Fleet Maintenance - S6
How to choose the right
lift for your shop
When choosing a lift, consider your
customer, safety, and features to help
capture the greatest ROI.
By Steve Perlstein
hat's the heaviest vehicles
I'll be raising to service?"
This is one of the most
important questions to
ask when making a lift purchase. The answer will guide you in your search for the
best equipment fit, whether you are lifting a
fire truck or a passenger car. There are many
lifts available, such as the two-post, fourpost, parallelogram, vertical rise, etc. This
article will focus on the most popular - the
Among shop owners, two-post side-byside lifts are often the most common choice,
as they take up a minimal amount of shop
space and provide a generous amount of
under-vehicle access. Two-post lifts also
leave tires hanging free, are affordable, and
can be installed quickly in just a few hours.
Two-post lifts range in capacity from
7,000 to 30,000 lbs, and this is where the
above question comes into play. If you'll never service more than a Honda or a Chevy
Impala, a 7,000- or 10,000-lb capacity lift
will suit your needs. But what if a Ford F-550,
an ambulance, or a service truck comes to
the shop for repair? What if these vehicles
are suddenly your new customers or your
business changes? If that happens, consider
this a red flag that it's time to think about a
heavier capacity two-post lift.
Where you live matters. If you live in
metro Los Angeles or Boston, most of the
population drives small cars. If you're in
a more rural part of the country, there's
a higher population of trucks, and so you
might consider a heavier capacity lift.
Regarding capacity, don't just look
at the total weight of the vehicle. Per the
Automotive Lift Institute (ALI), the safety
organization of lift companies in the U.S.
and Canada, a two-post lift with a 12,000lb capacity rating has a maximum per arm
Vehicle Lift Guide | AUGUST 2019
capacity of 3,000 lbs. If a service truck has
a rear axle capacity of 8,400 lbs and front
axle capacity of just 3,000 lbs, be aware that
the 12,000-lb lift would be overloaded by
4,200 lbs on each of its rear arms. Even
though the total weight of the truck is under 12,000 lbs, the lift is still being pushed
past its capacity.
Don't make the mistake of saving a few
dollars buying a lower capacity lift, as you
could be risking your safety and the safety of your employees, customers, and the
vehicles you service. Pay attention to the
warning decal supplied on two-post lifts.
They are a visual reminder not to exceed
maximum capacity per swing arm.
Another question to ask yourself before
buying, and an often overlooked feature,
is how high must the lift rise before the
mechanical locks start to engage? While
the ALI advises to always lower the lift onto
the locks, if there are no locks then your
lift is only being held up by hydraulic pressure. Some lift brand locks start at 2-3" off
the ground and some don't start until 24".
These lifts may not have safety locks that
engage at every height. When buying, keep
in mind you or your technicians will be
operating under these safety locks.
Another feature of lift locks to consider
is the indicator of whether the locks are
in-use. One manufacturer offers a light on
top of the column which lights when the
lift is on the locks. Other manufacturers
offer a pressure gauge, calibrated to the
weight of the vehicles being lifted. This
"scale" reads 0 lbs when the lift is lowered
onto the locks.
If a customer complains of poor mileage, the car pulling, or says the inexpensive brake pads have prematurely worn, the
weight gauge becomes a diagnostic tool.
Just raise the vehicle and given the weight
Image courtesy of Mohawk Lifts
shown, the scale now becomes the method
to show your customer why they should buy
better ply tires, higher quality brake pads, or
load levelers instead of shocks (all increasing
your shop's revenue per repair).
Also take into account whether the lift
has a drive-on ramp, and the minimum
height of the lift arm when fully retracted.
Both features can speed workflow, saving
time and money.
Per the ALI, ANSI (American National
Standards Institute), and the International
Code, a lift must be certified to the ALI
standard. A lift without proper certification can be locked out/tagged out in an
impromptu inspection. In addition, all
accessories used with the lift (think truck
adaptors used on every pick-up) must be
certified, as non-certified options will void
the certification of the lift. Be sure to verify
a lift before purchasing.
When purchasing a lift, take the time
to consider all the features that will be
most useful to you. Remember, a great
price on the wrong piece of equipment
is still the wrong piece of equipment.
To read an extended version of
this article, visit VehicleServicePros.
Steve Perlstein is president of
Mohawk Lifts (mohawklifts.
com). The company offers
environmentally safe aboveground lifts ranging from
6,000- to 240,000-lb
capacities, along with many
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance
Uptime: Is assessing cost-per-mile enough?
Do you know your TCO?
Vehicles: How to ensure optimum air system performance
In the Bay: The ABCs of ADBs
Shop Operations: The importance of managing fluid dispensing in the shop
Training: Invest in the future
Diagnostics: All scan tools are not created equal
Management: Are you good at PM?
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: Cold weather solutions for fleets
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: Is assessing cost-per-mile enough?
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - Do you know your TCO?
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - 12
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - 16
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - Vehicles: How to ensure optimum air system performance
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - In the Bay: The ABCs of ADBs
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - 26
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - Shop Operations: The importance of managing fluid dispensing in the shop
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - 30
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - 32
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Training: Invest in the future
Fleet Maintenance - 35
Fleet Maintenance - Diagnostics: All scan tools are not created equal
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - Management: Are you good at PM?
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 40
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - 46
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
Fleet Maintenance - 49
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: Cold weather solutions for fleets
Fleet Maintenance - 51
Fleet Maintenance - 52
Fleet Maintenance - S1
Fleet Maintenance - S2
Fleet Maintenance - S3
Fleet Maintenance - S4
Fleet Maintenance - S5
Fleet Maintenance - S6
Fleet Maintenance - S7
Fleet Maintenance - S8
Fleet Maintenance - S9
Fleet Maintenance - S10
Fleet Maintenance - S11
Fleet Maintenance - S12
Fleet Maintenance - S13
Fleet Maintenance - S14
Fleet Maintenance - S15
Fleet Maintenance - S16
Fleet Maintenance - S17
Fleet Maintenance - S18
Fleet Maintenance - S19
Fleet Maintenance - S20