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Lifting cars up can be dangerous, and there is no room for equipment malfunction to avoid possibly fatal accidents.
Home car lifts are more stable and secure than jack lifts and car stands, and you get better Vantagepoint and working conditions when the car is at the proper height. You also get more room in your garage.
The minimum ceiling height is 11-12 feet for 2 or 4 post car lifts. Most lifts will fit fine in just one bay space. Lifts run on 110 or 220 volts, so you may need to upgrade the garage electrical system. The concrete floor needs to be a minimum of 4 inches thick.
We take a look at different types of car lifts and their features, cost, and what you need to consider when thinking about installing one in your garage.
Picking the Right Car Lift for Your Garage
There are different types of car lifts, and your garage height is the primary consideration when choosing one. Another consideration does you need to be able to park a car under the lift.
Car lifts have different lifting mechanics featuring flat metal platforms or arms which lift the car. Other types don’t offer access to the undercarriage of the vehicle. Also, your concrete floor needs to be solid enough to support the lift of your choice.
Types of Car Lifts
Different main types of car lifts are two-post lift, four-post lift, scissor lift, and portable lift. There are also rarer types available such as parking lifts, parallelogram lifts, and in-ground lifts.
Two Post Lift
Two post lifts have 2 centered posts where the vehicle is lifted. The lifting arms are placed at specific points in the vehicle’s undercarriage and elevated. 2 post lifts have adjustable arms to accommodate a wide variety of different size vehicles.
Proper vehicle balancing is essential to avoid tipping. This type of lift is not recommended for storing cars on top of another. But they are great for fixing cars overall. 2 post lifts give excellent access to the vehicle wheels and undercarriage. These are bolted directly to the concrete, so the floor has to be up to the task.
Four Post Lift
Four post lifts are ideal for creating more parking space as you can park the car underneath another elevated vehicle. These are the most expensive but have the most lifting capacity and are recommended for heavier vehicles.
As the name says, these lifts have four posts positioned in four corners, and the car is driven on-ramps to the metal platforms. There are also jack tray attachments available to get the vehicle tires in the air when necessary. With a caster kit, the whole unit can be moved around the garage when necessary.
The Scissor lift takes the least amount of space in the garage and is very compact in the down position. Still, the lifting mechanism is directly under the car, so your access to the car’s undercarriage is somewhat limited, and you can’t park another vehicle underneath.
These types of lifts are suitable for side-of-the-car bodywork and changing tires and oils. Make sure your car has enough ground clearance for this type of lift.
Portable lifts are, like the name says, portable. You can get them out of the way when you don’t need them and transport them to another location when needed. These lifts typically don’t offer much lifting height but enough to work under the car with a creeper.(paid link)
How Tall Does a Garage Need to Be for a Car Lift?
There has to be an adequate amount of overhead room in your garage to accommodate a two or four-post car lift. Low-rise lifts lift the car only 18-20 inches off the ground and are suitable for 8-10 feet height garages.
The ceiling height minimum is 11-12 feet for 2 or 4 post car lifts. The average garage ceiling height is 8-10 feet. Your garage door opener can be modified to accommodate a car lift. The garage door tracks can be extended to the ceiling. The opener can be changed to a side-mounted jackshaft operator.
There are 2 or 4 post lifts that work with lower ceilings, but they are not usually ANSI certified. So there is no validation of safety or capacity.
Read all about different types of garages here
Read about average garage sizes here.
How Much Space Car Lift Needs?
Most lifts will fit fine in just one bay space. Minimum clearance is 11-12 feet in height. Four post car lifts come in many sizes and can accommodate many different size vehicles. Two post lifts take less space than 4 post lifts. All lifts should be installed in one continuous concrete slab without seams.
How Much Voltage Does the Car Lift Needs?
Most four post lifts need only a 110-volt power supply for their hydraulic system. Two post lifts typically need 220 volts for their hydraulic system. For the higher voltage models, you’ll likely need to upgrade your garage electrical system.
