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Frequently Asked Auto Lift Questions: Part 1


When it comes to auto lifts, there is no good, single source for answers out there. Often, you will only be able to find bits and pieces of information, none of which seem to correlate or agree with each other. That problem ends now. As the largest provider of auto and industrial equipment parts, SVI International is uniquely qualified to help you find answers to all your auto lift questions, maybe even a few answers you didn’t know you needed. In this first installment of our frequently asked auto lift questions, we will cover lift installation questions you need answered before even making a purchase.

Please note, while applicable for most standard auto lifts, the answers you find in this document may not be best for your specific application. When in doubt, always consult with your auto lift provider first.

Auto Lift Questions

#1. How much ceiling height is needed to park one car above the other?

While this answer varies depending on the type of lift you ultimately decide to choose, there’s a simple way to determine the maximum height you’ll need. If you are wanting to park one car over another, start by measuring the individual heights of each of the cars you want to lift. Add them together and then add another 10 inches to your number. The final result will be your answer, giving you the minimum safe height required.

Car 1 Height (H1) + Car 2 Height (H2) + 10” = Minimum Safe Height Required

Could you potentially get away with slightly less overhead room? Sure, but this formula ensures you have plenty of space for either storage or service needs.  

#2. What type of power outlet/source is needed to operate my lift?

Residential and commercial models tend to need different power sources. If you are looking to install a residential lift, a single-phase 110V or 220V power source should do the trick. These types of outlets are fairly standard in residential garages, so you shouldn’t be concerned. However, commercial lifts often require “sturdier” power supplies, usually 220V or 440V sources. As always, consult with your owner’s manual or your lift provider prior to deciding.

#3. Do I need a special type of floor or foundation to support my lift?

Flooring requirements are different for each lift. If you already have a lift in mind, you can usually find specific requirements in your owner’s manual. However, in most applications, a minimum of 4” thick concrete, rated for 3,000 psi will be able to support your lift and the vehicles it holds. Flat surfaces with no more than a 3% grade are ideal and strongly recommended for most models.

This being said, be sure to adhere to any specific flooring/concrete requirements found in your owner’s manual and ensure the floor is structurally sound. This means no holes, cracks, expansion joints, or soft concrete.

#4. Do I need a building permit to install my lift?

Most home garage lifts do not require a permit. However, commercial lifts and a few specialty home garage options do. The process of obtaining permits and meeting requirements will vary based on your city and state, so remember to check with your local building department beforehand.

#5. Can I mount the power unit on any column of the lift?

Again, while the answer to this question will depend on your chosen type of lift, there are several options (both 2-post and 4-post) which do allow you to install the power unit on either column.

#6. Do I need to buy anything else with my lift?

Along with your lift, you will need to purchase at least 3 gallons of hydraulic oil to keep everything running smoothly. Because lifts are so heavy (some weighing up to 2,000lbs), you may also want to have someone install it for you. Otherwise, you will need to purchase a forklift to do so yourself.

Additionally, if you are attempting to install the lift independently, keep in mind that some larger models require at least two people, and can take up to six hours to complete.

#7. Where can I get replacement parts for my lift?

Whether you buy a new or used auto lift, it will inevitably need replacement parts. For over 40 years, SVI International has been serving the automotive service equipment industry with honesty, integrity, and a high level of quality. We provide on-time delivery and same-day shipping on all our in-stock parts. We exist as your one-stop shop for equipment parts, lifting equipment, RELS brake lathes, fluid delivery products, petroleum equipment parts, and much more.

Whether you have additional questions not answered here, concerns, or need help placing an order, we are always just a phone call away. Call us at (800) 321-8173 or fill out our online contact form today. We look forward to assisting you and invite you to peruse the second part in this series, Frequently Asked Auto Lift Questions: Part 2.

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