Ensuring Auto Lift Safety

Ensuring Auto Lift Safety

Automotive lifts play a crucial role in enabling technicians to reach the undersides of vehicles. Capable of lifting even the heaviest automobiles, these powerful and impressive machines require operators to exercise caution during use.

Whether you own a garage, are a racing enthusiast, or are a car collector, having a grasp of auto lift safety is essential to prevent accidents, injuries, and equipment damage.

How Safe Are Car Lifts?

Like any other heavy equipment and machinery, auto lifts demand strict safety considerations. Lifting heavy vehicles above a workshop floor requires utmost precautions. Thankfully, leading manufacturers today incorporate numerous features into the design of car lifts to assist operators in preventing injuries and property damage. Reputable auto lift manufacturers provide products that adhere to all crucial safety and quality standards.

Having a clear understanding of how auto lifts operate is crucial for ensuring safe operation. Your auto lift manufacturer serves as an excellent resource for safety information, and it’s advisable to carefully read the manual. A high-quality auto lift should include comprehensive instructions detailing the installation and operation of the lift, along with essential safety guidelines.

Car Lift Safety Features

Manufacturers equip auto lifts with some or all of the following safety features.

  • Two-post lift automatic arm restraints: Manufacturers incorporate automatic arm restraints into two-post auto lifts to prevent the lift’s arms from shifting or dislodging once the vehicle is positioned on the lift.
  • Four-post lift anti-sway blocks: Four-post auto lifts, being flexible structures, can sway during the lifting and lowering process. To enhance stability and ensure safety, manufacturers include anti-sway blocks.
  • Four-post lift tire chocks: These blocks are placed behind a vehicle’s wheels on a four-post lift to prevent it from rolling off the lift’s runways.
  • Hydraulic flow restrictors: Essential for safety, hydraulic flow restrictors can significantly reduce or stop a lift’s downward motion in the event of a collapse due to hydraulic component failure, excluding the cylinders.
  • Automatic safety locks: These locks engage automatically as the lift ascends, preventing sudden, rapid descent in the rare event of a suspension component failure.
  • Slack cable or chain safety device: Serving as an automatic brake, slack cables come into play if the suspension system loosens or fails, ensuring added safety for the vehicle.
  • Specialized lifting pads: Auto lift manufacturers provide a variety of lifting pads tailored for different types of vehicles, including vans, trucks, cars, and motorcycles.
  • Labeling: Manufacturers affix warning labels and instructions for raising and lowering on auto lifts to promote safety awareness.

Auto Lift Safety Guidelines

Get Familiar With Your Equipment

Before operating your auto lift, take a few minutes to inspect the components. As part of your safety check, ensure the following:

  • All instruction manuals and safety materials are nearby and legible.
  • All warning labels are prominently displayed.
  • The equipment’s weight capacity is clearly visible.
  • Synchronizing systems, locks, and restraints are functioning properly.
  • Lift components show no signs of excessive wear and tear.
  • There are no hydraulic leaks.

If you observe any abnormalities during your safety check, refrain from using the auto lift and seek inspection and servicing from a professional auto lift service provider.

Use the Right Lift for the Task

Garages typically feature various types of lifts to accommodate different vehicles and loads. Before bringing a vehicle into the bay, ensure that the chosen lift is suitable for the task. Always verify the lift’s rated load capacity to prevent overloading and confirm its ability to reach the manufacturer-determined lifting points on the vehicle, which the manufacturer has specified as appropriate contact points for the lift.

Additionally, it’s essential to outfit your lift with the correct accessories. For example, certain two-post lifts may require height modifiers to access lifting points on trucks or pad adapters for lifting unibody vehicles. Always use certified manufacturer accessories—creating DIY adapters or using makeshift materials like wood blocks is unsafe and may compromise the lift’s certification.

Take Lift Operation Training

Although you may be familiar with the fundamentals of operating an auto lift, it is advisable to undergo formal training specific to the lifts you are using. This training should cover the instructions provided by the lift manufacturer and adhere to widely accepted safety standards.

Before operating the lift, ensure a comprehensive understanding of the lift manufacturer’s instructions. Pay particular attention to the sections on safety and carefully study the warning labels.

Lift Properly

Operators should remain at the controls while lifting and lowering vehicles. Despite the temptation to override or disable controls and safety features for the sake of saving a few seconds, the associated risks are not justified. Ensure a safe work environment by adhering to the auto lift manufacturer’s instructions and safety recommendations.

Many auto lift accidents can be prevented by calculating a vehicle’s center of gravity and positioning it on the lift before raising it.

  • Calculating the center of gravity: It is essential to determine a vehicle’s center of gravity before initiating the lift. Additionally, verify the automaker’s approved lifting points if using a two-post or axle-engaging lift.
  • Spotting the vehicle properly once on the lift: Properly positioning the vehicle on the lift is crucial for ensuring correct alignment. Use tools provided by the lift manufacturer to position the automobile for lifting. Once in place, turn off the vehicle, close any open doors, and clear workers from the bay. For drive-on lifts, put the car in gear or park and use wheel chocks.

To ensure two-post car lift safety, once the vehicle is spotted, engage the lift until it lightly contacts the car. Pause to confirm that all support securely contacts the vehicle’s lifting points. Continue lifting until the vehicle’s tires are clear of the floor. Verify the stability of the car by giving it a reasonable shake and double-check the lifting points.

With the car stable and secure, lift it to the appropriate working height before lowering the weight onto the lift’s load-holding component. Perform a final check of the lifting points to confirm that each support is correctly in place before working under the car.