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Have you ever found yourself underneath your car, flashlight in your mouth, trying to change out some component or check a fuel or brake line?
It’s not much fun it is? It’s hard to see what you’re doing and it is even harder to actually get any work done down there either.
If that sounds like you, then you should consider installing a car lift in your home garage. They allow you to easily raise and securely hold your vehicle aloft, making it so much easier to work underneath it.
Yeah, we know you’re thinking that a car lift sounds like a heck of a big investment. But in this article we’re going to show you these days a quality car lift can be yours for a far lower price than you may assume.
The Best Car Lift For Home Garage
We will kick off our list with this product from TRIUMPH. There are a number of really good features on this quality 2 post car lift. You could even say that it is a TRIUMPH of engineering.
Ok, lame jokes aside there are a number of stand outs on this product but chief amongst them has to be the price. This unit is available for less than 2,000 bucks – in fact quite a bit less at that.
That right there is phenomenal value for money.
9,000Lbs Lift Capacity
Symmetrical Two Post Design
Swing Arms for Fast and Easy Attachment to Vehicle
QuickJack by name, QuickJack by nature! This next product may not have the lift capacity of a 2 or 4 post car lift, but it is bringing a number of other impressive features to the table instead. One of them, as our very witty opening line suggests, is speed.
This design of car lift can get a vehicle up in the air in a matter of minutes, thanks mainly to the powerful 110V AC motor that comes with the product. Simply lay the two cantilevered lifting platforms on the floor and drive your vehicle over the top. Turn on the motor and stand back as the welded steel reinforced box frame takes the strain and lifts your vehicle up to two feet into the air.
Great for Smaller Shops
Easy to Store
Powerful 110V AC Motor
Lift Capacity of 5,000 Lbs
- Weight215 Lbs
The next model to make the list is this entry from Bendpak, another portable style of car lift that mixes easier portability with a very decent lift capacity. In this instance you are looking at a weight capacity of up to 6,000lbs, not too shabby for a device that only measures 81 inches in length by 40 inches in width.
This is another car lift with electrical power delivered to a motor. That motor is a single stage 220 volt model that packs quite a kick. It can in fact raise the lifting platform from floor height to the maximum lift height in around 45 seconds. So there is no hanging around if you invest in this tool!
6,000 Lbs Lift Capacity
Very Fast Operation
Lifts Up To 53 Inches
- Weight954 pounds
The next product to make our list represents the second entry from Triumph. It is also the first example of a 4 post car lift. Naturally, this style of car lift brings extra lifting capacity, in this case a total weight of 8,000 lbs. That in itself is one of the key features of this style of car lift and will provide the strength to lift just about any domestic vehicle.
It is also nice to see that the product has 10 different locking positions across its arc of movement. That is a very helpful feature in a car lift if you are planning on using it to work on the vehicle. It means that you can raise and hold the vehicle to a height that you find most useful when working on it.
8,000 Lbs Lift Capacity
4 Post Car Lift Design
10 Lockable Positions
Dannmar are the manufacturer behind this interesting design of 2 post lift. On the surface, it may appear like a solid but not extraordinary car hoist. It boasts a solid design and a decent upper weight capacity for a 2 post model.
But take a look at the bottom of the posts and you can see why this is design is a stand out as far as 2 posts lifts go. See those little wheels? That adds a degree of portability to the design, something that you don’t often see on lifts with a weight capacity this high.
6,000 Lbs Lift Capacity
Wheeled Posts for Portability
Built In Automatic Safety Locks
- Weight880 pounds
Next up we have the second 4 post style of car lift to be represented on our list. First up we have to acknowledge that this is a high quality car lift, one that is absolutely packed with features. It is however also packing a high price tag – isn’t that always the way, huh? This is in fact the most expensive car lift on the list today, so what are you getting for your money?
First of all you are looking at a high weight capacity of 8,000 lbs. Again, that is a weight capacity that will handle a huge range of vehicles. That weight capacity is handled by a hydraulic system that makes use of aircraft quality cabling. That is one of the stand out safety features that means you can use this lift with peace of mind.
8,000 Lbs Lift Capacity
Redundant Ladder Lock Safety Feature
Aircraft Quality Cables
18 Inch Wide Runways
- BrandAuto Lift
- Weight1,640 Lbs
We will finish off our list with this, another very high quality car lift from BendPak. This is another premium level product that is boasting both a huge range of features – but also a higher price tag than would be found on simpler car lifts.
The first thing we see here of course is the weight capacity is set at 10,000 lbs. That is about the maximum you will find on a 2 post car lift, so if you have a heavier car but would like a 2 post lift system, this could be the model for you. We mean, this car lift actually has higher capacity than many 4 post style models – not something that you see very often!
10,000 Lbs Lift Capacity
Asymmetric 30 Degree Column
Padded Overhead Safety Shut Off Bar
- Weight2,562 Lbs
Best Car Lift Buying Guide & FAQ
In our buying guide, we’ll take you through the features that you should keep an eye out for when picking out the best car lift for you. After that, we’ll take a look at how best to use your new tool and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this extremely useful product.
Things to Consider When Buying a Car Lift for a Home Garage
One of the biggest considerations with these types of devices has to be space. Or more specifically the space you have to utilize within your home garage or shop. A 4 post car lift will need a heck of a lot of space, whilst a 2 post car lift you can get away with a little tighter work area. If space is at a real premium, or if you would like to work outside on the drive, a portable car lift or a scissor style model may be the best option for you.
