect when they turn them in. You’re encouraged to shop, of course.

The new list is more extensive than previous, and now including 12-ton models. Initially, the issue was that the stands could collapse suddenly when burdened with the weight of a vehicle. There’s still a callback on those models; the latest list concerns models that, while not recalled due to safety concerns, some owners might not feel comfortable using. It’s a good faith gesture on the part of the company.

However, the 3-ton model whose base split along a weld after encountering a Golf is under recall (note: image above does not depict this specific model). Via a letter to customers published by Road & Track, Harbor Freight owner and founder Eric Smidt apologized for the loss of customer trust.

“I’m disappointed and embarrassed because we’ve identified a welding defect in a small number of the Pittsburgh 3 ton steel jack stands (SKU 56373) that replaced the recalled jack stands,” Smidt said. “We’re now adding these jack stands to our recall. Unfortunately, this defect wasn’t discovered during the initial recall investigation.”

He added that the rest of the company’s jack stands were examined for the same fault, and turned up nothing. In  the second explicit apology of the letter, Smidt said, “While we’ve dramatically grown our team of engineers and inspectors, and intensified our tests and inspections, I assure you that the lessons learned from this will drive further improvement.”

[Image: Harbor Freight]

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39 Comments on “PSA PSA: Replacement Jack Stands Recalled...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Cheapskate shade tree mechanics are not going to stand for being jacked around like this much longer…

    And if anyone isn’t sure if I’m joking or serious then just wait until I ratchet up my puns.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I just got HFT 3 ton Daytona jack with a handle and pedal lift. 24″ lift height. Nice. Unfortunately, black. I would rather have more fun color. Yellow, or red. But HFT is one place where you can tell – we have an issue. They probably did not have supplies in months. Shelves are half empty. So, I settled on black, even thought I hate the color, unless it is a color of my fancy shirt and pants.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Russia, Russia, Russia……oh wait. China, China, China.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    What I find telling is that they’re accepting returns of jack stands that haven’t shown any issues.

    I think they really deep into in “brand image triage” mode here.

    It’s almost like they’re trying not to be seen as the 1990 Hyundai of the tool world.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    HF is a great place for cheap tools, especially for amateurs, just don’t use them in mission critical applications. I saw pics of the failed stand and it’s a combination of poor design and poor weld quality.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Yes.

      HF is a wonderful place with a lot of legitimately excellent deals, but I would stay far away from anything they sell that has the capability to maim or kill if it were to fail. So in addition to jack stands, I would also steer clear of engine hoists, ramps, and possibly air tanks (especially the low-end ones which claim to hold 150psi).

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I wonder what the spread is when one of their power washers explodes?!

        They don’t sell acetylene torches or welding equipment, do they?

        Harbor Freight: A Thousand More Ways To Die

        • 0 avatar
          indi500fan

          Most all low end power washers use the same cheap aluminum pumps from China which really don’t “explode” they just develop a crack in the housing and spurt water like a geyser.

          Or are you talking about the gas engines blowing up? Those Predators (at least in my experience with go karts) are pretty reliable. They copied Honda faithfully and seem to do pretty well on the part quality.

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            I dunno about the Chinese copied Honda engines ~ I bought a Harbor Freight 7,000 watt generator with a direct (looking, even to the red & white paint) copy, the freaking thing is TO DANG LOUD ! . I bet they can hear it in San Pedro for chrissakes .

            I’d run it annually for basic care but I, whom am profoundly deaf, can hear it inside my house with the windows closed, I cannot be that bad of a neighbor .

            -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            Are those copies of the Honda GX, or GC? I have a Honda Masters mower with the GXV150, so I’m pretty familiar with those. Not so excited about the OHC GCV.

        • 0 avatar
          JimC2

          HF does sell welding torches and tanks. It’s been a while since I was in one so I couldn’t tell you the manufacturer nor country of origin.

          • 0 avatar
            indi500fan

            It’s copied from the Honda GX (pushrods), the GC is OHC.

            Yeah some do blow up but when you talk to the guy it’s “well we took the governor off, run 5600 rpm, and we ground the con rod down for less rotating mass”.

          • 0 avatar
            JimC2

            ^^ I think @indi500fan must be talking about the Harbor Freight Turbo Encabulator.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I had one of their engine hoists. It was sketchy, but it got that heavy 1FZ-FE with the Trans and Transfercase attached out of my old Land Cruiser. It was so wobbly after the fact though that I got rid of it.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Yeah, based on the cheap bicycles I’ve seen at Walmart, I think the Chinese are still trying to figure out welding.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        Actually, many of the mid-range bikes you’ll find at a bike shop were made in China. The Chinese are perfectly capable of producing decent welds, but not at Walmart or HarborFreight prices.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Thanx again, China .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    JMII

    So far all the recalls I’ve seen are for the steel jacks NOT the blue aluminum ones pictured. The editors should replace the picture used with the correct item.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      They make ALUMINUM jack stands?

      I think I’d only trust that to hold up a Kozy Koupe, and nothing more!

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Yes, my son had (? has ?) a pair and used them for his old track car in the pits….

        Scary to me but B52’s are made of aluminum and seem O.K…..

        -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          Just seems like a piece of aluminum that small and thin couldn’t support a bunch of weight. Point taken about aeronautical applications.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            The subframe of my 350Z and the entire chassis of my C7 are made from aluminum. Here is a good list of other aluminum vehicles: https://www.motortrend.com/news/15-automotive-aluminum-warriors/

            While aluminum makes you think “soda can” its actually a very strong material when used properly. Airplanes use the stuff pretty exclusively.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        There’s aluminum floor jacks, too. $$$

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          Yes, Aluminum is very strong and lightweight too .

          Myself, I doubt I’d ever be happy sliding underneath any vehicles help up by Aluminum jack stands, Chinese made or not .

          Once you see a human being popped like a dropped watermelon, safety never really leaves your mind .

          I forget how much blood the average human body contains but unlike the movies, it’s a hell of a lot and it spreads like oil ~ it just keeps spreading and spreading .

          Plus of course, the gooey guts and bones sticking out of the mess….

          Flies too, and don’t forget the stench .

          -Nate

  • avatar
    AJ

    I dealt with their advertising one time and vowed never to take them as an advertiser again.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    Harbor Freight stores barely have inventory now – there is little point in even going to the branch near me unless you need some crappy hand tools or a rope. All the power tools are gone, all the jacks are gone…

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Are you broke, love to DIY and don’t mind taking on some minor risk? Harbor Freight has all the hunks of metal and plastic in the right shapes that you need to get the job done…or at the very minimum satisfy your primal urge to be ready to repair anything…

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    The revered Pittsburg name will forever be tarnished.

  • avatar
    Sobro

    QC was done using Harbor Freight testing gear. Their load tester broke before the jackstand failed; they concluded that the jackstand was fine.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I had to do a double-take the other day, when I saw a neighbor’s personal watercraft (Yamaha WaveRunner) engine hanging from a Pittsburgh engine hoist. Oof.

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    HF just resells stuff from China using generic brand names. So when they say, “While we’ve dramatically grown our team of engineers and inspectors, and intensified our tests and inspections, I assure you that the lessons learned from this will drive further improvement.”, you can be assured that the level of “tests and inspections” before the recent recall were close to zero.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Quality assurance, according to penny pinching businesspeople, is a non-value-added operation that must be eliminated.

    I am not kidding, I have heard those words.

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