NENA KNOWS JEEPS
There are two common Hi-Lift jack misconceptions circulated among
new Jeepers. The first one is that if they have 35-inch-or-taller tires, they have to carry a Hi-Lift jack with them. The second one is that they shouldn’t use a Hi-Lift jack because they are not safe. The truth is, a Hi-Lift is a very useful and versatile tool to have, no matter what size tires you own, and they can be unsafe if not used or maintained properly. Though I cannot go into all the possible ways to use a Hi-Lift jack in this short space, I will share with you the most common ways I use my Hi-Lift jack and a few key safety points.
First, what I don’t do with the Hi-Lift jack is change tires or work on my Jeep. I find an appropriately sized bottle jack or the factory scissor jack with a broad and sturdy base to be a far simpler option for tire changing. I also never use the jack for holding up a car to crawl under it—use jackstands.
The most common way I use the Hi-Lift is to lift a wheel off of the ground to get myself unstuck or lift off of something stuck under the belly of the Jeep. To lift the wheel for that purpose, secure a strap through or around the wheel, being careful of brake components, or use a handy accessory with plastic-coated hooks called Lift-Mate to grab the wheel. Once the wheel is lifted high enough that the stuck undercarriage parts are clear of it, stack rocks (or dirt, Maxtrax, etc.) to create a new high spot under the tire for it to bite on and drive clear. An alternate method would be to actually remove the obstacle itself from under the Jeep once the wheel is lifted up, in the case of a loose rock or log jammed under it. I do not recommend crawling under the vehicle at any point while it’s on a Hi-Lift.
Both of these next techniques are not endorsed by Hi-Lift because the body of the vehicle is moving, using the jack as a fulcrum point. However, a Hi-Lift may also lift the body of the Jeep by the rock rails or bumpers so that it can either be cast off or driven clear of an obstacle. Casting is lifting the bumper and then carefully pushing the body to the side to move it away from the obstacle. I have used the drive off method as well, especially effective with vehicles with axle-lock capability. In both cases, extra caution and planning must be taken into consideration. Anticipate where the Jeep will land. When
1. The procedure for which I use the Hi-Lift jack most often is lifting the wheel in order to build some kind of bridge under the tire. 2. In this instance, where dragging the vehicle backward off of a rock risks damaging the tie rod and dragging the vehicle forward will scrape everything else in the undercarriage, lifting the Jeep up and dragging the rock out can get you back to wheeling. 3. If the Lift-Mate won’t work for some reason, you can always use a short strap to wrap around or through the wheel to lift it. Make sure to not pinch sensors or brake lines on the backside of the wheel. 4. Casting off is lifting one end of the rig off the ground and then carefully pushing it over to reposition the stuck wheels. This can be dangerous if you have not anticipated where the vehicle and jack will fall once the vehicle has been cast to the side.5. The legendary Bill Burke demonstrating perfect Hi-Lift form while jacking this wheel up to place it on a Maxtrax. 6. When I am using the jack in a casting off scenario, I place a towel between the jack and anything I would like to keep pretty.