What to Consider When Buying a Car Lift

car lift

Buying a car lift, truck lift or other vehicle lift is an investment. Making sure you buy a quality lift that fits your specific needs will keep your business running, your employees safe and your customers happy. There are a few things to consider when you’re in the market for a car lift. 

Type of Car Lift

Vehicle lifts come in many types, but the most common are two post lifts, four post lifts and in-ground lifts. Here are some basic differences between each one:

  • Two post lift: This is the most popular lift for professional garages. The swing arms that hold the vehicle travel up two columns. The positioning of the arms gives you unobstructed access to the wheels. Two post vehicle lifts can hold a variety of vehicles, which is great for techs and at-home mechanics alike. 
  • Four post lift: This type of lift allows the vehicle to be driven onto two runways and be lifted by the tires. It provides full access to the underside of the vehicle. Depending on your shop’s needs, it may be worthwhile to have two post and four post vehicle lifts.
  • In-ground lift: In-ground lifts are perfect for saving space in the shop. While in-ground lifts are great for some shops, they’re not for everyone. They’re often double the price of similar capacity two post or four post lifts. To install an in-ground lift, you also need to invest in cutting up and preparing concrete. If the pricing and permanence make sense, it may be worth the investment to save space that would otherwise be occupied by the bottom of the lift.

Size of Car Lift

First, you need to make sure the lift is going to fit into your shop. Take as many measurements as possible, write them down, and have them handy whenever you’re looking at car lifts. There needs to be space not just for the lift but also for manufacturer-recommended ground clearance and lifting points. Installers should be able to give you this type of information if you want to double check before making a purchase. You’ll also need to make sure the lift you’re buying is rated to handle any vehicle you’ll be placing on it. Since there’s no one solution that suits every vehicle, many service shops have multiple sizes of vehicle lifts. 

Safety Regulations

Before purchasing a car lift, read your local building regulations. Local codes will tell you whether you need a lift that’s certified by ALI, the Automotive Lift Institute, or if another third-party certification will do. A gold ALI certification label will show you that the lift has been certified by national standards. Any lift you buy will need to be installed properly per manufacturer requirements. In some cases, companies that sell vehicle lifts will also provide installation services


Just like cars, shop machinery needs to be covered under warranty. This is especially important with heavy equipment like car lifts. Look for warranties on the frame, moving parts and labor for repairs. Warranties come standard for a certain amount of time, and some companies allow you to extend your warranty coverage. While looking over warranty information, check to see how long the company has been in business. The longer they’ve been around, the more likely it is that they’ve actually covered warranty repairs. 

Company Reputation

When customers are looking for a new service shop, the first thing they’ll do is look up reviews. You should do the same when making an investment in shop equipment. Start on garage-themed message boards, keeping in mind that online reviews are often exaggerated. The best place to find out which companies sell the best lifts is by talking to others in your network. Ask other mechanics and service managers which lifts they use. See what they like, what they dislike, and how it is dealing with the company’s customer service line. This will help you make an informed decision on buying a vehicle lift.

Car lifts come in many different shapes and sizes, and shopping for one can be a daunting task. Our team at Sunshine Equipment Solutions is here to help with your Orlando car lift needs. We sell, service and install quality automotive shop equipment. If you’re in the market, give us a call at 407-295-8113 or contact us online.

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