Garages - Hydraulic Lifts - Operation

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

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Follow the manufacturer's instructions and general safety procedures for hydraulic lifts. Operators should have appropriate training before using the lift. 

  • Know the load limits of your lift and adaptors. Do not overload. The rated capacity is displayed on the manufacturer's nameplate.
  • Position the vehicle so the centre of gravity is balanced on the lift according to the manufacturers' recommendations.
  • Check overhead clearances before lifting. Watch for antennas, vehicle signs and attachments.
  • Check the surface the lift is on for cracks or damage (e.g., check the concrete and anchor bolts, if present).
  • Close the vehicle doors, hood, and trunk. Make sure no one is inside before raising the vehicle.
  • Keep people at least 2 m (6 ft) away from the vehicle before lifting.
  • Do a daily safety check of all components of the lift before using. Look for deformation or excess wear of structural components, lift contact points, hoses, wires, drive chains, etc. 
  • 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.
  • Watch for objects that hang low when walking under a supported vehicle.

How should I place the vehicle on the automotive lift?

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Place the vehicle properly on the lift using the following procedure:

  • Put the transmission in a neutral position, turn off the 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. Make sure that permanent blocks are sufficient to stop a vehicle. As the lift is raised, watch the automatic chocks at the drive-on end of the lift runners to make sure they operate properly.
  • Make sure any lift-locking devices (latches) are properly engaged. 
  • Raise the lift until the vehicle's wheels are off the floor (about 30 cm or 1 ft).
  • Check again to make sure 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 reposition the vehicle on 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, axles, or universals. In addition, the removal or installation of parts may cause the centre of gravity to shift and the vehicle to become unstable.

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

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  • Check that no tools, equipment, jacks or other obstructions are under the lift.
  • Make sure 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 the vehicle can be moved without bumping into any parts of the lift when the vehicle is driven away.
  • Lower the vehicle to the floor before re-entering the area.

What should not be done when operating a lift?

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  • Do not leave the controls unattended 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 designed to support the load.
  • Do not lower the vehicle until all people, tools, and materials are clear from under the lift.
  • Do not try to stabilize a vehicle when it is in the air. Lower it immediately.

  • Fact sheet last revised: 2023-10-31