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Factory Jacks in Trucks

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  • Factory Jacks in Trucks

    Okay, maybe I'm dense, but I had a time changing the tire on my truck last week (see Beware Attack Salt Blocks). I've changed tires before many times, though not on that vehicle. Never a problem, at least not beyond the usual $%^*%^ situations when changing a tire since they never have trouble at convenient points. I've changed tires on the side of the road, in my own driveway, on the side of the interstate in Kansas City in a downpour while cars and trucks splashed by and not one person stopped. I do know how to change a tire. At least I thought I did.

    Got out the jack, factory jack. On this 1995 truck, it had never been undone. Took me WD40, sweat, and curses to get that stupid wing nut off.

    Since the truck was in my unpaved driveway, ground a bit soft, not the greatest surface, I decided to get a foundation block to go underneath the jack as a more level and stable platform. I bought a truckload of these blocks when the mobile home movers brought in Mom's trailer in 2005 and used them to build support columns under the trailer. They told me specifically what to get, look like cinder blocks but only about 4 inches thick and solid. Plenty left over, which I've kept around since something like that was bound to be useful some day. This was the day, in more ways than I had expected. Since they were professionally recommended for use as mobile home supports, I figured they're plenty strong enough to use as a jack base under the truck.

    So I put a block in under the lifting point. Checked two blocks, but nope, jack wouldn't fit between block and lifting point with two blocks. I left it at one block, put the jack in, and turned the long crank to eternity. Up, up, up went the truck. Got it up enough to get the old tire off, threw the old tire in the Focus, blocked the truck up (more foundation blocks) to hold it rather than just leaving the jack up, and left it like that for the moment.

    Got down to putting on the new truck tire yesterday. Once more, jack on its single block, jacked it up further than before, since I was aiming to put on a new tire, not take off a flat.

    And then . . . the jack hit the full extent. The truck was not yet up enough to get the new tire on.

    Keep in mind, this is the FACTORY jack. It came with this truck. And it also had a 4-inch boost from the foundation block.

    No possible way to get the truck high enough with this jack alone.

    After some thought, I fished out the jack from Mom's truck, which has been parked since 2005 and doesn't run, but hey, it's also a factory truck jack, albeit for a little Ranger. I then put 2 blocks alongside my 1 block plus jack, and the 2 blocks plus second jack now fit under the lifting point okay since the truck was jacked up to the full extent of jack #1. I put jack #2 on the 2 blocks and jacked it up enough to pull out jack #1, then slid a second block in on jack #1's platform, replaced jack #1, and jacked the truck up more using jack #1, afraid to just trust the one for the Ranger without reinserting jack #1 since my truck is larger. Each jack was now on 2 blocks. Finally got it high enough to put the tire on.

    Why on earth would the factory-supplied jack not be tall enough at full extent to jack up the truck it came with, even with a boost from the block? Did they mistakenly give me the jack meant for an Escort in 1995 when I got the truck?

    There is no possible way I could have dealt with that by the side of the road. Not with the block shuffling and 2 jacks playing relays. Obviously I need a new and taller jack. Might throw a block or two in the truck for whatever they might be needed for, too; those things were invaluable.

    So two questions:

    1. Does your factory-supplied jack actually jack your truck up far enough to change a tire? (In other words, was the world just conspiring against me personally? Was my jack defective or the wrong type?)

    2. If you have upgraded from factory jack, what upgraded jack did you get and why? I'm now jack shopping.


  • #2
    It's not just trucks. Factory jacks are crap on just about any new vehicle out there now.

    My son had a flat tire on his VW Jetta in the garage. Figured, nice - car in the garage on a hard flat surface - this should be a piece of cake. Yeah, right.

    The flimsy little thing they put in the trunk looks more like a bicycle pump than it does a jack. It is supposed to rest in a dent in the frame under a door, and the end that contacts the ground is about as big around as a pinky finger. There is NO way you could stabilize that on a dirt road or uneven surface.

    I set the thing up and started turning it with the little handle thingy they give you. First problem: You can't turn the handle a full rotation because it hits the ground . Have to take it out and put it back in - over and over again.

    Then the fun started. About the time I got the wheel off the ground, the bottom of the jack started moving on the garage floor. Almost before I could move my hand out of the way, the jack violently flipped out from under the car and the car came crashing back down. I came within millimeters of having my hand smashed by the jack. For a moment I just stood there in shock. Not only was the jack a total piece of crap, useless for it's intended purpose, but I narrowly escaped serious injury. And, I'm no novice with jacks. It scared the h*ll out of me to think what could have happened to my inexperienced son if he had been trying to do this himself.

    We ended up having to go to a garage and borrowing a floor jack to bring back to change the tire.

    Next vehicle we get, I'm making darn sure it has a useable jack - or roadside assistance that will come out and change it.


    • #3
      Mind you, I am the person who stops and helps people stranded *on the road* as part of my job... so I too know how to change a tire.

      However... I have AAA and soon, the horse/trailer one too. (can't remember the name) Doing them at 6 mos apart so if I use up all the assists for one, I can use the other.

      But as to factory jacks? Crap. Oh--factory lug wrench BENT when I tried to get *hand tightened* lugs off the Dakota once.

