How to Operate a Car Lift Safely: Dos and Don'ts to Follow

Vehicle lifts are a must-have piece of equipment in every auto repair shop. They let you raise cars completely off the ground so you can work on the undercarriage safely and comfortably. Mobile car lifts, however, require comprehensive safety training because they could be dangerous when operated improperly.

In fact, an auto mechanic sustained severe injuries after a vehicle lift fell on him in his repair shop. He was taken to the hospital, but he eventually passed away due to his injuries.

Whether you’re new to using car lifts or an experienced mechanic, you need to be careful when operating this equipment to avoid accidents.

Follow JMC Automotive Equipment’s dos and don’ts on car lift safety:

The Dos

  • Purchase vehicle lifts with certification from the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI). ALI-certified 2-post car lifts and 4-post car lifts have undergone strict inspection and physical testing to guarantee that they meet safety standards.
  • Have an ALI-certified lift inspector assess the condition of your car lifts annually. Then, ask the examiner to put the appropriate inspection label on your equipment to help you keep track of the lifts that have been examined and their current condition.
  • Provide all your technicians with appropriate training, which includes the proper operation of all controls, the lift’s safety features, information on the maximum weight of each lift, rules for safe lifting, and proper housekeeping procedures.
  • Make sure that the floor is stable enough to support the load you’re raising, especially for mobile car lifts that aren’t fixed to the ground.
  • Keep at least a meter of distance between heavy-duty vehicle lifts and other bays or working areas just in case something goes wrong with the lift.
  • Make sure all the emergency stop buttons are operational before using the vehicle lift.
  • Turn the main switch off after raising or lowering a vehicle to keep from accidentally moving the lift as you work on the car.

Car Lift Safety Maintenance

The Don’ts

  • Never carry a vehicle that exceeds that lift’s maximum weight capacity. The car could upend the lift or break the arms, which could cause a serious accident and lead to costly repairs.
  • Never lift a vehicle with a person still inside.
  • Never use an auto lift without confirming that your workshop has enough height clearance for the type of car you’re lifting. You also need to make sure that there are no overhead obstacles hanging directly above the space you’re working in.
  • Never try to repair a lift by yourself. Call the manufacturer or a professional car lift service immediately for assistance.
  • Never try to stabilize a vehicle falling off of the lift because you could be injured in the process. Prioritize your safety and get out of the way.
  • Never let water touch the panels, switches, and motors when washing the vehicle lift to avoid a short circuit.

Proper Auto Lift Operation

Only trained technicians should operate the vehicle lifts. Routinely give your team a refresher of your safety protocols and standards to keep your shop running smoothly. You can also send them safety reminders and post signs around the workshop so your staff won’t forget.

To learn more about proper car lift operation, browse through the JMC Automotive Equipment blog. We’re a longtime partner of auto shop owners and car hobbyists, providing them with a range of automotive products and equipment, from 2-post car lifts and tire changers to auto body tools and body repair kits.

Check out our ALI-certified car lifts here.