The odds are that if you clicked on this article to read it, then you appreciate the idea of working on your own car. Perhaps when you pass by a professional garage or shop, you're a bit envious as you glance in and see service bays filled with lifts and other equipment that make certain repair jobs easier. Professionals use lifts for a good reason - they allow you to perform almost any repair at a more comfortable height so you can see clearly, apply torque easily, reach for tools faster, and have access to areas normally inaccessible with the vehicle on the ground.
While the thought of having a lift in your own garage is an ideal one, you may dismiss the idea, presuming that lifts are too big to fit in your garage, and too expensive for your budget. We're here to tell you those notions just aren't true. To show you what we mean, we'll cover cleverly designed vehicle lifts and ramps that are space-efficient, easy to use, and affordable. We're confident that once you see what's available, you'll realize that your garage bay isn't going to be the same again.
We'll start with our best-value selection of scissor lifts that can support up to 6,000 pounds. "Low-Rise" scissor lifts typically raise a vehicle 2-3 feet off the ground - an ideal amount for garages with lower ceiling heights. BendPak's P-6B Low-Rise Lift (open center area) and LR-60 Standard Low-Rise Lift (no open center area) can both position a vehicle 29 inches off the ground, while leaving the wheels and tires free to hang.
If you've got enough overhead clearance to go up between 4-5 feet, "mid-rise" lifts may be worth considering. We've got the Challenger Lifts Mid-Rise Lift, the Ammco 6000 Pound Portable Mid-Rise Lift, the Forward Lift 6000 Middle Size Lift, and BendPak Portable Mid-Rise Scissor Lift. All of these are narrow enough to fit underneath the center section of your vehicle between the wheels. So when they're not in use, they can easily be retracted to fit underneath the center of your vehicle to eliminate the headache of finding storage space elsewhere.
2 Post Lifts
Used by many professional shops, 2-post lifts are built with 2 center columns that raise a vehicle, using 4 swing-out arms that are positioned under a vehicle's built-in jack points. 2-post lifts leave wheels in the air for easy removal, and they provide unobstructed open space underneath the entire front and rear. When it comes to 2-post jacks, we've got varieties for every need and every budget.
For example, we've got 2 post lifts such as the BendPak XPR-9 2 Post Lift (9,000 pounds) with low height arms that are designed to accommodate lower sports cars, and the Forward Lift 9,000 Pound 2 Post Floor Plate Lift, both of which put their lateral cross-member bars on the floor in order to provide unlimited clearance overhead. Dimension specifications to consider when looking at lifts are overall height, overall width, width clearance inside the columns, and rise heights (with and without any adapter pads).
Moving up, we've got the BendPak XPR-10A Dual Width Asymmetric 2 Post Lift (10,000 pounds) with posts rotated 30 degrees to allow easier door egress, Forward Lift's 2 Post Lift with Stack Adapters (10,000 or 12,000 pounds) with 3-stage arms that fold completely out of the way, and the Forward Lift 15,000 Pound 2 Post Lift (15,000 pounds) designed for heavier trucks.
4 Post Lifts
As their name suggests, 4-post lifts feature four individual support columns at each corner. Because they're equipped with drive-on "runway" ramps, driving a vehicle onto this type of lift is easier because no arms need to be positioned underneath vehicle jack points. They're an excellent storage solution for the car collector who has a high enough ceiling to raise one vehicle up enough to fit another one underneath.
We've got the Forward Lift 4 Post Lift that's available in 9,000- or 14,000-pound versions as well as the Dannmar 12,000 Pound 4 Post Service Lift that comes with adjustable-width runway ramps.
Because 4-post lifts are not typically equipped with the capacity to raise a vehicle off its wheels, a bridge jack such as Dannmar's 6,600 Pound Capacity Rolling Jack can be positioned between left- and right-side runway ramps. Once installed, the front or rear of a vehicle can then be lifted an additional 20 inches off the ramps for brake and suspension repairs that require wheel removal.
