Not unlike other industries, the global economy brings a competitive market which naturally provides the North American vehicle lift buyer with a significant amount of product choice, says ALI's O'Gorman. Before purchasing a lift, ALI encourages buyers to consider end user safety and to investigate local building code and other applicable requirements of state and local authorities having jurisdiction.
"Don't be fooled," he warns. "In today's buyer beware environment, without a third-party certification mark clearly stating compliance to both the current editions of ANSI/ALI ALCTV and ANSI/UL 201 (CAN/CSA STD C22.2 No. 68 for products installed in Canada), the lift owner is unprotected when it comes to marketer and reseller claims of compliance with the IBC, OSHA's General Duty Clause, Canadian OSH regulations, ANSI standards and the Automotive Lift Certification Program."
He also warns of some of the latest trends by some vehicle lift marketers and resellers. One is the claim of a "certified lift" that bears a third-party mark located on the power unit or another electrical accessory such as the motor.
"Both the Automotive Lift Institute and Underwriters Laboratories advise that a third-party certification mark (label) representing the automotive lift as an entire assembly must clearly bear the words 'Automotive Lift,'" O'Gorman says. "The lift consumer should recognize that if the third-party mark does not include this verbiage, the automotive lift is not certified and the product as a system has not been evaluated for compliance against the electrical and mechanical safety requirements in effect at the time the product was produced."
Additionally, the lift buyer should recognize that other product compliance marks found on a component of an automotive lift - including the UL, ETL, or CSA label on a power unit or other "recognized component" - "are as meaningless to code enforcement and product safety issues as the sales and marketing claims of 'Certification Pending.'"
O'Gorman explains that a product's certification can be classified as "pending" for months or even years in some cases when there is the lack of appropriate drawings, stress calculations, electrical or mechanical product performance to published specifications, and/or other important aspects associated with producing a compliant product.
Although at first glance this may look harmless, he says it must be recognized that the lift "is not certified and the product as a system has not been evaluated for compliance against the electrical and mechanical safety requirements in effect at the time the product was produced. The ALI Automotive Lift Certification Program does not allow for the use of symbols, marks or verbiage indicating a lift model certification is 'pending.'"
With all of the factors involved in deciding upon the appropriate vehicle lift it is very important to do your homework. Ask prospective vehicle lift manufacturers for a list of customers using lifts of interest, then make inquiries to them to see how satisfied they are with the products. If possible, pay a visit to see a lift in operation. Made head-to-head comparisons.
"Most people probably wouldn't buy a car without taking a test drive," says Perlstein of Mohawk Lifts. "Yet some shop owners are willing to have a vehicle over a technician's head without having seen the lift they are considering buying or checking the quality of how it is manufactured."
"Remember that you get what you pay for," Rotary Lift's Rylee says. "If a lift seems unusually inexpensive, ask why. A cheap lift will cost more in the long run due to excessive downtime and repair costs."
Educated buying decisions come from identifying and choosing the best option among multiple alternatives. Deciding upon the appropriate vehicle lift is essential to technician safety, shop profitability and customer satisfaction.