What do you really need?
When it comes time to choose what mobile lifting device (or jack) to carry with you on the trail, choose wisely. Is your vehicle low to the ground? Do you drive a heavy-duty truck? Is your truck outfitted with oversized tires and a big lift kit? These are only a few factors you need to know before purchasing your next jack.
Today, jacks come in an assortment of shapes, sizes, and styles. Everything from old-school, hand-pump floor jacks to CO2-driven lifts. We got our hands on one example of each type of jack available today to see what each is made of and what you should choose.
ARB X-Jack Exhaust Jack
Exhaust jacks have been around for more than 50 years. Even today, a number of fire engines still carry them onboard. ARB has taken that technology and come up with a compact version made suitable for us to carry into the great outdoors. It comes in a handy travel case measuring roughly 24 inches in diameter and 4 inches thick. At first, it seems like it will take up a lot of space onboard, but after traveling with the jack for several days, we realized because of its light weight it was easily placed between seats, inside rear compartments, or even inside luggage. The jack itself is extremely thick with spikes on the bottom made to aid in traction over varying terrain. Also included is a set of gloves, instructions, patch kit, protection mat, and the exhaust lines.
ARB recommends placing the jack on the sides of the vehicle nearest to the tire you want to lift as shown. The jack is inflated via a hose that connects to the trucks tailpipe. Once the engine is started the jack will start to inflate. It took us a few tries to get the jack situated just right, worrying about anything that may pierce the jack as it expanded. Watching a giant balloon blow up and lift your vehicle is a bit odd the first time you try it. Within two minutes the jack was nearly fully inflated, but did not lift our FJ Cruiser with 33-inch tires off the ground yet. We also noticed as the jack filled, the exhaust pressure made it increasingly harder to hold the hose against the tailpipe. A few minutes later we saw the tires leave the ground successfully. ARB has added a tire valve to the jack to which you can connect an air tank. We believe that will be a much easier way to get the jack fully inflated at a faster rate.
ARB directs that this jack be used only to aid in freeing a wheel from being stuck, and not as a device to change tires. Although it is not recommended, we placed the jack under the rear axle and did get the truck off the ground much more easily—enough to remove a tire. When trying it under the front, we realized this jack is not suited for trucks with independent control arms and big wheel travel. The jacks top feature is its ability to be used anywhere over anything. It will shine in the sand where other jacks can fail.
Pros: Light, easy to pack and carry, useful in all terrains, no additional equipment needed, does not take much effort, can lift up to 8,800 pounds.
Cons: Tough getting the jack to inflate consistently level, not suited for long-travel trucks, not suited to remove tires from trucks with big lift kits and tires, holding the hose to your exhaust pipe puts you into the direct line of fire for carbon monoxide.
Who should buy: Four-wheel-drive owners, straight-axle truck owners, sand lovers, chase trucks
Cost: $235.99 on Amazon.com
For more information, contact: www.arbusa.com