Only One Wheel Spins When Jack Up

Car mechanics are only possible to understand when you experience them along the way. Once you come across a problem, there’s a whole web world ahead of you that will solve that problem in seconds. The same goes for a problem such as only one wheel spinning in a jacked-up car.

Jacked-up cars should always be parked on a flat and smooth surface. Problems like this are pretty common and can easily be solved.

If you’re new to cars, you might want to get familiar with the inner mechanics of cars. Our article will provide you with everything related to this problem.

Now that we’re diving right into the business of cars and how they actually work, let’s learn a few things related to them.

Why does only one wheel spin when the car is jacked up?

Jacking up doesn’t cause any sort of damage to the car as long as the vehicle is parked on a flat surface. It can stay in that position for a very long time. During these times, you might try to stick it in gear and let the brakes go. Although the car is jacked up it’s still working.

When you try this, your car might spin only one wheel. This sort of dilemma isn’t something unusual. Don’t ever panic as this is completely normal and can be solved by rusting up the brakes. If the brakes are rusted up, the wheel would immediately stops spinning.

only one front wheel spins when jacked up

There are a few reasons why only one front wheel might spin when a car is jacked up.

The Brakes are stuck

This is the most common reason. When the brakes are stuck, they can prevent the wheel from turning, even when the car is jacked up. To check if this is the case, try to spin the wheel by hand. If it doesn’t turn, then the brakes are stuck. You can try to free them up by pumping the brakes a few times, or by applying a penetrating oil to the brake caliper.

The differential is locked

The differential is a part of the car’s drivetrain that allows the wheels to turn at different speeds. If the differential is locked, then both wheels will spin at the same speed, even if one of them is on a slippery surface. To check if this is the case, try to spin the other front wheel. If it doesn’t spin, then the differential is locked. You can try to unlock it by putting the car in neutral and then rocking it back and forth.

The car is in gear

If the car is in gear, then the engine will be trying to turn the wheels, even if the car is jacked up. To check if this is the case, put the car in neutral. If the wheel still spins, then the car is in gear.

If you’ve checked all of these things and you’re still not sure why only one front wheel is spinning, then it’s best to take the car to a mechanic to have it diagnosed.

Differentials and traction

Driving a car without knowing much about its inner mechanics is like having a brain and not using it. Cars shouldn’t be taken lightly and need a lot of work to deal with them. If you’re new to having cars, it might be extremely confusing when your car might do something out of the ordinary. This is when differentials come into play.

A differential makes it possible for wheels to turn at varying speeds and power. This is how a car travels through a curve. During this time, both wheels have to work at different speeds for them to take a turn.

Since the outer wheels need to cover a longer distance, they go at a faster speed while the inner wheels cover a relatively shorter distance and hence; drive at a shorter speed.

This will make it easier for you to understand open differentials and how they work. The open differential transfers an equal amount of torque to both wheels. Although it’s great when a car is taking a turn, it does come with a disadvantage when there is less traction.

Since an equal amount of power is provided to the wheels, both of them work smoothly on a frictionless road. During a situation where one wheel is on dry pavement while the other is on wet one, the power disbalances a bit.

As both, wheels get equal power Turning the wheel in the mud will require less force than turning it on the pavement. The stationary wheel receives the same torque as the rotating one, however, since the spinning wheel spins more easily, it receives more power from the engine.

What happens when you drive through thin ice?

This is when the problem with open differentials arises. Keep in mind that the maximum amount of torque is only restricted to the highest amount that will prevent the wheels from slipping. The open differential always provides the same torque to both wheels.

For a tire to slide on the ice there isn’t much torque needed for it. Your car won’t drive very far if the wheel with good traction is only receiving the tiniest amount of torque that can be supplied to the wheel with poor traction. This is why having an open differential becomes tricky. This makes one wheel start spinning while the other stays stationary.

How to jack up a car?

There are a few pieces of equipment one needs to jack up their car. A jack and jack stands are the two most important pieces of equipment that will help you jack your car. A step-by-step guide to jacking up your car is:

  • The first thing you should do is park your car. It is important to park your car on a flat surface. If the road is even, the jack-stand might tilt and pose an injury. Keep the gear in the “Park” position and apply the parking brake. In the event of a manual transmission, set it to the “First” gear. Pull and remove the ignition key after turning the ignition off.
  • Place the wheel chock firmly behind the wheels opposite to the ones that are to be jacked up. Its bottom is made out of rubber so there’s enough traction for the wheel to be stable. A chock is made out of strong sturdy materials and is the one thing that prevents the wheel from rolling.
  • Preparing the floor jack for the job is a necessary step in the process of jacking up a car. The jack’s pressure release valve needs to be shut. The jack lever should be closed by turning the jack lever in a clockwise motion. Moreover, check to see if any parts are damaged or leaking fluid. Never utilize a jack that appears to be in need of repair. Splurge a little on the hydraulic floor jack as it’s much stronger and more reliable than an emergency jack. Emergency jack might seem like a more convenient option but should only be used for emergency purposes. Be sure to have an extra hydraulic floor jack with you at all times. You’ll never regret this purchase.


Jacking up a car is the most basic thing you should learn after you learn to drive. Experimenting with it during these times might unlock many things you never would have thought of. Only one rear wheel spinning would certainly make things interesting. However, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about as this is pretty normal to deal with. Hope this blog would provide you with everything related to cars.


Do Both Wheels Spin Front Wheel Drive?

Vehicles with front-wheel drive (FWD) have an engine and transmission configuration where the engine solely drives the front wheels. With the transmission in park and the other drive wheel on the ground, that is typical for a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

Do Both The Wheels Spin With Limited Slip?

In limited slip differential both the wheels spin at the same rate with the highest speed. The wheels move in the same direction at the same rate which provides them with better control and balance.

How Do I Know If My Limited Slip Differential Is Bad?

When your differentials fail or conk out, you may notice and hear unusual noises coming from gears. In addition to the wailing, you might also notice a low buzzing that worsens over time

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *