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Car Lifts

Car Lifts Published: 25th Apr 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Car Lifts
Car Lifts
Car Lifts
Car Lifts
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Don’t scoff at the thought of professional lifting equipment. True, they are not cheap but can pay for themselves in so many other ways

A professional car lift can be used for several different tasks from simple maintenance and advanced repairs, or cleverly employed to increase your storage and parking space, all meaning they are not the extravagant luxury many perceive them to be.
They’re very much a long term investment but can pay for themselves in saving you labour repair costs as well as cunningly providing no cost extra storage (once the lift is raised of course!) and quite possibly doing away with the need for that new garage – and for a lot less outlay!

You can purchase simple, compact but still highly effective workshop lifts from the likes of Strongman Tools for less than £1500 (see our separate feature in this supplement-ed) and some companies offer leasing terms.

Most designs rely upon hydraulic power to raise the lift but there are also cheaper if more labour intensive manual types. A good many workshops operate from a ‘three-phase’ 415 volt electrical supply but there’s also lifts which utilise domestic 240V AC power; these are types which you will need.

The biggest disadvantage of a standard mid-rise scissor lift is drastically restricted central access which will become a bind, but some ‘twin platform’ types provide access down the middle of the vehicle.

A normal two poster provides better access, but the car demands balancing correctly on their arms for safety. Not all lifts are made to safely hold a car long term so if you intend using one for storage purposes you must make this clear when selecting one. Bear in mind also that most lifts need to be firmly secured to the floor and a typical cost for this is around £500-£600.

The traditional height problems posed by many domestic garages mean you have to go for a full length ramp type of lift which only raises the vehicle to waist height. No matter, this affords a fair degree of underside access although you’ll probably be lying on your back so invest in a car creeper on wheels to aid comfort and more importantly safety.

If you can’t go up (or down – ever thought of a garage pit? See our feature elsewhere-ed) then what about taking a sideways stance? Body rollers are great as they take up hardly any space when in use (and easily dismantle when not) flipping the vehicle on its side by way of being secured on the wheel hubs.

Either electric-powered (usually via a domestic drill chuck) or manual, they provide unrivalled access to the underside and many jobs, such as gearbox and clutch changes, can be carried out with ease – less so suspension work however – and are cheap at around £500 if you shop around or buy second-hand.

Normal jacks and stands will always have their place in our workshops. There’s no shortage of choice but be careful what you buy. Always opt for the best and biggest you can muster; penny-pinching over sub standard tools here is pure folly and a safety risk.

When selecting a trolley jack, go for a stout type, which can raise at least a ton, which you can also move the vehicle around with (say £160 or so) and while on this subject, don’t forget that special moving dollies and platforms are available; these are mainly for workshop use so you won’t find them in the high street.

Best ways to raise your game

Fancy a lift, mate?

A luxury you should convince yourself to afford, if you have the space and plan to make this a long term hobby. There’s a wide choice to suit most budgets plus can free up extra storage potential which includes another space for a car

Ramping up your skillset

Today’s professional ramps make an excellent alternative to a lift and good enough for many of us plus don’t need to be permanently secured. There’s a great choice around at keen prices, some going the full length of the vehicle

Jack it in for new types

If the funds can run to it, there’s some fantastic new ideas (and deals) on traditional jacks and axle stands which are well worth looking at if yours are looking especially tired and aged and not that expensive either but always think quality

Five top tips

Quality counts

There’s wide choice of products on sale, some at temptingly low prices. But quality is paramount for durability and safety so stick to better known names usually found in professional workshops

Second best

Keep a beady eye out for professional quality second-hand equipment, typically found at auction, perhaps due to a garage or engineering shop closing down. There’s some good deals to be had if they are still in good order. Some manufacturers buy back their old stock to recondition them

Buy or hire?

If it’s too dear to purchase outright remember that professional equipment can be leased to spread the cost, although this is mainly a trade deal. Worth checking out though because it also gives the luxury of trading up to a better type without the buying/selling hassle

Big show offs

You can always find such equipment on display at major car shows – such as the forthcoming Restoration Show held at the NEC – and it’s a great way to see such gear in action where you’ll appreciate their worth. Special show prices are usually another tempter plus some demonstration models can be bought – we know, we’ve done it!

Budget right

By law, unlike a normal professional workshop, you are not obliged to have such equipment periodically examined and serviced, but it’s still very wise to have it done every few years for peace of mind. It’s not that dear and some leasing packages include a maintenance plan

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