Government Product News

Reprinted with permission of Government Product News, May 1992


Gary Dow of the 94th Army Command (Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts) in charge of fleet maintenance, was given the responsibility for purchasing vehicle service lifts for the ten northeast maintenance facilities under his control. Dow’s lift capacity requirements ranged from HUMVEES to 5 ton trucks.

Dow’s justification for lifts fell under a quick return on investment program (Q.R.I.P.). The department of defense conducted a study comparing lift’s efficiency to that of a mechanic using floor jacks, jack stands and creepers. Results showed a 40 minute time saving per vehicle serviced. Based on the number of vehicles being serviced, (under Dow’s command) the lift purchase equates to a $140,000 cost saving in just the first year. “With several hundred vehicles, the 40 minutes saved per vehicle equated to a lot of unproductive time.”

In the evaluation of the type of lifts to install, above ground lifts were favored. As bases are consolidating, the ease of installation and removal made above ground lifts the best choice. Based on our experience at other facilities and a positive recommendation from M.E.E.P. (Management Equipment Evaluation Program) we decided to install ten Mohawk 12,000 lb. capacity two post lifts. The 12,000 lb. capacity lift will service all our passenger cars, jeeps, pick ups, utility vehicles, ambulances and HUMVEES.

Government Agencies–For a copy of the M.E.E.P. (Management Equipment Evaluation Program) Evaluation on various Mohawk Lifts or a copy of the Q.R.I.P. (Quick Return Investment Procurement) reports, please contact MOHAWK at 518-842-1431.

What is the Best Vehicle Lift System?

Reprinted with permission of Public Works Magazine, November 1993

Whether it is the city, county, or state level, government agencies are always trying to find cost-effective solutions to equipment needs. Before investing tens of thousands of dollars in a new product, purchasing decisions have to be carefully researched, and each product’s advantages and disadvantages carefully weighed.

For government motor pools, an important purchasing decision is choosing a vehicle lift. This device represents a substantial investment – a decision the motor pool will live with for 20, 30 or 40 years. There are three basic systems for under-vehicle maintenance: service pits, in-ground lifts, and above ground lifts.

Service pits. A service pit is not a lift system, but simply a way of accessing the vehicle’s underside from a pit beneath it. Requiring an excavation 6 to 8 feet deep, the pit requires minimal maintenance. However, special care must be taken during construction to meet OHSA regulations. With the combination of fuels and sparks in a restricted area, OSHA requires an extensive ventilation system and explosion-proof wiring on electrical equipment to minimize any fire threat. Water encountered during excavation or during the pit’s use means requiring a drainage system. The service pit must have three means of escape. Also, a service pit does not permit tire removal.

In-ground lifts. Among true lift systems, the in-ground lift has been the industry standard for years. This system usually has one, two, or three posts that raise the vehicle either by one its wheels or chassis. A fully hydraulic or combination hydraulic/air compression system provides lift power.

Like the service pit, an in-ground lift needs an excavated area – usually a 4 ft square 6 to 8 ft. deep. Digging an installation site is costly, especially in areas of shallow bedrock. Although below-ground lifts are normally less expensive than their above-ground counterparts, excavation costs can result in cost parity. Being underground though, in-ground lifts are subject to damage by electrolysis, corrosion, and high water tables. While fiberglass insulation can prevent some problems, an in-ground lift repair often begins with a backhoe clearing an access to the piston. Because of its hard-to-reach under ground location, maintenance can be costly and time consuming.

An in-ground lift with one lifting cylinder also creates a significant obstruction under the car. Since the cylinder is directly beneath the vehicle, movement around the vehicle is hampered and under-car-access is restricted. A one-post system usually leaves a 1-in. clearance between the lift and the car. As a result, some repairs, especially exhaust and transmission work, are difficult, if not impossible to perform.

Because in-ground lifts require excavation, they fall under the jurisdiction of state and Federal regulatory agencies. The EPA is increasingly concerned with underground leakage of oil and other pollutants. They recently announced a plan to check in-ground lifts for leakage and to require a “soak-up” area surrounding leaking sites.

