How to Installing a 2 Post Car Lift for your Shop or Garage

How to Installing a 2 Post Car Lift for your Shop or Garage

Auto lifts make every project easier—no more jacks and jack stands, bending over, or squeezing under a car for service. So why doesn't everyone have one? What used to be expensive, impossible to fit in most garages, hard to install, and dangerous to work with is now within reach of the advanced do-it-yourselfer. 


As everyone knows, the 2 post car lift is one of the most useful items that you can have in your repair shop or if you are a DIY’er in your home garage. Every repair shop that you go to will always have one of these items in their shops because it is easier to fix a car while you are standing up than it is laying down underneath a car with limited light.


First of all, when installing a car lift, I always recommend that you have a professional install it. It will cost you a little extra but you will know that you are in good hands and will not have any problems with the installation. 


Things to keep in mind while you are installing the 4 post car lift


PLEASE ALWAYS MAKE SURE THAT YOU MAINTAIN SAFETY FIRST AT ALL TIMES. This is the first thing that you should always keep in mind when installing an item that weighs as heavy as a car lift.

Always use another person to help you lift the heavier objects so you don’t strain your back.

Use the proper tools indicated in this manual and in the manual that you will receive with the lift.


Before you install the 4 Post Car Lift


The individual installation steps aren't hard (well, most of them), but pay careful attention to detail. We are talking about a potentially dangerous machine, so take your time. 


Now, if you are looking to install the car lift yourself, there are certain things you always want to keep in mind. First, make sure that the concrete for your floor is deep enough and strong enough to support both of the columns. Most manufacturers always say to at least have the concrete anywhere from 6 to 12 inches in depth and have a minimum PSI of 3000. Now, if your concrete doesn’t have these specs, don’t worry, all you have to do is just measure where the columns will be installed in and dig a couple of holes deep enough where the four columns would be standing at and pour the concrete and voila, your floor is ready. Usually, you want to make the holes 2 feet in length by 2 feet in width and 1 foot in depth.


Now, once the car lift arrives at your place you want to make sure that you have a way to get it off the truck. My suggestion to you would be to rent a forklift and depending on what state and city you are in the prices will vary.


You also want to be careful when you are removing the shipping bands and the packing materials from the lift. Make sure you don’t drop the power unit which should be on top of the lift when it’s lying down.


WARNING:

This manual will guide you on how to install your car lift in your shop. However, most car lifts are totally different depending on the model and the manufacturer so you must also follow the original manual that comes with the lift so it can give you a better idea of the specifications that it requires. If you have any questions about any installations or if you are looking for an installer in your area please call the distributor. Thank you.


Click here to watch How To Install a Vehicle Lift


Items you will need to install a car lift:

  • Two 10’ to 12’ step ladders
  • ISO 32 Light Hydraulic Oil (approx. 12 quarts)
  • Tape Measure
  • Rotary Hammer Drill with ¾ in. Drill Bit (Core Drill Rebar Cutter recommended)
  • 4’ Level
  • Sockets and Open Wrench set, ½ in. thru 1-1/2 in. (1-1/8 in. for ¾ in. Anchors)
  • Vise grips
  • 8mm Socket Head Wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Teflon Tape


Once you take out all the packaging and plastic from the columns, make sure that you start inserting and installing the cables and/or chains inside the columns. Again, depending on what kind of lift you bought and from what manufacturer you bought it from, these specifications are always going to change, so make sure you follow the instructions and place the cables correctly. This is fairly simple and you should not have too much trouble figuring out how and where to insert the cables.


Depending on what kind of lift you have, the recommended space between where you should install the lift and the bay door varies, so make sure that you read the instructions carefully and take that into consideration. Usually, you have to position the lift about 13 feet away from the door so you can have enough space to drive the car inside the shop and not have it sticking it out of the back door when you have it elevated.


Once you have decided where you want to install the four columns, you must snap a chalk line so that it can be your guide as to where you will be installing the two columns, and it’s as simple as that. At this point, all you have to do is place the two columns and align it with the chalk line. Make sure you lift each column with the help of someone else; you don’t want to be hurting your back in the middle of the job and not be able to finish it, these columns are pretty heavy.


Stage 1: Assemble the Metal Frame

Keep individual components square and in alignment with each other. Tighten all bolts by hand and check for alignment and a basic range of motion, then finish by torquing all bolts to spec. 

Stage 2: Install the Functional Hardware

Balancing cables, safety locks, and hydraulic systems can all be hooked up while the lift is still on the ground. The cables serve to keep each lifting carriage at equal levels so the car doesn't rise unevenly. These are mounted with a bolt end, nut, and lock nut and should be run through the pulley system as directed. Tension the cables lightly to keep them in place. 


Mechanical locking mechanisms increase safety and the life of cylinders, hoses, and fittings by transferring the weight of the hydraulic system and onto pins that move a car's weight to the posts. A lever, pins, springs, and a thin cable running through the top plate connect both sides. 


Auto-lift hydraulics have only one high-pressure line (no return line as on tractors). The pressure to the hydraulic cylinders lifts the car, and its weight provides the force to compress the cylinders and lower the car. Attach the hydraulic lines at the cylinder bases, then mount the pump and fluid reservoir. Connect the pump outlet to the hose and tighten all joints.


Stage 3: Raise the Lift

With the lift mostly assembled and ready to go up, mark the floor for placement. Use a plumb bob, a measuring tape, a chalk line, and a permanent marker to draw out the end positions of the columns. Remember to account for the car approaching the lift, so keep turns or corners in mind when orienting the layout. 


Raising the lift is a serious business. Invite at least six strong friends over to help. Overwhelming manpower and coordination are key. Work together to raise the lift into position, and be careful not to let its inertia tip it over onto the other side. Once it's upright it'll stay up all by itself. Use a mallet to tap the columns into the exact position. 


Rent or borrow an SDS Max rotary hammer (standard ¾-inch chuck size) to do the hole-making, along with a masonry bit. Drill through the mounting-plate holes to prevent alignment issues and stay as vertical as possible. Drill all the way through the concrete and wear safety gear, keeping the powdered concrete clear of the hole. Three-quarter-inch wedge anchors are almost universally recommended for auto lifts—concrete will fail before this pull-out. Put a nut on the anchor just flush with the end and pound the bolt down to the mounting plate. If the anchor is damaged, you can drive it down into the dirt and set an undamaged one on top of it. Torque all the nuts to spec. Check the columns for plumb—they should be at 90 degrees vertical in all directions; if they aren't, level with the included shims. Unbolt the anchors, add a few shims, torque the anchors, and measure again. 

Stage 4: Wrap It Up and Get To Work

Finishing includes hiring a qualified electrician to install power to the pump and a plug at the column so that 220-volt power is nearby for a welder. Have a friend help by positioning the base of the lift arm with the holes in the lifting carriage while you drop the huge pins through the holes; jiggle the arm until the pin seats. Install the retaining clips and the mounting pads. Your lift is now physically complete. 


Fill the hydraulic reservoir and cycle the cylinders while the system is unladen. This clears air in the hoses, which can cause choppy, uneven lifting. Check that the safety mechanisms work properly—go over every nut and bolt and inspect for hydraulic leaks. Park the lift arms on the ground and tension the control cables as directed by the installation manual. Test the lift with your least-loved car. Bring it off the ground until the first lock engages and release hydraulic pressure. The car should settle evenly; if it doesn't, you need to adjust the control cables. Shake the car back and forth and watch the columns to make sure they're stable. If it checks out, take the vehicle up to the top and begin working on its nagging problems.

Click here to watch How To Install a Vehicle Lift