I hate hi-lift jacks…

Look, I get why these are useful for some folks. There are a handful of different uses for them. And when used properly, they can get you out of a tough spot out on the trail. But you know what? I hate them. They’re heavy, take up a lot of space on your vehicle, are incredibly dangerous and easy to use wrong, and you can use other things instead of a hi-lift that work better, take up less space, and are easier to use. There are typically no good spots on your vehicle to use it as an actual “jack”. If you see a hi-lift jack on someone’s vehicle, take a good look at it… it’s going to be:

  • spotlessly clean

That’s it. That’s the full list. The only way a jack like this gets dirty is when the truck itself drives through dirt and the jack gets a coating of trail love.

Why am I ranting here? Last week, as part of the Land Rover Trek challenge, I had to use a hi-lift jack to move a vehicle. We had to move a new Defender 110 backward up a hill. And we had to move it two car lengths worth of distance. There are better ways to do this, but the challenge required us to move the vehicle in this specific manner.

Here’s another good video showing how dangerous these things can be:

I know some of you will disagree here. I’m sure you have some great use cases for these types of jacks. But I can think of many better tools for a lot of these jobs, with respect to automotive applications.

Hi-Lift Jacks suck.

5 Comments

    1. Yep, I had to specify in one part above with respect to automotive applications. I’ve heard they are useful for home and farm stuff

  1. The truck in the picture has a hi-lift jack. It cost about $100 and when it’s not being used (probably 99.9% of the time), it might drop the fuel economy by 0.1% and isn’t really in the way.

    How do those statistics compare to the rooftop tent?

    1. Geez – I had thought that the “bumper jack” had long gone the way of the Dodo Bird. They can rename them (and make them taller even MORE dangerous??!!) but they are still evil. I had my 69 Camaro bumper jack “let me down hard” way back in 1969, and damage the bumper as it failed me, to boot. The base of the jack shown in the picture above isn’t much bigger than it was for the one intended to lift my little coupe. Way too small for the weight it’s being asked to lift stably. The problem when my Camaro fell was that the earth under the jack was soft and unevenly so, causing the jack to tilt. After that I carried a big piece of board to put under the base for increased surface area, but something as heavy as a truck is just going to split a piece of pine… and then the truck will fall.

      Without bothering to watch that video, even if the base were stable and big enough, I can’t even imagine lifting something as heavy as that 4×4 on a pole made of Chinesium with lots of holes drilled in it. Add in a ratchet mechanism made by the same fine folks who were responsible for those Harbor Freight jack-stand failures, and well, Jesus is waiting to meet you when you crawl under that truck.

      “For every complex problem there is a simple solution …that will fail.”

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