Buying a Two-Post Lift

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Opening a semi repair shop requires having the right heavy-duty tools. That includes more than just what’s in your toolbox. For example, a two-post lift is something techs can use daily. It gets trucks up off the floor for easy undercarriage access. That makes it more useful than a basic floor jack for servicing and repairs. A two-post lift might not be the most expensive piece you buy for your shop, but they aren’t cheap, either. Lift prices run between $1,500 to over $3,000 so you’ll want to make a smart purchase. Here are a few things to consider before you buy a two-post lift.

Know What Your Shop Needs and Can Handle

The type of trucks you service most will determine how much lift capacity your two-post lift needs. While you can find lifts to handle up to 30,000 pounds, you must remember that each two-post lift has four swing arms. Each one can handle ¼ of the total weight. How do you apply that to the trucks you service? When you put a truck up on your lift, the weight won’t always be spread equally. Sometimes most of the weight will be in the back, sometimes in the front.

Let’s say you need to service a 17,000-pound semi and 70 percent of the weight is in the front. That’s 11,900 pounds the front swing arms will need to support, 5,950 pounds each. Multiply 5,950 by four arms to determine that you’ll need a two-post lift that can handle 23,800 pounds instead of just 17,000.

Consider space, too, when buying a lift. If your shop has minimal space, it may even be the reason you bypass a scissor or four-post lift and opt for a two-post lift instead, since they don’t take up as much space. Yet, they’re still large pieces of equipment. You’ll need to decide exactly where in your shop the lift will go, then measure the area two or three times so you know exactly how much space you have. That will save money on having the lift altered if it doesn’t fit correctly. Additionally, make sure your chosen spot has room for a compressor in case your lift needs one, as well as electrical power.

Warranties on Two-Post Lifts

You know that saying you get what you pay for? It’s typically true, and you’ll find that better-built lifts have longer warranties. Yes, that might mean paying more up front, but it also means your lift will last longer and you won’t have to dole out big bucks if it has issues. Lift warranties range from 1 year to 25 years. Of course, your budget may not allow for a top-of-the-line lift with an almost forever warranty. Still, the warranty is an important factor to consider when buying a two-post lift.

Different Lifting Features

Pay attention to the lifting system and the column design when choosing a two-post lift. The most common lifting methods include cable, chain, and direct drive lifting. Naturally, cables and chains are used in the first two types. Chains and cables can wear out but, because quality chains usually last longer than cables, the warranties on chain lifts tend to be longer.

Hydraulics power direct drive lifts, so you won’t have to worry about replacing parts so often. Additionally, if hydraulics fail, the lift will typically lower slowly, rather than suddenly dropping quickly, giving direct drive lifts an added safety aspect.

Two-Post Lift Safety Considerations

A weight gauge on a two-post lift serves a safety purpose and more. First, it tells your tech that he’s using the lift safely and properly. When the weight gauge reads “0”, you know the lift is correctly on the safety locks and it’s OK to proceed. Additionally, weight can be used to verify vehicle weight, revealing whether the customer has loaded the vehicle up with anything extra. Also, weighing a truck allows techs to analyze the quality of parts used. Low-grade brake pads, tires, and shocks will weigh less. Identifying the problem alerts techs to replace them with higher quality parts.

One last thing to look for is an ALI certification. The Automotive Lift Institute offers the only nationally accepted vehicle lift safety standard.

Determining what you need and doing a little research will take some time, but consider it an investment. In the end, you’ll have a useful piece of equipment that can increase your shop’s productivity and profits.


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