Why all the hi-lift hate? Is there an alternative?

I Leak Oil

Expedition Leader
Total number of incidences I would think a bottle jack would statistically be more dangerous.
Ratio of uses per incident...I'm guessing the farm jack is more dangerous.

I would guess it depends on how you skin the cat.


High lift has its own very special uses, but like with anything for off road travel it needs to be respected.
Too just pull a winch cable out and start a pull without assessing the situation can be dangerous too, the point is you need to evaluate every situation and see what is the best way to use the tool safely and think clearly, as you can also get seriously injured. Taking a class to learn the proper way to use a High Lift or winch does not hurt either. www.4x4training.com.

PS. I am not affiliated with this company, taken classes and Tom Severin is awesome instructor


The Credible Hulk
Give it an occasional hosing with WD-40, that will slow down the rust considerably, not to mention keeping the mechanisms from freezing up.


New member
I've had my Hi-Lift since the late 90s and for when I had a Series Lightweight. The friend that trained me on it told me about the pitfalls and where to go wrong with it as well as before, during and after use to try to understand where the weak points of the plan is, where the vehicle will go, slide or escape to and what would then happen to the jack.

Above all, a strap/strop attached to the top via D-Link so that if all else failed and it dropped in the muck, you could find it afterwards.

Since I stopped having a 4x4 with jackable sections I have used it for other things, including helping a friend brace their back door after they were broken into one night and as a slow winch to get myself, in a 2wd car, out of a ditch I had made the mistake of driving near, and dropping into.

Well, we all make mistakes.

I have seen plenty of these jacks carried on the outside of vehicles, along with ropes and all manner of other 'off road gear'. However, when I get my next 4x4 I am intending to mount it inside the vehicle in its own cradle near the door as well as getting the service kit and sorting that out for it.

Not sure I've dismantled it and rebuilt it, servicing it etc, since I got it but it has had a light dusting of oil every now and again. Stored in a cool dry dark place until I need it.

Last week I saw the use of a wheel lift on a Hi Lift and that was quite excellent, so I am sure I shall have to get that too :eek:

Decent looked after recovery gear carried with you and where you know how to use it is always a benefit. Always think before operating recovery gear; where it's going to go, and what happens if it all goes pear shaped... :Wow1:


Regular Dude
I keep mine on the side of my BajaRack only because I have an FJ Cruiser, and inside space is limited. That being said, I have the hi-lift neoprene sock on the jacking foot/mechanism, and regularly inspect it for damage. The remainder of the recovery kit rides inside in a pelican box, as does the compressor, etc.

Yuman Desert Rat

Expedition Leader
I keep mine on the side of my BajaRack only because I have an FJ Cruiser, and inside space is limited. That being said, I have the hi-lift neoprene sock on the jacking foot/mechanism, and regularly inspect it for damage. The remainder of the recovery kit rides inside in a pelican box, as does the compressor, etc.
I rock the sock, too. The AZ dust used to get everywhere. Not sure how tbe FJ interior is but I got a rock hard cross bar for the roll cage and mounted it to that with fourtreks mounts. Works great, keeps it out of the elements, secure and readily available.


operator error and/or poor maintenance.

Either he was not using it correctly and in a safe manner, or the pins failed to slide as intended to lower the vehicle once lifted.

Sorry it happened. It is a common injury.

Unfortunately even if somebody knows how to use the jack properly, most are strapped to the exterior of the vehicle, washing the grease out and packing the mechanisms with crud. If the pins are not sliding correctly, the chances of you getting injured are high.

I keep mine mounted on the back of my pickup year round. But I also hose it out very well every time the truck is washed and spray lube it every time it is washed. Also, once a year the jack is pulled off the truck, degreased, inspected, and regreased.

It is a pretty high maintenance item if you want it to work safely, and as intended.
I agree with the above.

Over here with all the smaller framed guys (40-55kg) we have a constant battle to make them use them properly head and chest of out the way of the handle. Usually one of us bigger guys will take over.

Common problems are yes hi-lifts carried outside the vehicle and they get covered in mud. WD40 and silicon spray cleans them up. Also the use of cheap china hi-lifts is a major danger as they often fail to work properly. A hi-lift comes out at least once a trip to change a tire somewhere along the trip or some other breakage which needs the vehicle jacked up.

We also give lessons on hi-lifts during our 4x4 courses we present to show proper usage and the dangers. I think nearly all my group has had a vehicle drop off a hi-lift.

Don't hate them just give them a lot of respect they are a dangerous tool and you need to be really careful with them..

Last trip broken IFS putting the small spare on to get out. The hilux's china Hi-lift needed silicon and the old experienced hand to get the slides running smoothly.
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Dave Kay

For nearly 30 years my trade has been in heavy construction, specializing in cranes and hoisting equipment and when I bought my Hi-Lift 48" in the late 80's, I instinctively knew that this was a device, like many of the things we use in the crane business, that has the potential to maim and kill. But with proper use and some knowledge it is fairly safe as long as you don't try taking shortcuts with it, e., g,. use common sense.

My kit includes the bumper lift and for extra base-plate support I have a collection of solid oak dunnage collected over the years as well as wedges, like wheel chocks, to also help level the base-plate as as well as chocking the vehicle from rolling if needed.

Used it mostly to get others unstuck and it's been a faithful old friend over the years. If you keep your jack inside your vehicle and inside a cover or blanket you'll be way ahead of the maintenance game. The product I use to lube and prevent rust is Outers Metal Seal, actually a gun metal preservative that's been tested and proven by gun enthusiast mags in some really harsh, salt water type conditions. My old 48 hardly shows any wear and the Outers keeps rust at bay for a long time, like a few years.

Safe is as safe does: use as recommended, follow directions, don't take shortcuts, and you'll be alright with a Hi-lift.