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Vehicle Lift Systems

Without lifts, working on cars, trucks, and oversized vehicles would be difficult. However, choosing the right lift for your type of work can be a little daunting, considering that there are so many different options from which to choose. Obviously, you want a lift that will help you get the job done but you also want a lift that rates high in safety features and is affordable and economical.

Just remember, before you start investing tons of money in a new lift, you need to educate yourself about lifts and features to ensure you are buying the appropriate lift. After all, lifts do vary from one manufacturer to another, some offering more benefits than others do.

For starters, one of the most important aspects of your decision-making proess is the type of lift needed. For example, you have three primary options to include a service pit, in-ground lift, or above ground lift. Each of these offer very different things so to give you a better idea, we have broken them down individually:

Service Pits

Although not really a âliftâ per se, a Service Pit is a method of gaining access to the underside of a vehicle from a pit. To have a service pit, you need a pit about six to eight feet deep. During construction of the pit, specific OHSA requirements must be met. Generally, since there will be sparks and fuels in the vicinity, you would be required by OHSA to have a good ventilation system and to make sure wiring or electrical equipment is explosion proof.

Another potential problem has to do with water while the pit is being dug. Therefore, you also need to ensure the pit has a proper drainage system. Finally, by OSHA regulations, you must have three separate means of escape. Because of the design of a Service Pit, it is not good for side service, which would include work on brakes or tires.

In-Ground Lifts

This type of lift is the most popular and is available in models featuring one, two, three, or four posts. With this system, the vehicle can be raised by its chassis or its wheels. Additionally, the in-ground lift is designed with a full hydraulic system, or the combination of hydraulic and air compression, which is what makes the lift rise.

Similar to the service pit, this type of pit needs to have a pit, typically four foot square and six to eight feet deep. One of the investments of an in-ground pit is that cost of digging this pit and while an above-ground lift is generally not as costly, this is the better option. In this case, the lift is designed with cylinders that are used to raise the vehicles. The downfall to this is that the cylinders create obstruction underneath the vehicle, making it difficult in some cases to move around. For this reason, there are times when transmission or exhaust work is difficult, or impossible to do.

Finally, the in-ground lift falls under state and federal regulatory agency jurisdiction. Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is more and more concerned with underground leakage of pollutants such as gasoline and oil, they have tight regulations.

Above Ground Lifts

The third option is the above ground lift. While some people will tell you this is not a good option, this type of lift is becoming more popular as adjustments in design and features have been made. With this lift, no pits are required, making it a less expensive option. In this case, you would simply need a four-inch deep concrete floor, with a 4,000 psi (pounds per square inch).

Since posts are positioned on both sides of the vehicle, the under portion is not really obstructed, making it easy to work with. In addition to being able to work under the vehicle easier, you can also move tool boxes, jacks, engine hoists, and so on around with ease. With this type of lift, you will find several different designs.

For instance, one such design is the two post lift. With this lift, the posts are located near the centerline of the vehicle, which prevents the doors from opening, making servicing under the dash problems impossible. Now, you can set the posts so they are away from the center portion by using offset arms that support the vehicle securely and safely. If working on a larger, heavier vehicle, then you could set the posts apart, making door access easy. However, another problem with the above ground lifts is associated with clearance. However, some of them are now designed with a three and one-half inch arm height, correcting the problem.

Finally, as you consider the different lift options, always think about the size of vehicle that you will be working on so that you choose accordingly. For example, lifts range from handling 4,000 vehicles up to 100,000 military vehicles. Find the lift that matches your type of work, is efficient, convenient, and above all, safe.

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