jacking up a 95 Cavalier

Last Summer I needed to jack up the Cavalier to change the brake pads. The jack was moving but the car wasn't. Bent down to see what was going on and saw that the jack was starting to sink in the frame
rail. Tried in a couple of other places. Same thing. Eventually was able to get it. 12 years old, Wisconsin -- I figured that it had gotten rusty enough down there to weaken the structure.
Tonight I had to jack up the car again to change the spark plug wires -- the car is hesitating/bucking when I'm driving at a constant speed, and thought I'd start with plugs, wires, and fuel filter -- and the same thing happened again. This time it was the other side.
Is this common for unibody cars? Is this telling me that the car's days are numbered? With those lift notches not an option any more, what's the best way for me to get this car up if I have to crawl under there again?
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

First off I recommend blocking up the car when jacking before working on it. You could get a frame jack, assuming there's a bit of frame to lift it. I've only seen a jack go into a body once; it was my brother in laws 3 yr old (about '61) VW Van used for work in a very road salty area.
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On Mar 1, 7:53 pm, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Unitbody cars are built only strong enough to do the job. Most of them have specific jacking points that are reinforced. Usually I jack my cars up by part of the engine cradle, its heavy and thick. Check owners manual. You might have enough rust to cause a problem, but I think you'd see it from the outside by now.
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I live on the east coast of Canada, the rustiest place in the world. I've worked on many old unibody cars and never had a problem like that.
You should take a picture to show where you are jacking.
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I had an 84 Honda accord that was so rusty it could no longer take a jack. The jack would tear right through the "reinforced" metal. I had to use a floor jack under the struts somewhere. I eventually junked the car because it was no longer safe.
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Denis Roy
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wrote:

I generally go for engine cradle or suspension points myself, since you actually have something there to jack against. I've seen many body channels crushed where people have put jacks underneath and pumped away. Those jacks with small cradles will easily crush body channels, whereas a decent jack with a larger cradle will spread out the weight better. Still - sheet metal is sheet metal, and I don't like jacking against it.
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writes:

I had an older car and was concerned about the jack going through, although it never did. I used a 12" piece of 2x4 to distribute the floor jack's lift.
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That is the ticket Colin. Distributing the load is the answer, I've had to do it often myself on certain vehicles. \ On 2 Mar 2007 17:00:26 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@rideau.carleton.ca (Colin McFadyen) wrote:

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Yea, that's what's going on. I am in fact using a floor jack with a much smaller craddle than the jack that same with the car. I'll try the 2X4 approach next time around.
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply.
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