Buying a Lift

There are literally hundreds of different vehicle lifts on the market, made by dozens of different companies. Every one of those companies wants you to buy the lift that you really need, but choosing the right lift for your shop is not a simple matter...

Lift maintenance

A good lift will require minimal maintenance while offering years of reliable service. Compare the maintenance schedules for the lifts you’re considering. Any time a lift is down for service or repair, it reduces the shop’s productivity, and that should be counted as maintenance costs too. Ask the dealer who is going to take care of the lift once it’s installed. Find out if an in-ground lift can be maintained without pulling it out of the ground. Find out what is covered under warranty and find out how warranty work is scheduled and performed. If the lift is built outside of North America, ask if OE replacement parts are readily available.

No matter who takes care of the lift, Gary McVay, Customer Service Manager for BendPak, says that you can easily do a visual inspection of the post(s), the lift head assembly (carriage) and the arms. ALI recommends those inspections be carried out daily. Look for obvious physical damage to the posts, and on surface lifts, make sure the bolts are secure. Lookinside the posts for metal chips that would indicate metal-on-metal wear. Look on the outside of the post for cracked welds on the base plate/post joint. Inspect welds on the carriag, and on the arms underneath where they slide in and out of each other.  Look for metal-on-metal grinding at the arm pins, and check to see if the pin holes are out of round.

The most important inspection items are cables, locks, pulleys and anchor bolts. Check the cable tension, look for frayed cables and see that the pulleys rotate smoothly. Make sure the safety locks and the arm locks operate properly.

Lift Distributor

When you’re in the market for a new vehicle lift, your first task is to find a lift distributor. A good distributor has factory-trained staff who can come to your facility to help you determine the appropriate lifts to maximize productivity and profitability.

Even car dealers who plan to buy lifts through an OEM equipment program should start the lift-buying process by calling a lift distributor. Don’t choose your lift based on a picture and a paragraph of text. This is the most important point of this entire article: Research carefully, and get an expert to help you choose the lifts that will meet your needs now and in the future.

A relationship with a distributor should last well past your initial purchase. The distributor is your one-stop-shop for new lifts, accessories, professional installation, service and OE replacement parts. A local distributor is also a knowledgeable resource for answering questions about the lifts. For this reason, it’s important to know that your lift supplier can meet your long-term needs.

The following check list was provided by Rotary Lift to help you evaluate a lift distributor/installer:


  • History, experience and reputation. How long has the distributor been in the lift business? How many lifts has the installer set up? Does the company have a reputation for prompt service, expert advice and strong customer support?
  • Factory authorization. Is the company authorized by the manufacturer to sell, install and service its lifts? Factory-authorized representatives have access to the most current product, installation and service information available. Using a factory-authorized installer also can often mean enhanced warranty protection and installation guarantees for your new lifts. Lift manufacturers may only allow their authorized companies to install certain products, to make sure installation meets their high standards.
  • Factory training. Ask if the distributor employees have been trained on proper lift installation, operation and maintenance by the lift manufacturer.
  • Knowledge of local building and construction codes. Be sure you can rely on the distributor/installer to comply with local codes and regulations, know what permits are needed, and properly dispose of any old lifts and used hydraulic oil.
  • Insurance. The distributor should have adequate liability insurance, as well as workman’s compensation coverage.
  • Scheduling flexibility. Is the installer willing to schedule installation at a time that's best for you? How are emergency service calls handled?
  • Guarantee. All installations should be guaranteed for at least a year.
  • Parts availability. Does the company maintain an adequate inventory of OE replacement parts on-site to get lifts back up and running as quickly as possible?

We Recommend