The affected Pittsburgh-brand three- and six-ton jack stands were in production for six years, and span three separate model numbers.
People make all kinds of jokes about the quality of tools and equipment that come from Harbor Freight. The truth is, despite their cheapness, most of the stuff from Harbor Freight is fine. The company's tools and parts make car repairs and modifications possible for many enthusiasts on limited budgets, especially when it pertains to things like jacks and jack stands.
It's the latter of those two that has come back to bite us in the ass, however, because Harbor Freight is now recalling its Pittsburgh-brand six-ton jack stands over risks that they could collapse during use, according to a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (PDF) from March 20, a dangerous fault first reported on by The Drive on May 19. A second recall filed May 3 (PDF) extended the recall to three-ton jack stands.
The company is specifically recalling 1.7 million units with model numbers 56371, 61196 and 61197. You can find these numbers (PDF) on the label on the top part of the stand on three-ton units, or a yellow sticker on the base on six-ton units.
According to Harbor Freight's NHTSA filing, the problem with these jack stands is that due to worn tooling at the factory, the pawl that engages with the toothed height-adjustable part of the stand doesn't do so sufficiently to reliably lock it in place. A bump or a knock could cause the pawl to disengage, dropping the vehicle suddenly.
On Thursday, NHTSA urged owners of the jack stands to "immediately discontinue use due to safety concerns." The agency also said it has received reports of injuries due to the defect.
With nearly 2 million units in question, the odds are good that you or someone you know owns a set of these, so please go and check them now and urge your family and friends to do so, too. The exchange process is as simple as bringing your affected jack stands to your local Harbor Freight, once stores are reopened, where you'll be reimbursed for them with a store gift card for the current shelf price of comparable models.
First published May 19.