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Garages - Hydraulic Lifts - Operation

What are some general tips to know when operating an automotive lift?

  • Know the load limits of your lift and adaptors. Do not overload. The rated capacity is displayed on the manufacturer's name plate.
  • Position the vehicle so that the centre of gravity is in accordance with manufacturers' recommendations.
  • Check overhead clearances before lifting. Watch for antennas, vehicle signs and attachments.
  • Close the vehicle doors, hood, and trunk, and make sure no one is inside before raising the vehicle.
  • Keep people at least 2 m (6 ft) away from vehicle about to be raised.
  • Do a daily safety check of all components before using.

How should I place the vehicle on the automotive lift?

Place the vehicle properly on lift using the following procedure:

  • Put the transmission in neutral position, turn off ignition, close all car doors, and check for overhead obstructions such as radio aerials.
  • Place adaptors or pads in the proper position under the recommended contact points.
  • Check that the automatic chock devices on drive-on or runway lifts are in position before raising a vehicle. Ensure that permanent blocks are sufficient to stop a vehicle. As the lift is raised, observe the automatic chocks at the drive-on end of the lift runners.
  • Raise the lift until the vehicle's wheels are just off the floor (about 30 cm or 1 ft).
  • Check again to ensure that contact pads and any adaptors are set accurately and that loads are not being placed on parts of the vehicle which might be damaged.
  • Lower the vehicle and readjust the lift before continuing further if the contact with the vehicle is not even or if it looks as if the vehicle may slip.
  • Do not bang or move the lift quickly at the top. Raise it slowly for the last 45 cm (about 1.5 feet). Banging the lift will stretch the seal bolts and allow oil to leak.
  • Lock the lift with the mechanical locking device or use appropriate jack stands.
  • Be aware of conditions that could cause the vehicle's centre of gravity to shift and cause the vehicle to fall. For example, before lifting a vehicle, remove a load or cargo if it can shift unexpectedly, or follow the manufacturer's recommendations for removing heavy components like engines or axles and universals. In addition, the removal or installation of parts may cause the centre of gravity to shift and the vehicle to become unstable.
  • Watch for low obstructions when walking under a supported vehicle.
  • Wear suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) when working under raised vehicles; e.g., goggles or face protection for protection from leaking fluids, rust, dust, etc. or a hard hat to prevent injuries from bumps or falling objects.
  • Lower the vehicle to the floor before entering the area.

What should I do when lowering a vehicle on a hydraulic lift?

  • Check that no tools, equipment, jacks or other obstructions are under the lift.
  • Ensure that everyone is standing clear of the lift before it is lowered.
  • Lower the vehicle slowly and smoothly and allow the lift to go as low as possible.
  • Adjust lift arms or other supports, or remove chocks, as needed, so that the vehicle can be moved without bumping into any parts of the lift when the vehicle is driven out of the garage.

What should I avoid when using a lift?

  • Do not leave the controls while the lift is in motion.
  • Do not jam open the dead stick control.
  • Do not raise only one end of the vehicle with the lift. The vehicle could fall and roll.
  • Do not work on the vehicle while it is being raised or lowered.
  • Do not stand directly in front of a vehicle being driven onto a rack or lift, or into a wash or lube bay.
  • Do not rock a vehicle on a lift.
  • Do not lower the lift to rest on supporting jacks. Extend the height of the jacks to support the weight of the vehicle.
  • Do not use wooden blocks or homemade devices in place of proper lifting adaptors.
  • Do not rely on hoisting equipment. Support equipment on blocks or stands.
  • Do not lower the vehicle until all people, tools, and materials are clear from under lift.
  • Do not try to stabilize a vehicle when it is in the air. Lower it immediately.

Document last updated on December 1, 2009


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.