Until the 1980s, most auto lifts were of the in-ground type. Today, surface mounted lifts make up a large part of the total auto lifts in use and include types such as the 4 post lift. Surface mounted lifts are typically bolted to the garage floor and are typically 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
- Multi-Post Runway
- Low/Mid Rise Frame Engaging
- Drive-On Parallelogram
- Moveable Wheel Engaging
More information on these auto lifts and the replacement of automotive lift parts can be found in the "Lifting It Right" manual which can be ordered from ALI.
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 4 post surface-mounted lift, this is the primary type of lift used by many muffler, oil change, and transmission shops as well as those shops 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.
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 short-rise service lifts, by compressed air. The primary uses of the short-rise lift are tire, brake and wheel service and auto body repair.
Another form of surface-mounted lift is the parallelogram lift. Most parallelogram lifts (except lowrise) are drive-on lifts; this type lifts the vehicle with two runways. This unit, however, uses a lifting mechanism that moves the vehicle a short distance fore or aft when lifting or lowering, depending upon the way the lift is mounted. When using this type of lift, be aware of vehicles with unusual overhangs.
The scissors lift, either roll-on or fixed pad frame/underbody engaging, has a lifting mechanism similar to the parallelogram lift. However, the scissors lift raises and lowers the vehicle in a straight vertical path rather than fore or aft of its original position.
Traditionally, this mobile wheel-engaging lift had been used primarily with longer, more unconventional vehicles like transit buses. This lift utilizes 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 interconnected with the other columns. A master control unit synchronizes all columns so that they operate in unison.
Lifts whose lifting assemblies are situated below the garage floor are known as in-ground lifts. These lifts employ one or more pistons, depending on the type of vehicle and how much weight is to be lifted. For example, many one- or two-piston lifts are used to hoist compact, mid- and fullsized passenger vehicles. Three or more piston lifts are used mostly for larger vehicles, such as transit coaches and fire engines. In-ground lifts are manufactured to suit almost any type of vehicle and any type of undercarriage service; there is the basic single post model, the drivethrough model, the drive over model, the pad type, and the multi-post axle-engaging (fixed and movable piston) models to name a few.