Until the 1980s, most vehicle lifts were of the in-ground type. Today, surface mounted lifts are the most widely used. Surface mounted lifts are typically bolted to the garage floor and powered by an electric motor which operates either a hydraulic pump or a screw type drive. To read more about specific lift types, please use the links below.
2 post surface mounted lifts are the most popular type of surface mounted lift purchased today. The lift arms ride up each column and are usually synchronized in one of several ways: mechanically, hydraulically or electronically.
Most commonly configured as a four-post surface-mounted lift, this is the primary type of lift used by many muffler, oil change, and transmission shops, as well as those that perform wheel alignment services. It allows the vehicle to be driven onto two runways and lifted by its tires, exposing the underside of the vehicle.
Another form of surface-mounted lift is the parallelogram lift. Most parallelogram lifts (except low-rise) are drive-on lifts; this type lifts the vehicle with two runways. The parallelogram lifting mechanism moves the vehicle a short distance fore or aft when lifting or lowering, depending upon the way the lift is mounted.
The scissors lift may be equipped as a drive-on style or as one that engages with lifting points under the vehicle. There are surface-mounted and in-ground versions available. The scissors lift has a lifting mechanism similar to a parallelogram lift, however, it raises and lowers a vehicle in a straight vertical path, rather than fore or aft of its original position. However, the scissors lift raises and lowers the vehicle in a straight vertical path rather than fore or aft of its original position.
Lifts with their lifting assemblies installed below the garage floor are known as in-ground lifts. These lifts employ one or more hydraulic pistons or scissors mechanisms depending on the type of vehicle and how much weight is to be lifted. Light-duty lifts use one or two pistons. Heavy-duty inground lifts feature two to three pistons or scissors mechanisms. In-ground lifts are manufactured to suit almost any type of repair or maintenance service on virtually any vehicle.
Wheel Engaging Mobile Units (Mobile Columns)
The moveable wheel-engaging lift (mobile columns) is also commonly known as the mobile column lift. It consists of individual lifting columns that are used in sets of two, four, six or more units. Each of the individual columns is mobile and contains an electric power unit. The columns communicate through communication cables or wirelessly to enable synchronized raising and lowering.
Low/Mid Rise Frame Engaging
These lifts usually engage the vehicle’s frame or its perimeter . The lift operates in either a parallelogram-style (which moves fore or aft as it rises and lowers) or a scissors-style (which moves in a straight vertical direction). These lifts may be powered by an electric-hydraulic power unit or, in the case of some low-rise service lifts, by compressed air. The primary uses of these lifts are tire, brake and wheel service, as well as collision repair.