Which Type of Car Lift is Best for Me?

Thinking of buying a car lift for use in your Workshop or at Home?

There are so many options available, from a multitude of different suppliers.

This page has been designed to help guide potential customers through the process of deciding which lift will do the best job for you, ensuring that your chosen product is going to fit and work in your workshop / garage and to let you know what is involved when it comes to installing and commissioning your chosen equipment.

1. There is no substitute for research.

Someone (Pope, I believe, misquoted) once said  "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing", when it comes to car lifts, their design, abilities, use and care we continually find that people think they understand more than they really do.  Many potential customers have never actually used a lift in anger themselves prior to signing on the dotted line. They have seen car lifts in use, they realise that there are significant benefits to be had, but they haven't themselves actually driven a car onto the ramp, placed any required lifting blocks and then pressed the "UP" button.

We go to trade shows to exhibit our car lifts to spark ideas in people. If you've been working on your car with it precariously perched on a trolley jack or axle stands, on your back with your nose pressed against the sump plug then you may well take a look at a Lift and decide "there is a better way!" - and resolve immediately to invest in one. 

Well, that's our plan, to entice you to buy on impulse - isn't it?   NO, it isn't.

Nobody goes to a Trade or Classic Car Show with the specific intention to buy a car lift (at least very few people do), but many will begin to realise the benefits presented through the use of lifts when they see them at shows or, better still for us, at their friends house. The reason we like to get out there and meet you all is to start the discussion and stimulate the thought process.

We actively encourage you to look at as many different options as possible, both equipment type and potential suppliers, before making the final decision.

So, before buying a car lift. THINK, COMPARE and PERSONALLY USE ONE.

2. Helping your decision process.

Fundamentally, what do you require the lift for? 

Is the lift to maintain your own car?
To maintain other peoples vehicles? 
To completely restore a barn find? 
Are you planning on doubling up storage space in your garage? 
A combination of the above?

Clearly define the use, or combination of uses, that you wish the lift to perform and identify what are the most important attributes of the different products available that will be of the most use to your circumstances. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of home garages, compromises are likely to be required, unless you have the luxury of building from scratch, as the constraints of the existing building may restrict the ideal.

For a lift being used at home there are certain factors which will have a bearing on the selection of the ideal solution.

Existing Garage / Workshop Design will inform and possibly restrict the choice of equipment, especially in terms of SPACE, ACCESS, BASE (FLOOR) CONSTRUCTION  (MATERIALS /SLOPE), POWER SUPPLY, ROOF  (TRUSS - BEAM)  HEIGHT / SPACING,  DOOR ARRANGEMENT, will all have an influence on the type of lift that you can use in-situ, or the changes you may have to make to accommodate the lift you want.

3. What's available?

Mid Rise Mobile Scissor & Platform Scissor Lifts, 4 Post Lifts, 2 Post Lifts, Full Height Platform Scissor Lifts, Single Post Parking Lifts, Two Post Parking Lifts 

- all hydraulically operated........ 

Please note that all the lifts we sell operate from single phase (220/230V) power supply. Most domestic properties will not have a three phase supply available. The advantage of three phase power would be that it is more efficient, and generally quieter in operation for the motor by the way, than single phase, so for use in a Workshop where the lift/s are going to be in use continuously throughout the working day its' use would be beneficial. The single phase 2.2KW motors we employ to power all our equipment will require users to fit a 16A Motor Rated Breaker in the supply.

Other suppliers provide similar equipment - although we would maintain we provide an excellent service! - and they will also be able to offer 3 Phase Lifts and a range of screw or pneumatically driven products, lifts to raise vehicles to mezzanine floors or lower to basement garages, single post maintenance lifts, single or two post in-ground lifts, alignment and VOSA approved MOT Lifts and chassis repair jigs etc.

4. Which lift suits your application? 

If you have unrestricted space and height, both single and three phase power, a suitable level and reinforced concrete base, experience using car lifts and unlimited budget then the choice of lift is unrestricted and you'll make your decision purely on the basis of the use you intend to put the equipment to and your personal choice of colour!

In the above scenario, if you intend to do all your own maintenance on a variety of vehicles you may well choose a two post lift.

Completely restoring a Classic Car, probably a four post as older vehicles may not be structurally sound enough to be raised on blocks, wheels free, for extended periods (if at all!)
Should you be working with the "standard" space and head-height afforded by a restricted modern single garage then a mid-rise lift will enable you to do most jobs, albeit necessarily crouched when working under the vehicle.

If you're looking to double parking space then a single post parking lift will give you unrestricted access underneath or a two post can be used if it's to be used for constant use rather than storage of the "weekend" car.

