When Purchasing an Auto Lift FAQ
So many factors can come in to play when trying to decide what type of auto lift to purchase. To help you with the process - and make a more informed decision - we offer this FAQ as a resource.
- What are the best lifts for servicing vehicles?
- What are the best lifts for storing one car over another?
- Are there limitations to a 4-post lift?
- What's the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical 2-post lifts?
- What’s the difference between 2-post clearfloor and floorplate models?
- How much ceiling height is needed for a 4-post lift or parking/storage lift?
- How much concrete is required for my lift?
- Can I mount the power unit on any column of the lift?
- What type of drive system is best for 2-post lift? (chain, cable, or direct)
- What type of drive system is best for 4-post lift?
- Which is best, carriage rollers or slider blocks?
- Which is best, bushings or bearings?
- How far from the front wall should 2-post columns be positioned?
- Can I exceed the rated capacity of the lift safely?
- Is CE-certified or ANSI-certified as good as ALI-certified?
- Will my low profile car bottom out when driving onto a 4 post lift?
- My vehicle has jacking points that are deeper inside the framework. Will a rolling jack work?
- I don't want to install the lift myself. Can you arrange to install it for me?
1. What are the best lifts for servicing vehicles?
So many factors come in to play when trying to decide what type of automotive lift to purchase. First, is the lift being used for servicing vehicles, or for storing one car over another? There is a wide variety of service lifts to meet virtually any auto shop owner's needs. Our most popular style is a 2 post lift because it offers complete access to every vehicle component. You get access to the undercarriage, wheels, brakes and engine compartment, even body work is possible with a two post lift. A popular alternative is a low-rise lift, which is frequently used in body shops and tire shops because it provides easy access to the wheels and raises to 29" high (a perfect working height). Another alternative for similar type of work is a mid-rise scissor lift, which is also portable. It rises to a maximum height of 48" and a technician can easily roll it around the shop.
Four Post lifts are also a great service lift, but their are limitations (see point # 3).
Other types of service lifts are available, and each have their own benefits. There are many other alternatives, including the low rise pad lift, which is used in body shops, and tire shops because it provides access to the wheels and raises to 29" high, perfect working height for body work and tire rotations.
Another popular option for similar type work is the mid rise scissor lift, which is also portable. It raises to a max height of 48" and one technician can roll it quite easily all over the shop.
Then again, if you want a full rise portable lift, check out our Model MSC-6K lift by Workhorse. Full rise, and portable - two words that usually don't go together. Another portable option is our Ranger Quick jack. It doesn't get much simpler than this. Just two separate lifting pads, completely portable and light weight, and just about the most affordable lifting option for the home auto gear-head, or also handy for race tracks. One more portable car lift option is our Dannmar MaxJax two post lift. This is another case of two words that usually don't go together when talking about lifts - two post and portable. Yet Dannmar managed to accomplish this in a really unique way.
Commercial lube and oil change facilities have a favorite choice - the pit lift. The technician works from below in a pit, and the two lift pads straddle the pit on each side, raising the car just enough to allow the tech enough room to change oil, and perform all other undercarriage tasks.
For commercial auto shops that are tight on floor space, a full rise scissor lift might be the ticket. What it gives you is full access to the auto, just as a 2 post lift would, but you don't have two, bulky columns taking up your shop floor space. Check these options out further on our web site, and get back to us with any questions.
The first question we would have for you, is it being used in a commercial facility or in a home / hobbyist garage? When being used in a commercial facility for storage, there are a wide variety of car parking lift options available. BendPak is one of the largest lift manufacturers in the industry. They fabricate a diverse line of lifts that meet almost any need. They have traditional four post parking lifts and even triple stacker car storage lifts that are modular in design and can meet even the largest parking garage needs. If on the other hand you are just a typical home car enthusiast, and you're just storing your latest project car, then you may be more inclined to go with one of our other options, like our two post parking lift, or the tilt platform parking lift. By far, the most popular lift for parking one car over another is a four post lift. And Dannmar is a market leader.3. Are there limitations to a 4 post lift?
Four post lifts are great for storage and for servicing automobiles, but they won’t give you access to a vehicle’s wheels unless you purchase an optional accessory called a rolling jack, or the more affordable jack plate. This adds to the overall cost for the lift, but it will convert a 4 post lift to a full service lift.4. What is the difference between symmetrical and asymmetrical 2-post lifts?
Symmetric lifts position a vehicle in the center, so the same weight of the vehicle is balanced in the front and rear. Whereas, asymmetric lifts position a vehicle further back on the lift, allowing you to open doors easier. Some manufacturers also rotate the columns at a 30 degree angle, which allows doors to open even further.
Due to engine location, most automobiles are heavy up front, and balance out just fine asymmetrically. But some vehicles balance out better when positioned symmetrically, e.g., cars with rear engines, extra-long crew cab dual trucks, and service vans with a lot of equipment in the rear.
BendPak's asymmetric 2 post lift also allows you to configure the arms symmetric.This makes the asymmetric models truly unique and very versatile, because if you have a vehicle that doesn't balance out well asymmetrically, you can push it forward and make it symmetric.Truly, the best of both worlds.
