How to choose the right shop lift

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shop lift
Adding a lift to the shop can improve workflow efficiency and help minimize lost-time injuries.

TORONTO, Ont. — Vehicle lifts come in a dizzying number of configurations, usually targeted to certain intended application and available shop space. Some require modified infrastructure, such as pits to make room for the operating hydraulics. Others need a direct line of access for vehicles, and obviously vertical clearance must be considered. Here are a few things to think about in choosing a lift for your maintenance and repair operations:


Most technicians prefer to stand up rather than lie on a creeper under a truck because they find there’s less physical strain and it’s much more efficient and productive. With technicians in short supply these days, a quality work environment can be as enticing as a raise in pay.

Services performed

The style of lifts you choose can have a significant impact on the speed and quality of the work you perform. Some lifts are better suited to specific types of work, like fast-turnaround under-vehicle inspections versus repairs where major components will be removed from the truck.

Vehicle types, size and weight

Consider lifting capacity and vehicle configuration, such as three-axle tractors, multi-axle vocational equipment, or tractor-trailer combinations. Lifts are available to accommodate most configurations, but some will be more suitable than others.

Facility layout

Major considerations include available space, traffic flow, concrete and soil quality, vehicle lengths, turning radius, and whether the facility is owned or leased — which might limit the investment in infrastructure. The yard layout and access to the service bays should be considered, too.

Environmental concerns

Consider what precautions are designed into inground lifts to prevent hydraulic fluid leaks, electrolysis, water contamination, and other environmental concerns.

Maintenance and service

Compare the maintenance schedules on lifts you’re considering as well as local availability of technicians to perform the service or repairs. Any time a lift is down for maintenance, productivity and revenue will suffer.

Employee recruitment and retention

The technician shortage is expected to worsen as the demand for trained techs increases. Fleets will need every advantage possible to recruit and retain employees — including better working conditions than your competitors offer.


First and foremost, look for the gold label that reads: “ALI Certified.” Only lifts that

have passed independent safety testing can carry this label. Also, compare safety features on the lifts you’re considering. Do you really want your techs working under the cheapest lift you can find?

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Jim Park was a CDL driver and owner-operator from 1978 until 1998, when he began his second career as a trucking journalist. During that career transition, he hosted an overnight radio show on a Hamilton, Ontario radio station and later went on to anchor the trucking news in SiriusXM's Road Dog Trucking channel. Jim is a regular contributor to Today's Trucking and, and produces Focus On and On the Spot test drive videos.

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