Best Tongue Jacks

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
268 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best tongue jacks

Last Updated November 2019

When you need to detach your boat or trailer from your bumper hitch, a tongue jack is an indispensable piece of equipment that’s usually pretty durable. But sometimes they get damaged, and they all wear out eventually — particularly those that are regularly near the sea, where the environment can quickly eat into metals.

That’s not the only reason to be shopping for a new tongue jack though. If you’re fed up with winding a handle on a manual jack, upgrading to an easy electric jack may appeal to you. You should also consider the tongue jack’s durability, whether it can resist corrosion, and which additional features (such as foot pads and LED lights) you’ll need to get the best results.

To learn more about the technical aspects, read our shopping guide below. If you’re ready to buy, we have several recommendations for a range of price and performance needs.

If you’re buying an electric tongue jack, make sure it comes with a hand crank, too. You don’t want to be left stranded if something goes wrong.

Key considerations

Types of tongue jacks

When shopping for a tongue jack, there are two basics to look for: the maximum load rating and whether it’s manual or electric.

Load rating

Finding the right load rating isn’t complicated. Most tongue jacks fall into one of three brackets:

  • Up to 1,000 pounds (a few are 1,200 pounds)
  • 2,500 to 3,500 pounds
  • 5,000 pounds and above (with a couple at 4,000 pounds)

Note: The maximum in general use is 8,000 pounds, but they can be rated as high as 40,000 pounds.

Electric vs. manual tongue jacks

Electric tongue jacks have various features that we’ll look at in a minute, but the big advantage is that they just go up and down at the press of a button rather than needing to be wound with a handle.

Manual jacks offer a couple of variations:

  • Some go straight up and down vertically, others have a swivel mount, which allows them to be moved to a horizontal position well out of the way when not in use. These use a strong spring pin to retain them safely.
  • Some have a top-mounted handle (you wind it around horizontally), others have a side-mounted handle (wound vertically). It may not matter which you choose, but the design of your tow hitch could have an impact. For example, certain types of A-frames might impede a side-mounted handle.

Tongue jack construction

Even the most lightweight tongue jack is going to undergo considerable presses during its working life, so you want to look for robust construction, substantial material cross section, good weld quality, and sizable nuts and bolts.

Corrosion is one of the biggest enemies of any trailer component or accessory. The cheapest jacks are just painted — which is OK but not the toughest finish available. Epoxy resin coating (also called powdered coating) is heated and bonded to the metal surfaces and offers greater protection. Zinc or chrome plating may also be used. These are great at inhibiting rust but are more expensive than epoxy, which is why they are not as common.

EXPERT TIP

You would expect the necessary fitting bolts to be supplied, but that’s not always the case — and not just on cheap tongue jacks. If you can’t use the existing ones because they’re corroded, you may have to buy them separately.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Manual tongue jack features

  • In most cases, it’s important that you have the correct external diameter or your new tongue jack may not fit.
  • Maximum lift height is not often a problem, but it depends on your combination of towing vehicle(s) and trailer. You should be able to lift the trailer several inches above the vehicle’s tow ball so it’s easy to couple or uncouple.
  • If you travel over rough ground, you’ll want to think about the jack’s retracted height. Flip-over jacks can be kept well out of the way, but those that go straight up and down can reduce ground clearance.
  • There are a couple of designs of screw mechanisms used in tongue jacks. The basic model has the screw running through a fixed nut. A smoother version is the ball screw, where ball bearings run between the mating surfaces. There’s less friction, so less wear. Ball screws are more expensive, but should last longer. Although we have no reported complaints, the ball screw is also quieter.
  • Three- or four-hole mountings are common — but not universal, so you need to check.
  • Wheels are a big benefit on tongue jacks for lighter vehicles like boat trailers. They make it much easier for you to move around without having to lift the front off the ground. They’re usually made from polyurethane, which is hard-wearing.
  • Strangely, in our opinion, some tongue jacks don’t come with a foot pad, so always make sure. They’re only around $10, but it can be frustrating if your jack arrives without one.
  • Check the warranty. One year is common, but some companies offer up to five years.