Some manufacturer’s claim their floorplate lifts are asymmetric, but they aren’t because the floorplate actually prevents the arms from going back past the halfway point.5. What’s the difference between 2 post clearfloor and floorplate models?
Sometimes called overhead and baseplate lifts. All two post lifts need communication between both columns. You have hydraulic lines as well as equalizer cables the must run from one side to the other. The equalizer cables do not do the lifting, they simply synchronize both sides to make assure that the raise at the same pace. Many automotive shops have very tall ceilings. However some do not. Typically, most customers prefer clearfloor style lifts as long as their ceiling height allows for it. This is because the lines that run across from one post to the other run at the top, inside a cross member, which acts much like a conduit. Clearfloor models stand much taller than floorplate models. An auto shop owner who has a shorter ceiling height will need to get a floorplate auto hoist. The equalizer cables and hydraulic lines run on the floor, under a plate. They are totally open at the top, and the posts are much shorter. They are made specifically for this situation.
7. How much concrete is required for my lift?
Concrete requirements are different for each lift and specific requirements can be found in the lift’s owner's manual—and many are downloadable directly from our web site. For your safety, it’s vital to adhere to the specified concrete requirements. Failure to do so could result in injury or death. And make sure concrete is structurally sound. It shouldn’t be soft, crumbling—or close to other holes, cracks or expansion joints. The concrete also shouldn’t be sloped. No more than 3% of grade is acceptable for most models. It is your responsibility to assure that it meets the requirements.
8. Can I mount the power unit on any column of the lift?
It varies from lift to lift. On many BendPak 4-post lifts, the power unit can be mounted in one of two locations, either the driver front column or the passenger rear column. On many BendPak 2-post lifts, the power unit can be mounted on either column, except for the asymmetric models, which must locate the power unit on the passenger side post. Consult owner's manual for column location, which is downloadable from our web site or ask ASEDeals knowledgeable staff.
9. What type of drive system is best for a 2-post lift? (Chain, cable, or direct)
When comparing the different drive systems for a 2 post lift, Direct drive would be the preferred design, followed by chain, and then cable drive. Direct drive is preferred, because this style car lift raises the carriage and arms directly by the hydraulic cylinder. This leaves much less wear parts to wear on you, such as cables, pulleys or chains, which saves your money over the long term life of the lift. Direct drive is also more safe than the other styles, because if a cable or chain were to break during the raising or lowering process, the drop to the next safety locking position would be controlled and slow, vs a fast and abrupt drop with a chain or cable drive lift. Some of the cheaper two post lifts utilize a direct pull drive system, while the higher quality two post lifts use a direct push cylinder system. Direct pull lifts raise by pressuring the cylinder on the chrome rod side of the cylinder. At all times the lift is resting and / or fully lowered, the chrome rod is exposed to the elements, so that there is an increased potential to damage from scratches, dirt, dents, etc... If the chrome rod becomes damaged in any way, the cylinder will leak. On a hydraulic cylinder, the most common issue is leaking from the seals. The seal that is usually first to fail is typically the end cap wiper seal or U cup because it runs over the chrome rod after it is returning back to the cylinder after being exposed. Direct pull cylinders also need both the piston seal and rod seal to contain the pressurized hydraulic fluid. If any of these seals fails, the cylinder is inoperable. BendPak two post lifts are the push style, so the fluid is contained on the slave (back) side of the cylinder only. When lowered completely, the cylinder rod is stored within the cylinder bore. They only need the piston seal to contain the fluid. The chrome rods on BendPak direct drive cylinder lifts can be cut, scratched, and damaged and it will have no effect on the integrity of the seals. When you pressurize the cylinders on the chrome rod side of the piston (as in the cheaper direct pull style) they require higher working pressure because of the lack of piston area taken up by the rod. Higher pressure means more potential for failure.10. What type of drive system is best for a 4-post lift?
On a 4 post lift, there is no direct drive option, but there is a chain and a cable drive option. Many people mistakenly believe that a chain drive four post lift is better design than a cable drive lift, but in most cases, they would be wrong. The theory for chains is that they wear more slowly and therefore the chain will last longer than cables. While chains typically do last longer than cables, BendPak engineered double diameter pulleys into their 4 post lifts,. This allows the cables to last up to twice as long. Plus, the cable drive system allows the hydraulic cylinder to be positioned up under one of the runways, keeping it out of the way,. On chain drive lifts, the cylinder would be found up at the top of the column, running lengthwise from one column to another. Plus, the cable design allows for a secondary, redundant slack cable safety system, resulting in a safer lift.11. Which is best, carriage rollers or slider blocks?
Some manufacturers advertise that their innovative carriage roller system is better than a slider block style system, which isn’t true. Load stresses are displaced over a much smaller surface area on a roller system; whereas, the slider block system spreads out load over a wider surface area creating less stress and wear. You can expect slider systems to be more stable and to never, ever wear out. Most major manufacturers have turned to the slider block system due to its superiority, but many cheaper lifts are still being made with the inferior, roller system.12. Which is best, bushings or bearings?
