The Top 10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying A Lift

December 14th, 2009

BendPak's guide to finding your perfect automotive lift

It’s no fun spending a small bundle of moolah on what should be one of the best purchases of your life, only to be let down by the reality of an underpowered auto lift or a disreputable automotive equipment company. Here at BendPak, we hate it when we hear about fellow auto-enthusiasts getting burned by a bad deal. That’s why we devised the following checklist to help you avoid an unfavorable fate and get the car lift of your dreams.

But please, keep in mind that this is just a place to start. The first and final step will always be research. Be an informed consumer, not a victim.

10. Availability of information
Because research is such a large part of your decision-making process, you should be wary of car lift companies that don’t offer you much in the way of product and company information. Reputable car lift companies are proud of their products, features and corporate achievements, so they publicly stand behind them. Generally, they’ll want to get the word out about their products to as many people as possible. If you are attempting to research an automotive lift company and you find yourself on page six of Google with no real useful information, chances are they are hiding something. Some companies will also attempt to force you to call in for more information. More often or not, this is an attempt to sell you based on salesmanship over features. Don’t be caught in the trap. When it’s easy to find the information you are looking for, you can be confident you are on the right track.

9. Who REALLY made this lift
This one comes straight off the previous tip. There should always be a lift manufacturing company proudly placing their name on a prospective car lift. Unfortunately, many lift “brands” are just labels fabricated by small time warehouse dealers, deceptively supplying these products as their own. The car lifts are actually manufactured offshore in factory sweatshops with little or no regard to worldwide standards. If you find an auto lift that interests you, be sure to search for an informative and detailed manufacturing company website or at least a brochure. Also check to see if there are multiple dealers selling the brand in your country. Some of these shady dealers will bill themselves as “exclusive suppliers,” but the truth of the matter is that if they were pedaling a truly superior product, the manufacturer would attempt to expand their business to incorporate as many dealers as possible. If you can’t find solid, verifiable information relating to the actual manufacturer of any given automotive lift or if only a very limited number of dealers even sell the lift, you are probably best off searching for alternative options.

8. Know thy garage
Sometimes sheer enthusiasm will overshadow what’s physically feasible. It’s important not to get carried away. Measure, re-measure, and re-re-measure your garage. Car lift alterations are sometimes possible, but they are rare and always costly. Double-check with local installers to find out the minimum space required to work on your new auto lift. Triple-check the physical dimensions of your favored car lift either online or over the phone. If you can, find out if anyone nearby, such as a dealership or a neighbor, already has the automotive lift you’ve got your eye on. Most lift owners are extremely proud of their car lifts and will probably be happy to give you a quick tour. Also, make sure you know where your electricity is, if you need a compressor to operate the locks and if your concrete can handle the bolts, should you be required to secure your auto lift to the floor. Basically, it comes down to really getting acquainted with your garage. One great way to keep track of everything is with a quick-reference notebook containing some of the more important dimensions of your garage, so that you are prepared with your install-site information at all times.

7. Company reputation
When you dig deeper than the marketing hype, you’ll quickly discover what others are saying about the company that makes your prospective auto lift. Online garage-themed message boards are often a fantastic resource for unfiltered opinions about your potential car lift purchase. However, it is important to realize that the condemnation or praise will often be more extreme than reality. By all means, use opinions as an additional source of information in your quest for the best car lift, but always be aware that the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. And also be on the lookout for potential shills—salesmen posing as concerned community members to make their products look better than the competition. Request proof in the form of pictures should you have any doubt about bold statements. Also, be sure to consider how long the company has been in business, as that is usually directly tied to their reputation. The longer they’ve been around, the more likely it is that they’ve taken the time to develop positive customer relationships. Established automotive lift companies also have a better chance of being around in the future to honor warranties, replace parts and generally provide solid customer service should the need arise.

6. The right price
It might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Make sure that the value that you are getting out of your car lift matches how much you are going to pay. It doesn’t hurt to shop around for the best deal, as long as you stick to a pre-determined list of essentials that you are unwilling to compromise on. Remember: the best car lift for you will rarely, if ever, be the most expensive car lift or the cheapest car lift. Instead, it will be right where the cost meets the benefit—exactly where it should be. You get what you pay for and maybe a little more if you catch a retailer during a sale.

