HOMICIDAL YET HELPFUL
Updated: Dec 4, 2021
Words by Dex Fulton
Photo supplied by Hi-Lift
Why the humble Hi-Lift jack should be the first off-road accessory you buy.
Two and a half decades ago I had just bought my first 4WD and was keener than a politician at a taxpayer-funded BBQ buffet to start decking it out for off-road travel. Wet behind the
ears and not knowing the first thing about wheeling, and without the infinite (often incorrect)
knowledge found on the internet, I asked my more seasoned 4WD-ing friends which
accessory I should buy first.
“Get yourself a Hi-Lift jack mate, all you’ll need”, was the most common answer from my
carefully selected ‘expert’ panel of three blokes I loosely knew from the local 4WD Club, so
I dutifully followed their advice and thus began my love-hate affair with a tool that has been
put to good use countless times - and tried to kill me nearly as many.
That’s the thing with Hi-Lifts, they’re the chainsaw-on-meth of the recovery world; as useful
as they are likely to end up in a maiming. Allow me to explain:
I have come very close to lopping off my thumb when my open Hi-Lift handle inexplicably decided to ratchet shut without warning; I have watched a man’s jaw shatter while effecting a trackside repair as the same thing happened to him, only instead of his hand, his face was in the way of the guillotining steel bar; I’ve had the ratchet assembly decide to suddenly disengage, landing on my safety-thong-clad toe, fracturing it and causing me to hit my
highest soprano in agony; I’ve had vehicles fall off the jack, missing me by inches; I’ve had the baseplate sink into the mud, lowering the fourby dangerously close to where I have been working – you get the point. Let’s just say that if Stephen King had owned a Hi-Lift while writng Christine, the old Plymouth may well have been replaced with a bright red length of steel that’s 80% pure evil.
"That’s the thing with Hi-Lifts, they’re the chainsaw-on-meth of the recovery world"
Now here’s the kicker, despite the mission statement of wanton sadism, I still have that same
Hi-Lift today, and it still gets used. A lot.
I have used it as a jack (duh) more times than I can count; it’s been used as a hand winch; it
has changed uni-joints trackside; the handle has been used as a breaker bar extension; I’ve
put it to work breaking tyre beads; it has pressed dented styleside tubs back to (relative)
straightness; it has been bent, seized, chipped and beaten on like a rented Hyundai, and it has
come back each time and never let me down. They really are the most versatile of death traps
and, if used correctly, are one of the most useful tools to have in your arsenal when you’re off
the beaten path, and as such, are my go-to answer for the “what accessory should I buy first?”
question that I get DM’d on social media regularly (ok, it only happened once, and it was my
mum asking to try and make me feel important, but whatever).
Much like a good knife, tyre pliers, loo paper, 12v compressor and First Aid kit, the Hi
(chance of bodily injury)-Lift is essential gear in my 4X4. Fight Me.