      I get a nice little hydraulic jack at VIP or such... and (note to self: you've typed this, (out loud) you'd better DO it now) had and now need a nice 4 way lug wrench to do truck & trailer, since trailer has different lugs.

      As to the roadside assistance... My truck has been locking itself. Something to do with the cold. At HOME I usually do not lock it. Yes, I leave the keys in it. It's a farmer thing. I know all about contributing to the deliquency of minors, and I don't do it anywhere BUT home, but in an emergency with the horses or with me, I want someone to be able to get in and MOVE the sucker.

      Now, I KNOW she's been locking herself the past few stupid way below zero days. I've been carrying a spare and the keys. I am SURE I put the spare in a 'safe' pocket so it woulnd't fall out the last time I used it. I remember thinking I should put it back (in the kitchen) but also knew, it's just in that jacket pocket... I'll be wearing that jacket.

      Only it's not.

      And of course, I just went out, all dressed in stupid clothes for Church... We practice at 1400 and sing at 1600. It's now 1421 and I'm waiting for wonderful Mr. AAA to arrive and unlock said beast.

      I fiddled around with a wedge, but I don't have the right stuff. It's in my duty bag, IN THE TRUCK.

      That tangent has nothing to do with spares or flats or jacks. BUT, it has to do with Roadside Assistance being worth EVERY PENNY. I pretty much use up all my free 'assists' every year. Last year it was being twitched out of my own driveway with the plow.

      And while I would probably change my own flat if I was close to the end of benefits... at 20 below windchills... I'd call AAA if it happened right now.
      InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

      Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


      • Original Poster

        Yeah, I know, I know. I have great and very low-cost roadside assistance from my auto insurance company, best deal I found, but it only applies to the vehicle with comprehensive (the Focus) and not the one with just liability (the truck). I have used it twice on the Focus, very prompt, no problems, no $$$ extra spent. But since the truck has 379,000 miles and gets driven maybe 25 miles a week, I saw no point in springing for comprehensive on it. Don't know if I even COULD get comprehensive on it. They'd probably laugh at me.

        I'm seriously thinking now of adding AAA or some such that follows me, not the $%$*^ vehicle.

        Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who has had issues with factory jacks.


        • #5
          Check your owners manual for the factory specified lift points. A common mistake people make when jacking SUVs and pickups is lifting from the frame as opposed to the axle.

          Reading that you were on almost 8" of block using the jack I would say there is a 99.9% chance you were on the frame but needed to be on the axle.
          Nearly all of what I post will be controversial to someone. Believe nothing you read on a chat room, research for yourself and LEARN.
          Not in the 42% or the 96%


          • #6
            Factory jacks are not always of the highest quality. And changing tires in the rain is something I've left in my earlier life.

            The answer: U.S. Rider.

            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


            • #7
              Every vehicle I have has a cheapo but handy-dandy floor jack.
              I have changed many tires with them, never had to use the sorry factory installed jacks that come with the vehicles.

              All Home Depot/Lowes/Wally etc. carry them:



              • #8
                DT, if you do it--do US Rider. They will deal with your truck even if it has hay in the bed, or a trailer attached.

                AAA won't/can't. Ask me how I found THAT out at 0200 and -20 standing air temp last winter...
                InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs

                Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)


                • #9
                  We have floor jacks for here at home and hubby got theese really
                  neat one ton jacks for the vehicles. He even carries one in his

                  I personally do not trust the factory jacks.


                  • #10
                    Agree with the person that said check your points.

                    Also, do you have the factory regulation tire size on the truck? By the time it's gone through a new set of tires or two, it's likely that the tire size has grown. (Have larger than factory recommended tires on all of my trucks.) That, of course, could be an issue....I have GIANT tires on my Jeep and there's no way that my tiny factory jack could lift her high enough to get them on/off. So I have a regular little 1 ton bottle jack under my seat instead.

                    But it doesn't make sense that you were able to get the tire off but not back on...so check your points again.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pintopiaffe View Post
                      DT, if you do it--do US Rider. They will deal with your truck even if it has hay in the bed, or a trailer attached.

                      AAA won't/can't. Ask me how I found THAT out at 0200 and -20 standing air temp last winter...
                      Oh yes you can. He he. You unhook the truck from the trailer and roll it forward a few feet. Then it is no longer hooked to the trailer and they will do it. Ask me how I know...........the truck they will put on a flatbed, take it to a tire place where you can get it fixed and drive the truck back to the trailer and hook her back up! Now that plan will not in fact work at 2 am!!
                      edited to add: knowing what those dinky things look like: we have better jacks, and ramps and a heavy duty lug wrench on the truck trailer. I also make sure to have the lugs HAND tightened on the wheels when they are inspected. Last time I had to call AAA for a tire because I could NOT get the lugs off that were air gun tightened. I got this cocky dude from AAA with this attitude on his face that said "fool women that can't change a tire". He got out his wrench and the grinning fool went to work. Nothing happened. Now he is straining. Nothing happened. Cursing dude goes back and gets a bigger wrench. With much cussing and grunting he DID get em off. When he was done he told me "when you get this tire changed tell them to HAND tighten the lugs". So I did. The tire place argued with me that air guns do not overtighten. I shrugged and said "current experience says you are wrong. HAND tighten them".He shrugged and moseyed off.
                      Providence Farm