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If you need to work on cars more than a couple of times a month, it won’t take long before you wish you had a lift. Sure they’re expensive, but driving up and raising your car with a lever is so much easier than using a jack, ramps, and stands, that we don’t think your wallet will mind as much as your back. That’s before you even think about the difference between working on your car lying on your back in the grime, compared with standing up and working at the level that’s best for you. So when it comes time to move from jack to hoist, these best car lifts should give you just the right lift you need.
For more information on the best car lifts, refer to our table of contents.
Updated 11/19/2020 with a new product recommendation.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Torin Hydraulic Four-Post Lift
- 2. XK USA Two-Post Lift
- 3. BendPak Portable Low-Rise Car Lift
- 4. SuxiDi Ramp Lifts
- 5. TRIUMPH Bridge Jack Lift
- 6. QuickJack Portable Car Lift
- 7. XK Scissor Lift
- 8. STRATUS Heavy Duty Lift
- 9. TRIUMPH Four-Post Lift
- 10. BendPak Low Profile Two-Post Lift
- How to Pick a Car Lift:
- How to Install a Car Lift?
1. Editor's Pick: Torin Hydraulic Four-Post Lift
A hydraulic four-post overhead rack designed with a safe lifting load capacity of 7,000 lbs is ideal to get your car in the air, but also to help you find storage underneath. An air locking system keeps this lift in place and makes it easy for you to disengage the locks when you need to lower the vehicle, saving you from walking around to each corner.
This recommendation features a drive on ramp, which makes it great for storage as well as auto maintenance. Park one car on top, park the other car underneath and you have two in the place of one. The tilting ramps are removable, so there’s no need to worry about striking your head (or the car underneath) on the heavy metal ramps. The ramps, called runways, can be adjusted in width to best fit your vehicle, and the lift can climb to the full 92-inch height in 60 to 70 seconds using a 220V motor.
2. XK USA Two-Post Lift
A two-post lift, meaning fewer attachment points to the ground and no runway to drive up, is still ideal if you’re planning to use the lift to work on your vehicle and don’t plan on using it for storage. This recommendation uses a heavy-duty cable and pulley to reduce the stress on the lift system, while nylon sliders ensure smooth movement so that your vehicle isn’t bouncing around as you raise and lower.
This lift has a capacity of up to 10,000 lbs to let it hold even the biggest pickups. It can lift up to 78-7/8 inches and the space between the arms is 100 inches, allowing you to work on wide vehicles as well as narrow ones. Using a 220v, 3-hp electric motor, the lift takes 20 to 60 seconds for full rise and built-in relief valves stop you from accidentally overloading the lift. Rubber guards protect your car’s doors, meaning that you’re less likely to leave paint dings and dents on the lift or your ride.
3. BendPak Portable Low-Rise Car Lift
A standard lift takes up loads of space in your garage, even if you aren’t using it. That can make parking, and general garage access, a pain. This BendPak jack folds completely flat, rising just a few inches off of the floor. You can leave it stored in your garage and just drive over it, or move the lift to somewhere more convenient for storage.
This option lifts the car by only 26 inches, but for weekend work that’s more than enough. It’s also far safer and easier than using a hydraulic jack and stands to do your lifting each time you need to change brake pads or put on those snow tires. Lift blocks let the BendPak work with taller vehicles, so you can use the same lift for your low sports car and your taller SUV without sacrificing useful working height. It’ll even work outside (if it’s dry) to turn your driveway into a shop bay.
4. SuxiDi Ramp Lifts
There aren’t many new ideas when it comes to lifting your vehicle off of the ground, but this one has caught our attention. It combines a standard set of car ramps with bottle jacks under the pad where your vehicle sits. So you drive up the shallow ramp, and can then lift the front or back of your car.
While it certainly doesn’t have the flexibility of a powered hydraulic lift, it does offer an attractive price for shoppers on a budget. You can lift one end of your vehicle and use the stands that come included or you can lift the end of your vehicle, place stands at other safe jacking points, and then remove the ramps. This gives you more access and the ability to remove the vehicle’s wheels. With a total lifting capacity of 10,000 lbs and low-angle ramps to support lowered cars, this could be a game-changer for the garage mechanic.
5. TRIUMPH Bridge Jack Lift
A four-post lift is great until you need to get your vehicle off of its tires. Then you can be stuck trying to find solutions like operating a floor jack on the lift in the air or other options that aren’t exactly safe and certainly aren’t convenient.
What you need is a hydraulic bridge jack like this, so named because it bridges the gap between the two ramps of a four-post lift. Collapsing flat when not in use, the bridge jack can slide fore and aft to lift either end of your vehicle, manually raised and lowered with a convenient hand pump. Get two and you can take all four wheels off at once. It will lift one end of your car or truck 16.5 inches, letting you do brake or suspension work with your vehicle on a four-post lift. If you’re planning on doing alignment work at home, this is also a great addition to your home lift.
6. QuickJack Portable Car Lift
If you want a compact solution that doesn’t take up a lot of space, consider QuickJack’s portable car lift. This option reaches full rise in 31 seconds, featuring an open-center design so you can easily access underneath your vehicle. Setup isn’t too difficult, thanks to quick connect/disconnect hoses. This particular system has a 7,000-lb weight capacity (also available with 5,000-lb capacity), constructed from durable 14-gauge welded steel frames. For safety, the lower and upper safety locks automatically engage as the car lift frames rise. To disengage, just simply flip the lock bar.
