You’ve seen 4WDs cruising around with hi-lift jacks mounted on some weird and wonderful places. They look cool and functional, but what is the actual purpose of these monstrous weighty devices? Do we really need a hi-lift jack when out in the bush or are they just a nice-to-have accessory to make your 4WD look more macho? If yes, what size jack would I need for my specific 4WD? These answers, and more, will be covered in this article.
What size hi-lift jack do I need? The most common size for most off-roaders is the 48″. As a general guide, the 48″ is the most popular choice since it fits most 4WDs. If your truck has a 5-6″ lift and tires bigger than 33″ then opt for the 60″. The smaller 36″ and 42″ hi-lift jacks are suited more for the stock, un-lowered smaller 4x4s, UTVs, and ATVs.
So there are many uses for a hi-lift jack and if you ask me it’s more a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t carry one. Yes, they are heavy, they are dangerous if not used correctly and it can be hard finding a suitable place to mount them where they are safe and secure.
So why do we carry these things around?
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Stuck in the Mud
OK, so I hear you asking, why should you carry this archaic-looking monstrosity around when you can simply pack in a bottle jack, and off you go?
Well, that is because when we get stuck off-road, it’s never on a straight, flat piece of road. It’s usually in a very tricky, sticky, muddy, sandy, rocky …. You get the idea!
A bottle jack simply wouldn’t cut it in these scenarios. You need something much taller to lift you out if you are belly-deep in sloppy mud. You won’t even be able to see the bottom of the vehicle, never mind fit a bottle jack under there. Besides, even at full extension the bottle jack will not be able to lift you out high enough to say, reposition the vehicle when bogged on a rocky surface or knee-deep in mud.
Here the hi-lift jack comes into its own.
Besides, part of the adventure when going off-road is to overcome obstacles and venture into the unknown. Chances are you will get stuck and if you don’t, you’re not trying hard enough… LoL
What other uses are there for a hi-lift jack? Let’s see how you can use it to get yourself out of a pickle.
Use Your Hi-lift Jack as a Winch
Let’s face it, when you need a winch you’re well and properly stuck! Nothing really compares to the efficacy of a winch, however, a hi-lift is probably your next best option. Especially if you are traveling alone or if the second vehicle or yours doesn’t have rated snatch points. Or perhaps the scenario just doesn’t lend itself to a vehicle snatch solution. You’ll only be able to winch about 1 meter at a time, but hey, it’s better than nothing. Some scenarios only require you to winch about 1-2 meters and you’re unstuck and good to go.
So, with a hi-lift, if set up correctly, can winch up to 5000 lbs. That’s not half bad hey. You could certainly get unstuck with this kind of winching power. Yes, it’s definitely going to be slow going, but you won’t need to sleep overnight on the trail. You get a hi-lift winch kit, which I will link below. You’ll need a clevis hook to take up the tension on the jack each time you need to reset it.
Alternatively, if you are the DIY type, which most off-roaders are, you could, with some know-how make your own winch kit with the correctly rated chain setup.
Hi-Lift Extreme vs Regular
Fortunately, this has never happened to me before, but I’ve seen it where a leaf pack breaks on a 4WD and they completely dismantle the hi-lift jack and used it as a replacement leaf. Ingenious idea and it allowed them to continue their travels.
Yes, a hi-lift has many uses off-road where a bottle jack will simply become dead weight and wasted space. See when you’re off-roading, not every scenario requires the vehicle to be lifted from under the chassis or diff.
What other uses are there for a hi-lift jack?
- De-beading a tire
- Relocating a vehicle stuck on its diff
- Suspension repairs
What Size Hi-Lift Jack do I Need Tacoma
Using a hi-lift jack on a Tacoma could prove tricky if you don’t have the correct setup. It’s not simply a matter of running about buying a hi-lift jack and you’re sorted. You’ll quickly realize that that heavy piece of equipment is a waste of space if you don’t have the necessary accessories to make it work and the correct jacking points on your Taco.
