Only 70% of the 900 homeowners surveyed by the Wall Street Journal said that their garage gives them enough parking space.
Garage clutter is the biggest factor that prevents most homeowners from parking inside. But another factor is they simply have more family vehicles than they do garage parking spaces.
The constant “vehicle shuffle” for a family when there’s a lack of parking space is inconvenient.
And in some cases, you might have a seasonal vehicle that occupies one of your valuable garage parking spaces for months at a time, even though you’re not driving it.
If paying for yearly remote vehicle storage or undergoing a pricey garage expansion aren’t solutions that appeal to you, having a car lift at home is a great way to simplify your parking problems.
What’s the best car lift for your garage?
When you’re researching the different types of home garage car lifts for sale, you’ll learn that there’s three main types:
- 4 post car lift
- 2 post car lift
- scissor car lift
Scissor lifts aren’t a viable garage parking option because you obviously can’t park underneath them. They also typically have lower lifting capacities and are more ideal for temporarily hoisting vehicles to perform maintenance, not longer term vehicle storage.
That leaves the two most popular home car lift options – 4 post and 2 post car lifts. The 4 post car lift vs 2 post lift debate can get a little confusing, so we’re here to simplify a few things.
Here are seven key factors you need to consider when deciding what type of home car lift will work best for your family’s needs.
1. Home parking
For many people buying a car lift for their garage, the ability to create more home parking space will the only thing they’re interested in.
Being able to park a vehicle underneath another vehicle elevated on a car lift is an attractive proposition for anyone tired of having more vehicles than their garage can accommodate.
For this type of usage, a 4 post lift is the ideal option. Virtually all 4 post car lifts are designed for this specific purpose, whereas only some 2 post models are recommended for using as a parking lift.
The support posts for the 2 post lift are centered where the vehicle is lifted. That makes it more difficult to open the doors and get in and out of a car that’s parked underneath a 2 car lift.
Because the 4 post lift’s posts are located at the four outside corners of a vehicle parked underneath the lift, side obstructions are not an issue.
2. Convenience and ease of use
2 post car lifts are a “frame engaging” type of lift that uses two metal arms to support the weight of a vehicle.
The drawback of 2 post lifts is there’s a lot less room for error when it comes to using them properly. You need to correctly identify the right lifting points, which can vary from vehicle to vehicle. Basically, this means 2 post car lifts require more care and precision when you’re using them.
Convenience and ease of use are two factors in your 4 post car lift vs 2 post lift comparison where the former undeniably comes out ahead.
Make no mistake, any car lift requires you to be safety-conscious when being used. A 4 post car lift, however, essentially requires you to just drive your vehicle onto the lift platform.
With all four wheels supporting the vehicle’s weight, there’s no guesswork and extra time spent ensuring your vehicle is aligned perfectly to be safely lifted.
3. Safety considerations
For those that don’t own one, using a car lift can be somewhat intimidating. Vehicles weigh thousands of pounds and it’s understandable to be a little nervous parking an expensive vehicle above another expensive vehicle.
Identifying the proper lifting points when using a 2 post lift is essential in order to store your vehicle safely. Otherwise, you’ll have a hoisted vehicle with an unbalanced center of gravity, which increases the risk of a vehicle falling.
You don’t have to be a physics genius to understand that a 4 post car lift that has twice as many posts as a 2 post lift provides more stability.
This factor, along with the relative simplicity of using a 4 post lift, is a big reason why they’re a more attractive option for some homeowners. It simply gives them more peace of mind. 4 post lifts are also considered a safer option for heavier vehicles and for long-term storage.
Any car lift made by a reputable manufacturer should adhere to the strictest safety standards, be ALI-certified, and be installed by a pro. Regular car lift maintenance is also important.
Any 2 post and 4 post car lift should have some sort of safety lock feature and likely a hydraulic flow restrictor feature. All 4 post lifts will also include front and rear wheel chocks, to prevent vehicles from rolling off the front or back of the lifting platform.
