This guide offers information to mechanics, both professional and hobby about buying a car hoist, which type of hoist will best suit your needs.
The most important thing to consider when buying a car hoist is which type- two post base, two post clear floor, four post or scissor lift. Each hoist has a different use, their uses are outlined below;
Two post base type car hoist- this type of hoist is great for workshops with low ceiling heights as the posts are generally around 2.8m high, you must remember though that the clearance required depends on the height of the vehicle you are lifting and the maximum lifting height of the hoist. To give you an example lifting height is 1.8m, height of the body of the car from underside to chassis to top of roof is 1.4m so your required clearance is 3.2m. Ensure when you install your hoist that you locate a limit switch/kill switch at the maximum lifting height for your ceiling and tallest vehicles you will lift.
The base type car hoist is suitable for service work, suspension work, inspections.
The limitation of this hoist is the floor plate covering equalising cables and hydraulic hoses. This creates an obstacle for jacks and trolleys making this hoist less suitable for mechanics wishing to work on gearboxes, differentials and transmissions.
Two post clear floor car hoist- this type of hoist is great for most types of mechanical work excluding wheel alignments. With the equalising cables and hydraulic hoses running over head you overcome the issue encountered with the two post base type of having a cover plate. Most clear floor hoists require a ceiling height of 4m or more however. A common concern regarding this style of hoist is my vehicle has a high roof won't it hit the top bar? The answer is yes, however the top bar will be fitted with a soft cover and a limit switch/kill switch stopping the hoist from rising any further once it does make contact.
A safety tip when using two post car hoists- always load the vehicle using the manufacturers lifting points on the vehicle, lift the car to the first safety and check the weight of the car is evenly distributed and lift as per the hoists instructions and safety stickers.
Four post car hoist- are good for a quick turnaround as you can just run the car up the ramps without having to locate and adjust lifting points. Four post hoists are commonly used for wheel alignments and general service work. Four posts hoists are often supplied with one or two jacking beams allowing the front or back of the vehicle to be lifted off the ramps allowing access to the wheels/wheel arches. The downside to four post hoists is they take up more room in your workshop and are usually more expensive as they have more components. Without the jacking beams you also can't access the wheels/wheel arches.
Scissor lift car hoists- come in a few styles including small movable units, ramp style and ones that pickup similar to a two post. Scissor lifts are good for quick lifting and are commonly used by tyre fitters. The ramp style are very good for wheel alignments. They are also good for workshops with low ceiling heights. Most scissor lifts limit the access to the underside of the vehicle and like a four post usually take up more room in the workshop and are more expensive.