The best jack I have found for the motorhome is a bottle jack. The bottle jack is light enough to be carried in the motorhome and strong enough to lift the motorhome with ease.
Please note that if you are working on the vehicle do not rely on any jack. Always use axle stands. For changing a tyre jacks are fine but anything more you need to have something a bit more solid for holding the weight. Axle stands are not expensive and, for me, have come in very handy.
Let’s take a look at the various jacks. The first and probably most common is the…
The scissor jack works by turning a central screw that pulls two arms together and can lift a car or even a motorhome. They are very common in a lot of vehicles as they take up little space and are relatively light – the lightest out of all the jacks I looked at.
They work well with cars and have used them for many years. A lot of motorhomes will come with a scissor jack in their toolkit, ours did and it’s one of the largest scissor jacks I have seen. They are usually in a car toolkit but motorhome is way heavier than most cars, they also sit very high so the jack has to be extended very far to raise the wheel off the ground. The higher it is extended the less secure it feels. If you are changing a tyre at the side of the road and there is road traffic moving at speed, your motorhome will get buffeted by the wind and will be moving a lot on the suspension.
This happened to us and it was not a relaxing experience, I really was not sure if that jack would hold. Let me just say that it did the job but to me, it did not feel very secure.
Another problem I found with lifting the motorhome – it’s a heavy beast. By the time I had finished jacking up that motorhome, I was exhausted. I was using a ratchet spanner on the jack to jack it up, it was a surprising amount of work. A power tool, like a drill or impact driver, would have been a godsend but I stupidly didn’t take my drills on holiday with me – you live and learn.
After this experience, I decided to look at other types of Jack. Don’t get me wrong you can get some very strong scissor jacks and they seem to be a very reasonable cost but if I am lifting a corner of a 3500kg vehicle I like to be able to trust the tools I am using.
The trolley jack is the king of the jacks, I love these Jacks, A trolley jack is a hydraulic jack, it uses oil under pressure to jack up the vehicle. Basically, what this means is it’s easy to jack up. They are manoeuvrable and feel very stable when they are jacked up. I actually have a trolley jack but the arm is not long enough to even start to jack up the Hymer and that’s a bit of a problem with trolley jacks for the Hymer, they are a bit too small.
You have to buy a trolley jack with a long reach. You can get them in places like SGS Engineering which has a great selection of jacks. The trolley jack is very easy to use. They have small metal wheels so you can manoeuvre them about without much difficulty. Once in position, it’s very easy to jack up the vehicle. They are very stable and feel really safe when the vehicle is jacked up.
Trolley jacks tend to be quite heavy and long (in comparison to a scissor or bottle jack). In our motorhome, there is very little space for these types of tools so I have to be selective. A trolley jack is just too much for the available space and payload, although, if I had the space this would be my jack of choice.
Check out the cost of a Trolley Jack here.
Bottle jacks are hydraulic just like the trolley jacks. They do not have wheels like the trolley jack and can be heavy but they are quite compact and can fit in most places in the motorhome.
Again you have to watch what height they go to, most bottle jacks won’t even reach the lift point of the Hymer before they are fully extended.
On the downside, a bottle jack is quite difficult to manoeuvre under the Hymer. It is a heavy lump and can be tricky getting the aim perfect for lifting. However once located the actual lifting of the vehicle is an absolute breeze, very much like the trolley jack.
It does take a while to get the piston out to full length but there is no resistance so it’s almost effortless to lift the vehicle.
Check out the price of the Bottle Jack here.
Which Jack is Best?
There really is no best jack – a compromise always has to be reached.
If you want lightweight and take up little space the scissor jack is best.
If you want a jack that’s super easy to use and feels very safe and stable, a trolley jack is for you.
If you want a compact, stable, easy to use jack then a bottle jack may be the jack for you.
After a lot of thought, I decided to go for a 5-tonne bottle jack. The bottle jack is the best of both worlds, it is smaller than a trolley jack. The bottle jack is stronger, more stable, and easier to operate than a scissor jack.
When I looked at the prices the 10 tonne was only about £7 more so I decided to go large!
So, I ended up with a 10-tonne high lift bottle jack and it works a treat. The high lift enables it to lift 520mm from the ground.
Is it any good? The first time I used it I never even realised it was starting to lift the Hymer. The actual weight of the handle is enough to start lifting. You have to exert no effort, it is amazing. After the experience of the scissor jack, it is really a no-brainer. The only thing you have to do is make sure the arm will locate properly at the point you want to jack it up. That’s the most difficult part. It is quite heavy but you can push it about into position.
It does need the maximum extension for the Hymer but will get that tyre off the ground no problem. Once the Hymer is jacked up it feels way safer than the scissor jack the motorhome is way more stable, even on a busy road. (unfortunately it was tested for real)
You could go for a 5-ton bottle jack which will be lighter and still plenty strong. The 10 ton is a bit overkill, to be honest, but I couldn’t resist.
Once you have a decent jack – get a breaker bar. If you need to get a wheel off you will be glad of it. Every time I have to loosen the bolts on the Hymer wheels, they need a serious force. This is the breaker bar I have and it lives in the Hymer now.
What to look out for
- Make sure you can lift the jack and mouver it about underneath the motorhome – They can be heavy
- Ensure the jack goes high enough –this is Crucial – we needed a 500mm lift height and it uses every mm.
- Make sure you buy good quality, you do not want one of these jacks failing you.
- Read the instructions – even is you have used one before take your time and get to know this tool
With a good jack changing a wheel or rotating tyres becomes very easy. It really is worth the investment, just for the peace of mind that if I have to change a wheel I can do so confidently, easily, and safely.
If you have a large garage in your motorhome and a bit of spare payload I would seriously consider a trolley jack – but that’s just me.
You can see the 5 ton bottle jack here – https://ebay.us/m40ndH
The 10 ton bottle jack (the one I bought) is here – https://ebay.us/fbTaVw
Hope this helps with a decision. It took me ages to decide which was best for me. Hopefully, this might shorten the research time a bit.