Above-ground lifts. Working to overcome some shortcomings of other systems, above-ground lifts have become more popular with constant refinement. As a result, they now compare favorably with other systems, and depending on the situation, can be the better choice, both in practical and economical terms. An above ground system does not require excavation work, only a concrete floor 4 in. deep rated at 4,000 psi. Because the posts are located on either side of the vehicle, there is little to obstruct the working area beneath the vehicle. There is also room for transmission jacks, engine hoists, and large tool boxes. Floor space is better used; and when a repair on a particular vehicle is delayed, it can be raised overhead, clearing the way for another vehicle underneath.

Several design changes eliminated many problems associated with above-ground lifts. For example, the twin posts of automotive lifts were originally located near the vehicle’s centerline. This prevented opening the doors an made switching from under-the-car to under-the-dash servicing impossible without removing the vehicle from the lift. The introduction of asymmetric design solved this problem. The posts can now be set away from the vehicle’s center, offset arms supporting the vehicle safely and securely. For heavier fleet vehicles, the posts are set far apart for easy door access. Another former problem was vehicle clearance. Some above-ground lifts now have only a 3-1/2″ arm height, which can accommodate almost any vehicle.

Until recently, a twin-post design, whether above-or in-ground, had to equalize hydraulic pressure between the two beams by using protrusive floor plates and overhead chains or cables. Floor plates obstruct the space beneath the vehicle, while fixed overhead chains or cable restrict the height of vehicles to be lifted. By using adjustable hydraulic tubes to equalize the posts’ hydraulics, the garage ceiling is the only factor limiting the vehicle height. On some lifts, adjustable hydraulic tubes can be lowered to 10 ft. 6 in., allowing them to fit almost any garage ceiling. If ceiling height is still a problem, several above-ground lift manufacturers offer an underground hydraulic line option.

An above-ground system should include several safety features. A direct drive or chain-driven system provides maximum safety since chains are stronger than cables, which fray, stretch, and require periodic adjustments. A chain’s longevity also required by cable or mechanical screw type lifts. An “all-heights” mechanical locking system with hydraulic back ups is another important safety feature. Twin-post, above-ground lifts are designed to lift different weights from 6,000 to 30,000 lbs. For motor pools that service large vehicles weighing more than 15 tons, such as fire engines, salt trucks, and earth moving equipment, ramp-style above-ground lifts have the advantages over their twin-post counterpart. The biggest lifts can handle up to 120,000 lbs., and if necessary, can be made to fit any wheelbase and track width.

Government motor pools can find many advantages to using an above-ground lift system. With free under car access, installation ease, low maintenance, clear-floor design, and ability to accommodate low vehicle clearance the above-ground lift is increasing in popularity.

A-2.6 Vehicle Maintenance Equipment

Reprinted with permission of Public Works, April 1994

Lifts. The necessary inclusion of vehicle lifts in public works garages often requires municipalities to choose between in-ground and above-ground units. Service pits and in-ground lifts require excavations and consequently fall under the jurisdiction of Federal and state regulatory agencies, such as OSHA and the EPA. OSHA requires that the pit be shored so it will be safe to work around; EPA has become increasingly involved with in-ground installations because of the lift’s susceptibility to leakage. Also, once a pit system is installed, OSHA requires an extensive ventilation system be installed. Explosion-proof wiring must be used on any lighting or electrical equipment. A drainage system of raised flooring is needed if any water is present in the excavation. The pit must be covered or surrounded by a guard rail when not being used. Maintenance in an in-ground system can require substantial downtime.

With above-ground lifts, however, a complete system can be set up and operational in hours. Servicing can continue with no downtime, and vehicles are quickly and easily loaded onto the system, which requires less precise positioning than in-ground systems. Also, with no in ground posts to get in the way, above ground lifts feature unrestricted access to the undercarriage.

The Automotive Lift Institute’s (ALI) Lift Certification Program promotes safety in manufacture and design of lifts. The ALI has contracted with ETL Testing Laboratories, a nationally recognized testing lab, to test and verify that lifts meet ANSI standards. Lifts that meet the ANSI standards will receive the ALI/ETL Lift Certification Label, testifying to their safety.

