A Hi-Lift jack is a versatile, high-lift farm and off-road jack that can be used for a variety of purposes. It can lift, clamp, winch and pull.
Hi-Lift jacks have a long history of being mounted on 4×4 trucks and Jeeps to provide extra utility and serve as a recovery tool when off-roading. Mounting a Hi-Lift jack on a truck allows you to:
- Safely change a tire when out on the trails. The jack lifts your truck high enough to get a tire off the ground.
- Pull another vehicle out if stuck. You can use the jack as a winch with an attachment.
- Straighten frames and body work. The jack’s clamping mechanism lets you attach and pull to straighten vehicles.
So having a Hi-Lift jack mounted on a truck can really come in handy if you go off-roading or overlanding. But what if you have a truck with a tonneau cover – can you still mount a Hi-Lift jack?
What is a Tonneau Cover and What Does it Do?
A tonneau cover is a protective truck bed cover that sits flush with the top of your truck bed. Tonneau covers are popular truck accessories for a few reasons:
- Protection – They shield your truck bed and any cargo from weather and theft. Hard tonneau covers offer the most security.
- Improved gas mileage – Tonneau covers improve gas mileage by making the truck more aerodynamic. Estimates range from 1-3 MPG improvement.
- Styling – Many tonneau covers are color matched or paintable, allowing you to customize the look of your truck.
So tonneau covers offer useful benefits, but they can also limit access to the truck bed since they fully cover it. This leads to the question – can you still mount a Hi-Lift jack if you have a tonneau cover installed?
Where Would You Mount the Hi-Lift Jack?
The first step is figuring out where you would potentially mount the Hi-Lift jack if you have a tonneau cover. There are a few options:
Mounting to the Bed Sides
Many choose to mount their Hi-Lift jack to the inside bed walls of their truck. This positions it out of the way along the side. Some tonneau covers like retractable or fold-up models may provide enough access to reach the jack mounted on the bed wall.
Mounting to the Bed Rails
You could also mount the jack to the top bed rails with specialized brackets. This positions it high enough to clear the tonneau cover. But reaching it may be difficult.
Mounting to the Cab Protector/Headache Rack
If you have a cab protector or headache rack, it provides a mounting point accessible from outside the bed area. But you’ll need to extend the mount so the jack can clear the tonneau cover.
Mounting Under the Tonneau
Some tonneau covers have enough space underneath to mount a Hi-Lift jack horizontally above the bed floor. But lifting the heavy cover regularly can be difficult.
So where you mount the jack depends on your truck, tonneau cover style and personal preference. But several options exist.
Tonneau Cover Compatibility Considerations
If you want to mount a Hi-Lift jack on your truck with a tonneau cover, there are some compatibility factors to consider:
Type of Tonneau Cover
- Retractable – These hard rolling covers provide full access when opened, making it easy to reach a jack mounted on bed walls.
- Folding – Folding covers allow partial access which may be sufficient to access a side-mounted jack.
- Hinged – A hinged tonneau cover lifts fully but may be hard to hold up when trying to remove a jack.
- Low profile hard covers – Low profile hard covers sit close to the bed, making inside mounts difficult to reach. Top rail mounts work better.
So measure how much access your specific cover provides when open.
- Aluminum – Aluminum tonneau covers are light yet sturdy. Easy to lift but may flex if you mount a jack directly to them.
- Steel – Steel and aluminum/steel hybrid covers are strong and more rigid but heavy. Mounting a jack directly may work if the cover is supported properly.
- Fiberglass – Most fiberglass covers can handle a jack mount but have less flexibility and may crack under stress.
Bed Rail Configuration
- Standard bed – Standard full-size truck beds offer more versatility for jack mounting locations.
- Short bed – Short bed trucks limit your mounting options, especially if running a flush-fit tonneau cover.
So consider your exact truck bed design and space available when planning jack placement.
