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Old 09-04-2011, 11:35 PM   #1
anile_eight
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DIY: Build your own low profile car ramp

I, like many others have had to jack up the car numerous times and it can certainly get tedious... I have looked into low profile ramps which only lift the car off the ground 6" which cost $200. I stumbled across this while looking for low profile ramps. This should not cost you more than about $55 if you have the drill or circular saw (if not borrow them) and save some money for some more mods.

Like any DIY, I am not responsible for any damage sustained while following this diy to your car, your tools or yourself. Read the following at your own risk, and use it at your own risk.

now that we are done with that, i'll be honest, i got this idea from a mustang forum... lol
Tools:
Wood (do some math to figure out how much you will need. I needed 8, 2x10x8 to complete this)
Screws balpark~70
Drill (unless you want to screw them all in by hand)
Drill bits to help pre-drill the screws and cater wheels. (not necessary but i would recommend it)
Tape measure
Circular saw or other means of cutting wood straight and at angles
Caster wheels x4
things you nail into the wood so screw the caster wheels in x4 (please someone remind me what these are called. I can't remember or find the receipt lol)
Electric sander (optional)
Polyurethane (optional)
Paint (optional)
Grip additive for paint (optional)

1
Critical Angle
We first must determine the maximum critical angle at which your car can go up the ramp at without scraping. That means we must measure the distance to the lowest part of the front end of your car to the middle of the wheels as show below: X is the horizontal dist and Y is the vert dist. We need to find beta (the angle). For those of you who are not mathematically inclined here: =tan^-1(Y/X)
that is beta = inverse tangent of (Y/X)
For me the lowest part was the bottom of the ducts by triangle. My critical angle was 12.5 but what i used to build the ramp was something like 8.5.
[IMG] P1080032 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

2
Start designing your ramp.
With that angle in mind (don't go larger!) ideally you'd like the smallest angle possible so it is the easiest to get up. That is basically what I did (not quite but you will see why later) I measured the wheelbase of my jetta to be around 101" so that means i really can't make the ramp any longer than 95" without touching the back tire against it. So i decided to make it 90" long. You can see my design below. I made this drawing with dimensions in a CAD program to make it easier for you guys to see and read. Heck print it out for all i care
(please read the revisions and changes sections at the end for updates to this section)
Isometric View
[IMG] Outline by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

Front view with in-CAD dim
[IMG] Outline_2 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

Drawing with dim
[IMG] DIM_RAMP by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

Drawing with chamfers and fillets on edges (I will explain later)
[IMG] RAMP by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

3
Cutting
Measure once cut 5 times... No i'm kidding obviously. The rest of this diy really depends on how comfortable you are with working with wood.

I used a circular saw to cut the wood and to do the angle. The only issue I had was that the saw could only cut 1 5/8" at a 45 angle. Therefore I had to turn the board over and go to the other side of the plank and align the cut hoping i was on the same cutting plane. The first 4 cuts at the 45 were difficult and showed. After that it was like cutting through butter!

Now, those 45 chamfers are completely up to you. I did them to make it easier for the car to get up. Take your time here to get it right. now the measurements I gave are not going to be exactly the same for everyone, i did them for what I thought would work for me (again read at the end for other suggestions and changes).

4
Assembly:
take the screws and start screwing the boards together. I initially used 3 1/2" screws... I soon figured out that they went through the bottom board when i was screwing in the second board. I would now use 3 in screws instead. i just cut them off and sanded them down. Now what i did was the following:
[IMG] P1080018 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]
[IMG] P1080021 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

Look carefully for the marks:
[IMG] P1080023 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]
What i did to space the screws so they do not screw into each other (using 3 1/2" screws) is mark the even board with a dot 2" from each side and then the odd board mark 1.5" from each side with an X just to remind me. If you use 3" screws which will work perfectly fine then you don't have to do this. Also, even though the screws said no pre-drilling required... I did it anyway just to make sure I would not split the wood, if you want to spend the time, i would recommend it! Spacing is completely up to you... i usually had two screws (parallel) about every foot. I also made sure to have one no further than 5" from the end to ensure the next board would not move when i drove my car up it. You can see this in the final pictures (the screws that are closes to the chamfer edges).

5
Add some sort of transportation help
I put on a set of caster wheels from home depot. As you can see below they work great for transporting. DON'T FORGET TO TAKE THEM OUT BEFORE YOU DRIVE YOUR CAR ON THE RAMP OR ELSE YOU WILL CAUSE THEM TO FAIL AND YOU COULD BREAK YOUR CAR I found it is easier if you push the ramps rather then pull. You can pull them but it has to be at a small angle. I have done some research into other caster wheels but they are not necessarily cheap. The wheel i would buy is called a rigid stem caster wheel. it attaches via a stem but it rigid. I was only able to find them online and typically restaurant suppliers for their giant appliances.

now with that being said... look below:
[IMG] P1080024 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]
I forget what they are called but they are in the next isle over from the caster wheels. The caster wheels screw in to these so you can use them for transportation. You drill a hole and then hammer them in. screw in and out the caster wheels.

