If you like to work on cars you probably hate crawling around underneath one, trying to get at things you can’t easily reach – or even see. This gets old after awhile. In my case “awhile” turned out to be decades – which is how long it took for me to finally say enough to crawling around under a car.
I decided to get a lift for my garage. But which lift? More finely, which type?
The latter was effectively determined by the limitations of my garage. I decided against getting a two-post (or four post) lift – the type most people are familiar with, that you see in the work areas of car repair shops – because my garage does not have a shop-high ceiling and so I would not be able to raise my truck or Trans-Am high enough to make full use of a two-or-four-post lift, defeating the point of getting one.
There was another consideration that steered me away from a two-or-four-post lift:
These would need to be permanently bolted to the floor of my garage to secure the lift – and when the lift was not in use would have stood like metal totem poles on either side of one of the two parking spots in my garage. That would have made it awkward to walk in between my truck and Trans-Am and made it difficult to park one of my bikes in between those two.
So I decided on what is called a mid-rise scissor lift, the Autokado X80. It is ideal for me – and might be for you, too.
First, it takes up almost no space when it’s not in use. It folds down, accordion-style, onto its own footprint, which is a square roughly 5×5 or so with ramps on either side that you drive onto and park your vehicle over. There are no posts on either side.
Second, it raises a vehicle high enough to sit comfortably underneath – which makes it much easier to see what’s underneath and get to things underneath. I have already done two small jobs that would have been a big pain-in-the-ass without the lift. The first was to change out the gear lube in my truck’s (manual) transmission. This job entails removing the fill plug on the side of the transmission case and the drain plug on the bottom of the case. (Voice-of-experience tip: Always remove the fill plug first – to make sure you can remove it. If you don’t – and drain the lube/fluid first – you might not be able to replace what you just drained.)
Without a lift, getting at the fill plug is a big pain-in-the-ass. So also adding fresh lube. It entails writhing around on your back, trying to get at what’s hard to see and even harder to reach. With the lift, this job was easy and even fun.
As wrenching ought to be.
The other job I did was to replace my truck’s exhaust from the catalytic converter back. Once again, this job would ordinarily have been a huge pain-in-the-ass as exhaust work always is when you can’t easily get at pipes, brackets and so on and move the various pieces around to get the fit right. With the lift, it was a snap. And – once again – fun.
Third – the lift is portable. You do not have to commit to a permanent site where the lift will sit once installed.
Because it isn’t installed.
The lift comes in one big piece, not counting the four ramp-extenders you install on the lift. It also comes with three detachable wheels that you attach when you want to move the lift. Just raise the scissors a little, slide the wheels on, then lower the lift. Now you can move it around as you would a pallet on a pallet jack.
Fourth, this lift is very ruggedly built and built with more lifting capacity (8,000 pounds) than I will probably ever need. My Trans-Am weighs about 3,800 lbs. and my compact truck about the same. This lift has capacity enough to lift a full-size pick-up, even a three-ton electric one such as the Ford Lightning – and I’ll never need to lift one of those, so I’ve got capacity to spare.
It is also safe – an important consideration if you are going to be underneath your lifted vehicle. It has heavy gauge steel crossbars and a welded-to-the-base ratcheting mechanism that is a reassuring failsafe in the event of a hydraulic failure.
The power unit is available in either 110V or 220V configurations, which is another thing I like and you may, too. Some lifts require the 220V hook-up that your garage may not have, in which case you would have to get an electrician to come out and wire one up for you.
There are some things to be aware of, though, that I want to make sure you are aware of. One thing is that because the lift isn’t permanently mounted, it can slide while you’re trying to drive up and over it. I discovered this the first time I tried to drive my truck over it. The fix is easy. I drilled four holes in the cement floor of my garage, two on the outside of each end of the lift (fore and aft). Into these I put threaded anchors into which I can screw in lag bolts that prevent the lift from sliding while I’m driving over it. These bolts can be easily unscrewed, leaving the flat floor as before.
And that’s all there is to it.
I had the lift up and running the day after it arrived (via truck freight).
If you’re sick of crawling around on the floor of your garage – but haven’t got a garage with a ceiling that’s high enough for a two-or-four-post lift (or that has enough room for the posts) you might want to check out one of these mid-rise scissor lifts.
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