Operation and Safety Tips for Car Hoists and Lifts

Car hoists and lifts are a common form of equipment used by garages and car enthusiasts. Given the potential risk, it’s important to use hoists and lifts correctly and safely. Here we cover some of the basics to operate hoists and lifts safely and effectively.

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General tips for operating car hoists and lifts

  • Be sure that you know the load limits of your hoist or lift and don’t overload. The capacity can be found in the product documentation and nameplate.
  • Position the vehicle on the lift or hoist so that the centre of gravity is balanced.
  • Before lifting, check overhead clearances. Watch out for any attachments, antennas and vehicle signs.
  • Close the vehicle doors, bonnet and boot. Ensure that no one is inside the vehicle before raising it.
  • Make sure there are no people within 2 metres of the vehicle before lifting.
  • Check all components of the lift each day before using.
  • When working under raised vehicles, wear personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes face protection or goggles to protect from dust, rust and leaking fluids or a hard hat to protect from falling objects.
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Placing a vehicle on a lift or hoist

  • Place the transmission in neutral, turn of the ignition, check for overhead objects (such as radio antennas) and close all doors.
  • Place pads or adaptors in the correct positions under the contact points recommended.
  • Before raising the lift, ensure that the automatic chock devices on the runway or drive-on lifts are in position. Make sure permanent blocks are sufficient to prevent the vehicle from moving.
  • Raise the lift or hoist until the wheels are just off the floor, around 30 cm.
  • Recheck to make sure that the contact pads and any adaptors are accurately set, and the load is not being placed on vehicle parts that might be damaged.
  • If the vehicle is not even or appears that it might slip, lower and reposition the vehicle on the lift or hoist.
  • Watch for conditions that might cause the vehicle’s centre of gravity to shift and cause the vehicle to fall. For instance, before raising a vehicle, remove cargo or load that could move unexpectedly. Also, note that removing or installing parts may cause the centre of gravity to move and the vehicle to become unstable.
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Lowering a vehicle on a lift or hoist

  • Make sure no equipment, tools, jacks and other items are under the lift.
  • Ensure that all people are standing clear of the lift or hoist before it is lowered.
  • Lower the vehicle smoothly and slowly and lower the lift as low as possible.
  • As needed, adjust the arms or other supports, or remove chocks, so you can move the vehicle without contacting any parts of the lift when driving the vehicle away.
  • Before re-entering the area, lower the vehicle to the floor.
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Things to avoid when operating the lift

  • While the lift is moving, don’t leave the controls.
  • Don’t raise only one end of the vehicle with the lift as it could roll and fall.
  • Don’t work on a vehicle when it’s being raised or lowered on a lift or hoist.
  • Don’t rock a vehicle when it’s on a lift or hoist.
  • Don’t use wooden blocks or other homemade devices instead of proper lifting adaptors.
  • Don’t lower a lift or hoist until all people and objects are clear from underneath.
  • If the vehicle is unstable, don’t try to stabilise it in the air. Immediately lower it.