Hi Lift 4wd jacks; why EVERYBODY should own one!

Hi Lift 4wd jacks; why EVERYBODY should own one!

Sometimes referred to as a high lift jack, or a kangaroo jack; the ‘Hi-Lift’ is actually the brand name of probably the biggest supplier of these type’s of jacks. I’ve said it a for a while now, the Hi-Lift jack is my absolute top bit of recovery gear next to the humble snatch strap and shovel. So why do I like them so much?


The best uses for a hi lift jack:

  • You can lift things up, really high! Plenty of lift to pack rocks under your wheels when your diffs bottom out.
  • Got dirt in your tyre bead? A hi-lift can break the bead so you can clean it up. I do this a lot.
  • Extremely quick. Will easily lift a vehicle 10 times as high as a bottle jack could, in 1/10th the time.
  • You can use it as a winch. It’s a slow and tough slog, but it could get you out of trouble
  • If you’re in a real shit of a spot, you can turn a vehicle around on the spot by jacking up the end of the vehicle and pushing it sideways off the jack.
  • It can be used as a gigantic clamp or a spreader, perhaps to straighten something like a bent steering rod.

Why then, is something so useful hated by so many? Like most useful tools (chainsaws or angle grinders perhaps) they are incredibly dangerous when used by the inexperienced or in anger and without taking proper precautions. Here’s a few pointers to ensure you don’t become a hi lift hater or wind up in a wheelchair:


  • You need steel bar work with built in jacking points if you wish to use a hi lift. Alternatively you could use a Hi-Lift jack mate.
  • A hi lift jack is a rare beast which relies on a load to stay in place. If the weight of your vehicle shifts leaving the jack with no weight on it for a split second, the whole lot comes crashing down. Don’t have anyone touching or even near the vehicle when a hi lift is in operation.
  • Hi lift jacks are a recovery jack and not designed for changing tyres or working on your vehicle. You should still carry your bottle jack with you.
  • If you thought it was hard going pulling that handle down to lift the vehicle up, be prepared for the opposite when lowering it back down. The same force will try and take that handle straight up, many people have wound up drinking through a straw thanks to this. I always keep my face well clear of that handle.
  • Poor old hi lifts are left on the outside of your vehicle for years through sun and rain. It’s hardly surprising that it doesn’t work properly when you go to use it! You can get covers and bags to store it in, otherwise keep up the maintenance with a wash and some WD40 and/or spray grease around the pins and hinges to keep it lifting.
  • Anything lifted high is unstable. A high lift jack is never going to be SAFE, you can only minimise the risk. Never rush a recovery with the hi lift, step back and discuss the situation with mates. Look at where the weight is likely to be distributed, centre of gravity and what is likely to happen if it all goes wrong.


So you’ve seen the good, you’ve seen the bad and you’ve decided you’d like one. There are a few accessories that go hand in hand with the hi lift that can make your lifting experience much easier and in some cases safer. Here’s a few must have Hi lift jack accessories:

The hi-lift jack base plate:

Simple, it stops the relatively small base from sinking so easily in sand or mud by increasing the footprint. You can buy a proper plate or you might have some handy piece of metal plate you like to use, you could even use your BBQ plate if you really had to.

Hi-Lift lift mate:

This is a genuine Hi-Lift accessory which will allow you to lift the vehicle by the spokes of the wheels. If you don’t have any points to lift from you will need one of these. If you are jacking from the vehicle body it can take a while to max out the suspension travel and actually get wheels off the ground. Lift straight from the wheel and you eliminate that problem!


Winching accessory kit:

If you reckon you might use your jack for winching purposes then this is what you’ll need. Chains, cable, tree protector and the adapter to make it all work with your jack.

Hi lift jack cover:

It’ll keep the dust and muck out of your jack. There are two types available; one which goes around only the working parts of the jack, or a full canvas cover.

To tie it all up, as long as you take the time to learn how to use it in your driveway and treat your high lift with the same respect that you would a running chainsaw; I think you will find it to be a VERY handy tool!


Alex Garner

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  1. rolly
    May 06, 17:52 Reply
    that is very good advice Alex, thanks for that --Rolly
  2. Sm
    January 25, 10:29 Reply
    There's a accessory called the dla from jeepneeds.com and it makes it very safe to use a hi lift
  3. Ron
    August 23, 07:22 Reply
    I have a old High Lift Jack.isthere a quick way to lower the lifting section without cranking it down?:-)
    • Alex Garner
      October 30, 10:27 Reply
      So long as there is no load on the jack you should just be able to flick the lift/raise lever and it will drop straight down! Though as yours is older maybe they didn't function this way back then.
  4. Frugalolegeezer
    January 13, 23:23 Reply
    Hello Alex, I am 75 years old and have a very important tip when using a hi lift jack. Never use any kind of oil on the jack. Using oil is the biggest cause of failure for these jacks because it collects dirt and grime which in turn causes the pins to get stuck. Using a dry lube in a spray can keeps the pins much cleaner and aids in the operation of the jack. Don't ask me how I know this trick.
    • Alex Garner
      March 20, 18:11 Reply
      That's a bloody good tip indeed! Entirely correct. They bugger up once the dirt clogs the mechanism. If there's nothing in the mechanism for the dirt to stick to, you'll be right!
  5. Ray
    April 13, 22:54 Reply
    Where can I get a replacement handle
  6. Wazza
    September 02, 15:24 Reply
    Hi I want to buy a Hi lift Jack for my son as a present, how do I know what size to buy him?? Warren
    • Alex Garner
      September 03, 06:45 Reply
      Hi Warren, They'll lift the same weight and all work the same way. The points of difference are that a smaller size won't lift as high, will cost a little less, and may be easier to store depending on his setup. Thanks mate!

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