There's never a bad time to have a set of heavy-duty, reinforced steel ramps. They're great in your home garage or driveway, and they can easily be taken along when a vehicle needing a lift cannot be brought to you. It's important to note that because all ramps are sold in pairs, their listed weight ratings refer to how much weight they can support as a pair. So a set of ramps listed at 20 tons means each of the two ramps can support 10 tons individually.
We've got two sets of 20-ton heavy-duty steel ramps from OTC that are 51" long and 9.25" high - enough height to allow easy under-vehicle access on a wheeled creeper. These 20-ton ramps are available in 10-inch or 16-inch wide versions, and both feature long retractable handles and built-in rubber wheels that make it easy to transport the jacks. ATD also offers sets of 20-ton heavy-duty steel ramps that are 45" long and 9.25" high designed in standard form for 10.75"-width tires and in Wide form for 15.5"-width tires.
We've also got a number of stylish ramp sets from Race Ramps - all of which are made of lightweight composite foam that's sturdy enough to support 6,000 pounds. These different ramp sets offer a variety of lengths, heights, and gradual approach angles that can be used to drive any vehicle (including lowered cars) onto lift ramps and trailers, or just get it elevated to work underneath. We've also got short-length ramps for car shows. No matter which you decide on, all of the ones we offer are handsome enough to fit in visually at any high-end concours display.
Ramps with Low Approach Angles
If the loading platform on your trailer or runway ramps on a 4-post lift create too steep an angle, Race Ramps' standard Trailer Ramps makes loading low-clearance vehicles a much more relaxing experience - with length choices ranging from 46" up to 95" and height choices ranging from 4" to 8". And if you value ramps that offer a gradual approach and clearance to work underneath your vehicle, Race Ramps are available in 56" and 67" lengths. GT Trailer Ramps are designed with 131" of length and 11" of height. Both of these feature an available interlocking two-piece design that lets you remove the lower section once wheels reach the end of the ramps.
Additionally, the Hook-Nosed Ramps are tailor-made for 4-post lifts because of specially designed hooks that fit over and grab onto ramp framework. We've also got the Dannmar 36" Aluminum Drive-Up Ramps (rated for 7,000 pounds) that feature a stylish diamond plate pattern with black powder coat finish. A lower height of 5" and width of 20" on each ramp makes them ideal for 4-post lifts, and aluminum construction allows each ramp to weigh only 16 pounds.
If you've got a vehicle with low ground clearance, sometimes all you really need is a smaller, shorter set of ramps to get off the ground enough to fit a jack or the swing arms of a service lift underneath. To that end, we've got the Trak Jax (30" long, 3" high), Scale Ramps (30" long, 2.5" high), Rack Ramps (27.5"x4" or 40"x5"), and Roll-Up Ramps (32" long, 4" high), all from our friends at Race Ramps. Note that some of these are equipped with small bump-ups at the end. While these end bumpers are not suitable for trailer loading, they are useful for many other applications by letting you know when you've reached the end of the ramps.
In a different but still slightly related topic, show ramps are specifically designed to raise a vehicle in a show setting to make it stand out, or to highlight particular features. As shown in the illustration above, Race Ramps makes a number of choices for you in this area. A final feature to point out about these show ramps, and indeed about all of Race Ramp's products, is that their lightweight and modular construction allows you to easily pick them up and toss them into the storage area of your vehicle.
You've now seen the huge variety available to you in the way of lifts and ramps. Whether you decide on scissors lifts, 2- or 4-post lifts, or ramps, we want to conclude this article with an emphasis on safety. Working on your own vehicle can bring you lots of personal satisfaction. What it should not bring you is a sense of danger. Working on an elevated car or truck should only be done with all necessary safety precautions taken into consideration. Lifting and supporting a vehicle in an incorrect way can lead to personal injury or worse. Always work safely! The support equipment we have described in this article is intended to help you do just that.