It’s Time for a Lift

  • December 17, 2023

If you work on cars at all – let alone a lot – you are probably tired of spelunking underneath one precariously perched on jack stands, trying to find a way to reach what you need to work on and get a tool on what you’re trying to loosen, tighten, remove or install.

Especially if you’re no longer 20.

The older you get the wiser (hopefully) you become. Even if you don’t, getting older imposes its own discipline. Crawling around underneath a car at 40 or 50 isn’t as easy as it was when you were 20 and by now you’ve probably had enough of it, regardless. When that time arrives, the time has come to consider getting a lift. Instead of a jack and jackstands, hydraulic action that raises the whole car at the push of a button.

Just the thought of that makes a guy want to work on his car.

It makes taking off (and rotating) all four wheels at once a whole lot easier than taking off one or two – and then raising (and lowering) the front (or rear) end of the car to swap them around. It makes doing brake work almost pleasant.

And it makes doing exhaust work possible.

I have decided the time has come. It probably came 20 years ago but I am stubborn and cheap as well as not rich – which induces a man to use jacks and jackstands instead of a lift. But my left shoulder – though much better – will probably never again have the range of motion it had 20 years ago and regardless, I’m just tired of spelunking underneath cars.

But, which lift to get?

The answer hinges on many variables, not the least of which is how much you can afford to spend. If you’re like me, you probably cannot afford to spend as much ion a lift as it costs to buy another car – which is what you’ll be looking at spending on some of the fancier models.

You’ll also have to consider how much space you’ve got in your garage – as well as the capacity of your garage’s floor, if you’re considering a lift that bolts to the floor. It may be necessary to dig out the concrete that’s there and pour stronger (re-barred) and thicker concrete to support the posts, if the lift is one that has fixed posts that bolt to the floor.

And – of course – there is the matter of height. How high is the ceiling of your garage? If it is only seven or eight feet, you won’t be able to lift a car high enough to stand (or even crouch) under it – defeating the point of having a lift. You may also need to modify your garage door tracks, to make room for the lift (and your vehicle, when it is raised by the lift).

I’ve been weighing all these considerations as I try to decide which lift works for me.

One I’ve found that might is the QuickJack 5000TL. It’s made by BendPak, which makes a variety of different home-garage lifts, including the kind that have posts and arms. Here’s what I’m liking about this lift:

It is portable and compact – 

The lift consists of two scissor-jack ramps that are positioned underneath the left and right side frame rails; a power unit raises both sides at the same time, raising the car about two feet off the ground – provided ample working space underneath the car. When you’re done working on the car, the ramps can be stored out-of-the-way and so not in your way when you’re not needing the car to be lifted. If I ever decide to move, moving the lift would be no big deal.

It does not require reconfiguring my garage door tracks – 

The car is lifted up – but not so high that there are potential interference issues with the garage door tracks (or the ceiling). This is a lift I could use right-out-of-the-box, without having to first figure out how to make it usable in my garage.

You can pick it up at places like Wal-Mart without needing a forklift – 

The whole lift only weighs about 300 pounds. A two-post lift (even for a home garage) might be so heavy that the only way you’ll get it to your garage is by using heavy-lifting equipment. And (per earlier above) you may need to reinforce the concrete floor of your garage to safely bear the weight of the lift and your car. 

It is affordable – 

This is a big one, for me. Also probably for you. My buddy Graves (who is a professional mechanic and so I value his judgment) encourages me to go with a traditional two-post lift like this one – made by Race Tools Direct. It would raise my car much higher – but the price tag is also about 50 percent higher than the $1,300 or so the QuickJack goes for at Wal-Mart and not counting what it costs to have the almost 1,300 pounds of the thing truck-freighted to my house.

I haven’t come to a decision just yet, but I’m leaning heavily in the direction of the one I can afford. Of course, Graves will probably say I can’t afford to risk crawling around underneath the one I can afford.

What do you guys say?

. . .

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