So How Often Should I REALLY do Car Lift Maintenance?•
One of the most important aspects of owning and/or operating a car lift is performing periodic maintenance. We pride ourselves on making our lifts (two-post, four-post, etc.) as low-maintenance as possible, but there are still a few chores you’ll need to complete from time to time. All of this is listed in your owner’s manual, of course, but we’d like to offer a fresh reminder.
Required Monthly Maintenance
Remember this little gem from your manual? You should! Even a rugged BendPak two-post or four-post lift needs a little love now and again. If you’re currently having an “oh, shoot” moment, but you didn’t say “shoot,” go ahead and finish this article, then go make yourself a little inspection and see how your lift is holding up.
The Monthly List
- Check all arm adjusting locks for proper operation.
- Check all cables connections, bolts and pins to ensure proper mounting and torque.
- Visually inspect safeties for proper operation.
- Lubricate posts with grease.
- Inspect all anchors bolts and retighten if necessary.
- Check all posts for squareness and plumb (straight) fit.
- Inspect all pivot arms pins making sure they are properly secure.
- Check cable tension and adjust if necessary.
- If the lift is equipped with overhead micro-switch, check for proper operation.
Wire Rope Inspection and Maintenance
We’ll spend the rest of this article on how to inspect the cable system. All lifting cables should be replaced every three to five years or when damage is visible. The better you take care of your cables, the longer they’ll last. One of best things you can do is keep your cables lubricated with 90-WT gear oil or ALMASOL® Wire Rope Lubricant. These oils/lubricants get deep into the fibers to prevent damage. Lubricate your cables every three months (four times a year). Mark it on your calendar at home or work to remind you when it’s car lift and cable maintenance time.
Since you’re right there anyway when your lift is in use, take that easy opportunity to inspect your cables. This takes what, a minute or less per column? If there’s damage on any cable, remove it and replace it immediately. Don’t risk everything just to finish an extra job or two. So, does that mean we’re telling you to replace every cable that’s been discolored or looks “less than brand new” after a year or two of heavy use? Not necessarily!
A little wear is to be expected over time. Here’s our official, factory-recommended rule-of-thumb: if in the course of a single day, you see six random wires sticking out over the length of a single cable (when examining all strands), the entire cable needs to be replaced. Additionally, if you see three broken wires in just a single strand over the course of a single day, you also need to replace the entire cable.
In other words, when you start to see wires sticking out of strands, whether they’re all on a single strand or spread out along the length of the entire cable, you need to replace that cable. You don’t necessarily need to replace good cables that just happen to be near the defective cable(s).
How Do I Look for Cable Damage?
1) Relax your rope to a stationary position and move the pick-up points off the sheaves. Clean the surface of the rope with a cloth or a wire brush, so you can see any breaks.
2) Flex the rope to expose any broken wires hidden in the valleys between the strands. Look for broken wires. One way to check for crown breaks is to run a cloth along the rope to check for possible snags.
3) With an awl, probe between wires and strands and lift any wires that appear loose. Evidence of internal broken wires may require a deeper rope examination.
Be Your Own “Cable Guy”
While some wear is to be expected over time, once the cable has worn down by 10% of its original size, it needs to be replaced. So if your original cable is .5” in diameter, it should be replaced once it reaches .45”. That difference may seem small, but 14,000-lb. rated cable that loses 10% tensile strength will be rated at 12,600 lbs., assuming no other structural damage. This is a big difference in any circumstance but especially when lifting heavy-duty vehicles.
If the wires appear to have corrosion, pits or kinks, or if there is evidence of kinking, crushing, cutting, bird-caging or a popped core, the cable needs to be replaced. Also look for evidence of heat damage.
Cable Sheaves and Guide Rollers
Any points at which the cables make contact with the sheaves need to be inspected. Look for signs of wear. If the surface has been compromised or made rough, it’s going to affect your cables. Checking these parts is easy: simply look and lubricate. The sheave axles take standard wheel bearing grease, and the sheaves and guide rollers take 90-WT gear oil or similar heavy lubricant. To get the oil on, you can pump it, spray it, brush it, smear it on by hand or swab it. Just keep it greasy. Do this every three months at the same time you inspect your cables (to keep things easy). Make a thing of it. Have a car lift cleaning party. Bring cake?
Thanks, I haven’t looked at the cables in years. Good to know and I’ll look at this over the weekend@ September 16th, 2016 at 16:00
Good to hear, Bob!@ September 16th, 2016 at 16:01
Bendpack HD-9XW holding up great!@ September 16th, 2016 at 18:06
what is the maintanance torque for anchor bolts on a 2 post lift@ October 23rd, 2016 at 05:11
Hi Ian. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. After any necessary shims are installed, tighten each nut 3-5 turns past hand tight. IMPORTANT: if anchor bolts do not hold when tightened to indicated amount, concrete must be replaced. Saw cut and remove 24″ x 24″ square area for each column base then re-pour with reinforced 2,500 psi concrete to depth of six inches minimum, keying new concrete under existing floor.
Does this answer your question? Let us know if you need further assistance.@ November 3rd, 2016 at 11:02
My 4 post lift uses chains, not cables. I’ve noticed slack in my chains. Where would I find replacement chains?@ November 20th, 2016 at 05:44
Which model 4-post do you have? Your best bet is to get in touch with Customer Service. Depending on the nature of the issue and time of purchase, you may be under warranty. Chains and cables do require periodic maintenance and replacement every few years, so try the toll-free number 1-800-253-2363 or email email@example.com, and they should get you back on track in no time.
The slack detection should make it impossible to operate your lift if there’s excess cable slack. Don’t attempt to operate it, of course, if you’re seeing slack or the detection is shutting down operations. Keep us in the loop!
The BendPak Team@ November 21st, 2016 at 09:59
How do you oil a cable? Oil a rag and wipe down the cable?@ January 14th, 2018 at 18:19
Jeremy, a simple wire brush should do the trick most of the time, but over time, it’s not a bad idea to find a good wire cable lubricant as well. Good question.@ January 17th, 2018 at 09:33
Can you post a video, or pictures, of where and how to properly grease the 4 post lift?@ February 8th, 2018 at 13:27
That’s an interesting idea, and we’ll do something like that down the road. Soon, hopefully!@ February 20th, 2018 at 09:11
How do you grease sheave axles on a bendpak 4 post lift? I don’t think my model lift has any grease fittings.@ August 10th, 2018 at 20:09
Hi Erik. If you’re not sure, please consult your owner’s manual for maintenance information.@ August 15th, 2018 at 09:07
I have one of your 4 post lifts and I have never been able e get the guide pulley axles at the columns to take grease. Any thoughts.@ January 18th, 2019 at 09:42
Please call us or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Sounds like a quick maintenance question that they will be able to answer! Thanks for keeping up with your lift!@ January 18th, 2019 at 09:44