When operating any vehicle lift, safety must be the primary concern of both the garage owner and the lift operator. Whether it’s single post lifts, 2 post lifts or 4 post lifts, all lift operators must be sufficiently trained and aware of the potential risks when using such a vehicle lift.
Unlike platform lifts, two post lifts require correct and accurate vehicle positioning to ensure that the operator can work safely from beneath.
In this article, we cover the key points regarding the safe operation of two post lifts in particular.
Regular 2 Post Lift Inspection
All vehicle lifts must be installed properly by an experienced fully trained engineer. Once commissioned, operators should inspect the lift(s) on a daily basis before operation.Thereafter, a more thorough inspection should be carried out each and every month.
Daily inspection of a 2 post car lift should include the following:
•Checking for damage or lack of adjustment to chains or wire ropes
•Verifying that there are no leaks on the hydraulic equipment and hoses
•Inspecting the level of wear and tear to support pads and making sure the rubber surfaces are clean (wear, oil or grease on the lifting pads will reduce the friction between the vehicle and the rubber surface of the pad)
•Ensuring the correct operation of all arm locking mechanisms
Monthly inspection of 2 post vehicle lifts should include:
•Checking that all ropes, chains, rollers and carriage pins are lubricated
•Ensuring that all floor anchor bolts are sufficiently tightened
•Verifying that all of the screw and nut lubrication systems are topped up with the correct specified lubricant
In addition to regular inspections carried out by lift operators, all lifting equipment should also be thoroughly examined by a competent person every six months and maintained every six-months.
Correct Vehicle Positioning with a Two Post Lift
Correct positioning of a vehicle on a twin column lift is critical for safety; it is necessary to ensure that the vehicle is balanced correctly and its weight therefore evenly distributed. As the position varies depending on the type of car or van being lifted, the first thing a twin column lift operator must do is identify the vehicle’s centre of gravity. For most rear wheel drive vehicles, this is roughly situated around the front seats. For front wheel drive vehicles, the centre of gravity is usually slightly further forward.
The operator should extend or shorten the lifting arms on each of the carriages so that the vehicle can be lifted from the manufacturer’s designated lifting points (check the driver’s manual if necessary) – in some cases lifting adapters may be required and certain two post lift manufacturers offer a range of adjustable or vehicle specific adapters to enable correct vehicle lifting.
Arm Locking Mechanisms of Dual Post Lifts
This is another crucial safety area when operating dual post lifts. Lifting arms can be freely adjusted when they are less than 100mm from the ground, but once higher than this, they should automatically lock in place to prevent any sideways movement of the arms. To check that arms are correctly locked, you should lift the vehicle a small distance above the 100mm locking point and then apply some force to them. It is equally important to check that the pads are properly positioned before fully elevating the vehicle.
Checking and Maintaining the Balance Point
With the vehicle raised enough so that the weight is removed from the suspension, bounce the vehicle from the heaviest end (usually the engine end). Note how the vehicle is supported by the lift and ensure it is well balanced before continuing to lift further.
Once the vehicle is raised, it is vital to maintain the vehicle’s balance point. This can easily be overlooked when repairs are being made that call for large components to be removed thus shifting the vehicle’s centre of gravity and making it unsteady on the lift. Removing the transmission from a front wheel drive vehicle is the most common example of human error that causes vehicles to fall off.
Do Not Exceed the Car Lift’s Lifting Weight
Early type car lifts (of which many are still in use) were designed when vehicles weighed far less than they do today. It is important to always follow the lift manufacturer’s instructions regarding total load capacity and maximum weight limits, and to check whether the 2 post lift is suitable for the type and size of vehicle to be lifted. Lift regulations state that all lifts must have a SWL (Safe Working Load) sticker attached that is clearly visible to the operator at all times.