5. The warranty
Even the best automotive lift in the world is still just a machine, so it’s susceptible to human-error and unexpected failures (though potential devastating Best Warranty Car Lifts - BendPakeffects can be greatly minimized with the correct systems in place—more on that below). Honest car lift companies realize this and offer warranties on the frame, the moving parts and the labor at varying levels depending on their pricing structures. Warranties usually come standard with purchase, but can often be extended to cover years or even the entire life of the auto lift in some cases. Take this as a good sign that the car lift manufacturer not only stands behind their product, but is willing to put their money where their collective mouth is. Just don’t forget to research how long an auto lift business has been around to determine if it’s the real deal or all just empty promises.

 

4. The ALI seal of approval
The Automotive Lift Institute’s certification is the only nationally recognized standard for car lifts of all designs. They are a non-partial coalition of engineers, designers, industry experts and professionals who rely on third-party laboratory testing methods to recommend and test industry-class safety measures far above those set by any government or municipal agency. What happens when you purchase a non-approved car lift? We urge you to investigate thoroughly as many business owners quickly find themselves on the short end of a long battle once their local inspectors levy penalties for non-compliance or worse yet, shut down their business entirely. Yes, it can and does happen.

Nonetheless, ALI / ETL certification is a hot-button issue in the automotive lifting industry. It’s no easy feat to join the Automotive Lift Institute, let alone build a car lift that passes certification. Aside from the expenses involved, ALI sets extremely strict UL, ETL and ANSI manufacturing safety standards that must be met in order to qualify for certification. While you’re on the hunt for the perfect automotive lift, it’s very likely that you’ll find a plethora of non-certified lifts out on the market.

ALI standard exists for one reason: to make car lifts as safe as possible for people who aren’t able to eyeball good or bad mechanical workmanship from a mile away. If you happen to be an expert on engineering, tensile strengths and redundant safety systems under load, then you might feel comfortable purchasing an automotive lift that hasn’t been certified. But if you want a safe piece of garage equipment along with peace of mind, your best bet is to go with an ALI / ETL approved car lift. Remember, the largest and most respected auto lift brands in the world are members of the Automotive Lift Institute and submit to ALI testing and retesting for just about every product they develop, so clearly it’s a priority to them. It’s up to you to decide how big of a priority ALI / ETL certification is to you, personally. That’s what will help you ultimately make your decision while you’re trying to decide on which auto lift to purchase.

Naturally, we recommend that you give a strong preference to ALI / ETL certified car lifts, or at the very least, to a name you’ve got a good reason to trust.

For more information on BendPak’s stand, read here.

3. Customer support
This goes hand in hand with reputation. Sure, lots of car lift companies will be sweet as sugar when they are taking your cash, but where are they when something doesn’t exactly go according to plan? Once again, it all goes back to research. By now, you’ve probably narrowed down your selection to a couple of options. Go ahead and read up on what each prospective company offers in the way of customer support, but don’t forget to call into their support number, too. Once you get a hold of someone on the other end, you should be able to gauge fairly quickly their general attitude, if they have a multi-location service network geographically located across all parts of the country, if they are located in the US and their overall knowledgeability about products and services. Quiz them a little bit about their return policy, their warranties, how quickly they can get a repair part to you or have someone come out and look at your equipment should you have a problem. Let’s be honest, in the event that you need to talk to someone, you’re patience is going to be under much more strain then when you do your test call. If you find yourself frustrated during this little exercise, chances are you’re looking at the wrong company.

2. The features you want
If the car lift you buy doesn’t have the features you wanted, what the heck did you get it for in the first place!

This requires a little bit of foresight on your part. Not only do you have to determine the heaviest thing you’re likely going to need to lift, but also how closely the vehicle runs to the ground, the physical dimensions of the largest and the smallest vehicle you’re going to lift and whether or not you’re going to want to easily move your car lift around on casters. Your best bet for future-proofing your car lift is to go with a manufacturer who not only has the features you want, but also offers a lot of optional equipment in the event your needs change. Find out if your chosen automotive lift company offers extra tall, extra wide, short, narrow, asymmetrical and clearfloor model versions to better fit your personal automotive lifting needs. Ask if they offer truck and van adapters, telescoping arms, bridge jacks, specialized contact pads, casters and frame extensions. Your lift’s ability to adapt to the new and unexpected will be the key to your satisfaction for years to come.

1. Real engineering
Finally, do not settle for a piece of rebranded generic junk. Make sure your prospective car lift came from the minds and hands of a dedicated team of engineers who were dead-set on making their auto lift the best it could be. If someone took pride in designing your automotive lift, chances are you’ll take lots of pride in owning it. Also, lifting operation tends to be much smoother when human minds thought more about how you were going to use the lift and less about shoving a product out the door.

