Tongue jacks today have become so commonplace, they’re just another commodity in the trailer accessories world. Translated, that means they’re usually inexpensive to buy, easy to install, and won’t last long if they’re abused and maintained indifferently. If you’re buying for the first time or replacing yours, here’s what to look for.
You get what you pay for. Cheap jacks don’t usually last long. You can upgrade to one with a higher capacity, larger dolly wheel, or even dual wheels, and a better, stronger internal mechanism. Typically, this will double or even triple the cost, but the jack will last much longer.
Check capacity and lift height carefully. If your rig has a heavy tongue weight, go for a jack with a much higher capacity. Too much is better than not enough. The cheaper jacks are typically rated to carry
1,000 to 1,200 pounds, while the more expensive versions carry 1,500 to 2,000 pounds.
The higher ratings come from beefier construction. Typically, the life tube is larger in diameter, the gearing inside is stronger, the dolly wheel and axle are larger and more durable, and the mounting, swivel mechanism and pin are tougher.
Tongue jacks are typically made from carbon steel for strength and economy, but marine versions are almost always zinc-coated or galvanized for corrosion protection. Those marketed for utility trailers, camper trailers and others are usually simply painted. Purchase accordingly.
If your trailer tongue needs more height, you can buy jacks that have more travel. Most common is 10 inches of lift, but jacks are available with 12 and even 15 inches of travel. Don’t settle.
Dual-wheel jacks and jacks with larger-diameter wheels and rubber tires carry more weight without deforming under load and also allow for easier travel across bumpy ground. Standard plastic dolly wheels get stuck on rutted ground and often break under load.
The swingaway feature is commonplace today, but there are still jacks available that don’t offer this. It’s a great convenience because you can raise the wheel with just a few turns of the jack, then pull the stay pin and swivel the jack up and out of the way for travel without having to waste time cranking the handle until it’s fully retracted.