Car Lifts

Car lifts are an essential requirement for any commercial garage or smash repair shop. They allow inspections and work to be carried out on the engine, transmission, clutch, drive shaft, differential, exhaust and suspension. There are many different types available which can make choosing the right one a difficult decision. There are car ramps, floor jacks, scissor lifts, two and four pole lifts, in-ground lifts, and even mobile lifts for trucks and buses. Car lifts can also be used to store two cars in the one garage, provided there is enough height clearance.

The most affordable and portable car lifts are the car ramp and floor jack. The car ramp is an inclined metal frame that is placed in front of the wheels. As the car is driven up the ramps, the wheels are lifted a short distance off the ground. The floor jack uses a hydraulic cylinder to lift one end of the car off the ground while it is stationary. It can still be difficult getting under the car at this low height, so using a floor creeper to roll under it certainly helps. Ramps and jacks are good for doing small maintenance tasks, like changing the engine oil or checking for leaks, but other tasks require the entire car lifted off the ground.

The scissor lift and parallelogram lift are classed as mid-rise car lifts. They can raise a car completely off the ground but usually not high enough to walk under it. The car is positioned over a baseplate which supports the tires as it is lifted. The scissor lift has a linked set of criss-crossing beams which extend and fold when a force is applied to one of the beams. The parallelogram lift have several supports that all move in the same direction when a force is applied to one of them. Most of these lifts have wheeled bases that allow them to be moved around easily, but the larger parallelogram lifts used for trucks and buses are normally fixed to the ground.

To raise a car high enough to walk under it, two and four post car lifts are normally used. These lifts are installed above ground, with their support poles bolted to the floor. The main advantage of these lifts is the lack of obstructions under the vehicle, making it easier to work. Two-post lifts are popular because they are less expensive and take up less space than the four-post lifts. Each post has a support arm, with telescopic extensions for stability, but the four-post lifts usually have baseplates instead of support arms. The hydraulic pump and reservoir unit can be attached to any of the supports, and the pump can be powered from a standard wall socket.

Car lifts can also be installed below ground to save floor space. In-ground lifts do not have support poles like the above ground lifts, and their hydraulic pump and reservoir are located away from the lift. This is an important advantage for small workshops where space is at a premium, but it is not a concern for larger dealership workshops. A single piston with a baseplate can be used for most cars, but larger vehicles require multiple poles or scissor lifts for extra stability. One disadvantage of in-ground lifts is their high installation cost.

Most car lifts are not capable of lifting a large truck or bus, and towing these vehicles long distances to a suitable lift also presents problems. One alternative is to use a mobile lifting system that can be easily transported. These systems use several hydraulic lifting units that are placed around the vehicle, usually on the wheels. The units are connected together by cables and controlled by one operator using a small console unit. Mobile lifts can be used both indoors and outdoors, as long as there is an electrical power supply nearby.

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