Safety Is Always Important When Operating Vehicle Lifting Systems

A guide to ensuring long, safe vehicle lift service

There is the saying: “Never use a jack without a jack-stand,” he says. The same principal is true for vehicle lifts. Always raise the vehicle and then lower it onto the lift’s mechanical locks as required by ANSI. Refer to ALI materials or the lift manufacturer’s operating instructions for detailed information.

Keep in mind that hydraulics are used for lifting, not for support, says Pop.

Technicians ought to visually verify that the mechanical locks are fully engaged, Perlstein says. Another way to confirm the locks are being used is to include a weight gauge – a pressure gauge calibrated to the lift’s lifting capacity – on the lift.

Most mechanical ball-screw lifts will not require a mechanical lock as they are designed to support, notes Pop. However, a safety wedge is present on these units as a redundant safety feature that will engage only in case of emergency.


The best way to maximize the return on investment after buying any lift system is to properly maintain and inspect the equipment, concur Perlstein, Pop and DellAmore.

Most operator’s manuals have a periodical maintenance procedure, they point out. The lift manufacturer or their field representatives can be contacted for information and correct maintenance procedures, they say.

Keep the equipment clean and lubricated and it will have a long service life, concludes Pop. Also check for signs of wear and mechanical failure associated with aging. Lifts get old too, so any wear items like cables and rollers should be inspected periodically and replaced when necessary.


The ALI recently developed its Lift Inspector Certification Program. While annual vehicle lift inspections conducted by a “qualified automotive lift inspector” are required by the ANSI National Standard covering vehicle lift operation, inspection and maintenance, until the program was launched there had been no national vehicle lift inspection licensing or certification programs.

Proper vehicle lift certification, installation and inspection have come under increased scrutiny in recent years by OSHA and other local, state, provincial and federal health and safety officers, explains R.W. “Bob” O’Gorman, ALI president. This has resulted in an increase in shops looking for qualified automotive lift inspectors.

Without a national certification program, vehicle lift inspection companies haven’t been able to offer independent validation that their inspectors are qualified, he says. The ALI program will provide third-party assurance that a Certified Lift Inspector has been tested and proven competent to thoroughly inspect an installed vehicle lift.

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