Follow these ten guidelines and you’re practically guaranteed to end up with the car lift that’s just right for you. And for some information on how BendPak stacks against the rest, check out A Study In Lift Design.

Think we missed something important? What things do you think are critical to consider when buying a lift? Leave a comment with your suggestion and help out your fellow wrencher!


46 responses to “The Top 10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying A Lift”

  1. empresa de transporte writes:

    your article help me a lot for my job.

  2. The BendPak Team writes:

    Glad you found it useful!

  3. IRV BOROOKOW writes:

    Why doesn’t BendPak make a lift with outer sleeve construction, like Backyard Buddy?

  4. The BendPak Team writes:

    Thanks for the question, Irv. BYB claims that they use a support jacket to keep the post from spreading open. But the truth is, when a car lift is used properly, the loads never come close to the kind of weight that will cause spread. We think our design is better because it allows us to mount our power unit to one of the columns for convenience. The other way would force us to put the car lift power unit much closer to the floor. When we tested that possibility, we discovered that it was kind of a pain for the operator to keep bending down to operate the lift. So we put it up at a standing height.

    We work with the Automotive Lift Institute to make sure our lifts are safe and many of them even operate well above the recommended load (though we don’t suggest you try it at home!). Our arms do not bend or spread or any of the other things other manufacturers might claim in their marketing. This is one of the reasons we’re big fans of ALI. They offer definitive third party proof to consumers.

    So why doesn’t BYB use our construction method? We don’t know; they aren’t third party tested. But we do know that they are one of the few manufacturers that opt for that design.

    We hope that answered your question. More BendPak / Backyard Buddy info can be found right here.

  5. Lifted trucks writes:

    I liked the third point of customer support. I feel this is the service which every consumer tries to find from the manufacturer. Quality and customer support are the features which can attract more consumers towards the product.

  6. The BendPak Team writes:

    Thanks for the comment! We think customer support is important too.

  7. George Markovic writes:

    Very informative

  8. Bob Kuzyk writes:

    Hi,

    I would like to know if you have a 2 post lift like the XPR-9FX but for a 120″ ceiling?

    Regards,

    Bob

  9. Mirko DiSabatino writes:

    Hello:

    Why have the “PL” series of lifts not received ALI certification? I was set on purchasing this lift until I read this article.

    Best regards

    Mirko

  10. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Mirko! Thanks for the question.

    The PL series lifts are commercial parking lifts, not service lifts. ALI currently doesn’t have a set standard for parking lifts–they’re outside of their jurisdiction. Still, we have an excellent track record with high quality parking lift solutions that are used practically all around the world. We hope this answers your question and that perhaps you’ll reconsider.

    All the best,
    BendPak Team

  11. Marco writes:

    I live in the south of France and have been doing my research. I think the 6000 is what I need to add an extra space in my garage. Do you offer support and warranty abroad?

  12. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Marco! We’re proud to say that YES, we have an excellent distributor in France who will be happy to support your needs. I forwarded your query to our Exports Department and they should be in contact with you shortly. Thanks for your car lift question!

    All the best,
    BendPak Team

  13. Alex writes:

    You mentioned “offshore” in point 9.

    I’ve looked at a few mid-rise lifts and I have now narrowed it down to the MD-6XP Mid Rise Lift.

    Where is the lift itself made and welded up?
    Where is the motor made and what brand is it?
    Where is the pump made and what brand is it?

  14. adam writes:

    any good companys you recomend for car lifts in the uk?

  15. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Adam. YES, we know an excellent UK company called Liftmaster Garage Equipment Limited.

    Website: http://www.liftmasteruk.com/
    Phone: 01420 549 038

    Hope that helps!

    All the best,
    BendPak Team

  16. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Alex!
    Yes, many so-called manufacturers will simply go offshore and find a pre-fabbed commodity lift and slap a sticker on it and call it theirs. The MD-6XP car lift however is all BendPak, designed by our engineers to be the best it can be. It did not exist before our engineers developed it. The lift itself is welded up in our factory just north of Shanghai. It’s two huge facilities (300,000 square feet) with state-of-the-art equipment that we built from the ground up. Nothing but BendPak products are manufactured here under our strict supervision. However, we do some minor manufacturing on site here in Santa Paula, CA as well. You can find out more about BendPak’s manufacturing methods here: http://www.bendpak.com/company/manufacturing/

    But it’s not so much the “offshore” part that we think is the problem. It’s when companies call themselves a manufacturer but they don’t actually make anything. When they don’t know their own product but try to sell it as their own, a customer can be left hanging if something goes wrong.