4. Garage space occupied by the car lift
Both 4 post car lifts and 2 post lifts take advantage of the usable vertical space in your garage. You’ll obviously want to make sure there’s an adequate amount of overhead clearance room in your garage for your car lift to operate properly.
That means taking factors like the location of your garage door opener, how high your garage doors open, and the placement of things like storage racks and lighting into account. A high lift conversion modification is one option to create more room for a car lift to be installed.
When it comes to 4 post car lift vs 2 post lift pros and cons, it’s true that a 2 post lift takes up less space in a garage. If you have a smaller garage or a smaller budget to work with, it might be your only option.
If your budget and the amount of room in your garage aren’t issues, however, you’ll probably be happier with what a 4 post car lift offers.
5. Ease of installation
Because safety is of paramount importance when operating a car lift, installing one should definitely not be a DIY project unless you really know what you’re doing.
Car lifts are also difficult to install because of their weight (a typical 4 post car lift can weigh anywhere from 1,800-2,500 pounds).
A trusted car lift installer will know how to inspect your garage floor to make sure the concrete is thick enough to handle the substantial weight it has to support. Having a concrete slab 4-5 inches thick is generally recommended.
All 2 post car lifts need to be anchored and an installer has to take into account the condition of the floor, along with the locations of floor cracks and seams before putting in the anchors. Because of their better stability, most 4 post lifts don’t need anchors.
You also have to know what you’re doing when it comes to the electrical work for a car lift installation. Many car lifts use a 110V motor that will work easily with electrical systems used in most garages.
Some car lifts use a 220V motor, however. For these lift models, you’ll likely need an electrician to upgrade your garage’s electrical system to handle the higher voltage.
6. Extra car lift functionality
For some, extra car storage space might be a secondary priority to wanting a car lift in order to do maintenance on their vehicles.
25% of the homeowners polled for that Wall Street Journal survey used their garage for vehicle maintenance.
You’ll get a range of opinions when it comes to the 4 post car lift vs 2 lift debate over which one is better for using as home service lift.
Some auto enthusiasts insist that a 2 post lift is better because of the easier access it gives to the wheels and more areas of a vehicle’s underside when it’s hoisted.
4 post car lift owners might counter that argument by saying they can use what’s known as a jack tray attachment to raise the vehicle off the lift platform in order to do such tasks.
When it comes to versatility, a 4 post lift does give you more storage options. With the right car lift attachment, bulky items like a motorcycle, riding lawn mower, or snowblower could be stored on the lift.
Another selling point of a 4 post lift for some people is the fact the lift can be moved in their garage if needed. Unlike an anchored 2 post car lift, the 4 post lift has some mobility with the use of a caster kit, which allows the lift to be moved around.
With their typically lower lifting capacities and less material that’s used in their construction, 2 post car lifts are a little cheaper than 4 post lifts.
Keep a few things in mind when setting your car lift budget:
- do your homework and choose a reputable, reliable car lift brand
- cheaper car lift brands might not adhere to the stricter safety standards of an established lift manufacturer
- the extra amount you’ll spend on a 4 post car lift will probably be worth it for the extra convenience and versatility
- budget car lifts might take longer to raise and lower your vehicle and operate louder when doing so
- the weight of the vehicle you’ll be lifting will impact how much you pay for a car lift
Whichever type of lift you buy, consider how much you’ll be saving if you’ve been spending money year after year on remote vehicle storage.
There’s also a higher level of convenience and more peace of mind having your seasonal vehicle stored right in your home.
Also consider how much less it’ll cost to add a car lift compared to undergoing a messy garage expansion.
Double your garage parking space in just one day
If your 4 post car lift vs 2 post lift research has shown you that a 4 post lift makes the most sense for your garage, schedule a free in-home consultation with Garage Living.
One of our garage design experts can evaluate your garage and the vehicle model (or models) you’re looking to park on a car lift.
Installing a car lift only takes a day. That means your garage will be a lot more functional and parking-friendly right away.
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