The best car lift for a small workshop is a
commercial grade 2-post or 4-post lift, which is why they’re used in just about
every vehicle repair shop in the world.
In fact, most of the time, home garages lifts
do NOT fit in a vehicle repair shop. A commercial lift needs 11-foot ceilings and extra-wide garage space (in terms of width).
So, the question is not “What’s the best car
lift for a vehicle repair shop?,” but rather “What’s the best lift that will
fit in my workshop？”
The Best Vehicle Repair Shop
Car Lift Is Safe, Straightforward, and Works With Almost Any Kind of Car
If you want the best car lift for your repair
shop, there are four features you absolutely need:
Safety. A lift that can fail during raising or lowering is
dangerous. A lift that doesn’t properly secure a vehicle is life-threatening.
Many of the lifts on the market today have problems with tipping front-to-back
(because they lift a car between the wheels) as well as failures during raise
and lower (because they use independent hydraulic mechanisms).
When you don’t lift a vehicle at the
wheels, you have problems with tipping front to back…especially if the work
you’re doing involves a heavy component like a differential or engine block.
Simple, straightforward design. When you have time to work on your vehicle, the last thing
you want to be doing is inspecting your lift, replacing fluid and looking for
leaks, checking air cylinder pressures or doing leak clean-up.
Unfortunately, most of the entry-level
hydraulic lifts on the market have precisely these problems. This is because
cheap hydraulics are infamous for random, unexplained fluid leaks and
problems…and you can’t buy a cheap hydraulic car lift without getting cheap
Nearly universal vehicle
compatibility. If you’re serious
enough to invest in a vehicle lift, odds are you need a lift that works with
nearly any type of vehicle. Who needs a lift with an absurdly low 3,500lbs
weight limit? Or a lift that only works if a vehicle has 5″ of ground
clearance? Or a lift that isn’t compatible with classic cars that don’t have
True portability, or park on top
convenience. If your workshop looks like most other shops, there’s not a
lot of ‘extra’ space for your lift. So, you need a lift that you can other
disassemble and stow away, or you need a lift you can easily park on top of.
As you might have guessed, the Unite Auto Lift
is all of these things. You can learn more about why you should buy the Unite Auto
The Worst Vehicle Repair Shop
Car Lifts Have a Few Things In Common
There’s such a thing as an “entry-level
hydraulic lift,” and the companies that sell them promise all the same
functionality as a commercial lift, only in a smaller package. These lifts are
always available at a bargain price too (amazing, huh?).
Most of the companies hawking entry-level
hydraulic lifts say and do a few of the same things:
They emphasize “Look at it go up and
down!” in marketing – Most of the
companies selling entry-level hydraulic lifts put a lot of emphasis on the “gee
whiz” aspect of their product. “Push a button and up it goes! Neato!” Indeed,
the entire homepage of the website is dedicated to a video showing a lift go up
Here’s the problem: Going up and down is maybe 2% of what a vehicle lift is
supposed to do. 98% of the time, the lift has to be a safe and stable
platform for you to work under. It shouldn’t wobble or seem unsteady at full
rise height. It shouldn’t tip back and forth when you pull the rear axle or
swap out your engine.
Misleading ground clearance specs. If you’ve got a vehicle with about
4″ of ground clearance (a Miata, a Corvette, a Porsche, most lowered vehicles,
and so on), you need to make sure that the lift you’re looking at can actually
lift your car. While most of the companies selling these lifts advertise that
their lift mechanisms are 3.5″ tall (or thereabouts), and therefore state that
the lift will slide ‘under’ a car with 4″ of ground clearance, here’s the
Most hydraulic motors in the ‘entry-level’ price bracket are
just barely powerful enough to do the job
When you fully compress the lift mechanism, the motor
struggles to lift anything heavy
Check the owner’s manual or FAQ page for of any
of these entry-level hydraulic units, and you’ll see some text about the lift
needing “a little bit of space” or “run-up” before it can actually lift
something. That’s fine if you’re trying to lift a vehicle with 5″ of ground
clearance. But a Corvette or a Porsche? You might be driving up onto small
blocks to get your entry-level lift to do its job.