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Whether you are a do it yourself type of person or you take your vehicle in and pay for everything to get worked on, there is going to come a time when you will need to know how to jack up your UTV or ATV. It is inevitable that you will get a flat or have something mess up eventually that will require you to lift it in the air.
It is essential that you know the basics of jacking up your ride to avoid any possible damage or injury because jacking these machines can be very dangerous if not done correctly. UTVs and ATVs are very similar and these principles can be applied to either type of vehicle so I want to give you as much information as I can on both vehicle types.
Jacking up a UTV or ATV is all about the right balance and stability. Using a good quality floor jack to lift up the frame and a set of jack stands to stabilize it is how to properly lift your ride.
UTVs and ATVs require periodic maintenance that will undoubtedly have you jacking up your vehicle and I want to go over the different types of jacks available and the safest methods for each type of jack. If you already know what to do and want a great recommendation for a jack, then try this Tusk 2 ton scissor jack at Amazon. It has a small footprint so you can use it out on the trail and not take up much space, or you can use it at home in your garage. I normally use a floor jack but this is nice because it can serve multiple functions and isn’t too bulky. The main takeaway from learning how to jack up your ride is that you need to do it as safely as possible.
- 2-Ton portable scissor jack
- Durable yet lightweight
- Comes with compact handle for simple operation
- Easy to store or pack along on the trail
- Adjustable jack height between 3.75" and 18.25"
Safety Should Be Your First Concern
Jacking up a UTV or ATV can be unsafe in almost any condition because you are lifting several hundred pounds off the ground and even possibly crawling underneath that vehicle to do some work. If not done properly then all that weight will come tumbling down on top of you and could injure you if you are stuck in between it and the ground. Best case scenario, you just damage some parts and have to spend some extra money. That’s why I am going to go over each type of jacking method so you can learn which is the safest way to prevent anything from happening.
**Disclaimer: Jacking up a vehicle is inherently dangerous and anything can go wrong that is out of your control. The key is to stay aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your jacks throughout any process and monitor any shifts in the vehicle**
What Kind Of Jacks Are Are Available?
There are several different types of jacks and methods for jacking but which one is right for you? Honestly, no one jack is the best in every situation and each has its advantages and disadvantages so let’s jump right in and talk about the first type of jack.
**Tip – Make sure you have some small pieces of 2×4 or plywood so you can shim your jack to keep it level and even. Making sure your jack stays level will minimize the tendency for the vehicle to shift while on the jack. Shims are also good to keep from having metal on metal contact that may damage your frame.**
Hydraulic Floor Jacks
I personally think floor jacks are some of the best and safest jacks to use to jack up any vehicle at home. They serve multiple functions because you can lift your car, lawnmower, UTV, ATV, or any other type of vehicle you need. I even used mine to jack up my heavy workbench to move it from one side of my garage to the other.
Floor jacks operate with a handle and a release valve. When the release valve is closed you pump the handle and operate the hydraulic ram to give you mechanical advantage and make the jack go up. These jacks are often lift much faster than any other jack which makes them ideal for around the house when you want to get the job done and get back out on the trail. I personally like the smaller 2-3 ton models because they don’t take up a ton of space and can do everything I really need.
Any jack that you have and take care of will last you a very long time so make an investment. My floor jack has been with me for over 15 years and I have used it for ATVs, cars, trucks, work benches, and many other things over the years and has been an invaluable tool.
Cons – The downside to floor jacks (standard floor jacks) is that they are often very heavy and bulky and are a pain to carry around. They also have a larger footprint than other jacks of the same capacity meaning you may have a hard time using them if you are working in tight spaces.
Scissor jacks use a lead screw and handle. All you have to do is turn the handle which then turns the lead screw and acts kind of like a gear to close the “scissor” linkage and lift up the jack. You turn it the opposite way to open the “scissor” linkage and bring the jack down.
Scissor jacks have very small footprints and they are very good choices for UTV and ATVers because they can be easily transported with you on your ride and take up minimal space. They weigh much less than floor jacks which makes it much nicer to tote them from place to place. You can mount them just about anywhere on your UTV or ATV and they won’t get in the way. As I stated above, you can also use these around the house in lieu of a floor jack.
