Traditional Hi-lift Jack vs ARB Jack

ByUnsealed 4X4April 1, 2019
Traditional Hi-lift Jack vs ARB Jack
You’ve heard about ARB’s Jack, you may have even seen one – but chances are you’ve never used one. Well we have and we’re here to tell you how it works
Words by Mark Kendrick

Traditional mechanical high-lift jacks have been around since Adam was a boy, a farm implement good for moving logs around. Fast-forward a bloody long way to where someone saw a chance to sell a long-travel farmer’s friend to an up-and-coming market, the recreational 4X4er. As well as high quality cast and machined models from usually USA-based manufacturers, there are cheap Far Eastern-manufactured examples, some of which bend just looking at them. Mechanical high-lift jacks aren’t especially safe to use. Even quality examples are unsteady, and lowering a vehicle causes the handle to try and knock your teeth out. These jacks have clearly been around forever, seemingly a necessity for off-road credibility to some and certainly ubiquitous within the off-road scene.


Into this established market enters ARB’s new Jack. Instead of a mechanical contraption, ARB has developed a hydraulic device to do the same job, only better. Ye olde mechanical jack was an adaptable piece of kit; as well as lifting it could be used for (laboriously) winching. Use the winch adapter and you could use it for clamping. The good quality mechanical jacks could be driven over as an emergency bridging ladder or the handle used to sleeve a bent track rod or trailing arm or even as a breaker bar extension. At the same time they are considered a dangerous tool, not as bad as snatching from a tow ball for example, but nonetheless dangerous if not respected.

ARB’s Jack can’t offer winching, the handle isn’t re-purposeable, and you certainly wouldn’t think to drive over it. The Jack’s hook does not have a hole in it to suit the safety pins on wheel adapters such as Bushranger’s Lift-Mate. However, what it does is lift and lower, and it does these things with absolute ease and vastly increased safety. The ARB Jack comes in a stout protective bag and packs up to a compact 890mm long. Once out of the bag it is easy to use. Simply raise the hook’s collar to an appropriate height, flip the hook down to engage the nearest notch, place it under the jacking point and start pumping with one hand. There is no kick-back. Let the handle go and it won’t move. It won’t bust your knuckle or your teeth.

Using 4x4 ARB High Lift Jack Accessories

The hook is adjustable from 160mm to 710mm from the ground. The travel of 540mm is shy of a 48-inch mechanical jack’s 831mm but with a maximum lift height of 1230mm is far superior to our good old Hi-Lift’s 1000mm. When ready to lower, gently depress the little red lever for a slow and controlled descent, or don’t be so gentle on the lever if you want to drop it like it’s hot. There’s no exposed mechanism threatening to take a finger off. There is no kick-back from the ARB Jack’s handle in either direction. You don’t have to raise the car that little bit higher before it starts to lower. You can lower it a millimetre at a time.

Everything about the ARB Jack is easy. The pump action doesn’t require much strength or exertion – it really is single-handed. Lowering the vehicle is a cinch. It’s even lighter weight and more compact than a regular jack for storage and GVM concerns. The ARB Jack has a massive two-tonne working load limit (WLL). Most mechanical jacks have a WLL of just over one tonne. I mean, bro, do you even lift? The other hydraulic jack on the market, Radflo’s Hydra-Jac, is only one-tonne rated too. Should the Jack be overloaded, rather than collapsing, bending or dropping, a calibrated overload valve in the Jack bleeds pressure off, making it vastly safer than the traditional jacks. The Jack has a good-sized base that swivels and pivots to suit the terrain, making it more stable than the traditional mechanical jack with a hard-mounted smooth rectangular base.

If you leave your Hi-Lift jack bolted to the roof rack for carpark poser points, get the cheapest mechanical jack you can find and never actually use it. Paint it hi-viz or woodland camouflage for extra cred. The ARB Jack’s price of $995 will put it out of some 4X4er’s budgets, especially against the sub $99 specials for low-quality mechanical junk jacks. If safety and ease of use are important, the Jack will hit the mark. We had a go at lifting my heavy old Land Rover with an original Hi-Lift jack and ARB’s new Jack; watch the video and see how the Hi-Lift and the Jack compare for yourself!

Low effort required
Controllable lowering
Small and lightweight
Quality storage and carry bag
More stable than other jacks
No fear of kickback. Because it simply won’t
No mechanism to lose a finger from

Can’t adapt for emergency winching
Rubber handle restraint not effective

For more information, click here.