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The Complete Guide on Installing a 2 Post Car Lift for your Shop or Garage

The Complete Guide on Installing a 2 Post Car Lift for your Shop or Garage

Posted by Juan E. Chavez on 29th Oct 2021

Two-post vehicle lifts are one of the most useful items that you can have in your home garage or repair shop. Every repair shop has one and it goes without saying that automotive repair is easier (and safer) with a hoisted vehicle.

Installing a 2 post lift requires professional help. So if you're getting started in the auto repair industry, it's one thing to use a lift, another to install one. It might cost you a little extra but leave it to professionals.

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Things to keep in mind while you are installing the 2 post car lift

  1. We can't stress safety enough. Use the proper clothing and protective gear.
  2. Always use another person to help you lift the heavier objects so you don’t strain your back.
  3. Use the proper tools indicated in this manual and in the manual that you will receive with the lift

Before you install the 2 Post Car Lift

Now, if you are looking to install the car lift yourself, there are certain things you always want to keep in mind.

First, make sure that the concrete for your floor is deep enough and strong enough to support both of the columns. Most manufacturers say to at least have the concrete from 6 to 12 inches in depth and have a minimum PSI of 3000.

Now, if your concrete doesn’t have these specs. Don’t worry, all you have to do is measure where the columns will be installed and dig a couple of holes deep enough where the two columns would be standing at. Then, pour the concrete, and voila, your floor is ready. Usually, you want to make the holes 2 feet in length by 2 feet in width and 1 foot in depth.

Once the lift arrives at your place you want to make sure that you have a way to get it off the truck. We suggest renting a forklift and depending on what state and city you are in the prices will vary. But it will usually be anywhere from $100 to $150 dollars a day for the forklift.

Make sure that whoever is delivering the lift calls you 24 hours before them coming. So that you can have the forklift ready. If for any reason you can’t find a forklift, tell the distributor to ship the car lift to the nearest freight terminal and pick it up from there.

You also want to be careful when you are removing the shipping bands and the packing materials from the lift. Make sure you don’t drop the power unit which should be on top of the lift when it’s lying down.

How to install a car lift - power unit

WARNING:

This manual will guide you on how to install your car lift in your shop. Yet, most car lifts are different depending on the model and the manufacturer. You must also follow the original manual that comes with the lift. So it can give you a better idea of the specifications that it requires. If you have any questions about installations or if you're looking for an installer in your area, contact us.

Items You'll Need to Install a Car Lift

Items you will need to install a car lift:

  • Two 10’ to 12’ step ladders
  • ISO 32 Light Hydraulic Oil (approx. 12 quarts)
  • Tape Measure
  • Rotary Hammer Drill with ¾ in. Drill Bit (Core Drill Rebar Cutter recommended)
  • 4’ Level
  • Sockets and Open Wrench set, ½ in. thru 1-1/2 in. (1-1/8 in. for ¾ in. Anchors)
  • Vise grips
  • 8mm Socket Head Wrench
  • Torque wrench
  • Teflon Tape

Once you take out all the packaging and plastic from the columns. Make sure that you start inserting and installing the cables and/or chains inside the columns. Depending on what kind of lift you bought and from what manufacturer you bought it. These specifications are always going to change, so make sure you follow the instructions and place the cables. This is simple and you should not have too much trouble figuring out how and where to insert the cables.

Depending on what kind of lift you have, the recommended space between where you should install the lift and the bay door varies. So make sure that you read the instructions carefully and take that into consideration. Usually, you have to position the lift about 13 feet away from the door. This way you can have enough space to drive the car inside the shop and not have it sticking out of the back door when you have it elevated.

Approach

Once you have decided where you want to install the two columns. You must snap a chalk line so that can be your guide on where you will be installing the two columns, and it’s as simple as that. At this point, all you have to do is place the two columns and align them with the chalk line. These columns are heavy so be sure to have an assistant aid you.