Cons- While these jacks are smaller and more lightweight, they tend to take much longer to actually jack up the vehicle. This is because you have to turn the lead screw several times to get the jack to move a decent amount. If you are going to use a jack a lot, then a scissor jack may not be the optimal choice for you since it takes a lot more effort to use.
ATV Jack Or Motorcycle Jack
Did you know that they make jacks specifically designed for ATVs and Motorcycles? Well they do, and they are very similar to a hydraulic floor jack but are designed to lift the whole machine off the ground and even have wheels so you can roll your ride around very easily.
So you might be saying to yourself “I don’t even know how to use a motorcycle/ATV jack.” Well it is actually fairly simple. It works much like a floor jack but normally has a foot lever in place of a handle. You place the jack under the center of your ride and jack it up. With the larger platform, the bike or ATV balances better than a conventional floor jack and has all 4 wheels off the ground.
Cons – While these jacks are pretty cool, they have some major disadvantages. First of all, they normally won’t be able to support as much weight as the other jacks. These jacks also jack right in the center of your machine so if that is the area you need to do work, then you will have to find another jack for the job. These jacks can also be fairly pricey as well because they seem like more of a novelty to me.
Table jacks are just that. Your UTV or ATV will sit up on a table and you can jack the whole thing up in the air to get more access to the underside and work more at eye level. These are more for shops or people that will be doing continuous work on one or multiple vehicles.
Cons – PRICE $$$! These things are not cheap and I have found several that will only lift 1000 pounds and they are $700 and up. When you need to lift something heavier, the price goes well over $1500. You can have a look at a few different table jacks over at Amazon but be prepared for some dollar signs. Table jacks also give you limited access to the under carriage as the wheels are sitting on the table and there are no cutouts. These are not ideal for doing tire work.
Bottle jacks actually resemble bottles so they have very fitting names. When compared to the other jackes mentioned in this list, bottle jacks can be some of the cheapest. They also have a smaller footprint than the jacks on this list but there are some downsides that make them less desirable for lifting your ride.
Cons – Bottle jacks are on the cheaper side but they require much more ground clearance in order to start the lifting process. They have smaller overall width and length but are taller than most of the other jacks. If you have a jacked up UTV then this probably won’t be a problem but for the most part, you won’t have much ground clearance for a bottle jack.
High Lift Or Farm Jacks
Some people call these floor jacks but I don’t like calling them that because they are easily confused with the type mentioned above. I like to call them high lift jacks and there are brands that use the name high lift. These were originally developed for farm use and allow you to jack up vehicles that are lifted much higher off the ground. These jacks can be great for out on the trails because they don’t take up too much space and aren’t very heavy.
They can also be used to lift just about anywhere on the vehicle. Another cool thing you can do with these jacks is use them as a makeshift winch in a recovery situation. They are basically a ratchet style jack on a long pole and help in situations where you are stuck and may not have a winch available. Make sure you are prepared for any situation by checking out this article I wrote.
Cons – As with any jacking procedure, if you don’t use these jacks just right then they can be dangerous and kick out if not properly seated. You also need to have anchor points near the outer portion of your vehicle because these lifts are only useable a few inches in.
Mini ramps allow you to ride either the front or back wheels up a small ramp to access one section of your vehicle. These jacks are great for lawn mowers or for changing the oil (check out my article) in your ATV or UTV but they have the vehicle resting on the tires, so again, not the best in all situations but they are probably the most stable type of ramp.
Cons – These only allow access to the front or back of your vehicle and won’t allow you to do any kind of tire maintenance.
Jack stands are a great augment to any jack that you use and allow your ATV or UTV to sit up on these stands for a more stable jacking procedure. If you use 4 jack stands, each at the outermost points, then you will have a very stable jacked up ride and can perform almost any maintenance item you need.