5. Advantages and Drawbacks

2 POST LIFTS - are ideal for all servicing and mechanical repair jobs, they afford the best practical platform to mechanics by providing unhindered access to a raised vehicle and are generally the cheapest option (for the equipment itself). Strongman Tools don't sell 2 Posts with screw operation but, if you have the budget and if you regularly swap engines and gearboxes then the ability to slowly, precisely and safely adjust vehicle height onto, or off, a transmission stand will prove beneficial. We sell a range of good quality, hydraulically operated, 2 Post Car Lifts. As a general rule, for experienced mechanics loading a two post car lift is a matter of course, however for the novice user it can be problematic.  Care must be taken to correctly position the lifting arms and pads to ensure the car is raised safely, that the vehicle is positioned with the centre of gravity correctly balanced and with the user very aware that this can be significantly altered during maintenance (often it is sensible to use additional supports such as tall axle stands). 

Another major factor to be borne in mind when considering installing a two post lift is the base. Please note that it is extremely important that 2 Posts are installed correctly onto a sound, level and cured reinforced concrete base of the minimum specification (concrete type and strength) and laid to the minimum depth (according to the lift specifications). On no account should a two post lift be installed onto a base poured from hand-mixed concrete. The Lifts should not be installed near to or across seams and they should be away from walls or other obstructions. It is extremely unlikely that, without a purpose built workshop, the home garage will be suitable for the installation of a two post lift..... for additional information please also see here

Just because a 2 Post Lift has a capacity of 4000kg, for example, it doesn't mean that it can lift any vehicle to this weight. Check the length of the lifting arms and ensure that the lift is supplied with suitable height adaptors if the raising of vans, for example, is being considered.

Please be aware, when comparing 2 Post Lifts, some units, like ours, provide fully automatic locking which means that the up and down process is simply a matter of pressing the buttons. Some, generally less expensive models from other manufacturers use manual unlocking which means the safety interlocks will have to be manually disengaged before the lift can descend.

Scissor Lifts - supplied as both Mid-Rise (raising a car up to a maximum 1.2M) or Full Standing Height (car raised to 1.83M) - the immediate advantage of a Scissor, or Platform Scissor Lift, is that require less space than either 2 or 4 Posts. 

Currently we don't supply the MOT approved Alignment Scissor Lifts which feature drive on platforms, turntables, shaker plates and an additional mini scissor platform to provide wheels free capability. These are available from other suppliers, they tend to be too expensive for consideration for a home workshop though.

We can supply the maintenance wheels-free operation full standing height platform scissor lifts. The beauty of this product is that it can be retrofitted to the majority of domestic garage/workshops and it offers excellent access for servicing and maintenance. We can also supply flush mounted full height platform scissor lifts, these will need suitable concrete recessed bases but then provide a totally obstruction free work-space when they are lowered into the floor.

We sell more Mid-Rise Scissor and Platform Scissor Lifts than any other type of Car Lift to the home user. This is because these units are small, mobile and provide a brilliant, secure, ramp for the home mechanic to work from.

Mobile Scissor Lifts use twin hydraulic rams to raise up to 2800kg to a maximum 1.2M. The motor control trolley unit doubles as the movement handle and one person can move the lift around the workshop. These Scissor lifts aren't the lowest design ramp and many users like to use runners (scaffolding planks work well) each side of the lift to ensure it can be straddled by lower vehicles. One negative point for this type of lift is that it scissors up on two casters, even used, correctly, on reinforced concrete if this lift is left in the same position these casters will create channels in the surface - some customers use sacrificial steel plates to protect the workshop floor. The fact that it utilises the casters can be a negative as discussed above, however the very fact that they enable the lift to be easily moved around the workshop from bay to bay - or even out into the yard - means that they provide a flexible, and relatively inxpensive, lifting solution.

The most popular machine for home garages is a Platform Scissor. This equipment only raises a car to 1M but, offering wheels free lifting and with the spilt platform design providing unobstructed access down the centre of the raised vehicle, this type of machine is absolutely ideal for the home mechanic. As the majority of home garages don't have the head height available in industrial units, the maximum lift of 1M is about as much as can be tolerated before car roof and garage ceiling start to see too much of each other. Strongman Tools Clifton and Tamar Lifts continue to employ mechanical locking (unlike some competitive equipment), which means the user can feel totally secure and a restoration project can be left raised over the whole Winter, if required.

Four Post Lifts - these will be found in almost every workshop up and down the land. If the home garage or workshop has sufficient space then the 4 Post provides a safe and secure platform for all maintenance and servicing jobs, these lifts also provide instant doubling of parking space and provide the best compromise for those looking for a lift to provide both a maintenance and storage solution.

