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clear floor vs floor plate car lift


I thought I would answer a question many of you may have “What is best a clear floor lift or floor plate car lift?”

Well it depends….

  •  How much ceiling height do you have
  • Do you intend to do a lot of under car work
  • Will you be using wheeled tools – gearbox holders, tool tables, oil drain tank, creeper
  • Is your vehicle tall, van, SUV with racks, Super duty truck

These things all play a part in your decision.


Hydraulics are mostly used to do the lifting in modern car lifts.

On a two post car lift each column has a hydraulic cylinder.

The side with the pump, often referred to as the master and the opposite is the slave.

Connecting the master and slave are hoses. It’s these hoses, along with equaliser cables and sometimes electrics, that run either across the floor of overhead.


A 2 post lift that has the cables running between the columns by going across the floor is referred to as a Floor Plate lift.

You won’t see the hoses and cables because there is a steel plate that covers them This plate creates a 1″ – 2″ (25 – 50mm) rise between the columns.

The advantage of a floor plate 2 post lift is that they can be installed in low ceiling buildings.

But they do offer up a rather big disadvantage. That being the cover plate between the two columns. It creates an obstruction on the floor. 


Two post clear floor lifts have the hoses and cables running overhead inside a protective bar.

Advantages of a clear floor lift are, as the name states, a clear floor with no obstruction.

A safety device, often a padded bar, sits between the columns just under the overhead bar and cuts power to the lift should a vehicle contact it. This ensures no damage to the vehicle or the lift equipment.

The disadavantage with clear floor lifts is they require a high ceiling.

Many home garages are not suitable for clear floor lifts. 


If you have a low ceiling (minimum height of 10 ft or 3m.) your choice is limited to floor plate or scissor type lifts.

On the other hand if ceiling height is not a problem you can make your choice based on other features.

Do you intend to do a lot of under car work?

If you have a race car, off-road 4WD or doing restoration work you probably get under your vehicle regularly to do repairs and maintenance. A clear floor lift is better suited for you. So long as you have ceiling height.

Is your vehicle tall – van, SUV with racks, Super duty truck?

I know that if you have a low ceiling you would not be intending to put these types of vehicle on your lift. Because you would not get the lift height required to do comfortable work.

On the other hand if you have pleanty of ceiling height and are thinking about a clear floor lift, make sure the vehicle does not hit the top bar with it’s roof before you get to a workable height. (note. clear floor lifts have a safety cut out so your vehicle will not hit the overhead bar)

A floor plate lift is often a good option for taller vehicles. There is taller offerings of clear floor lifts like the Bendpak XPR-10AXLS with an overhead height of 157″ (13ft) / 3.98m. It also has a taller lift height of 79″/2m. 

Will you be using wheeled tools – gearbox holders, tool tables, oil drain tank, creeper?

Floor plate models tend be obstructive when using wheeled equipment. But, if you’re just doing oil changes and much of the work is at the front of the vehicle the floor plate will not interfere with what you do.

Just a couple of small things to consider.
Floor plate lifts are easier to service and maintain. But clear floor lifts are easier to clean around.

Lastly it is touted that overhead models maybe stronger or more secure than floor plate models.
Without to much explanation, when a vehicle is lifted the weight wants to pull the top of the columns together. A clear floor lift with it overhear bar adds support to the columns.

My thinking is, manufacturers would not continue to make floor plate models if this was a big concern. But it does highlight the need for a good concrete base and well installed anchor bolts. 

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