    The hydraulic pump/motor is made by SPX Fluid Power, located in Rockford, Illinois. If you have any other questions, we’re only too happy to answer them. You can also contact our Sales VP Jeff Kritzer at jkritzer@bendpak.com. Thanks for checking out our blog!

    All the best,
    BendPak Team

  17. Jason Simmons writes:

    Interested in the low height wide unit. XPR-9FSX. Can I get pricing with shipping and install to the 23231 zip code?

  18. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Jason,
    BendPak ships free to most locations in the continental United States. You can always check to see if your location qualifies by using the Rural Area Transportation Zone (RATZ) tool. As for pricing and installation, our retailers and independent installers set that. However, we see that you already entered submitted your how to purchase form and you should hear from a BendPak car lift dealer shortly if you have not already.

    Thanks for visiting the blog! Let us know if you have any problems. =)

    BendPak Team

  19. Paul writes:

    I am getting ready to build a shop building at home so I can better service my own diesel pickup trucks. These trucks run from 6,800 pounds to 9,500 pounds typically. Once the building is done I plan on adding a 2 post lift. Where can I find the info I need as far as floor requirements. During construction I can plan for a thicker floor at the location the lift will be installed or do pillars below the floor. I want to plan this building correctly now and be ready for the lift down the road. The building will have either an inside height of 14 ft or more. Hope to have a 12,000 pound lift soon, I am getting tired of crawling under things to work on them.

    Thanks so much for the place to ask questions online before making mistakes.

    Paul Hester

  20. Buster writes:

    Are you having any show special pricing comming up due to the January auctions? How much is a 7k or 8k lbs 4 post stacker?

    Thank you,
    Buster

  21. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Buster,

    We don’t sell direct, but our distributors often have different promotions regardless of what quarter we’re in. At this time we do not offer an 8,000-lb. four post lift. We do offer a standard 7,000-lb. four-post car lift and a 9,000-lb. four post car lift in a variety of widths, lengths and heights. Please see all our HD-9 models to find the right one for you if you’d like a 9k lift. Or contact customer service if you’d like a little help in determining the best lift for your needs.

    Thanks for the question, Buster!

    Sincere,
    The BendPak Team

  22. Anthony writes:

    Do you maufacture a portable car hoist solution like this one here http://www.maxjaxusa.com/index.html ? the reason i aks i because i cannot dedicate the floor space in my garage solely to a car hoist but would still like to enjoy the benifits of a car hoist when needed.

  23. Joe writes:

    I have a 2 car garage with a single door, in some of the photos the four post lift appears to be less than than two sheets of dry wall or less than 96″ yet the HD-7P states that the column height is 100″. Do you have a model that the post or column height is less than 87″

    Regards,
    Joe

  24. Eugene writes:

    I am planning to get a PL-7000XR lift. Have several questions:
    Can you park a van in either direction on the lift or only with the engine facing the shorter span of the lift.2)Can you stop the lift at different heights? 3) Do you need to bolt it down to the concrete floor? 4) Can it be ordered with a 110V motor instead of a 220V?
    How does it comes packaged and do I need to assemble it?
    Thanks

  25. Mike Austin writes:

    I am designing and building a garage and I would like to know the minimum Concrete psi thickness and width to support thy our 3 car lift. Also do you have a schematic or outline for me to measure out and set up my foundation to support. What is the minimum Ceiling ht to support 3 car lift?

  26. Keith writes:

    Hi,
    I am looking into the Bendpak HD-14TL 14,000. I believe it rises to 82″ in 65 seconds. I am considering this lift because of the width of the post and the hight. I would prefer a lift that rises a little bit faster and a little higher. I do not need this much capacity but this model is wider and a bit higher than the rest of them.
    Thanks in advance for your help!

  27. Jim E writes:

    Will a 4″ thick 3000psi concrete slab be enough to support the HD9STX lift?

  28. David carr writes:

    My garage is out of the question. Can the two post lift be installed outside? If so what are the operating limits?

  29. Ken writes:

    I would like to know the construction of the corner posts, I have seen “C” channel mentioned but I’m not sure if it is really a Structural channel shape or bent sheet metal.

  30. Kien Quoc writes:

    Thank you for the information. This article give a boost to my knowledge when it comes to shopping for a new lift. I live in the US and same rules apply where ever you are.

