best way to use a car lift

Positioning a truck on a 2 post lift can seem daunting, but with a little practice, it can be easy. It does take some finesse and patience, but it can be done by one person if necessary.

Two post car lifts are perfect for parking spaces that don't have much room and can be used in many different ways, from washing vehicles to lifting them off the ground so you can inspect or carry out repairs, among other reasons. However, to avoid accidents, certain common principles of safe usage apply to the operation of any two-post lifts:

  • engage the correct lifting points of the vehicle
  • use appropriate lift adapters when lifting trucks and SUVs
  • always balance the vehicle's center of gravity.

In this article, we will go over the basics and step-by-step instructions of how to safely lift your truck position a truck on a 2 post lift.

If you are in the market for a new 2 post or 4-post lift, you can check out our collection of certified truck lifts here.

Must-Know Basics For Car Lifts

Before you can even start using your car lift, you should make sure the space requirements for the left are met, check the weight capacity and make sure you do not try to lift a truck that the lift can't handle, and make sure to read through all instructions on the lift placard on lift operation. Also, make sure your car lift is certified according to ANSI/ALI ALCTV-2011 or ANSI/UL 201.

Related: How Thick Should The Concrete Be For A Car Lift?

Designated lifting points

Make sure you know exactly where you should position your vehicle because it can only be lifted at designated lifting points. To elaborate more, a two-post lift will have four arms that have either a symmetric or asymmetric design. These lift arms are strategically positioned under the vehicle according to the weight distribution to stabilize it at specific points.

Why are designated lifting points important?

Designated lifting points are important because if you try to lift a car at an incorrect point, it can damage the vehicle or the lift. Incorrect positioning could also cause instability and potential accidents.

To avoid any incidences, the truck must be well positioned according to its true center of gravity. This helps to distribute the total weight among the four lift arms evenly. Your car manufacturer usually provides the exact locations of the specific vehicle's lift points.

NOTE: The center of gravity of a truck is not always the "true center." Using the correct truck lifting points is crucial during every lift.

Lift arms maximum capacity

It is also crucial to be aware of each lift arm's maximum capacity and not to exceed it.

Two-post car lifts are designed to withstand a specific amount of weight in order to lift your vehicle in the safest and most efficient manner. This weight limit is indicated on a placard above each lift's control panel, on the operations/user manual, or by an indicator light that will turn off when the lift has reached its maximum capacity.

If the maximum weight limit is exceeded on any of the four arms, mechanical failure or damage will follow. In most cases, the max weight capacity is about 25 percent of the lift's total reported weight specifications

In instances where the truck has disproportionate weight to its front or rear axles, such as with a forklift or loaded truck, then the lift operator must recalculate or use common sense to re-establish the center of gravity to account for the uneven weight so that each arm will still receive 25 percent of the total load.

How to Safely Position a Truck on a 2 Post Lift: Step By Step Guide

Make sure you read and understand all instructions on your car lift placard or operations/user manual before using it. This article provides a general guideline for safely positioning trucks on two-post lifts, but make sure always to follow specific instructions provided in your owner's manuals when using any type of car lift.

Step 1: Position The Vehicle

Ready, and the area is clear of any obstructions, which includes moving the swing arms inwards/backward and out of the way.

Drive your truck to the correct position between the lift columns. Most 2-post car lifts usually have a guide/manual on how to position the car relative to the spotting dish. Ensure the truck is well-positioned at the center of the lifting podium. The lifting posts should be symmetrical on either side.

"as an extra safety measure."

If you have an automatic transmission, put your car in park and set the emergency brake. For manual transmissions, place the car in first gear and use wheel chocks on the rear wheels for extra safety.

Step 2: Fit In The Correct Lift Adapters

Check the adapters to make sure they have a sufficient height to make contact with the lift points simultaneously. Some trucks might require special height adapters to provide additional clearance between the lift am and the rocker panel.

Some height adaptors come with stacked pegs that plug into each other creating more height and ensuring the lift pad can stay on top to make contact with the rocker panel or the frame.

If your truck's lift points are undercoated, you might need to use a special truck adapter or frame cradle pads. Steel adapters can damage the undercoating and possibly void your trucks' rust protection warranty.

Step 4: Place the Arms under the Car's Body

Once the lift points are located, position the lift pads under their corresponding points. Make sure the lift pads are properly seated and locked before beginning to raise

Step 5: Power up The Lifting Unit

Check for obstructions, then press the power button to raise the truck.

Double-check to determine if lift contact is even and accurate, make necessary adjustments. As the lift raises, make sure that all four arms must rise evenly and simultaneously, or else you risk damage to the car lift and your vehicle. The arms should rise at a rate of no more than two inches per second.

