Choosing the Right Vehicle Lift

A lift is a piece of equipment used to lift a vehicle in order to facilitate its maintenance, repair, or inspection. It is mainly used in mechanical and body shops.

Lifts can lift any type of vehicle, including heavy ones. Their characteristics vary according to the type of vehicles and services they are used for.

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  • What are the different types of lifts?

    There are post lifts, scissor lifts, and platform lifts.

    Post lifts

    Post lifts are available in different models: with one, two, or four posts.

    2-column car elevator from Cascos Maquinaria, S.A.

    Cascos Maquinaria, S.A. 2-post lift

    • Single post lifts: Fixed or mobile, these lifts can handle vehicles up to 2.5 tons. They are used for lighter vehicles such as motorcycles.
    • 2-post lifts: Lift the vehicle by the center of the chassis, leaving the wheels and underbody free, which can make certain jobs easier. This type of lift can perform all kinds of services on vehicles up to 2.5 tons.
    • 4-post lifts: These have two ramps on which the wheels of the vehicle rest. They are suitable for repair and alignment services. Like certain alignment ramps, some models have a supplementary lifting system, usually a pneumatic jack, which allows the front or rear axle of the vehicle to be lifted in complete safety. Four-post lifts are, however, more expensive than one- and two-post lifts and also take up more space in the workshop.

    Scissor lifts

    Scissor lifts are mobile lifts, usually hydraulic, which offer higher lifting speeds than simple post models. In addition, the absence of posts allows easy access to the entire body. Hydraulic lifts require a little less maintenance than other lifts.

    • Simple scissor lifts have a maximum lifting height of around 1 meter, making them a good solution for workshops with lower ceilings.
    • Double scissor lifts have a maximum lifting height of around 2 meters, making it possible to reach the gearbox and exhaust system of vehicles, for example.

    Platform lifts

    Certain platform lifts can be a good alternative to 4-post lifts, as they can perform the same type of services and take up less space. This type of lift is generally the solution adopted by automotive and vehicle inspection centers.

  • Which lift should you choose for a vehicle?

    To choose the right lift, the following factors should be taken into account:

    O.ME.R. Spa scissor elevator

    O.ME.R. pantograph elevator S.p.A.

    • Load capacity: generally speaking, it varies between 2.5 and 6 tons
    • Lifting height: up to 2.5 m
    • Space available in the workshop
    • Desired options (e.g. low-profile lift)
    • Compatibility with special types of vehicles, if required (such as forklift trucks and other load-handling machines, etc.)

    There are lifts for cars, trucks, buses, tractors, etc.

    Lifts for heavy vehicles

    For lifting heavy vehicles (trucks, buses, tractors, etc.), there are special lifts with particularly high load capacities.

    There are several solutions available on the market:

    • Platform lifts and/or ramps and scissor lifts for quick oil changes or vehicle inspections, for example
    • More versatile post lifts
    • Mobile multi-post lifts, which consist of several separate but synchronized posts on which the wheels of the vehicle will rest
  • Pneumatic or hydraulic car lift?

    Although there are some electric ones, the vast majority of car lifts are pneumatic or hydraulic (with a hydraulic pump driven by an electric motor). Here are the main characteristics of these two types of lifts.

    Pneumatic lifts:

    • These offer greater load capacity (up to 5 tons for pneumatic posts lifts).
    • They’re quite expensive.

    Hydraulic lifts:

    • These are the most common, particularly because of their affordable price.
    • They require less maintenance.
    • The motor’s supply voltage varies between 220 V and 400 V, depending on the model (these values may be different in certain countries).
  • Which type of lift should you choose for the type of work that needs to be done?

    For maintenance work that requires access to the underside of the chassis, opt for a scissor lift.

    To change brake pads or tires, opt for a 2-post lift.

    For quick repairs outside the workshop or for an amateur mechanic to have at home, the best solution will be a compact, easy-to-carry lift. These will be mostly mobile scissor lifts.

  • What are the limitations associated with certain types of lifts?

    The disadvantage of post lifts is that they take up a lot of space. It’s important to take this into account before purchasing one of these models for your workshop.

    Built-in car elevator from AUTOPSTENHOJ

    AUTOPSTENHOJ built-in lift

    The height of the workshop ceiling must also be taken into account when choosing the lifting height of the equipment. Simple scissor lifts can go up to 1 meter, making them a good option for workshops with low ceilings.

    Finally, built-in car lifts have a high installation cost due to the work that needs to be done on the floor.

  • How should car lifts be used and maintained?

    Lifts require regular maintenance and qualified operators. Here are some essential procedures to ensure that your lift works properly and safely.

    Annual maintenance/inspection by a specialized technician

    • In most countries, lifts must be inspected once a year by a qualified professional who specializes in such equipment.
    • For scissor lifts, annual maintenance includes changing the oil.

    Regular maintenance by a qualified operator

    • All components and mechanisms, such as pistons, must be checked regularly for dust, rust, etc. that could damage the equipment or deteriorate the safety devices.
    • The area underneath and around the lift must always be clean and clear.
    • All the lift’s moving parts must be lubricated with the appropriate oil.
    • For platform lifts, the steel cables responsible for driving the arms, which are subject to wear, should be checked.
    • The operator must ensure that the raising and lowering of the arms are synchronized to guarantee balanced movement of the vehicle.

    Operator training

    • Operators must receive specific training to work with a vehicle lift, as only qualified and trained people are authorized to use this type of equipment.
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