We supply a whole range of 4 Post Lifts, both our own product and third party machines. The first thing any user will notice about our own design 4 Post Lifts is the fact that all three models are smaller than product manufactured by the multi-national lift companies for use in the motor-trade. Our product has been designed with the home user in mind. We offer three sizes of lift, including the smallest fully featured 4 Post lift available. Our 4 Posts are all supplied with jacking beam rails which allow users to employ an optional axle, wheels free, lift. The equipment we supply has been specifically designed with features the home user will value; full length drip trays to insulate the bottom car are available, secure manual locking is easy to operate and provides operation without a compressor needed to release locking ratchets, the overall footprint of the lifts allows our users to squeeze a storage or maintenance solution into the most confined spaces, motor / control unit can be fitted on either the front right or rear left post, simple and robust design requiring minimum maintenance, pre-threaded cables facilitate self assembly (if desired).....

An obvious downside of a 4 post lift is the fact it has 4 Posts! The posts themselves are intrusive in a confined space, the solid ramps can also prove to be an obstruction for certain mechanical or bodywork jobs.

The practicality and security provided by 4 post Lifts, combined with an attractive price ensure that this product will continue to be sold, in quantity, to home users for years to come.

Parking Lifts - if you are looking for a "double" or "stack" parking solution then a 2 Post or 4 Post Lift may possibly be employed. As we have covered, it is not usual for 2 Posts to be installed into the home garage, however a 4 Post Lift can provide the ideal parking lift. As well as the 4 Post range we can also offer both Single and Two Post Parking Lifts. 

When choosing a parking solution the first question to be asked is "is the lift also expected to be a platform to maintain or service the car?". If you are looking for the lift to fulfil two jobs, be used to maintain cars as well as double parking space then almost invariably the 4 Post Lift is chosen. we sell Strongman Tools 4 Post Lifts which have been designed to withstand both static and dynamic loads, this means that they can be used to store one vehicle piggy-back over another and also withstand the forces involved as the lift moves whilst you remove a gearbox, for example. When fitted with full length drip trays our range of 4 Post Lifts allows users to safely and securely store one vehicle over another. The lift also provides a stable platform to work on the vehicle. 

To check that the workshop, garage or outbuilding has enough height to store your chosen vehicles, add the height of the two cars together, add the depth of the platforms (8.5 inches in the case of a Strongman 4 Post Lift) and leave sufficient room for error. These lifts mechanically lock into position at approx 4" intervals as the lift rises, so, to provide proper protection an additional 4" margin should be taken into consideration.

If you are simply looking for a storage solution, with NO maintenance requirement, then other types of lift should be considered. A Single Post Parking Lift offers unobstructed access below the raised car, a major advantage in a tight garage. Whilst a 4 Post presents the user with a forest of uprights, the single post, by definition, only has one! When lowered the single post lift can look a little ungainly but, when properly employed with a car raised it offers a remarkably free space beneath. The advantage of the single post lift is that the profile (platform depth) is thinner, about 115mm - 125mm. It must be stressed that this type of lift is a STATIC PARKING LIFT - in other words no maintenance or servicing work should be conducted on the raised vehicle as the lift is not designed to take the loads generated when using screwdrivers, spanners or hammers!

The final possibility, and often the most elegant, for parking is the solid platform afforded by a Two Post Parking Lift. If it is simply a job of parking one car over the other, in the most user friendly way, then the two post parking lift is ideal. You don't have to line the car up to any ramps etc. Simply drive the car onto a thin, solid, open platform, get out and push the "UP" button, nothing could be simpler. It must be stressed, again, that this type of design is for parking only and not suitable to act as a platform for any work on a car. 

6. Delivery & Installation

We are well aware that our customers often live in awkward to access locations, don't have unloading equipment such as a forklift truck handily available on-site and may not really wish to complete the unloading and installation of their chosen garage equipment themselves.

We will discuss access, delivery arrangements, installation, commissioning, training and service / support with our customers as part of the ongoing conversation leading to a purchase decision. We won't dispatch your equipment to arrive on an articulated lorry, unload to your kerbisde with a Hiab crane and ask you to sign on the dotted line for delivery!

Our service will include a thorough evaluation of access, delivery and unloading arrangements, construction and training required.


  1. The blog was very helpful in signifying the features of Hydraulic Car Lifts. Cheers!

  2. It really gives me an insight on this topic.
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  3. Great blog! I love the Scissor lifts, because it brings durable performance for an extra creative day. all-levelsaccess.co.uk

  4. Great article. I especially agree with point 1. There is no substitute for research. There are a lot of illegitimate distributors out there that either sell sub par equipment or buy refurbished auto equipment and sell it as new. Make sure you buy from a quality car lift manufacturer.