Lift Basics

Reprinted with permission of PTEN, May 1994

There is no doubt, a lift will improve productivity. Shop owners have reported productivity increases of up to 30-percent from stalls with lifts compared to stalls without lifts. Correctly selecting, installing and maintaining a lift will ensure years of trouble free service; ensuring consistent productivity from the repair stall.

Selecting the right lift for your shop involves more than looking at just capacity and price. Different designs and product features can make a lift easier or safer to use, more durable, or more appropriate for certain types of repair tasks.

Lifts can be in-ground or above ground, and, for the above-ground types, stationary or portable. They can be frame-engaging, axle-engaging, rocker-panel (pad) lifts, or runway lifts.

Lifts can be operated using hydraulic, mechanical, electric, compressed air, or some combination of these power sources. In-ground units are often either all-hydraulic or a combination of air and hydraulic power. Above-ground lifts are typically powered by a combination of electric and hydraulic power.

Today’s lift technology is relatively simple. There are no significant differences on lifting speed or energy use between in-ground and above-ground versions having the same capacity.

In-ground versus above-ground

A shop 101-ft long can comfortably fit nine in-ground lifts in a bay area that would permit only eight above-ground units. In addition to the space bonus, in-ground lifts have fewer moving parts, and for that reason are said to require less service.

In-ground lifts are more costly to install because you must dig an excavation pit. If anything does go wrong, in-ground lifts are also more costly and time-consuming to service, if you must cut the concrete floor and dig to get to the working parts. To cut service and repair cost, newer systems put many connections and working parts near the surface and under access covers that make it unnecessary to break up the concrete floor.

Potential ground and ground water contamination has caused some environmental concern about possible leakage of hydraulic fluid into the soil around in-ground lifts. Lifts do not fall under the Underground Storage Tank (UST) regulations however, as they contain less than 110 gallons of fluid. This would preclude the need for a UST permit. However, soil and water clean-up costs can be enormous, requiring that the potential for any soil or water contamination be addressed.

New fiberglass linings provide cathodic protection to reduce the possibility of electrolysis or bacteriological corrosion causing leaks in the system. At least one major manufacturer is also enclosing its in-ground lift in a polyethylene secondary containment system that prevents any leakage from reaching surrounding soil. Additionally, there is now available a new, biodegradable hydraulic fluid that is environmentally safe, so even if leaks do occur, it is not harmful.

Above-ground lifts can easily be moved. That makes them preferred for facilities in which the shop layout may need to be rearranged for future growth, or where equipment may need to be relocated if the shop lease is not renewed.

According to several manufacturers, about 75- to 90-percent of all lifts sold are of two-post, above-ground configuration.

Low-rise, portable lifts

All of the machinery of a portable or low-rise lift is typically under the car, so technicians have full access all around the vehicle with no obstructions from posts.

Low-rise lifts raise the vehicle only a couple of feet off the ground, making them perfect for collision repair shops, tire stores, and brake shops. Height can be set just where the technician needs it in order to work on wheels or brakes without having to stoop or kneel, and for the painter or metal man to easily reach lower body panels. The productivity gains and work quality benefits are obvious.

Several of these lifts are equipped with wheels and can be moved around the shop and even outdoors in nice weather, offering an “extra bay” when needed. Some models can by used to carry a vehicle from one step to the next in the repair process.

Units are available that can be operated by shop air, with no electricity or hydraulic fluid required. They are ideal for use near or inside the paint booth, where you don’t want potential spark sources such as an electric lift motor.

With air lifts there is no hydraulic oil leakage to get in the paint finish and cause fisheye or other defects, or to spill on the floor and cause slips and falls.


Determination of lifting capacity needs is very important and should be thoroughly thought out before a purchase is made. Here’s one example to consider:

A utility truck with an 8,000-lb loaded weight needs a lift with an 11,000-lb capacity. Here’s why: Each lift arm can handle only one-fourth of the lift’s maximum capacity. If the truck has its weight distributed with 2,500 lbs. in the front and 5,500 lbs. in the rear, the heavier load on the two rear arms will determine the proper lift capacity. Each arm must be able to hand one-half of the 5,500 lbs., or 2,750 lbs. Since each arm is designed to handle an equal amount of weight, the needed lift capacity is 2,750 multiplied by four, or 11,000 lbs. total weight.