Once the tires are about 6 inches above the ground, stop the lift to determine that the truck is placed as evenly as possible and that the weight bias is even on both ends of the vehicle.

A quick way to do this is to try and rock the car up and down and observe how each end rocks to and fro. If the truck bounces on the pads or otherwise feels unstable, immediately lower it to the ground and reposition the pads as necessary.

Always ensure the safety locks engage click after click when lifting, and remember they will need to be disengaged as the truck is brought down.

Step 6: Raise the Car to the Desired Height

If you've ascertained that the truck sits firmly on the pads with no rocking, you can then raise the car to the desired height. Follow your owner's manual for the maximum permissible height that a truck can be raised on a two-post lift.

  • Always ensure the safety locks engage click after click when lifting, and remember they will need to be disengaged as the truck is brought.
  • Once you reach the desired height, lower the lift into the locked position before going under the vehicle.

Step 7: Lower The Car Back To The Ground

First, ensure there is no one and no obstructions under the car before you can lower the truck back to the ground.

Release the lift from the safety locks and slowly bring it down.

using a 2 post car lift

Safety Tips for Operating 2 Post Car Lifts

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when operating a two-post car lift.

  • Before you begin, always ensure that the area around your vehicle is clear of obstructions and anyone who might be standing near it. While raising or lowering a truck, the last thing you want is someone walking underneath it without warning.
  • Remember that two-post lifts often have a weight limit that should not be exceeded under any circumstances. Follow this specification exactly when lifting heavy vehicles onto the platform, so they don't tip over and fall.
  • Remember to disengage the safety locks when raising or lowering a car when using the lift and not try to override these mechanisms. By doing so, you are defeating their purpose of safeguarding you, the vehicle, and the lift.
  • Inspect the condition of your lift before use, looking for any obvious signs of wear or tear on cables, pulleys, or locks. If you notice anything that looks suspicious, stop using the lift and have it repaired by a professional technician.
  • As a general rule of thumb when operating two-post car lifts: constantly monitor your vehicle's stability while in use. If you notice at any point that the truck feels unstable, lower it back down immediately and check for obstructions or if your stack adapters need repositioning.
  • All the lift pads should be in contact with the designated lift points at all times. It is not uncommon for one of the pads to be slightly higher or lower than the other, so always check each pad individually. If a lift arm can be moved after a car is in the air, it means the vehicle is unevenly loaded. Lower and reposition them as needed.
  • Do not use a large prybar or do anything else that might knock the vehicle off the adapters. Instead, use an impact wrench whenever you encounter tight bolts.
  • Use the safety latch system once you lift the truck to the desired height. Never use a truck lift that doesn't have a functional safety latch system. For added safety, tall jack stands can be used to assist load changes while working on a lift.
  • Do not exceed the lift weight capacity. Where possible, remove all loads inside, in the trunk, or in the bed of a truck to make sure the center of gravity is not be affected, and the vehicle may be safe to lift.

Brands we sell include the popular MaxJax car lifts, and Bendpak lifts.

bendpak car lifts

Two post lift: FAQ's

How Do You Put A Car in A Two-Post Lift?

Bring in the vehicle and have the wheels aligned to the spotting dishes. Extend the swing arms to the vehicle's underside, matching them with elevation points. Turn the elevator on and slightly raise the car to check its stability. If everything is good, proceed to elevate the car to the desired height.

Are Two-Post Car Lifts Safe?

Two-post car lifts are exceptionally safe when installed correctly and used as directed. However, always exercise safety precautions when raising the truck. Additionally, it should also be well maintained and kept in good working order.

What Is A Two-Post Car Lift?

A two-post car lift is a piece of equipment used to raise and lower vehicles for service, inspection, or cleaning. Two-post lifts come in many different shapes and sizes, with some able to hold up to sixty thousand pounds.

Which Is Better, A Two-Post or A Four-Post Car Lift?

A four-post car lift is better for commercial or heavy-duty use, while a two-post car lift is more suitable for home garages or light-duty workshops. In essence, each type of car lift brings its own advantages, depending on the situation.

Can I Install A Lift in My Garage?

Yes. There is a wide variety of lifts available for home use, and most can be easily installed in residential garages. It should be firmly erected in a level and easily accessible spot. Always consult the manufacturer's instructions for installation and safety guidelines.

How High Does A Garage Ceiling Need to Be for A Lift?

The height required for a two-post garage lift can vary depending on the model. Some are designed to be installed in garages with up to twenty feet of headroom, while others may require more space.

 For further information Bendpack facilities, go here.

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