So the frame of the Tacoma sits pretty deep in and using a hi-lift on a lifted Tacoma without a jack mate could become a challenge.
But firstly, what size do we need?
So the Tacoma 3.5 V6 curb weight in 4WD is roughly 4500 pounds (2000kg+-) 2.2 US tons.
All Hi-Lift Jacks have a shear bolt that breaks at 7,000 lbs.
|Max permitted weight up to 48″||4,660 lbs|
|The 48” Hi-lift jack has a maximum winch weight||5000 lbs|
Armed with the above info, I would say it’s safe to deduce that a 60” hi-lift will be more than adequate for a Tacoma. It’s quite a large truck, and a 48” will probably work but will be cutting it too fine. I would rather suggest you invest in something a bit more capable and durable. The 60″ will be able to lift and winch heavier than necessary.
The 48” might be fine for lifting the Tacoma on a flat-level tar road, however, we are thinking worst-case scenario here. In an off-road situation the 60” will shine and you’ll wish you bought the 60” if you had a 48”
What about jacking points on the Taco?
Hi-Lift Jack Points Tacoma
So, off the showroom floor, there are no safe hi-lift jacking points on a stock Tacoma. You could attempt the tow bar/ trailer hitch but that is too risky and if it slips out it could cause major injury or damage.
If you have decent rock sliders, then all you’ll need is the slider adaptor and this can be a low-risk option to jack your Taco from the side. If you have an aftermarket bumper, most of them come with hi-lift jacking points which makes life easier in the bush. All you’ll need is the adaptor.
Your alternative is a hi-lift jack mate/buddy and a base plate. It’s relatively safe and secure and can be used both on and off-road.
There are basically 0 factory points you can use a hi-lift on a stock Tacoma.
Out on the trails, if you’re stuck/bogged and you want to lift a wheel off from an obstacle to pack rocks or wood underneath it, the wheel mate/buddy works well, since you won’t have to jack a lot to get the wheel off the ground. If you have a jack stand you can place it underneath the wheel and not rely 100% on the hi-lift. With this setup, you would be able to easily change a tire as well.
What Size Hi-Lift Jack Do I Need JEEP
If your jeep is stock, you can get away with a 48”, however, if you are going to venture off-road you will probably at some point lift your jeep and fit bigger tires. At this stage, it all depends on how high you decide to go, but I would recommend a 48” if you are doing 2-3” lifts and a 60” if you decide to go bigger tires and higher lifts.
If you have a 5-6” inch lift on the Jeep rather opt for a 60” hi-lift jack.
If you never intend to venture off-road, then the bottle jack will do just fine. If your intention is to change a tire on-road then stick to the factory jack or a bigger bottle jack.
Hi-lifts are for off-road recovery situations and are not designed for wheel changes on tar. You’re better off here with a bottle jack.
What Size Hi-Lift Jack Do I Need for FJ Cruiser
Again, for basic recovery or wheel changes off-road, the 48” on a 3” lifted FJ Cruiser will be fine. However, there will be the odd occasion when you are assisting a fellow off-roader, and a 60” would’ve been ideal.
If your FJ is running on 33” tires and a slight lift then a 48” hi-lift jack will suffice.
however, if you have a 5-6” inch lift on the FJ rather opt for a 60” hi-lift jack.
48″ is fine for most applications, however for 6″ lifts, throw in some really rough terrain, the 60″ is recommended.
Also, if you intend to use it as a winch, 60 is the way to go.
Below are some essential pieces of kit you need to own to safely operate your hi-lift Jack.
When changing tires on tar or in your driveway, the factory jack which can be placed beneath the axle will work just fine. However, there are always variables outside our control when we venture off-road. Here a Hi-lift jack is your saving grace.
the Hi-lift jack is designed to be a recovery tool and not simply a tire-changing device. It has multiple uses and can get you out of a host of tricky situations, but you have to use it with caution. Educate yourself on the correct usage and best practices and you’ll be amazed how versatile and useful it can be. You’ll never leave home without it.