With so many car companies in the world, it’s no coincidence that there are so many car types in the world. Large, small, automatic, manual, light, heavy and so on. When it comes to cars, the possibilities are almost endless.
Therefore, the same lifting tool doesn’t work for all car types. Just as there are several car types, there are also several car lift types. Each with unique characteristics that differentiate them from the rest.
Most car lifts use electrical, mechanical, hydraulic transmission or a mixture of them to work. Each transmission type more convenient in certain circumstances. So, to choose the best lifting tool for your vehicle, you must first know some important features, including weight and dimensions.
If you aren’t an expert choosing the best car lift, don’t worry. In this article, you’ll know all the different types of car lifts, how they work and what they’re for. That way, you’ll be better prepared to choose the right model for you.
Types of Car Lifts
Without car lifts, it would certainly be impossible to raise some car types. Especially the heaviest ones. People usually carry hydraulic jacks in their car trunks for an emergency. Certainly, hydraulic jacks are compact, lightweight and easy to use. However, they’re also unstable, fragile and in some cases, dangerous.
In addition, they have a limited lifting height and you’re forced to adopt awkward positions during repair work. But nobody can deny that they’re the best help when you need to change a flat tire in the middle of the road.
But what happens when you got 2 flat tires at the same time? In that case, you need a lifting tool that lifts all 4 wheels at the same time so you don’t waste time. And that’s precisely what you can do with a portable car lift.
Car Lift 2-Posts vs 4-Posts
Car lifts are more resistant, robust and stable than regular hydraulic jacks. Portable models can lift a car up to 2 feet high. Permanent installation models, such as 2 and 4-post lifts, can reach 75 inches high.
Car lifts provide greater stability through several points of support. They use columns set to the ground, attached to lifting arms powered by engines, hydraulic pistons, pulleys and steel wires.
To better resist shear, compression and bending efforts, car lifts use structural steel profiles type “H”, “I”, square or rectangular, with 5-6 mm thickness. Steel is the lightest, strongest and most economical alloy for high strength.
You can’t lift all car types in the same way. Those with pinch welds adapt to all kinds of car lifts. However, you can only lift those models without pinch welds through their 4 wheels.
Until the early 2000’s, car manufacturers stopped producing pinch weld cars. So, if your car model is of recent years, it probably doesn’t suit regular hydraulic jacks.
Car Lift Types List
According to their common characteristics and uses, there are 9 main types of car lifts:
- Portable lifts.
- Scissor Lifts.
- Column Lifts.
- Two-Post Lifts.
- Four-Post Lifts.
- In-Ground Lifts.
- Alignment Lifts.
- Parking Lifts.
- Specialty Lifts.
Different Car Lift Types and Description
Each car lift type is best suited to a specific car type. Here you’ll find a detailed explanation of each type of lifting tool so you can identify which one best suits your car model.
Portable lifts are compact, lightweight and fit in any car trunk. Some automatically deploy by pressing a button. Other models use a manually operated pump to deploy the pistons.
They can lift 2 or 4 wheels at the same time, depending on the model. They have more lifting height and weight capacity than regular hydraulic jacks. Therefore, they’re the best to change a flat tire fast.
They’re deployed using a scissor-like system. Basically these are several metal arms crossed like an “X”, driven by hydraulic pistons. The end of the arms is attached to a lifting platform that supports the car.
They’re more discrete than column models and can reach ground level when installed inside a pit.
Column lifts use steel columns placed under each wheel. The columns rise at the same time at the same height. That way, the car rises evenly. Commonly used to lift heavy vehicles, such as trucks.
Two-Post lifts are currently the most popular models in the market. They basically consist of 2 steel columns attached to the ground. Lifting arms go up and down through the columns to raise the car at different heights.
To work, they combine the action of an engine, hydraulic pistons, pulleys and steel wire. In case of overload, they have a safety system that stops operation instantly.
They work the same way than their two-post counterparts. But, they use 4 columns instead of 2. Some models don’t need to be attached to the ground and can move freely using wheels.
They lift vehicles through their 4 wheels. They’re ideal for heavy duties.
As its name indicates, you can install them inside a pit on the floor. They work the same way than scissor lifts but using a different lifting mechanism. You need more money to install them. But, they allow you to make the most of the free space of your home garage.
They’re the kind of lifts that mechanics use for alignment services. Their design allows rotating each wheel independently. They’re also known as wheel engaging lifts.
They look very similar to 4-post car lifts. But, their main purpose is to park 2 cars in the same space. Their design prevents oil leaks from reaching the car on the lower level. That way, there’s no risk of stains.
They’re all kinds of lifts designed for a specific purpose and whose characteristics are different from the other types explained before in this article.
To choose the best car lift, you also need to know all the main features of your car. You also must know the free space available for installation. If the car lift model you need to raise your car is too big for your garage, you certainly need to consider other options.
Also, consider the electrical power that your lifting tool needs to work. If you need 220V, make sure there’s an outlet with such voltage in your garage. If you pay attention to these tips, you’ll be prepared to choose the best car lift for you.