Cons – Jack stands rely on you having some kind of jack to get the vehicle up in the air first. They also have a higher ground clearance and your jack may not be able to get high enough to allow the stands to slide underneath. Because of their design, they are really only suitable for harder packed ground but you can bring along some 2×6 wood planks to allow use even in soft packed terrain.
DIY options can be very dangerous because you are using what you have at the time to make due for what you need. I have seen people do some crazy stuff in order to jack their ATVs up and I am sure there are plenty more out there that I haven’t seen.
- Straps – You can find a nice thick tree branch or anything sturdy and throw a ratchet strap over it and wrap it around an anchor point like the front of the frame by your bumper and ratchet it up to bring one end of the machine up. This method is dangerous because the tree branch can give way or the straps can give way so please, don’t do this, and if you do, do so at your own risk.
- Build Your Own Jack Stands – you can build your own jack stands and use them as platforms to set your vehicle on but beware, you don’t know how much weight these homemade stands can actually hold. When in doubt, add more support to your DIY jack stands.
What Is The Safest Jack To Use On Your UTV Or ATV?
Ramps are by far the safest option because they provide you with large, solid, and stable contact points and have a low likelihood of failure. Ramps will keep your vehicle in place and have a minimal chance of the vehicle shifting or moving no matter what kind of work you are doing. The downsides as I mentioned before are that ramps are nowhere near as versatile as many of the other options and limit you by only lifting the vehicle by the wheels.
Hydraulic floor jacks are the runner up because they can lift plenty of weight and have a broader and longer base than the other portable jacks listed above. This improves their stability and when used properly and jacked on solid vehicle jacking points, there is minimal chance of failure for these as well. Floor jacks work great with jack stands and you can lift and entire UTV or ATV all the way off the ground with one jack and four jack stands.
What Jack To Carry With Your Vehicle
Hands down a scissor jack is the best type to carry out on the trails or in the field because it is the most versatile with it’s small footprint and high lifting capabilities. All you have to do is bring a base like a 2×6 plank and you can use this thing in almost any type of terrain. It won’t weigh you down or get in your way even if you have it strapped to the racks on your little 450cc ATV.
Where To Jack Up A UTV Or ATV
A little common sense is needed when it comes to jacking up you UTV or ATV because you can really mess some stuff up if you go jacking anywhere. You need to find a good solid anchor point on the frame or even at the CV joints because these are the most fortified areas of your ride. You don’t want to jack out by the fairings or on any critical components as they are not meant to have that much pressure put on them.
How To Jack Up A UTV Or ATV In The Field
In the field and on the trails is a whole different ball game than trying to jack up your ride at home because you have plenty of hard surfaces and pavement somewhere near you to use as a solid foundation for jacking.
Terrain in the field can often be some of the hardest to try to get a good foundation for jacking because it is uneven and varying degrees of hardness and can often have your jack sink into the ground from all the weight that is exerted on the jack.
I have said many times throughout this article to brink a few 2×6 wood planks with you because they will serve as good foundations for your jack to rest, even in the softest or most uneven terrain.
How Do You Change A Tire Without A Jack?
This is actually a very easy technique and is pretty cool when you find yourself jackless and in need of a tire change. If you have the tools to remove the wheel from the axle, that is really all you need.
- Find a large rock OR some loose ground.
- Drive one wheel up onto the rock OR over the loose ground.
- Set the parking brake and use rocks or some larger object as chocks the keep the vehicle from moving.
- If you drove onto the rock, do so in a manner that will leave your back wheels on the ground. This will have one wheel up on the rock and one wheel dangling off ready for you to change. Now you can just crank off the lug nuts and change your wheel out for your spare.
If you drove over the loose soil, grab some materials such as wood or large rocks and place them under the axle. Now start digging out a hole underneath the tire that needs to be changed. Once the tire is no longer touching and you have dug a hole large enough to remove the tire, you will be able to break the nuts loose and remove and replace the wheel.
Now that we have covered all the jack types and the best ones to use in which situation, you should be able to jack up you UTV or ATV and do any maintenance that you need but remember to always do so safely because any jack or lifting method can fail if not done properly.