Can I Put a Car Lift in My Garage?


Lately it seems like every YouTuber I see has a parking lift to fit more cars in their garage. So you might be wondering if you can put a car lift in your garage.

I mean…I did. So I decided to research it.

Even if you don’t have several cars, people use their garages for more than parking. A car lift in one bay of a two-car garage will still let you park two vehicles while keeping one bay for a workshop or storage.

You can put a car lift in your garage, as there are units that will work in a home garage, provided it is well installed, and your garage meets specific requirements regarding the thickness of the concrete floor and the height of the building.

There are different types of car lifts: two-post, four-post, parking lifts…and they operate differently. What they require to install in your garage is different as well.

Read on to find out more about car lifts in home garages.

What Is a Car Lift?

We’ve all seen car lifts before. They’re found in literally every mechanic’s shop in the country.

A their core, they raise the car above ground level, allowing room underneath so you can work on the car easier, or even park another vehicle.

When properly installed, car lifts are extremely safe and capable of holding a lot of weight.

2 Post vs. 4 Post Car Lifts

In general, there are two types of lifts available: two-post lifts and four-post lifts.

While they look different, they both lift your car off the ground. The main difference is in what you’re lifting it for and how long you need to keep it in the air.

Two Post Lift

A two-post lift uses two parallel posts to support the weight of the vehicle.

The vehicle balances between the two posts right at it’s center of gravity. If you’ve seen videos where a car falls off a two-post lift, it’s been lifted incorrectly, according to BendPak, one of the major manufacturers of car lifts.

The distance between the posts determines the width of the car the device can lift.

How a 2-Post Lift Works

The posts support on either side of the car, work together to raise the vehicle simultaneously. They use powerful hydraulics and high strength cables to lift and lower vehicles.

Attached to one of the posts are the hydraulic pump and electric motor. This is often referred to as the powered post with the other being the slave post. Both posts are anchored to the reinforced concrete floor. 

You’ll also hear the terms overhead lift and baseplate lift. This refers to how the cables and power get from one post to the other . An overhead lift will have a beam overhead (hence the name) that connects the two posts. Whereas a baseplate lift will have the connection on the floor.  

The beam in overhead lifts turns them into a frame and Increases stability. However, the bar limits the height of the vehicles that the lift can carry.

Two post lifts can also be classified as symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical lifts have two posts facing each other, and the support arms each carry about 50% of the load.

Asymmetrical lifts have swing arms that are not equal, and are actually longer in the back than in the front. Because of that, the weight is not shared equally between the arms.

Four Post Lift

Four post lifts have two extra columns, giving them the name. Because of this, they’re more sturdy. They’re also easier to operate and can be used to store other items besides cars. 

Four post lifts are most commonly used lifts for parking and long-term storage, due to the greater stability. That stability also means that most four post lifts to be installed without being embedded in the concrete floor.

This actually allows the lifts to be moved fairly easily, porvided you’ve got a truck big enough to do it.

There are two variations of four post lifts; open front and closed front.

The difference lies in the presence (or absence) of a crossbar in the front of the lift. Open front lifts don’t have a crossbar, which allows easier adjustment and repairs at the front end of the vehicle.

Which Lift Should You Get for Your Garage?

Which lift to get depends on how you’re going to use it.

In general, a 2-post lift is great for someone that works on their car, but doesn’t need to store it for long periods of time. Four post lifts are great for parking and storing vehicles, but they don’t always allow easy access to work on the car from underneath.

While you can use either type of car lift in your garage, we recommend four post lifts for most home garages. Also, four post lifts can carry heavier vehicles and often do not need to be anchored to the ground. Consequently, they are easier to install and can easily be dismantled and moved to a different location. 

Is a car-lift worth it?

Garage car lifts have several benefits. By their design, they’re taking up space vertically, which means you’re able to take advantage of space that may otherwise have gone to waste.

Some of these benefits include:

Adds Additional Storage

Most homes in the United States have a garage, but studies have shown that around 27% of them only have a single car garage. (source)

Why is that a problem? A different study shows that the average household in America has 1.88 vehicles in it (source). That means that, on average at least a quarter of the country is parking their vehicles outside.

Never mind the number of people who can’t park their cars in the garage because they have too much stuff!

One solution to this problem is to expand the garage, or add a carport near the driveway. However, this approach can be time consuming and expensive.

Installing a car lift in your garage provides an easy (and less expensive) solution. Lifts can be installed in a day and require little, if any, modifications to your garage.

Most importantly, they let you adapt a one-car garage into a two-car garage and a two-car garage into a three or four-car garage.

Some homeowners even use the lifts to store items other than cars, such as motorcycles, boats, lawn machinery, etc.

Protects Your Car

As I mentioned, it’s common for car owners to park their cars in the driveway when they can’t fit into the garage.

Even in good neighborhoods, cars left outside can easily get damaged, stolen or broken into. Besides, continuous exposure to sun and rain will fade the vehicle’s finish faster than usual.

While car lifts don’t directly protect or preserve cars, they do make it easier to do so. They allow you to use the otherwise unused vertical space to move your car inside, keeping it away from potential vandals, and the adverse effects of the elements.

Easy Car Maintenance

Two-post car lifts were originally designed to allow easy access to the underside of a car. This is great for people who enjoy wrenching and repairing their vehicles themselves. 

Image: bendpak.com

How Much Do Car Lifts Cost?

Four post lifts have some advantages (Stability, Strength, mobility, easier installation, and operation) over their two post counterparts. Because of this, they’re more expensive and cost around $2100 to $3200 on average.

Two post lifts are cheaper, costing on average between $1500 to $2500. 

The price depends on several factors, but majorly on the weight, the lift can carry.

Concrete Requirements For Installing a Car Lift

Before installing a car lift, your garage needs to meet specific requirements.

Your concrete floor should meet the following criteria:

  • It should not have a slope. You can correct minor differences in the slope with proper shimming. Overly sloped floors can be rectified by pouring a new slab.
  • New concrete slabs must be cured for 30 days.
  • The concrete floor should be reinforced and have a compressive strength of 300 PSI (pound per square inch).

The height/thickness of the concrete floor depends on the maximum weight the lift can carry. 

  • Minimum thickness of four inches for 8,500 lbs ー10,000 lbs (3856 kg ー4356 kg) lifts. 
  • Minimum thickness of six inches for 11,000 lbs ー 15000 lbs (4990 kg ー6804 kg) lifts. 

Most companies recommend to increasing the concrete’s strength and depth beyond the minimum, just for safety’s sake.

Besides these requirements, the ceiling needs to be tall enough and free of obstructions like heaters, beams, and electrical lines. These may cause damage to the vehicle and building.

Conclusion

The four posts lifts are ideal for home garages, being more stable and stronger. It is best to call on professionals to install car lifts, as doing so will ensure that the lift is safe for use, and will function as intended.

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