Take the time to determine your shops present and future work load before you place the order.

Floor, ceiling space

Most two-post lifts sold are “clear-floor” lifts. There is no base plate under which hydraulic lines, chains, or cables run to connect the two posts. The benefit is no floor obstructions – the technician has free movement of equipment, jacks, and tool chests while working under the car.

With clear floor lifts, any chains, cables or hydraulic lines are run overhead to connect the two columns. Make sure that the height of the overhead lines does not exceed the ceiling clearance in that part of your building where the lift will be placed. Some lifts have adjustable height overhead lines, so you can get the height you need for fully raising tall vehicles without bumping the lift’s overhead lines.

The advent of an asymmetrical two-post surface lift design is probably one of two major design incorporations considered by purchasers and users of lifts today. The second is “clear-floor” mentioned above.

An asymmetrical design allows technicians to open passenger car doors fully without banging them on the lift columns, increasing interior access and reducing vehicle damage. The lift columns are rotated 30-degrees, allowing the short and long off-center arms to position the car far enough back from the columns that the doors cannot hit them.

But the asymmetrical lift that is perfect for passenger cars may not be right for other vehicle types. For example, some full-size vans may be so long that technicians cannot position the van doors away from the columns and still place the vehicle’s center of gravity properly on the lift. On a symmetrical lift, technicians can position full-size vans so the doors are ahead of the columns, preventing the doors from hitting when opened.

Carriages and columns

The carriage raises or lowers the lift arms. Depending on design, it rides up and down inside the column on steel roller bearings, or plastic slide blocks.

Metal roller bearings create less friction than do sliding plastic or teflon-type blocks. Low friction creates less strain on the pump and motor, offering longer life. As a rule, in order to use metal rollers and bearings, lifts tend to be designed with stronger columns.

Greater steel thickness gives greater column strength. Heavier actual weight – not shipping weight – of the lift gives an indication of the amount of steel in the columns.


Because the weight of a car or truck many times is not balanced from side-to-side, the load on each side of the lift is not equal. Lifts are designed to equalize, or synchronize, the lifting speed of one side to the other to prevent falls. Manufacturers use three primary methods to equalize lifting rates.

One method uses cables to connect the two cylinders so that mechanical and hydraulic pressure combine to raise the two sides at the same rate. Another method uses a “hydraulic fluid displacement system” that regulates hydraulic pressure between the two different sized cylinders to equalize lifting speed. A third combines a single, higher-capacity cylinder on one side with stronger, elevator-style cable to pull the slave side arms up along with the power side cylinder. Each system requires some routine inspections and maintenance to keep the proper balance from side to side.

Some cables are made thicker and nylon-coated, to reduce potential for stretching or fraying. Hydraulic systems must be checked periodically for leaks. A chain or direct-drive system, more prevalent among lifts rated over 9,000 lbs., is designed to handle heavier loads with less likelihood of the problems that cable and hydraulic systems may suffer.

Regardless of the design, all require routine inspection and service, and occasionally some repair.

Safety systems

All lifts should have mechanical safety locks to prevent the vehicle from coming down unexpectedly. Hydraulic safety backup systems lock up when they sense any imbalance in pressure between the two sides of the lift. Some lifts also have safeties that lock when any slack or break is detected in a chain or cable.

Most major lift makers have some sort of locking device on their swing arms, as well. Locks prevent the arms from shifting out of position when the vehicle is in the air. Many arm restraints lock automatically as the lift rises. Locks that must be manually engaged and released increase the chance that technicians who find them inconvenient will ignore or disable them.

Some lifts have carriage release points on each side of the lift, making the technician walk around or under the lift to unlock it before lowering. Others have single point release, so the technician can lower the lift while standing in one position.


Three different vehicle contact pad styles are available: flip-up, screw-in, and stackable pads. Screw-in adapters are infinitely adjustable. Flip-up pads adjust easily to several fixed heights, but have less surface area in contact with the vehicle. Stackable pads allow the lowest possible drive-over arm clearance, and can be stacked as high as needed to reach contact points on high-frame vehicles.

