Choosing The Right Lift

Right Lift

Investing in one or more lifts is one of the biggest decisions a shop owner will make, because lifts are not only a significant budget expenditure, but they must yield a positive return on investment.

Repair shops walk a fine line when choosing the types of services to perform, the volume of customers they can handle and the types of equipment they purchase. Investing in one or more lifts is one of the biggest decisions a shop owner will make, because lifts are not only a significant budget expenditure, but they must yield a positive return on investment.

Take the guesswork out of choosing the right lift by ensuring your selection has been third-party tested and certified by Automotive Lift Institute (ALI), is built by a trusted manufacturer that has a strong reputation for quality and customer support, and is the right size and style for the jobs your shop handles.

“When choosing new or replacement lifts, shop owners need to consider the types of vehicles they service and the tasks they perform to make sure their equipment is working as hard as possible for them,” says John Uhl, director, light duty product manager for Forward Lift parent company Vehicle Service Group. “Forward Lift not only offers affordable lifts that can handle a variety of jobs, but they are backed by a trusted network of distributors, installers and ALI-certified inspectors to ensure top performance from day one through the life of the lift.”

One important step to choosing the right lift is selecting the appropriate type of lift. The most popular light duty lift types for independent repair shops include two-post lifts, four-post lifts, low/mid-rise lifts and scissor lifts.

Two-post lifts

These surface-mounted lifts are the best-selling lift type in the world.

  • They have a smaller footprint than some other lifts, allowing them to fit into standard-size bays, and are generally affordable.
  • Two-post lifts come in asymmetrical designs with the columns rotated 30 degrees to allow for interior vehicle access, typically best for passenger vehicles, or symmetrical configurations that provide more drive-through clearance and can lift larger trucks, vans and small buses.

Forward Lift’s I10 two-post lift is an example of a versatile combination. It features Spot-Rite 3-Stage front arms to accommodate passenger cars, trucks and vans up to 10,000 lbs. both symmetrically and asymmetrically, which allows a technician to position the vehicle doors in front of or behind the column to prevent door damage. The included adapter extensions make this a great fit for most passenger vehicles.

Four-post lifts

Four-post, surface-mounted lifts offer simple spotting, loading and set-up to drive efficient lifting that allows techs to get to work quickly. They come in a huge range of capacities from 8,000 lbs. up to 60,000 lbs. and increase in size as their lifting capacity increases, so consider the typical size of vehicles being serviced and the shop’s floorplan space when choosing one.

  • Open-front designs are ideal for quick-service shops and high-capacity bays because they allow the technician to move in and out of the lift without ducking under runways, giving easy access to the underside of the vehicle.
  • Closed-front designs are available in higher capacity, heavy duty models to serve as a shop’s one-stop workhorse with the addition of add-on accessories like a bolt-on alignment kit or a set of rolling jacks for conducting wheel service.

The CR14 four-post lift from Forward, for example, can lift up to 14,000 lbs. and offers a rise of 79” to provide techs better vehicle access. A heavy duty performance cable and sheaves system is conveniently concealed under the runway for easy access during quick inspections and clean, snag-free storage when not in use.

Low-/mid-rise lifts

These lift options are ideal for shops with lower ceilings, as a mid-rise lift provides good height for working on tires, brakes and body repairs while low-rise lifts are ideal for tire rotations and other everyday maintenance work on larger vehicles.

Scissor lifts

Scissor lifts may be equipped as a drive-on style with runways or as one that is frame or body engaging. The lift features legs in an “X”-shape that rise vertically and collapse onto themselves under the runways when lowered, requiring less space in front of and behind the lift than other types.

  • Scissor lifts can be installed on existing concrete surfaces or in-ground for even more clearance.

The Forward FS77 is an example of a scissor lift that lifts up to 7,700 lbs. and stands just 4-1/8” inches tall when fully lowered, using less than 44 square feet of space when extended to maintain a clean look in the shop.