5
Optional refinements
as you can see below I sanded every square inch.
The image below show the difference between sanding (right) and not doing anything (left). It looks like a small thing but i don't know i think it not only looks better but it will help even if it is minutely.
[IMG] P1080026 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG] I made the top of the 45 cuts (chamfer) smooth as well as the sides.
[IMG] P1080025 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]
This is for my later plans. I will be putting a couple coats of polyurethane on it to seal the wood. I will then paint a section up the middle (adding a mixture into the pain to make it like grip tape) to hopefully facilitate ramp use.

(I don't know why the img stuff is by all the the images but i could get it to go away with flickr... grrr)

Last edited by anile_eight; 09-05-2011 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 09-04-2011, 11:35 PM   #2
anile_eight
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The almost finished product: (i need to add the polyurethane and paint)
[IMG] P1080030 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]
You can tell which one i cut first lol!

The car on the ramp: (sorry for the next two pictures... they are pretty bad)
[IMG] P1080035 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

I did not go to the top step but I could have, it would have been close but that is why i placed the recommendations down below. I had 9" from the bottom of the tire to the ground. It may look like the car is leaning, no... I just can't take pictures low to the ground lol

This is the front view. I had 16" from the ground to the bottom of the lip.
[IMG] P1080038 by Mean_Jetta, on Flickr[/IMG]

Recommendations and changes if i did it again:
1
I would use 3" screws
2
I will be adding handles at the small end to help facilitate lifting to move the ramp
3
Instead of having the main board 90" i would make it 93". I sadly did not take into account the extra 3" required for the stop at the top board. Therefore I only have 12 inches (about 9.5 with the 45 chamfer cut. This is probably the biggest change and the one I would recommend the most therefore the board sizes would be: 93, 78, 63, 48, 33, 18, so you would have 666" of wood or just under 8' instead of the 90, 75, 60, 45, 30, 15 (7.5')
Final thoughts... It really wasn't as bad as i thought it was going to be driving up the ramps... I brought the revs to about 2.2K and feathered the clutch... the revs dropped to like 1.5K sometimes but all in all i was surprised on relatively easy it was:). Of course it helps to have someone guide you but i am happy!:laugh:

There are probably other things i am missing but i can't remember them right now.

Last edited by anile_eight; 09-05-2011 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:05 AM   #3
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that thing is huge, must be pita to crawl under the car from the sides.
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:12 AM   #4
anile_eight
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave80 View Post
that thing is huge,
That's what she said...(It probably weight 65-75lbs) haha

now to business
Quote:
Originally Posted by dave80 View Post
must be pita to crawl under the car from the sides.
That is why they invented the creeper lol... Yes, it is inconvenient if you need to get in from the sides... but you should have too.

I built this mainly for oil changes as they are the most frequent maintenance on the car. You can also back the car up on it as well! ( i personally have not tried it but i know it can be done. I am not too certain on the clearance of the front bumper if you take the rear tires to the top step.

Granted if you were to need 4 wheels up then yea, I don't know how jacking the car up would go with the front tires on the ramp. I know that the jack has wheels as it is suppose to move and not that car but sometimes they both move, so i don't think i'll be taking that risk.
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Old 09-05-2011, 01:53 AM   #5
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Nice build but it is way to huge. Sometimes size does matter....
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:06 AM   #6
anile_eight
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heffery117 View Post
Nice build but it is way to huge. Sometimes size does matter....
It depends and yes, i knew this was not going to be for everyone.
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Old 09-05-2011, 06:01 PM   #7
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Good idea.
One thing I think the top step should be longer for safety, ie. so car has no roll back force.

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Old 09-05-2011, 06:20 PM   #8
anile_eight
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bazzle View Post
Good idea.
One thing I think the top step should be longer for safety, ie. so car has no roll back force.

Bazzle
ya, I mentioned that recommendation ...
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:08 PM   #9
anile_eight
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updated
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:48 PM   #10
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Nice attempt but it is huge! i did the same thing but three levels with 2x12.
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:56 PM   #11
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I have shorter ones I made and the car makes it up easy. You spent way too much time at this and money.
Nothing too fancy or too expensive and it works.

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Old 09-21-2011, 12:45 AM   #12
anile_eight
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I agree they are massive and yes, i did spend some good time doing this
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Old 10-04-2011, 04:56 AM   #13
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I nees 1 for my basement because the mainentrance is at a 40 degree angle... Any suggestions?
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:47 AM   #14
anile_eight
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dis020 View Post
I nees 1 for my basement because the mainentrance is at a 40 degree angle... Any suggestions?
... I don't quite understand what you are saying.

Is your garage in your basement?

and is your garage inclined at 40?
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