No air compressor is required when using the lift since the portable power unit is electric—just plug it into a wall outlet to operate. You do need air however, to fill up a secondary “air spring” cylinder on initial setup. QuickJack says this cylinder helps lower the lift smoothly to the ground when there is no weight on the frames. When not in use, you can actually store this portable lift system in your trunk or backseat. The company also includes an eight-piece set of adjustable and stackable rubber lift blocks.
7. XK Scissor Lift
Another portable type of lift, a scissor lift—named because the legs pivot on a fulcrum like a pair of scissors—folds almost completely flat in use. But it can lift your vehicle a full four feet off of the ground when in use. This one has the ability to lock safely into place at any working height and can support vehicles up to 6,200 lbs.
A pneumatic locking point makes locking and unlocking simple to use, and the lift also has multiple adapters and flexible lifting arms to help make sure that it’s connecting with the proper lift points on your vehicle. A 220V pump helps to raise the vehicle in just 30 seconds and while the 900-lb weight isn’t exactly a feather, the lighter pump is mounted on wheels and can be disconnected. So you can roll it into the corner and leave the lift in place when not in use, hiding under your vehicle.
8. STRATUS Heavy Duty Lift
If you’re planning on lifting full-size pickups, especially one-ton models, you’ll need something a little beefier. This STRATUS lift is rated to hold 14,000 lbs up in the air, letting you work on just about anything smaller than a big box truck. A five-year warranty on the structure and two on the hydraulic cylinder and power unit give you years of worry-free use.
A total height of 165 inches, with 126 inches between the two posts, leaves you lots of room to maneuver around large vehicles, while a 76-inch maximum lift puts them well above your head. A 220V, 4-hp motor can lift the vehicle in 60 seconds and it takes between 40 and 50 seconds to lower. The manufacturer says that the unit is CE approved and that it’s been tested to 115 percent of rated capacity for dynamic load and 150 percent for static. Though that doesn’t mean that you can go higher than 14k safely. A single-point manual release for the locks means that you can save steps when it’s time to lower the vehicle.
9. TRIUMPH Four-Post Lift
This is a four-post lift that can lift your vehicle up to 67-1/2 inches and lets you park another vehicle underneath thanks to the automatic locking system that engages in one of 10 different positions. A 110v motor to operate the lift means that you don’t need to add any new wiring to your garage like most of the other lifts here, though that will make it slower to rise and lower.
The ramps on this recommendation are removable so they aren’t hanging in the way, and this lift comes with three drip trays that you can position to make sure your seeping valve cover doesn’t drip onto your floor (or on the vehicle below). A jack plate is also included that lets you use a conventional floor or bottle jack to raise either end of your vehicle off of the runway ramps. Lastly, this home lift comes with a caster kit. The four wheels let you move it around your garage, so if you need to store it in the corner you can, and then move it back into whatever position you need it on demand. For large or drive-through garages, you can load vehicles from either end, or drive straight through the lowered lift.
10. BendPak Low Profile Two-Post Lift
A 10,000-lb lifting capacity for this two-post lift lets you raise all but the biggest trucks, and telescoping screw pads let you adjust the vehicle’s height to make sure it’s positioned and balanced properly. It’s an asymmetrical design, meaning that the posts are rotated toward the rear. That angle lets you open the door wider without striking the lift posts, ideal for coupes.
Also good for lowered cars, this is a low-profile support arm that won’t strike your doors and has triple (automatic locking) telescoping for long wheelbases. Also great for two-door vehicles, this lift can be installed in two widths, allowing for up to 114-1/4 inches between the posts. No more door dings here, and no more squeezing between door and door frame to get in and out of the vehicle. A padded overhead safety shut-off bar stops you from raising your vehicle into the roof accidentally while preventing damage to the top of the vehicle.
How to Pick a Car Lift:
When it comes to picking the right lift, look first at your needs. Work on sports cars that kiss the ground with their front spoiler? You’ll want a low-profile model. Work on heavy-duty pickups? You’ll want one with long arms that can handle a heavy load. Lift max capacity is like towing capacity, more margin is always better. If you want more garage space, a four-post lift could be ideal, and if you’re not planning to use it all that often, maybe a more portable scissor-style lift would be a better choice.
Make sure that your lift is compatible with your work surface. Two and four-post lifts have requirements for the concrete that sits underneath of them. Some need significant thickness of material and even rebar, so if the lift you’re eyeing needs that you should have a professional come in and assess your garage floor. It doesn’t matter how good your lift is if the concrete crumbles beneath it.
How to Install a Car Lift?
For most of these larger lifts, you’re probably going to want to call a pro. Not just to make sure that the thing holding your 10,000-lb pickup over your head isn’t going to collapse, but because two and four-post lifts can weigh several thousand pounds by themselves. For the smaller lifts, it’s often as simple as plugging in some hydraulic lines, checking the fluid level, and putting the power plug in the wall. Read the instructions, especially the ones about maintenance, and don’t skip the concrete inspection if you need a certain floor. Now get out to that garage and start working and sparing your back from the cold concrete.
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