At Home Lifts Designed to Fit Your Garage Needs

LIFT LEAD For most of us, our first encounter with a garage lift was during a visit to a corner service station. We marveled as the family car was magically lifted in the air, propelled by a huge single steel cylinder that emerged from beneath the floor. These goliath lifts existed only in the dreams of car guys, as the expense to install one in a home shop put them out of reach for most.

As the years passed, the automotive lift continued to evolve. Today, a variety of lift styles and price levels make adding a lift to your shop an easy choice. If you’ve ever jacked up a car, crawled on your shoulder blades, and discovered you had the wrong size wrench, or, if you’ve ever had the unfortunate luck of having a jack or jack stand slip, you’ll understand that adding a lift to your shop will improve your productivity and make working on your car both more enjoyable, and most importantly, safer.

When I finally pulled the trigger and decided to install a lift in my shop, I was surprised by the number of choices available. There seemed to be countless lift manufacturers all claiming their lifts were the best, that their products were just as good as others but at a lower cost, or that their products had a feature the others did not. After much deliberation, common sense prevailed. We knew we wanted to buy from an established company with a solid reputation and good customer service that offered accessories for our specific needs. It was also important that the lift carried certification from an independent testing company.

CHOOSING A LIFT

auto lifts

TWO-POST LIFTS

Perhaps the most common in service garages today, this style of lift allows full access to the undercarriage of the vehicle. They are designed to lift the vehicle by the frame or the factory lift points. Their advantages include easy service of wheels, brakes, and axles. Care should be taken to ensure the weight is centered when placing a car on this style of lift. Most require a minimum of four inches of 3,000 psi concrete and a 13-foot ceiling height.

PARKING LIFTS

These styles of lifts have become popular with hobbyists working with limited storage space in their garage. The solid lift floor and design make them a poor choice as a service lift, but if your needs are simply to get your favorite toy out of the way to make room for the daily driver, they’ve proven themselves as a viable solution. They’re available in several styles from single-post to four-post design.

FOUR-POST LIFTS

These are the most popular for home shops. Most lift manufacturers offer caster kits that allow the lift to be moved once it’s fully assembled. Jack trays, jacks, and a host of other accessories are avail­-able to aide in wheel, brake, and other service work. Most require 12 feet of ceiling clearance at full height.

LOW & MEDIUM-RISE LIFTS

Popular in many body shops and wheel and tire service stations, low and medium-rise lifts have gained popularity with car enthusiasts as well. Their compact design and relative portability offer much more flexibility in the home shop where overall ceiling height can often be the largest restriction on lift style.

Lead Photo by: Matt Sprouse

Discussion
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19 Responses to “At Home Lifts Designed to Fit Your Garage Needs”
  1. douglas birgfeld

    i have a 15′ sealing with 6″ reinforced concert floor. all i need is money to get one. every time i think i have enough the price goes up more. sume day i hope.

    Reply
  2. David

    I love my 4 poster. I too shopped and shopped, and ended up with one of those safety certified by a US organization. I chose the option to have someone bring it to the house and assemble it–the cost was the same as me renting a forklift and hoping the freight truck arrived that day! The guy that assembled mine was awesome. He usually did the big lifts for school districts and their busses, but allowed me to work side by side, with all of his wisdom and experience flowing out. I know what to inspect, where to check for issues, and how to operate it safely–money well spent….and if I have a problem he is only 20 miles away. I have 12′ ceilings, put my 67 Mustang on it to do any work I need, and I park my Toyota under it in the winter. Great investment—and you will suddenly know who all your friends are that want to see the bottom of their cars! The real value for me in my shopping adventure for my 67 was to always ask to see a car on a lift–so easy to see if rust is an issue, or if someone gubered 20 gallons of undercoat to cover up the rust! Never buy a car w/o seeing it’s bottom!!!

    Reply
  3. Jon Slawik

    I didn’t have a lift for the first few years of building funny car and dragster chassis at my Northwest race Cars shop. Picked up a used four poster from a dealer that wanted to upgrade for trucks. Don’t know how I ever got along without it. I adapted my digger jig to fit. Thing’s a life saver. The first car I used it on was the red :Revellution” funny car I built for Ed McCulloch in the early 70’s. Now I restore Model T’s and it’s great for that too.Slowed down a little bit. From 300 mph to about 35.

    Reply
  4. Bob MORAZES

    BE SURPRISED AND CHECK OUT NAPA.
    I bought a 10000lb Forward Lift from NAPA for $2460. I love IT . best money I ever invested.

    Reply
  5. Tom Matthews

    I purchased a two post low lift (54″ lift height from bottom of vehicle frame) capable of lifting 6000 lbs. easily from MAXJAX about 18 months ago. I would have went with a larger two post unit but only had a 10′ ceiling height in my garage. I found that at this height I can scoot around and work comfortably while sitting on an adjustable roller seat. I have swapped transmissions, removed and replaced gas tanks, rebuilt complete brake systems, and replaced exhaust systems this way with no regrets (saves on my 65 year old legs). My lift has at least one vehicle a week on it since friends and family have discovered my big boy’s toy. Another plus with this lift is the ability to stow it out of the way between uses, if you don’t have the space to leave it up all the time like I do. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a reasonable priced , compact lift. (google MAXJAX for info). One other side note on this unit, if using it a lot like I do, do yourself a favor, and save stumbling over the portable hydraulic hoses, by adding hard piping on the ceiling with quick disconnects to hook the system up, and placing the pump against a back wall out of the way. It works fantastic that way and keeps floor space open and clear.

    Reply
    • LD

      Like Tom, I purchased a MaxJax for my shop about 3 yrs ago and am very pleased with it. I have used it for everything from small jobs to total car restorations, total suspension upgrades, engine swaps you name it. My motor/pump assembly is mounted on wall of shop and lines go overhead. Well worth the extra expense and effort regardless of frequency of use. Highly recommend this unit – one of my best investments.

      Reply
  6. gary

    Ask about a used one. Some of these dealers sometimes replace older lifts or pickup ones no longer used. I lucked out and picked one up seven or eight years ago for $700 delivered and installed ! Best thing I ever did. Even though it’s a two post I still store a car on it during the winter.

    Reply
  7. KENNY M

    I have a four post. Best tool I ever bought. I had to put it up outside, my shop is not tall enough. Outside under a lift sure beats crawling around the floor.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Jerry,

      Most two and four post lifts fall into the same price ranges although two-post lifts demand at least 6-inches of reinforced concrete and 12-foot plus ceilings. Selecting which lift is best suited and economical for you would depend on your particular situation and the tasks you would like to use it for.

      Hope this helps,
      Mark CCRC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.
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      Reply
  8. RONALD

    Looking at purchasing one now for my new workshop. Have installed the extra concrete and rebar where it will set when foundation was poured.

    Reply
  9. BB4spd

    I bought a Dannmar 7000X – 4 post lift and installed it myself with 1 friend. Pretty easy install. The hardest part was the instructions. Had to call the company to find answers. Love it. Can’t go to full height because of low ceiling beams. Can get it to go to 7’3″ from floor to floor pan of car. Great for parking my Chevelle on and my tractor and lawnmower under the Chevelle.

    Reply