Originally Posted by subzali
A couple near-misses:
-I had the front of my FJ40 held up with a Hi-Lift jack. The little cotter pin that is supposed to hold the jack handle in its holder was broken and missing, so the handle could come out. As I lowered the FJ40, the handle started swinging violently like treeroot mentioned above and the handle flew out with enough force to knock me over or break my windshield. Luckily it did neither and instead hit my passenger side mirror and broke the glass. Lesson learned - hang on to that thing!
Come to think of it I still need to find a new cotter pin to put in there.
-Was installing 80 series front springs onto the rear of my buddy's 2nd gen 4runner for a little extra lift. Had to jack the rear end of the truck up really high to get the suspension to sag. Didn't like the looks of the setup and gave the truck a little test nudge. It tipped the jack over sideways while moving the back end of the runner over about 2-3 feet. Luckily no damage or harm done. Lesson learned - keep the lift as low as possible, and/or use extra stablizing bracing when needing to hold the position for a while!
I've had the same thing, with the jack ratcheting out of control.
However, the issue you had with the 4runner, in the right situation, is something I've done probably a dozen times.
In tight trails, I've often slid off my line, and gotten into a situation where the side of the truck was too close to a rock or tree and no matter if I go forward or backward, I'll hit the truck on the object.
Solution: stick the jack into the reciever hitch, jack it up until the back wheels come off the ground, and, standing clear of the jack, push the truck off the jack. This moves the truck a foot or so away from the obstacle, sometimes less, sometimes more. Repeat until you can drive out of it.
In addition, I have used a highlift in a situation where a truck was in a very bad position, and it was only possible to get their winch out on the front, but no one could get up to get a winch on the back end. The truck was trying to tip over down a very long hill when the winch was tensioned.
Solution: use a highlift as a winch on the rear tubework, and pull the back end of the truck up at the same time as the winch was being used, and the truck was recovered safely and successfully.
In my opinion, highlift jacks are no more or less dangerous other types of jacks when out on the trail, when they are used properly. A bottle jack can slip off an axle tube pretty easily. As with anything, they need to be respected, and used with caution. But, they are an extremely handy tool to have in your vehicle.
The handles can also be used to trail repair bent tie rods and drag links, and the main rail can be used as a pry bar.