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Garage Lifts

Installing a lift in your garage will enable you to get more storage out of your space. Snowmobiles, motorcycles, ATVs, lawnmowers, and small tractors can all be placed above ground level and out of the way when not in use. Large lifts will even allow you to stack one car on top of another. Garage lifts are also handy for vehicle service work such as oil changes, tire and brake work, exhaust repair, and suspension work.

f you are thinking of buying a garage lift, consider the following:

  • Measure the size of your garage before deciding which lift to buy. Most lifts do not fit in garages less than 22 feet deep, and the ceiling should be at least 11 feet high. Make sure garage door openers, door tracks and doors do not obstruct the space you want to use. The cement floor of the garage must also be more than 4 inches thick to support the weight of the lift and its load.
  • Lifts for home garages come in two general categories. Frame-engaging lifts have arms that reach under the vehicle to lift it near the perimeter of the frame. Wheel-engaging lifts support the vehicle at the tires. These have an open space between the two decks supporting the tires to allow access to the vehicle’s underbody.
  • Scissors or hinge type lifts are frame-engaging models that lie flat on the floor when not in use. An electric, hydraulic-electric, or pneumatic system raises the lift once the vehicle has been driven on to it. These lifts are less expensive than other types. They are compact and do not need to be bolted to the floor. They usually only lift to a height of 36 to 48 inches.
  • Two-post surface lifts are frame-engaging types that support the weight of the vehicle with metal arms attached to two fixed posts at the side of the vehicle. Generally they are either “symmetrical” lifts that support the vehicle in the middle or “asymmetrical” that offset the posts forward so car doors can be opened. These lifts can support heavier loads and elevate them as high as seven feet. They use relatively little floor space, but they must be bolted to the garage floor. They are harder to use than drive-on lift models.
  • Four-post lifts are wheel-engaging drive-on types with four fixed posts that support two runways. They usually lift by means of a hydraulic piston pulling on heavy cables. Because these lifts are so stable, they are the best type for overhead car storage, but they take up the most space.
  • In-ground lifts are the most expensive type. They use cylinders that rise from the garage floor, so they take up the least amount of floor space. They practically disappear when not in use, but the necessary lift machinery must be located in a nine foot deep pit dug into the floor. Since they are built into the garage, they usually cannot be moved to a new location. They also cannot be used to stack cars.

Many lifts can be installed yourself if you have the right tools and the ability to move around some very heavy pieces (sometimes a forklift is required). Otherwise, check with the dealer for a recommendation on installers and approximate installation costs in your area.

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