Skip to main content

In-Ground Vehicle Lifts vs. Above Ground Vehicle Lifts

Few pieces of equipment are as crucial to automotive repair as vehicle lifts. Lifts are essential for large repair garages, body shops, and makeshift garage workshops.

Service and repair bays thrive one the usage of vehicle lifts properly chosen to complement the bay’s specialty. As vehicle lifts are one of the most critical investments shop owners make, differentiating between various kinds and selecting the proper lift is extremely important. Where can one begin to choose the best piece of equipment? This blog is a good place to start. In the content below, we discuss and compare in-ground and above ground lifts – ultimately, we hope to guide you to an informed vehicle lift selection.

In-Ground Lifts

In-ground lifts are commonly found in large automotive repair shops. As the name suggests, in-ground lifts are installed in the ground and can be hidden under a shop floor in disuse. Thus, when a vehicle is not in service, the garage looks clean and orderly. In-ground lifts require more installation time and steps than above ground lifts, discussed below. However, the initial installation time period is often overlooked due to many overarching advantages, including the ability to descend into the floor, flexibility to choose frame or wheel engaging varieties, low cost of ownership, extreme durability, and safety.

Three primary in-ground lifts are considered below:

Single Post Lifts

Single post vehicle lifts are simple to use, safe to operate, and environmentally friendly. These lifts can handle most domestic and imported vehicle models. Ideal for front-end and suspension work, in-ground single post car lifts are commonly found in professional shops and home garages. Many single post lifts boast a load capacity of about 8,000 pounds, lifting at specifically intended pick-up points on a vehicle’s undercarriage.

Side-by-Side Twin Post Lifts

Similar to single post, twin post lifts are simple and safe. However, a second post allows for heavier lifting capacity via even distribution of weight on the front and rear columns.

Heavy Duty Fore-and-Aft Lifts

Heavy duty fore-and-aft lifts are reliable and economical to operate, known for their durability over time. For example, certain shops still utilize heavy duty lifts installed decades before. Heavy duty lifts can hoist virtually any vehicle, regardless of size or weight. As mentioned, large automotive repair shops often utilize heavy duty fore-and-aft lifts for major fixes – heavy duty lifts can often hoist over 16,000 pounds.

Above Ground Lifts

As the name implies, above ground lifts are not installed within the concrete shop floor, allowing for quick installation and mobility. Two primary above ground lifts are available on the market: 2-post and 4-post. While the number of lift columns is one clear distinction, post lifts are designed with different strengths for specific automotive applications. While one lift is not objectively better than the other, selecting a 2-post lift or a 4-post lift will largely depend on your specific needs.

2-Post Lifts

2-post lifts are one of the most common lifts available. Nearly every quick, “drive through” automotive shop will utilize a 2-post lift, as this variety is excellent for quick drive in, fix, drive out repairs. Small shops and amateurs or at-home vehicle enthusiasts commonly choose 2-post lifts, because they are generally cost effective. 2-post lifts can be considered symmetrical, asymmetrical, or versymmetrical, defined by differing post and lift arm characteristics. For example, symmetrical 2-post lift columns face each other directly, both arms taking 50% of the lift load. Asymmetrical lift arms differ in length. Versymmetrical lifts combine characteristics of symmetrical and asymmetrical varieties, able to lift light cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs within a single bay.

However, compared to 4-post lifts, 2-post lifts have relatively light load capacity, perfect for smaller vehicles. 2-post lifts are frame-engaging, utilizing four arms to lift vehicles at intended undercarriage lift points. The versatility of four lift arms can accommodate a wide range of lift points. Finally, 2-post lifts take up little space – thus, they are a common choice for personal garages, small shops, or repair bays with many lifts in a single location.

4-Post Lifts

4-post lifts are commonly used for two primary purposes: to hoist heavy vehicles or store one vehicle above another. Due to the addition of two columns, 4-post lifts have greater lift capacity than their 2-post counterparts, excellent for lifting vehicles up to 40,000 lbs. While not as cost effective as smaller, 2-post lifts, 4-post lifts are common among vehicle enthusiasts because they do not require permanent anchorage to the floor. Thus, 4-post lifts are both durable and mobile. If one does decide to anchor the lift, many lifts can be permanently cemented to the ground.

4-post lifts are drive-on, rather than frame engaging, making them easy to utilize. The vehicle must simply be driven onto the lift, without positioning lift arms into specific undercarriage points. These lifts are a favorite of automotive repair shops, as they provide easy access to the undercarriage of the vehicle. Utilizing rolling jacks, technicians can perform wheel and brake work as well.

SVI International, Inc.

At SVI International, we are the leading car lift manufacturer and shop equipment parts provider in North America, offering high-quality equipment for most makes and models of automotive equipment. With three ready-to-ship warehouses, we understand that down time is unacceptable in the automotive repair industry. This is why we cover the entire country with affordable, fast delivery – guaranteed.

One characteristic that sets us apart is our “can do” attitude. No matter how new or old your equipment may be, we have the parts you need to make your shop run smoothly. You can explore our entire inventory of lift repair parts by make and model or explore our entirely new automotive lifts.

We are industry problem solvers. With over 40,000 repair parts, 50 product lines, and 2,000 distributors, we know custom. If you are in need of a repair part but are unsure where to begin, feel free to contact our team at (800) 321-8173. We’re always just a phone call way.

Related posts

How to Protect Your Auto Lift Investment

How to Protect Your Auto Lift Investment

An automotive lift is no small investment. After researching the ideal lift for your auto…

everything you should know about installing a car lift outside

Everything You Should Know About Installing a Car Lift Outside

Brainstorming how to install another car lift in the shop can be stressful when floor…

Have any questions?

We’ll get right back to you — Contact us now.
Contact us

Quick Reference

Easy Access to Products, Resources, and More