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Buying Guide: 2 Post vs. 4 Post Vehicle Lifts

Cars raised by a two post and four post vehicle lift

A vehicle lift is an essential piece of equipment for auto shops, garages and warehouses. They enable mechanics to reach difficult areas of a vehicle, and open up floor space by allowing your team to safely store vehicles on top of each other.

Many lifts are categorized as either two-post or four-post. The question is, how can you decide which lift your shop needs? Use this guide to weigh the pros and cons of each lift type so you can make the most informed decision.

How to Decide Between a 2 Post vs. 4 Post Lift

It’s crucial to have the right automotive lift in your garage to get the job done right. Choosing the best lift for your requirements will help you improve your business’s profitability in many ways, such as:

  • Maximize floor space in your shop.
  • Boost work productivity and efficiency.
  • Improve shop security.

Follow these vehicle lift buying considerations to determine whether a two-post or four-post lift is better for your shop.

1. Your Budget

Generally speaking, a four-post lift costs more than a two-post one. Shops that regularly work with heavy vehicles may find a four-post option to be worth the price. If most of your customers have light sedans, trucks or SUVs, a two-post lift might be more cost-effective.

The exact price of a lift varies depending on a range of factors such as:

  • Lift make and model
  • Features and add-ons
  • Lifting capacity
  • Lift size
  • Shipping and installation fees

You should look for a lift that can support heavier vehicles than the ones you typically work on. This added capacity will help prepare you for jobs that go beyond your usual workload.

Additionally, make sure you look at lifts intended for commercial rather than home use. These lifts generally cost more than basic models, but they have higher lifting capacities and more advanced features that can help boost productivity and safety in your shop.

2. Installation Requirements

Here are the most important considerations to make when it comes to lift installation:

  • Floor space: Four-post lifts often take up more floor space than two-post, making them less suitable for small shops and garages. 
  • Ceiling height: Two-post lifts support a vehicle by its frame rather than holding the load on top of a flat platform. As a result, they can raise the vehicle higher even under a low ceiling. 
  • Electrical upgrades: Automotive lifts typically use either 110 or 220 volt motors, so it’s important to ensure your shop has the electrical infrastructure to support the lift you want.
  • Floor stability: Two-post lifts must be bolted to the ground for stability, so you’ll need to have your shop floor assessed before you can install one. Four-post options can also be anchored, but most are stable enough to work well without additional support.

If you have any questions about whether you can safely install a specific lift in your garage, ask the dealer you plan to purchase from.

Two post vs. four post vehicle lifts

3. Ease of Operation

Most four-post automotive lifts are easier to use than two-post ones, which require the operator to get out and carefully align the lift arms to the right points on the vehicle. In contrast, you can simply drive the car onto a four-post lift and raise it without any extra hassle.

At the same time, two-post automotive lifts provide much easier access to a vehicle’s wheels and undercarriage — since the lift holds the vehicle by its frame, you can simply slide underneath. For a four-post lift, the wheels rest on top, so you need to use a separate sliding jack to lift it off the platform enough to reach the undercarriage. Since a four-post model limits undercarriage access, it’s typically more suitable for vehicle storage in garages rather than auto repair shops.

Four-post lifts are usually more versatile than their two-post counterparts. With the right attachments, you can support motorcycles, snowblowers, riding mowers or any other motorized vehicle that comes into your shop.

4. Workplace Safety

It’s an understatement to say that job safety is an enormous concern for auto shop mechanics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace fatalities for mechanics and service technicians have increased significantly over the years. And that’s only counting the incidents that were reported.

Because two-post lifts require extra caution when aligning the vehicle, they come with a higher degree of risk than four-post lifts. Failing to properly balance the vehicle could cause it to fall. With more points to support the load, a four-post lift evenly distributes the vehicle’s weight, providing greater stability and reducing the risk of accidents.

Whether you choose a two-post or four-post lift, there are other ways you can protect your team while on the job. Look for lifts with safety-enhancing features like:

  • Hydraulic flow restrictors: A restrictor valve reduces the flow of hydraulic fluid, which provides extra power to the lift by increasing the pressure in the fluid.
  • Wheel chocks: Sturdy front and rear wheel chocks prevent the vehicle from rolling off the platform in either direction.
  • Safety locks: These devices automatically lock the lift structure in place while the lift is in operation, which prevents the lift from suddenly dropping if a suspension component fails.

Other Tips for Buying Automotive Lifts

Regardless of the type of lift you purchase, look for one that meets the following criteria:

  • Comes from a reliable manufacturer.
  • Adheres to relevant safety standards.
  • Has received certification from the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI).

Additionally, it’s best to bring in a qualified lift installation expert to set up your new lift for you. These machines are heavy and complex, and improper installation can result in dangerous malfunctions.

Book an appointment with an ALI-certified lift professional as soon as you finalize the purchase to ensure everything goes smoothly. Ideally, you should be able to schedule this service through the distributor that sold the lift to you.

Browse Our Selection of Vehicle Lifts

Carks parked using a parking vehicle lift

Selecting the right lift can have a significant impact on how well your shop runs, which is why it’s crucial to do your homework and weigh all your options. At Liftnow, we carry a wide range of four-post and two-post lifts from the most reputable brands, so you can find a model that fits your business. 

Browse our online selection of automotive lifts and hoists and get a free quote, or fill out our contact form for more information on our lift installation and maintenance services.

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