The way you position the two columns will vary depending on if you buy either a Symmetrical lift or an Asymmetrical lift. Some manufacturers like Bendpak, have both models. Whereas Challenger Lifts has their own version of the Asymmetrical lift called the Versymmetrical Lift. Again, the instruction manual that comes with the lift will explain exactly how you should position depending on which lift you get. If you have any questions about any of these models please give us a call at 877-298-7730 and we would be more than happy to explain how these work.

bendpak xpr10 Bendpak xpr10a challenger cl10

Bendpak XPR-10 Bendpak XPR-10AChallenger CL-10

Installing the Columns

Follow this chart for now to give you an idea of how to place the columns on the floor:

Installing the columns

Next comes the drilling. This will make a lot of noise and a lot of dust. Make sure you wear a dust mask and earplugs if you're sensitive to those types of elements. Most techs won't have this issue but to be sure. Make sure you have the correct depth. Certain lifts need a certain depth depending on the lifting capacity of the lift. Use this chart to give you a better idea of how deep you should drill.

Drill Holes into Concrete

Using the existing holes in the base plate as a guide for drilling, drill the holes of the main side column first and then do the other one.

Use your hammer drill to make the holes. Go up and down until the hole is cleared and at the end blow on the hole so you can remove any dust to increase holding power. Once the holes are made, place the bolts in the holes but do not tighten yet. First, tap the bolts with a hammer until the washer rests against the base plate like so:

anchor bolts into each hole

With a level, make sure that the column is evenly placed and there is no side to side plumb or front to front plum. If there is, fix it with a couple of horseshoe shims until the column is balanced. (Shim thickness should not exceed 2-1/4”). Once you have the column leveled, tighten them at 85 ft-lbs. of torque.

Tighten Nuts

When you have secured the power side column, start working on the offside column, this will be easier and more efficient. Follow the steps again to install the second column.

Once you have both columns secured, you can then move to install the Top Trough Assembly. This is a simple procedure and most of the time you will either need a forklift to raise the bar or you can also raise it with two ladders and two men on each side. Once placed on top make sure you tighten the bolts. Then you will have the structure and hardest part of the lift already set up. Make sure that if the anchor bolts have become loose while you were tightening the top bar, tighten them again.

Next, we have to install the hydraulic power unit itself. Even though the hydraulic unit is a little heavy, you can install it with the help of someone else. Usually, the unit will come with a Vibration dampener and this must be placed between the Hydraulic unit and the column. Once you have installed the hydraulic unit, you can fill the unit with hydraulic oil, you will need approximately four gallons.

Installing Cables, Lines, and Hoses

The next thing that you have to do is install the safeties, safety cables, hydraulic lines, power unit hoses, and routing the equalizer cables.

Depending on what kind of lift you bought, the installations for these items are always going to be different. However, for most lifts, you always have to install the safety cables through the cylinders in the columns and through the top bar of the lift. And the same thing goes for the hydraulics lines and power unit hoses. So please read the installation manual and follow the advice step by step. They will direct you exactly on how to install each cable and where it needs to go. Since you are not doing any heavy lifting anymore, it won’t be so difficult; you have to pay close attention to what you are doing. One mistake and you might have to redo all your work again.

Installing the Lift Arms

Last but not least, you have the lift arms. This is usually a very simple procedure. All you have to do is place the lift arms in the correct position and slide the headpins in.

lift head pins

Once they are inside and through the holes in the Arm Assembly. Install the Snap Ring into the groove in the lift the headpin on the underside of the lift head. Make sure that the Arm Restraint Gears are properly positioned and adjusted and that each lift arm is positioned in its left and right configuration. Make sure that the gears are working well before operating the lift. Always remember that you must inspect the gears from time to time to make sure that they are in the correct place. Remember, this is the part of the lift that picks up the cars and holds them for several hours at a time. If not installed properly you can have a real safety hazard in your repair shop.

lift head pins and snap rings

Make sure that the teeth on the gear ring mesh with the teeth on the gears of the arm restraint. You must also tighten the gear ring bolts. Always test the lift arm by moving it from left to right and make sure that it can hold up your weight before placing any cars on top of it.

Adjust the gear ring on the arm as necessary. This ensures smooth operation and solid engagement of all four Arm Restraint Pin Assemblies with the Arm Restraint Gear Ring.

car lift arm configuration

Wrapping Up

Follow this manual from beginning to end and use the manual that comes with the car lift. You should be equipped to install your own lift. It should only take you a couple of hours to install this lift, and believe it or not, it's rather simple.

If you have any questions about how to install the lift in your shop or looking for an installer in your area. Please call us at 877-298-7730 or email us at info@jmcautomotiveequipment.com. We'll find you a professional installer in your area that will be able to do it at a reasonable price.

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