The auto lift cable on your auto lift plays a significant role in lifting vehicles. They equalize the lift arms to lift the vehicle evenly. As with any other mechanical part, lift cables wear out over time, especially if you don’t keep them maintained. They stretch with use and need adjustment. The equalization cable also needs regular lubrication. One of the ways to tell if the car lift cable is not even on both sides is when you hear the locks clicking separately. This applies to two-post and four-post lifts.
Why is it Important to Have Properly Working Auto Lift Cables?
The auto lift cable on your car lift ensures the vehicle is lifted evenly. If one cable is stretched more than the other, the lift arms will be uneven. You can determine this by listening to the locks. If the locks on each side don’t click at the same time, the vehicle is not even on the lift and could slide off the lift. A stretched car lift cable is also weaker and won’t be able to hold the weight of heavier vehicles.
If an auto lift cable is frayed or strands are completely broken, the cable will not have the strength to hold a heavy load. The risk of the frayed cable breaking is significantly higher, especially if an entire strand is broken or frayed. Since the lift cables can no longer keep the lift arms at an equal height, the vehicle will fall off the lift.
How Do Lift Cables Get Damaged?
The most common type of damage to lift cables is stretching due to the weight placed upon them by vehicles. They will stretch more if you constantly lift heavy vehicles. A shop that primarily works on trucks will have to replace each auto lift cable more often than a shop that lifts mostly smaller passenger vehicles.
As the cable stretches, it becomes weaker and cannot handle heavier vehicles. If the cable stretches too much, it will eventually break.
Additional ways the auto lift cables can get damaged include:
- Abrasions: Abrasions are usually caused by something rubbing against the cable. An improperly installed cable or worn cable could rub against the lift, a pulley could be seized, or someone may have dropped a tool in the cable’s cavity.
- Mechanical Damage: When working in an auto repair shop, mechanical damage can happen to lift cables in many ways, including another malfunctioning lift part, lifting a vehicle that is too heavy for the lift, and other reasons.
- Rotational Damage: If a pulley or another part of the lift forces an auto lift cable to rotate when it’s not supposed to, the cable will suffer rotational damage.
- Heat Damage: If a vehicle catches on fire or if the equalization cables are not adequately lubricated, they could suffer heat damage, which makes them significantly weaker.
- Bending Fatigue: When cables stretch, they can easily bend. If they continue bending, they will eventually break.
How to Take Care of Your Auto Lift Cables
You can do a lot of the auto lift cable maintenance yourself, though some things are best left to the professionals. The maintenance you must do – whether you do it or have a professional do it – to keep the lift and lift cables safe include:
- Always instruct your employees on the weight capacity of the hydraulic lift system. Make sure the lift system is in good working order and has plenty of hydraulic fluid.
- Check the hydraulic lift system for leaks. Tighten any fittings and couplings that may have come loose. Replace damaged hoses and seals before using the lift.
- Check the cables, pulleys, v-belts, chains, and spindles. Ensure everything is properly lubricated. If the auto lift cables are stretched, adjust them. Check the tension – the cables should not be able to move more than ½-inch for two-post and four-post lifts. Replace any worn pulleys, chains, cables, v-belts, and spindles.
- Check the posts, columns, and rolling bridge for damage, wear and tear, and rust. Lubricate any moving parts and check the alignment. Finally, test the locks and rollers to ensure they are working correctly.
- Make sure the electrical is working correctly, including the switches, terminals, and limit switch.
- Check the entire lift, ensuring that it is clean and free from grease, the decking and covers are in good condition, and that all the functions work. Check the anchor bolts and all fasteners. Check the arms and telescoping stops. Finally, check the floor where the lift is bolted for cracks.
When Should Auto Lift Cables Be Replaced?
Depending on the type of lift you have and the weight of the vehicles you most frequently lift, you should replace auto lift cables every four to five years. Additionally, if you notice fraying and other issues with the cables, immediately stop using the lift until you replace the cables.
The following issues are significant safety problems, and you should not use the lift until you replace the cables if:
- You see more than two broken wires in one cable strand.
- You see more than five random wires sticking out of the lift cables (in different strands).
- You see corrosion and rust on the wires — even a single wire.
- You see a cable core protruding from the cable.
- The diameter of the lift cable decreases by 10 percent or more.
- Any other problems, such as abrasions, twists, bending, rotational damage, heat fatigue, and other damage.
Replacement Parts from SVI International
SVI International carries over 40,000 lift parts from original equipment manufacturers (OEM). With just the brand and type of your lift, you can quickly search our extensive database to find the parts you need to repair your vehicle lift. If you need assistance with searching for the appropriate parts, our experienced customer service representatives are ready to help you. Contact SVI International today for all your lift part needs and questions.