Any shop that works on high-frame vehicles such as 4X4’s, Bronco II’s, Ford Explorers, mini-vans, and Toyota 4-Runners should have the full set of adapters.


In some installations additional electrical service capacity may be needed. Most regions will require a permit and that a licensed electrical contractor install the service from the main circuit box to the lift.

Some companies prefer to install 230v 3-phase power to the lifts as power costs will be less over time. This involves installing the electrical service from the pole if not presently installed. In any event, an inspection of the electrical system will be required.

At times, some concrete work may be required, and occasionally some repositioning of overhead lights, exhaust systems or air and hydraulic dispensing systems is needed to make room for the columns and overhead connections.

Warranty; purchase price

How long is the warranty period: Does it cover everything, including the cylinder and power unit? Does the manufacturer and, more importantly, the selling distributor have a good reputation for reliability? Check the length of time it takes to get back in service if there is an equipment problem.

Look for a company that provides a good level of training for equipment it sells. You can get this information by talking to other shops who have purchased the model you are interested in. Ask if the training was adequate, and whether there have been problems, either with the equipment or the service from the seller.

When it comes to price, most suppliers of lifts generally agree: a larger quantity of lifts purchased at one time will, in some cases, benefit the purchaser. All agree that lift pricing is very competitive. In most cases it’s the installation difficulties that will be encountered, and the purchase terms, i.e. cash, lease, open-account, that effect the ultimate price.

When You Need A Lift

Reprinted with permission of Fleet Equipment, February 1995

It should come as no surprise to read that your job is becoming more and more complicated. Vehicle models and types are proliferating. Operational requirements are changing. Component technology is growing in sophistication. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules combine with federal, state and local environmental regulations to generate concerns.

It’s in this environment that continuing competitive pressures require renewed efforts to increase shop productivity and cut costs. This includes the selection of the right shop tools and equipment – in particular, the size and type vehicle lifts. The right one can improve productivity and reduce costs. The wrong one can hinder even the best mechanics on their repair jobs and take up an excessive amount of valuable space.

Indeed, when building a new shop, you may even decide that a service pit might be suitable for your maintenance facility. Except for transit bus industry, however, the trend is away from the use of pits due to high initial cost, local zoning restrictions and OSHA regulations. In addition, technicians cannot work on tires while a vehicle is over a pit.

On the other hand, some fleets still opt for pits in new or remodeled facilities. Miami-based Ryder Commercial Leasing and Services is one. While they do install lifts in many of the new facilities, pits are built more often than not. The company offers two reasons:

  1. With the variety of different sizes of vehicles in its fleet, a service pit is often more suitable than a lift.
  2. Within reason, Ryder provides its technicians with the type of facilities they request. Company surveys indicate that technicians have a preference for service pits. Lift manufacturers suggest that this preference is a result of heavy-duty technicians being unaware of the benefits offered by lifts since there are not nearly as many heavy-duty lifts in service as there are light-duty designs.

Mike Mele, of San Diego-based Mele Amantes Architects, estimates the cost of constructing a typical concrete service pit, 60 ft. long with a concrete stair at one end, 4 ft. deep, with a 4 ft. wide opening to be approximately $62,231.

ROI on lifts

Steve Perlstein, sales manager at Mohawk Resources Ltd., offers a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis done for the Department of Defense to anyone who doubts the value of lifts. The analysis compares a two-post lift to hand-operated jacks and jack stands for light-duty applications.

Using the latter, a mechanic needs 40 minutes to setup, lift and secure a vehicle before he can start repairs. He can do the same job in only four minutes with a twin-post lift. Perlstein points out that a similar time savings would occur by using a four-post, 25,000-lb.-capacity lift for a heavy-duty vehicle.

Cost estimates based upon current market conditions for different types of lifting systems are outlined below. These costs are greatly influenced by government regulation and local soil conditions.


Type of lift — Lift Capacity — Lift Cost — Installation Cost

In-Ground Two-Post — 43,000 lbs. — $15,000 — $15,000

Above-Ground Two-Post — 25,000 lbs. — $9,000 — $1,000

Above-Ground Four-Post — 50,000 lbs. — $35,000 — $5,000

Mobile Column — 50,000 lbs. — $25,000 — none

Parallelogram — 50,000 lbs. — $45,000 — $5,000

These costs can be greatly influenced by government regulation and local soil conditions.

