In today’s world if you are still using a floor (trolley) jack you are probably a little old school or have not been keeping up with the current trend of using portable car lifts.
I use the word ‘trend’ lightly, vehicle lifts have been around for years and they have saved many a mechanic, home hobbyist and race pit crew, time, sore backs and knees and generally have made life working on a vehicle a lot easier, safer and more enjoyable.
Now don’t get me wrong, I not against floor jacks, they have their place (in the corner of the garage) and still do a good job of what they were intended for.
One of the driving points that keep floor jacks on the market is price, they are cheap. Ironically it is also price that keeps vehicle lifts out of many garages, they can be expensive.
Maybe not as expensive as you thought!
The need for compact, sometimes portable, and lower priced vehicle lifts has grown and continues to grow.
If you are imagining a 2 post or 4 post vehicle lifts and wondering where the heck you could put one in your garage and thinking 3K+ is still way out of the budget just so I can change my tires twice a year (if you live in a snowy climate) and whoever wrote this has lost touch with reality.
Bear with me a moment or two before you hit the ‘X’ in the top right corner.
Vehicle lifts have gotten smaller, lighter, portable and cheaper.
Tire shops, panel shops and race car crews are among the early adopters of portable car lifts and there popularity is spreading.
Vehicle detailers, auto spray painters and many home mechanics have jumped on the band wagon.
Granted, most of these models won’t lift a vehicle above your head like their stationary counterparts but they will lift to the same height as your floor jack and some higher.
Also they will lift the whole vehicle off the ground in one go. Unlike having to jack up one end with the floor jack insert axle stands then go and jack the other end.
Actually the lifted height is possibly one of the attractions. Most of the above users mentioned don’t need to lift a vehicle above 20 inches (50cm). Ideal height for changing wheels and cleaning a vehicle. And most importantly many residential garages have a low ceiling height.
What about space, they take up a lot of room?
Models like the QuickJack probably take less room than your floor jack when stored on the wall (keeping the floor clear)
Others can remain in place under your car. Not taking any more room than what is already taken by your vehicle.
Many garages are attached to the house and owners no longer want that part of their house to look like a storage locker or worse.
They want the garage to be clean, tidy and visually appealing.
So their cracked, stained and chipped garage floor has to go. Or get covered up.
Garage floor coatings are in high demand.
Popular coverings include epoxy based or modular flooring like RaceDeck®
With these new floor coverings no one wants to use a jack and jack stands and risk damage to their nice new floor. (Even though some of those floors are designed with jacks and stands in mind)
Your Garage/Shop Space
Get out your measuring tape and measure your garage/workspace where you intend to use the lift.
Write down all the measurements and keep them close by when looking vehicle lift specifications so you can compare dimensions.
Allow for the height of your vehicle(s) when doing ceiling height calculations.
Allow walk around room and door opening room if placing the lift close to a wall.
Know where your power supply is or going to be. Also check you have the right voltage.
Things happen, it’s life. Unexpected parts failure are part and parcel of our world of cars.
Read the fine print on warranties and compare them to other brands.
Often you can purchase an extended warranty, check the cost and then check the cost of the most likely part to fail (normally hydraulics or electrics).
Be aware of all the costs that you are liable for. Things like return shipping and labor.
Are spare parts held in stock or is there a delay while they come from overseas.
In a world of cost cutting it seems customer support is part of the cut.
Before purchasing give the brands you are considering a call to their customer support line and ask a few questions.
Two good ones would be delivery charges to your address and what’s their return policy.
You may as well quiz them on their warranty to.
Does the lift have all the features you want.
Will it lift your vehicle. Does it lift high enough. Will it accommodate all your vehicles. Is it as portable as you wanted. What accessories does it have/do you require.
Think about your garage and how you intend to work with a lift. Is there one model lift that ticks more boxes than the others.
Everyone wants a good deal.
But you also need to know what you are willing to pay.
Don’t take the ticket price as the final figure, often it is not. There is often extra charges.
Your call to customer support should inform you of what these are.
You should have a list of important things that the lift must have or do. Don’t compromise on this list. Find a lift with everything that you want then compare it’s price to others that have the same.
In many cases free delivery is offered (Restrictions to residential addresses often apply)
Buying a vehicle lift is an investment. An investment in your safety and health.
Which model car lift you decide to buy, portable or not, one thing is for certain… You’ll wonder why you hadn’t bought one before.