Whether you’re restoring a classic car, getting your weekend race car ready for the track, or just taking care of maintenance and repairs on your daily driver, a car lift can be a necessary tool for getting the job done. Getting under the vehicle you’re working safely on allows the view, access, and leverage you need for fast, easy repair or replacement of a variety of parts.
The type of car lift you’ll want to consider will depend on whether you’re a hobbyist doing meticulous work on your projects or just a weekend DIY mechanic taking care of regular maintenance and minor repairs. It also depends on how much space you have, including the height of your garage ceiling and how much you’re willing to spend. Serious racers and restorers will likely want a high capacity, permanent or semi-permanent lift. In comparison, most DIYers will probably look toward smaller, more portable, less expensive options for lifting vehicles.
Here are some of the best options for different kinds of car lifts that meet your needs for size and capability for whatever category you fall into.
Best Car Lift for Routine Maintenance
The QuickJack BL-7000SLX Portable Car Lift gives you just what you need to lift your vehicle for normal maintenance tasks in your home garage without a huge price tag. While it won’t lift your vehicle high enough for you to walk under, it will provide plenty of space to easily get the job done in the confines of your garage. This portable unit requires no permanent installation and basically consists of separate left and right lift mechanisms and an electric motor to power the hydraulics for a 7,000-pound lift capacity.
It’s designed to maximize access to vehicle wheels and other components, and features reinforced upper frame rails and automatic safety locks that engage as the lift rises.
- 7,000 pound lift capacity
- 110-volt operation
- Easy set-up
- Brand QuickJack
- Model BL-7000SLX
- Weight 246 pounds
The Ideal Tuxedo 2-Post Floor Plate Car Lift boasts a 9,000-pound capacity and features a space-saving design that allows it to fit most home garages. Measuring 111 inches tall and 110 inches wide, the unit provides a maximum rise of 72 inches. It uses a dependable chain drive and single columns with symmetric floor plate for stability and strength.
Dual-point lock releases add to safety, and included adjustable adapters make it easy to securely lift a variety of vehicle types.
- Lifts up to 9,000 pounds of weight safely.
- Includes dual-point safety locks that only release when you’re ready.
- Slimmer width and shorter lift raise are well-suited for smaller home garages.
- Brand Ideal
- Model TP9KFX
- Weight 1,265 pounds
The BendPak GrandPrix has a 7,000-pound capacity and uses a single, hidden, overhead cylinder for lifting to its 66-inch maximum rise. The two-post design uses a top-mounted cross-member with an overall height of 106.5 inches to fit garages with a 10-foot ceiling. Low Pro arms designed to handle sports cars and low clearance vehicles allow a wide range of vehicles to be safely lifted.
The unit features automatic safety locks with multiple locking positions, along with redundant safety cables to prevent injuries and damage.
- Lifts vehicles weighing up to 7,000 pounds.
- Fits under 10-foot garage ceiling
- Redundant safety locks and cables
- Low Pro Arms allow low vehicles to be lifted
- Brand BendPak
- Model 5175995
- Weight 1,369 pounds
The Triumph NSS-8SQ is suitable not only for making repairs, but also for storing two vehicles in the footprint of one. Although this model is shorter than larger four-post lifts, it’s still larger and heavier than some other types of lifts, but if you have the room in your garage, its versatility can make this a great option.
The lift has a maximum capacity of 8,000 pounds, and an overall length of 141 inches without the aluminum approach ramps attached. Designed with 5/16” lock rods for strength, a steel oil tank, and drip pans to prevent any leakage from the top vehicle from damaging a vehicle underneath when used for storage.
- 8,000 pound capacity
- Included casters for positioning lift when empty
- Steel oil tank
- Heavy-duty lock rods
- Brand TRIUMPH
- Model NSS8SQ
- Weight N/A
Best Car Lift Buying Guide & FAQ
Buying a car lift is a major financial investment and an important tool for your car repair work, so there are some important considerations before deciding which type and model is most suitable for your needs.
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, space you have to utilize within your home garage or shop. A 4–post car lift will generally require the most space for installation, while a 2-post design fits into tighter confines. A portable car lift is the answer if space is really at a premium, or your need to use a lift is more limited. Additionally, the four-post and two-post designs often require permanent or semi-permanent installation with bolting into the floor.
- Weight Capacity
You need to know the full weight of the vehicles you plan to be lifting—including fuel, accessories, etc.—then add another 2,000 pounds for good measure to decide the capacity of the car lift you will need. Under no circumstances should you exceed the capacity of any lift, as the consequences could be deadly.
- 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 Lifts
Home car lifts fall into three basic categories, each with its own plusses and minuses. Here are some things to consider in deciding the type that will best suit your own needs.
- Portable Scissor Lift
Portable scissor-type lifts utilize a scissoring mechanism that pushes the vehicle off the ground with the aid of electrically powered hydraulics. These portable units normally have separate right- and left-side lifting portions that contact the vehicle’s frame for lifting, making them easier to move around as needed..
They’re less expensive and smaller in size than other types of lifts, and can be a good choice if your use will be more occasional than regular.
- 2 Post
Two-post lifts are common among professional mechanics and serious hobbyists because of their versatility and strength. With a two-post car lift, you position your vehicle between the posts, line up the lifting points with appropriate places on your vehicle frame, then the mechanisms inside the posts raise your car with electric/hydraulic power or chain drive. This type of lift can have a crossbeam connecting each post at the bottom or at the top, and allow wide-open access to pretty much everything on the underside of your vehicle.
- 4 Post
Four-post car lifts are generally the largest and heaviest lifts, and can be used for double-deck storage of vehicles. Use involves simply driving your vehicle up the ramps onto the runways and lifting. Your car remains supported on its wheels, rather than jacking points. Access to some components can be limited by the runways on this type of lift, and repairs to wheel and suspension components can be difficult since they remain supporting the vehicle.
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 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
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 maximum weight limit of any lift. In fact, you should not be regularly lifting anything that comes close to the 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 clear floor car lift?
A clear floor style of car lift will employ arms to raise the vehicle. You will mostly see them on a two-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.
Q: How do car lifts work?
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 the car lift. But they use an electric motor to power hydraulics to lift and hold a vehicle aloft.
- Car Lift – Wikipedia