Lift designs

The three major players in the heavy-truck lift field are Mohawk Resources Ltd. of Amsterdam, NY; Advantage Lift Systems based in San Diego, CA; and Rotary Lift, Madison, IN. Mohawk offers above-ground, two-post, four-post and no-post scissor lifts. Advantage markets above-ground parallelogram and in-ground non-hydraulic designs. Rotary has both above-ground and in-ground designs.

All types have advantages as well as disadvantages.

Four-Post Above-Ground Lifts

Advantages: These are easy to load and can be used for both PM’s and service. Portable designs generally have little side obstructions. Platform lifts can service all vehicles. Adjustable runways can lift forklifts with narrow tire width. Rolling jacks provide “wheel freeing” capability for tire and brake service.

Disadvantages: Somewhat wide. Corner posts can get in the way. Tire work is sometimes hard to do. Cross beams can inhibit front-end work.

Parallelogram Above-Ground Lifts

Advantages: These can accommodate most fleet vehicles. They can be portable and have no outside posts to hinder tire work. Relatively small space requirement, they can be flush mounted and have lights in the platform.

Disadvantages: The platform can get in a technician’s way and some designs have a continuous base that can be a trip hazard or inhibit some work. They need additional space fore and aft due to movement of the superstructure when raising and lowering the lift.

Mobile Column Above-Ground Lifts

Advantages: These offer multiple lift application. They’re portable and generally good for repairs that would tie up bays. The use of jack stands allows one lifting unit to be used in multiple bays both indoor and outdoor.

They’re relatively slow to set up, many moving parts and leave electric cables on the floor. Tire work can be difficult.

In-Ground Lifts

Advantages: These require minimum floor space and offer a clear floor when the lift is not in use. Wheels are free as soon as the vehicle is lifted. There are no posts or legs to inhibit side access.

Disadvantages: Poor for steam cleaning and offer no lights. They are often slow to set up and may not lift all vehicles. Pistons get in the way of work for some jobs.

Mohawk’s Perlstein says fleets generally favor four-post lifts because they’re based on known technology, offer good under-vehicle access, and allow entry from the front or side. His company offers scissor lifts for those fleets that do not have the shop space – about 12 to 14 feet for a four-post lift – or that want to flush mount the lift in a shop. Another alternative in these cases is the two-post, side-by-side frame contact lift.

Selection factors

There is no single lift design that will fill all needs. Here are some factors to be considered:

  • Type of vehicles to be lifted and the amount of time it will be used.
  • Initial cost.
  • Is the facility, owned or leased? Does it require layout changes? What are the soil and water conditions?
  • Space available in the facility for the lift, including ceiling limitations, and the amount of work area that will be fully or partially restricted. Vehicle turning radius in and out of the building could be a factor.
  • Maintenance and repair of lift.
  • Noise levels produced.
  • Warranty.
  • Service availability.
  • Will work be performed outside?

All major lift suppliers have developed programs, including computer-aided designs, to assist fleet managers in making the correct selection.

Tom Phillips, vice-president of Marketing at Rotary Lift, suggests that the consideration of the personal preferences of owners, managers and technicians be added to the list above.

Replacing an in-ground lift

While there are no accurate production statistics for the industry, it is estimated that there are 2,000 or more heavy-duty lifts sold each year. Clayton N. Carley, chairman of Advantage, says that in the heavy-duty truck fleet maintenance market the mix on new purchases between in-ground and above-ground lifts currently is about 50/50. In light-duty applications, up to 8,000 lbs., the ratio is about 85 percent above-ground and 15 percent in-ground.

However, for the previous two decades in-ground lifts were the designs of choice. Because of their age, many now are in questionable condition, which brings up the decision for replacement.

Rotary Lift’s Phillips says among the benefits of replacing a malfunctioning in-ground lift with a new one include the facts that extensive digging should not be required, that electrical and/or air supply lines are already available in the bay area and can be reused and they normally offer desirable service warranties – some as long as 15 years.