  31. The BendPak Team writes:

    Hi Kien! We’re in California.
    -BendPak Team

  32. Bill Burris writes:

    I am looking at the XPR 10-168 or the XPR 10 I am trying to decide which one to but I have 16″ of clearance in my building what would be the reason for the taller 168″ lift? is it for vans ect?

  33. tyler writes:

    Yes, exactly Bill. If you need more height for taller vehicles, you’ll want the extension.

  34. Dave writes:

    why does Bendpak never mention the thickness of the steel used in the columns
    and on the cross members, I want to buy a HD 9XW.

  35. Mark Armstrong writes:

    I looked at your comparison web site. You compared your lift (Bendpak XLR-10ACX) with a competitor. When I went to look at the lift you used in the comparison test I found it is no longer available. I looked at what you have available now and what I found is your lift looks just as cheaply made as everyone else’s other than you do have one piece post. So why should I buy yours over theirs?

  36. Greg A writes:

    Hello: I’m currently looking for a 2 post lift. my garage ceilings are exactly 12′ high. I own a 2010 Mazda 6, 2003 Corolla,and a 2004 GMC Crew Cab Diesel short bed.

    What lift do you recommend? asymmetrical,symmetrical? Can I get away with a 10,000 lb clear floor??

    Warm Regards

    Greg A

  37. Tyler writes:

    Hi Greg,

    Great to hear you’re looking at one of our two-posts. The short answer to your question is yes. There are multiple options for you, it sounds like. Call our toll-free customer service number 800-253-2363, because a one-on-one conversation will help you out a lot. Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving!

    The BendPak Team

  38. Jeff writes:

    Hello,
    Why was your single column lift discontinued? I am looking for a parking solution for my garage that avoids having posts in the middle of the garage.
    Thanks!

  39. Tyler writes:

    Hi Jeff. Great comment. We have a variety of parking lift options, but if you’re looking to reduce post space, as many are, we recommend the PLT-6S.

    It’s a 6,000-lb. capacity lift whose two columns will rest in the back of your garage, against the wall — not the middle. It’s a very popular item for those in your situation. Also note it’s for parking, not maintenance. Hope this helps!

    The BendPak Team

  40. Gary DeWitt writes:

    I am looking at getting a 2 post lift. I mostly will be using the lift for hot rods. Occasionally I will have my work truck on the lift. Height and width are not issues.
    I am thinking the XPR 10AS LP?
    Will the Low Pro arms be strong enough for a big truck?
    If I go with the standard arms and wide configuration will I be able to use it on narrow cars like early Vetts?
    should I go with Asymmetrical, or symmetrical?

  41. The BendPak Team writes:

    Gary, the Low-Pro arms will work with vehicles up to the lift’s rated lift capacity. It’s hard to know if the standard arms will fit certain vehicles without knowing exactly what you’re lifting, but it sounds like Low-Pro is a good idea for you.

    As for asymmetrical or symmetrical, that’s both preference and dependent on your lift points. Our customer service reps can offer you more detail and set you up with the best lift for you. Glad you’re interested, these are the right questions to ask. Call: 1-800-253-2363.

    -The BendPak Team

  42. jasminerandhawa writes:

    The user can get Two post and four post car lifts through our website. With the help of this technology user can park his car in very proper manner. This is one of the best way to reduce budget also.

  43. Gary writes:

    I’m looking at getting a 2 post lift for my new garage and I am about ready to pour the concrete. I’ll need a lift able to lift my 67 caprice kingswood station wagon and my 2500 HD Duramax 4×4 4 door longbed truck safely so I need to know how thick to pour my 3500 lb concrete and which lift will suit my needs I have 17 foot center height and 12 foot eves. I mostly work on street rods and big cars but would like to be able to lift my truck as well as I usually do all my own maintenance. Thank you Gary

  44. Tyler writes:

    Gary, it sounds like you have most of the information our sales team needs to give you some options. Concrete thickness can depend on the lift. Here are some general rules for two-post concrete specifications:

    12,000 Lb Models 6” Min. Thickness / 3,000 PSI
    15,000 Lb Models 6” Min. Thickness / 3,000 PSI
    18,000 Lb Models 8” Min. Thickness / 3,000 PSI
    http://www.bendpak.com/XPR-12CL-15CL-18CL-Two-Post-Lift-Manual-2-6-2017.pdf

    When you’re ready, give us a call so we can help you more. 1-805-933-9970

  45. Felix writes:

    Looking for dealer in Oklahoma to purchase and install

  46. The BendPak Team writes:

    That’s great news, Felix. Call us so we can take care of you. 1-805-933-9970. And let us know how it goes!

    -The BendPak Team

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