It depends on the application. Generally speaking, for lighter weights and higher speeds, bearings are preferred. But, for heavier weights and slower speeds, bushings are preferred. Some cheaper manufacturers will try to confuse consumers into thinking that bearings are preferred in certain situations, when actually bushings are better suited to handle the stress over the long term.
13. How far from the front wall should 2-post columns be positioned?
14. Can I exceed the rated capacity of the lift safely?
No. Every single lift manufacturer (without exception) will give you this same answer. They will also tell you that if you are frequently exceeding 90% of your lift’s overall rated capacity then you should move up to a heavier capacity model.
You’ll also want to pay careful attention to the weight distribution of the vehicle being raised. While 2-post lifts are rated at 10,000 lbs. capacity, remember that each arm is only rated at 1/4 of that, or 2,500 lbs. Make sure not to overload any particular arm.
Here BendPak discusses “Safe Balancing” for this specific reason. Similar circumstances arise when talking about 4 post lifts as well.
Most 4-post lifts are designed for typical automobiles and light trucks. For example, if you look at the BendPak HD9 4-post lift, the runway length is 164," which provides sufficient capacity for any typical light truck or automobile. The wheelbase of a light truck that weighs 8,000 lbs. is typically spread out over a longer distance of perhaps 145-inches. The runways are engineered to sustain such a load. However, if you took a very short wheelbase vehicle, perhaps like a forklift that also weighs 8,000 lbs. but only has a wheel base of 90", it will concentrate too much of the load in the center of the runway. This could cause the runway to buckle.
“Wheelbase” is the dimension taken from center of the wheel to center of wheel lengthwise on the car.
15. Is CE-certified or ANSI-certified as good as ALI-certified?
Unfortunately no. There is only one recognized authority when it comes to lift quality and safety standards: the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI). ETL is the lab that actually performs the testing for ALI. Any claim by other distributors that their lift is certified by another agency is just attempting to confuse buyers. Many lift manufacturers understand the importance of testing and certification through an independent lab. But, when their lifts don’t meet the ALI-certification, they start to claim they meet other standards. Don't be deceived. Read more about ALI-certification.
You'll find some manufacturers who rate their two post lifts at 11,000 lbs. capacity, while it actually weighs less than our ALI Certified 10,000 lb. model. You can trust that every manufacturer we carry has been manufacturing lifts for over 10 years, and many models are ALI Certified, although some are not. Give us a call with your questions, and we'll steer you in the right direction.16. Will my low profile car bottom out when driving onto a 4 post lift?
It all depends on how far from the car's wheels the low point of the car is, (for instance an air dam). The farther away the low point is, the more likely vehicle is to bottom out. Likewise, the closer to the wheels the low point is the less likely vehicle is to bottom out. BendPak does offer extra-long approach ramps as an optional accessory for most of their 4-post lifts. This should help in most situations.17. My vehicle has jacking points that are deeper inside the framework. Will a rolling jack work?
It depends on the vehicle and where the jacking points are located. BendPak offers a center adapter kit for such a situation. It is an optional accessory.
18. I don't want to install the lift myself. Can you arrange to install it for me?
Yes, we have access to a nationwide network of auto lift installers and repair technicians for just such an occasion. These installer are certified to be qualified by one of the largest lift manufacturers out there. Pricing will vary based on various factors, like, are there any accessibility issues? Is your concrete level enough, or does the lift need to be shimmed up on the low side? Other factors include, which model lift you are having installed, how far the installer has to travel, what other services you will need the installer to provide, etc.. For instance, did you need the installer to receive the lift on your behalf, and then bring it out and install it for you, or can you unload it from the delivery truck, and the installer will just come out to install it. There are also regional differences in labor rates nationwide. For instance, a lift installation in New York City will run more than if the same lift were being installed in Louisiana. If you wish to install it yourself you can, as many customers do. The instructions are provided, as is all of the necessary hardware. Phone support is also available. But if you don't feel comfortable with installing it yourself, we can make the arrangements for you to have it professionally installed by an independent contractor. You will pay these contractors directly for the installation. We can coordinate installation for you. We offer this service as convenience for the customer, even though in most cases, it is a separate transaction between you and the installer.
Unless otherwise specified, Installation pricing will typically not include -
- Any permanent electric work.
- Running any air lines or conduits.
- Any unique or additional work beyond the standard assembly of the lift, such as extra shimming, or anything that increases the installation time, such as access / work space issues.
"The RML750HD motorcycle lift has been in full use since the day it was dropped off. We have been playing with it to see just how we like using it with all the options installed and I have enclosed a pic of it in usage with the sides off of it. The Lift is definitely one of the nicest I have used and I really like the locking mechanism. Now that the lift is in Tech Center here in the offices, we have been able to increase ourtech shoots ten fold. Now the only problem we have to fight over who gets to use the lift."
Professionals and consumers alike both enjoy the benefits for the Ranger motorcycle lift. It is absolutely stacked with features. It comes with the front extension, side extensions, wheel vise, approach ramps, and much more. Plus, it raises higher than most lifts do, and it has a heavier lifting capacity. You can't go wrong with this one.
Jeff G. Holt
American Motorcycle Group, Anaheim, CA