Concrete Requirements for a Car Lift
Integrity and thickness of the concrete floor is a factor when installing a car lift. You should always follow the manufacturer’s foundation advice and get an expert to inspect the condition and thickness of the concrete slab.
|8,500 lbs – 10,000 lbs
|11,000 lbs – 15,000 lbs
|15,000 lbs– 25,000 lbs
Existing concrete floors should be test drilled to verify minimum floor thickness and to confirm building drawings. A core sample should be obtained and tested to verify minimum floor compressive strength. When investigating floor properties, consult building drawings to verify proper floor reinforcement. All 2‐post lifts require a single continuous slab. Spanning expansion seams or positioning posts on separate slabs is not acceptable. (source bendpak.com)
A level floor is suggested for proper installation and level lifting. Small differences in floor slopes may be compensated for by proper shimming. If a floor is of questionable slope, consider a survey of the site and/or the possibility of pouring a new level concrete slab. New concrete must be adequately cured for at least 30 days. (Source eagleequip.com)
All 2 post car lifts need to be anchored, and the condition of the floor examined adequately before installation. Most 4 post lifts don’t need anchors because of their stability.
How Much Weight Can a Car Lift Hold?
This varies depending on the manufacturer and model. Typical lifting weight varies in the range of 5000-10,000 pounds.
Read why your garage door might feel heavy here
How Much Lift Do I Need to Be Able to Work Under My Car?
24-30 inches from the floor to the vehicle’s undercarriage is enough to work comfortably with a creeper. It is also enough space to safely remove larger parts like transmission, fuel tank, or axle. With 2 or 4 post lifts, you get to work standing in the preferred height of your choice.
Read how to store your car long time here.
Car Lift Safety
Modern car lifts are exceptionally safe when appropriately operated and certified for the intended usage.
The weight limit of the unit should not ever be exceeded.
Four post lifts are the safest option, but two post lifts are very safe too. Most accidents are due to user error in two post lift types. Four post lift is the safest choice if you need to store another car under the lift.
Two and four-post systems should have a safety lock feature and hydraulic flow restrictor in case of breakdowns. All 4 post systems should also have front and rear wheel chocks to prevent vehicles from rolling off the platform.
Car lifts need to be maintained regularly, the same as any component of your garage door system.
Read all about garage danger and safety hazards here.
Are 2 Post Car Lifts Safe?
Two post car lifts are safe when operated properly, and the car is balanced correctly. Most accidents happen with this lift type when the lift’s arms aren’t correctly adjusted under the car and the car tips over.
Is Car Lift Worth It?
Car lifts are great for storing summer cars or vehicles under restoration. Or to increase garage storage space. 4 post lift with attachments, you can store big items like motorbikes, snowblowers, and riding lawn mowers on top of the car. And still have space available for other things in the garage.
You’ll also have an easier time repairing your vehicles yourself. If you are a serious DIY car mechanic/restorer, then a car lift is a must-have accessory in your garage.
- Car lifts are easy and safe to use.
- Car lifts save time compared to floor jacks and car stands.
- Car lifts are way safer than floor jacks and have built-in safety features.
- Car lifts offer easy access to your car undercarriage and more comfortable working conditions.
How Much Is a Car Lift for a Garage?
Installing a car lift is best left for professionals if you don’t have the expertise to deal with the foundation and hydraulics.
- The average installation price is $500 for two post lift and $1000 for a four-post lift.
- Modifications to the garage door and if you need a new opener can be $400-$1000
- Electric work for the garage, if needed, is by the hour and parts. About $100-$500
- Lift prices vary by the manufacturer and model from $1000-$10,000
- There are good products in the $1500-$2500 price range.
About $1500 offers decent 2 or 4 post lifts with adjustable width and height but often have a maximum lifting capacity under 6000 pounds.
$1500-$2000 offers high-end products with 200-volt motors and lifting capacity ranging from 6000 to 9000 pounds.
$2000 and up offers high-end quality products with lifting capacity ranging from 6000 to 100,000 pounds.
Is a garage a good investment? Read here
Things to Consider in a Car Lift
- Choose a reputable brand.
- Safety features such as auto-lock and lock bar or hydraulic flow restrictor are essential.
- 4 post lifts are more expensive, but they are convenient and versatile.
- 2 Post lifts can be symmetrical or asymmetrical with different length arms for different vehicle positioning affecting accessibility to the vehicle.
- There are hydraulic and electric lifts, or some models use both.
- Weight of the vehicle you are lifting impacts directly on the price of the lift.
- The garage floor needs to be up to the task of supporting the lift and the car weight. Use experts to assess the condition and thickness of the floor when necessary.
- Consider how much you are gonna save with a lift if you have been renting storage for many years or are going to rent storage.
- Car lifts are going to be cheaper than garage extensions.
- Check your garage height is enough for the vehicle you are going to lift and the maximum elevated height of the lift combined to avoid an accident to your car. Or have the lift adjusted to stop at a certain height.
- Consider other vehicles you are going to lift. Size and weight are important factors when choosing a lift.