Solutions for Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack with a Tonneau Cover
Here are some potential solutions for securely mounting your Hi-Lift jack while keeping your tonneau cover functionality:
Use a Bed Rail Mounting Kit
There are dedicated jack mounting brackets made to fit over the bed rails of some truck models. For example, the Bracketron Hi-Lift 4×4 Mount fits Toyota, Nissan and Ford bed rails. You simply clamp it on and attach the jack. The jack remains easily accessible from the side yet sits above the height of most tonneau covers when closed. Make sure to get a mounting kit designed specifically for your truck.
Install Tie-Down Track Systems
You can install removable tie-down tracks onto your bed rails or sides, then use them to mount truck bed accessories like Hi-Lift jacks. Systems like the Dee Zee DZ96500 Tie Down Track are compatible with tonneau covers and provide versatile mounting points. Just slide the jack attachment into any point along the track. This also allows repositioning the jack if needed.
Use a Rail-Mounted Storage System
Look for a truck storage system like the UnderCover SwingCase that mounts to the bed rails over the tonneau cover. It allows mounting a Hi-Lift jack either horizontally above the bed or vertically on its outside face, while still allowing full cover access. Make sure the system is sturdy enough to handle the jack’s weight.
Install a Headache Rack Mount
Headache racks or cab protectors offer solid mounting points above your cab. Attach an extended mount like the ARKSEN Heavy Duty Truck Headache Rack Mount which spaces the jack away from the cab and over the tonneau cover. Just be sure to measure so the jack clears your specific cover.
Fabricate Custom Mounts
For a custom look and fit, you can fabricate DIY mounts for your truck bed and tonneau cover using steel plate, tubing, brackets and hardware. There are some great online guides and videos that demonstrate fabrication techniques. Just be sure to use sufficiently strong materials and hardware.
So with the right mounting solutions, you can successfully mount a Hi-Lift jack even with a tonneau cover installed. Just be sure to carefully consider position, clearance, access and strength when designing your mounting system. With some clever solutions, you can have the best of both worlds!
Frequently Asked Questions About Mounting a Hi-Lift Jack with a Tonneau Cover
Should I mount the jack inside or outside the truck bed?
If using a rail-mounted system, outside the bed provides the easiest access. Inside bed mounting maximizes protection and security but may limit accessibility depending on your tonneau cover.
Will the Hi-Lift jack damage my tonneau cover?
It shouldn’t if mounted properly using truck-specific brackets. Avoid directly mounting the jack to the cover itself. Use the bed rails or tracks systems instead for proper weight distribution.
Can I still open and close my tonneau cover with the jack mounted?
Yes, a properly mounted jack will still allow normal operation of your retractable, folding or hinged tonneau cover. Just be sure to measure the jack position and extension height accordingly.
Is it safe to drive with the Hi-Lift jack mounted?
It is generally safe as long as the jack is securely mounted and is not able to slide or sway. Use all provided hardware and tighten clamp brackets sufficiently to avoid movement while driving.
Will mounting a jack affect my truck’s gas mileage?
Mounting a Hi-Lift jack does slightly impact aerodynamics and gas mileage. But the reduction is minor, especially compared to the benefits the jack provides for off-road use. Proper mounting minimizes wind resistance.
Can I mount two Hi-Lift jacks?
It is possible to mount two Hi-Lift jacks on a truck with a tonneau cover but challenging due to limited space. Consider alternate mounting locations like the headache rack or fabricating custom brackets to accommodate two jacks.
Is it difficult to remove and reinstall the jack?
It depends on the specific mounting method. Rail-mounted systems allow the easiest removal and reinstallation. Bolted mounts take a little longer but are still straightforward using basic tools.
Are truck-specific mounting kits really necessary
Yes, to ensure a secure fit and avoid any drilling into your truck bed or rails, a vehicle-specific mount is highly recommended. Generic mounts likely won’t fit correctly or safely distribute weight.
So in summary, with careful planning, measurements and proper mounting solutions, you can successfully and safely mount your trusted Hi-Lift jack, even on a truck equipped with a tonneau cover. This gives you the best of both worlds – bed protection when needed and access to an incredibly handy off-road jack.