Electric tongue jack features

  • With electric tongue jacks, you need to think about all of the above, but now there’s also a motor. This is either wired into the same circuit that runs your trailer’s lights (called a seven-way) and runs from your vehicle’s 12V system or to a 12V battery onboard your trailer. It will largely depend whether you’re fitting it to a boat/utility trailer or a camper.
  • Most motors are efficient, but not fast. A cycle time is sometimes quoted for comparison, but the weight of the load makes a difference, too.
  • The drive is either via straight-cut or helical gears. The latter is quieter and requires less effort from the motor.
  • LED lights may be fitted (and may be directional), illuminating the area around the jack. This makes it easier to couple and uncouple your trailer in the dark.
  • Some have a safety cut-out that stops the drive when fully up or down thus preventing damage to motor or components.
  • On high-end tongue jacks, one or two remote controls are provided, allowing you to raise and lower it from 10 yards away or more.
  • The external motor casing should be waterproof, of course. Some also come with a storage cover.

One or two tongue jacks are fitted with lights — which is great if you’re working in the dark. This means you can do the job on your own without having to try to balance a torch somewhere.

Tongue jack prices

Inexpensive: There are some surprisingly cheap tongue jacks around, but we would be cautious of anything under $30. For $30 to $50, you’ll find numerous models that are more than adequate for modest-sized boat and utility trailers — up to around 1,200 pounds.

Mid-range: The next weight bracket is 2,500 to 3,500 pounds, and manual jacks with this rating will cost you anywhere from $75 to $120. At the top end of those prices, you’ll also start to see basic electric tongue jacks, though they can get close to $200.

Expensive: When you get to true heavy-duty tongue jacks — 4,000 pounds plus — there are a few manual models, and those usually need to be welded to the trailer frame. Electric jacks capable of lifting this much typically range in price from $180 to $350, depending on features.

EXPERT TIP

Looking for the ultimate in luxury? Some electric tongue jacks have remote controls.


Staff  | BestReviews

Safety tips

  • When fitting a tongue jack, make sure the trailer is properly supported and stable. To do so, vehicle stands are a better choice than cinder blocks. Chock the wheels so there’s no chance of it moving. Apply brakes if fitted.
  • Although it’s not unusual to hear people say they’ve used a heavier trailer than recommended, it’s never a good idea to exceed the load rating of your tongue jack.
  • Never work under your vehicle if it’s only supported by a tongue jack. Use something solid (like vehicle support stands) as well.
  • Double-check that the jack is securely in the up position before moving away.
  • Periodically check that mounting bolts are done up properly.
  • Wheels and foot pads will soon sink into ground that isn’t firm. If you’re going to use the jack to support your trailer when it’s not attached to the towing vehicle, a wide board or paving slab will help spread the load.

Other products we considered

The BAL 29015B 1,000-pound Sidewind Trailer Tongue Jack is cheap and durable. The 1 7/8” outer diameter makes it particularly popular with owners of boat and utility trailers designed in the 1970s and ’80s. If you’ve got really heavy loads to support, the Reese Pro Series Square Jack will handle up to 8,000 pounds, which is impressive from a low-cost manual model. But there is one drawback: there is no bolt fixing, it has to be welded on. You get plenty of power and great convenience with the Husky 82022 Super Brute Electric Jack. It’s rated for up to a 5,000-pound load, runs at 6” per minute (18” maximum lift), and it’s remote controlled.

Electric tongue jacks save a lot of physical effort, but you need to be patient with them. The one big complaint from owners, regardless of model, is that they are slow.

FAQ

Q. Is there any difference between an A-frame jack and a tongue jack?
A.
Not normally. The A-frame describes the type of tow hitch (technically the “tongue”) fitted to your trailer. Often it’s a straight beam, sometimes an “A” shape. All you really need do is check that the size and mounting kit will fit. Some will fit both types of tow hitch, some are specified particularly for A-frames.

Q. Are tongue jacks difficult to fit?
A.
No. With manual ones, it’s just a question of doing up a few nuts and bolts. Electric models require power but at most it’s two wires — live and ground. On most seven-way connectors, ground is usually done already (check anyway). Your manufacturer should provide clear advice, and there are also a number of helpful videos available online.

Q. Do tongue jacks need much maintenance?
A.
It’s a device that’s often overlooked, even by people who clean their trailers regularly, and neglect will shorten its operating life. However, looking after your tongue jack isn’t difficult, and the maker will provide instructions. Though some are sealed units, most recommend lubrication of the main screw a couple of times a year, usually with grease rather than oil (which isn’t sticky enough). Terminals on electric models should be checked for corrosion.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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