What Type of Automotive Vehicle Lift
The type of automotive vehicle lift that will be best for your garage depends on the type of work you think you will be doing most.
If you will be doing a lot of brake jobs and work that requires the removal of a tire, a 2-post lift is the best choice since you be able to get the car up quickly to remove the wheels and you won’t have the ramps in the way. I have encountered this many times trying to reach something that the ramp blocks access to or had a hard time getting a breaker bar in place.
There are a two kinds of 2-post lifts which are symmetric and asymmetric and both work about the same but the symmetric post is designed to lift the car with the lift columns near the center of the car while an asymmetric post is designed to put the columns near the front door hinge. Asymmetric styles are built to handle the added stress due to the placement which is more convenient to work around but are also more expensive.
An easier to install and operate option is a 4-post lift. Even though it’s a good idea, you don’t have to bolt them to the floor. These lifts are more convenient than a 2-post for transmission, exhaust and oil changes since there the center is left open.
Most 4-post lifts also come with a “jack tray” which is a specially reinforced tray that is recessed between the ramps that is strong enough to use bottle jacks. There is also a bridge jack that fits in the jack tray and has extendable arms so it can place contact points under the correct lift points. These are usually pretty expensive though, but you can get most of the same functionality as a 2-post lift with a pair of bridge jacks added to your 4-post lift.
4-post lifts are also nice because they are ideal for car storage since you can stack two cars easily for storage.
The type of automotive vehicle lift most commercial shops use Rotary. Coming in a close second are Mohawks. Either brand will work fine.
Your garage should have at least a 4″ thick concrete floor of 3,000 PSI concrete and be sure to bolt the lift to the floor. Some 2-post lifts have cross-post hydraulics across the bottom between the posts, while others have it across the top. Either works fine, but keep in mind that if you have a 14′ ceiling and you have a 12′ top-bar 2-post system, you will be limited to lifting to only 12 feet regardless of inside ceiling height.
Make sure to get a single phase motor and not the 3-phase, unless your shop is already wired for it as that is pretty pricy. You will probably also want to get the 220/240 volt version of whatever you buy to have plenty of power.