- Weight Capacity
Or more importantly how much does your car weigh? We will mention this below in the safety tip section but it is worth highlighting here – do not lift a car which weighs more than the weight capacity of the lift. Period, full stop, no excuses. It is also a good safety idea to build in artificial capacity. So if your car weighs around 6,000lbs, look for a lift that can handle at least 8,000 lbs so you have a little extra capacity.
- Permanent or Temporary Installation
Would you like to move your car lift to various locations? If you would it would be a good idea to invest in a portable car lift such as a scissor lift. Are you happy for the lift to stay in one place after installation? That opens up the possibility of picking up a 2 or even a 4 post design. Both of them are very heavy and are usually bolted down, meaning they have very little (if any) portability.
Types of Car Lift
There are three styles of car lift, and you will have seen examples of them all in our list of products above. They each come with pros and cons to their respective designs, and they are:
This style represents the simplest style of car lift. Also known as a portable car lift, it is easy to use and install – in fact sometimes it doesn’t need any installation at all! The downside of that though is that it is a little underpowered compared to the two styles below, making for a lower upper weight capacity.
Still, they can be a great option if you need to temporarily raise your vehicle only ever now and then – to repair a damaged wheel or tire for example. They are also almost always the cheapest option.
- 2 Post
These styles of car lift represent a middle ground between a scissor and a 4 post style car lift. To that end they will have a higher weight capacity than a scissor lift, and will also lift the vehicle higher into the air.
On the other hand by using a 2 post design, these kinds of car lifts certainly take up a heck of a lot less space compared to a 4 post model, making them ideal for use in smaller home garages and shops.
- 4 Post
Finally we have the good old 4 post. They are the largest and usually most powerful of the car lift options. They are also very heavy (often over 2,000 lbs) and will be bolted onto the floor. That means they have no portability at all.
On the other hand, if you need to get your vehicle up into the air quickly and efficiently – and keep it up there too – these type of car lift often represent the best option to achieve that.
How to Use a Car Lift
It will differ depending on the style of car lift you have chosen. That said the most important thing is of course to get the vehicle loaded safely onto the lift.
A scissor and a 2 post car lift will see the vehicle frame resting on supports. Always check your vehicle handbook for the safest and strongest parts of the frame to attach the supports to.
If you have invested in a 4 post car lift with floor plates then it is a much simpler operation to the get the vehicle onto the lift. Simply drive onto the floor plates, apply the handbrake to secure the vehicle and… well, that’s actually about it!
Once the car is safely secure on the lift, simply raise it into the air. That really highlights the simplicity of these devices, certainly one of their stand out features.
Car Lift Safety Tips
- As we mentioned above always make sure that the vehicle is securely on the lift before operating. Study the operating manual of the lift to ensure a secure fit.
- Always place the lift on a solid stable and strong floor area. This will allow the car lift to operate safely without any danger of slipping or collapsing on an unsuitable base.
- Follow the installation instructions carefully! They will differ between lifts so it is hard to give firm advice on the installation on a specific lift here. All we can point out is that all the information you need for a safe install will be supplied in the product paperwork.
- The final safety tip, and this is an important one – never lift a vehicle that weighs more than the upper weight limit. In fact, you should not be regularly lifting anything that comes close to upper limit. If your car weighs 6,000lbs, you should look for a lift rated for at least 8,000 lbs, to provide plenty of spare capacity.
Best Car Lift For Home Garage FAQ:
Q: What is a clearfloor car lift?
A: A clear floor style of car lift will employ arms to raise the vehicle. You will mostly see them on a 2 post style of car lift. The benefit here is that they leave the bulk of the bottom of the vehicle free, allowing you more access when working on the vehicle. It also means the wheels hang free, making them easier to work on too.
The other style of car lift will employ floor plates. They are simple strips of metal that the vehicle drives onto before being raised in the air. That makes them very easy to use and also very secure – though they do cut back on the ability to access the bottom of the car, and the wheels, for easy maintenance.
Q: How do car lifts work?
A: Very simply they work to lift the car into the air, usually using hydraulics. There are of course a range of different styles, shapes and designs of car lift. But they use an electrical motor to power hydraulics to lift and hold a vehicle aloft.
Q: What is a post car lift used for?
A: Post car lifts will usually – but not always – be installed in one place with very little portability. That makes them ideal for installation in a home garage or shop where you work on vehicles. They are like buying a good tool bench, they provide a useful service in the shop or garage.
Because of their long-term style of installation, they can also provide an excellent vehicle storage solution. If for example you have a summer vehicle like a soft top (lucky you!), then you can pop that on a 4 post car lift, raise it in the air and store it up there freeing up floor space.
Q: How much does it cost to install a car lift?
A: Actually very little. Yes, they do look like complex machines but don’t let that fool you. The main issue is really the weight, with the largest car lifts weighing in at over 2,000 lbs. To that end you may need to hire a good pump truck or similar device to help move the pieces into place.
A professional electrician will be required to hook the lift up to appropriate circuit breakers for safe operation.
We would also strongly recommend that you bring in a couple of buddies to help with the install. We can’t estimate what that would cost in terms of beers though.
Our Top Pick
It was a tough one to pick out the top pick from this list of truly outstanding products. Twist our arm though, and we have to plump for the Triumph NT-9 2 post car lift.
For us it was packing everything you want in a 2 post design. It brought a very useful lift capacity of 9,000lbs, it was easy to attach the vehicles to the lift arms and was easy to operate too. It did all that whilst still coming in with a very respectable sub 2K price tag too, which is what truly pushed it over the line to be our top pick.
It is a true Triumph of engineering. Oh right we did that joke already didn’t we!
- Do You Actually Know What These Garage Tools Are Used For? - howstuffworks
- How to Prepare Your Car for Long Term Storage - wikiHow