On the other hand, if the decision is to go to an above-ground model, the hole must be filled with clean soil and concrete repoured over the area with a minimum thickness of six inches, using 3500 psi concrete.

The benefits of going to an above-ground lift include the facts that installation can be completed typically in less than a day once the concrete has cured; surface lifts can be relocated relatively easily and a 230-volt phase power supply is all that is needed in each bay area.

Non-hydraulic in-ground

Advantage Lift’s Carley says his firm has developed a solution to the problems of oil leakage associated with in-ground lifts. Although at present there are only prototypes undergoing life-cycle tests, plans call for market availability this spring.

The new lift’s electromechanical design requires no hydraulic fluid, thereby eliminating environmental risks caused by fluid leakage. The system is suspended from the shop floor and does not require a foundation under its lifting mechanism. Since the entire lift mechanism can be removed, repairs or relocation require no jack hammer, concrete work or extensive downtime.


  1. Operating controls are designed to close when released. Do not block or override them.
  2. Never overload a lift. The manufacturer’s rated capacity is shown on the nameplate affixed to lift.
  3. Positioning of vehicle and operation of lift should be done only by trained personnel.
  4. Never raise a vehicle with anyone in it.
  5. Keep the lift area free of obstructions, grease/oil and other debris.
  6. Before driving a vehicle over a lift, position its arms and supports to provide an unobstructed clearance.
  7. Load the vehicle on a lift carefully. Position lifts supports to contact at recommended lifting points. Raise the lift until supports contact the vehicle. Check supports for secure contact. Raise the lift to desired working height. CAUTION: If work will be done under the vehicle, the lift should be raised high enough for its locking device to be engaged.
  8. Note that with some vehicles, the removal or installation of components may cause a critical shift in the center of gravity and result in instability. Refer to the lift manufacturer’s recommendation.
  9. Before lowering a lift, be sure tool trays, stands etc. are removed from under the vehicle. Release any locking devices before attempting to lower lift.
  10. Before removing a vehicle from the lift area, position arms and supports to provide unobstructed exit.

Uplifting Experience

Reprinted with permission of MOTOR Magazine, August 1995

What do oil changes, brake jobs, tranny pulls, suspension work, exhaust replacements and oil pan R&R have in common? They all go a heck of allot faster and smoother when a lift keeps a vehicle at just the right height for your techs’ experienced hands.

Face it, you’d be hard pressed to find a piece of equipment that’s’ more versatile or important to your shops productivity than a lift. And that fact certainly hasn’t eluded lift manufacturers, as evidenced by the myriad of new designs that have exploded onto the scene in recent years.

Over the next few pages, we’ll explain what it takes to be an informed lift buyer. We’ll start with some of the key questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a lift. Next, we’ll discuss the pluses and minuses of some of the more popular designs. Finally, we’ll focus on what you should be looking for in a lift and a lift manufacturer. Let’s get started.

Careful Analysis

When all is said and done, a lift purchase is a major capital investment. And as such, it requires some careful forethought just like any other pricey piece of shop equipment. Remember once you buy a lift you’re stuck with it, regardless of whether or not it fulfills your expectations. Here are some of the key questions you need to answer when shopping for that perfect lift.

What type of work do you do and what type of vehicles do you service? Shops vary just like lift designs, so the type of jobs you handle should have a major influence on your buying decision. Body shop technicians, for example rarely need a vehicle more than a few feet off the ground to do sanding, grinding or paint work, so you’ll often see low-rise parallelogram or scissor-type lifts in collision shops.

General repair shops, on the other hand, are much more diversified handling everything from brake jobs to transmission replacements. Using the latter job as an example, look for a lift that provides full undercar access with an unobstructed floor to jockey your tranny jack into position. That means an above ground unit with a “clear-floor” design.

The types of vehicles you service is just as important as the type of work you perform. Independent shops will generally tackle anything that rolls in the door, from the smallest compacts to full sized light duty trucks. These shops should look for a lift that combines low swing arms — to accommodate low riding small cars — with a full set of adapters to reach the frames of high ground clearance vehicles such pickups, vans and sport/utes.

What capacity lift will you need?

Determining the right lift capacity is trickier than you think, especially if your contemplating a frame engaging lift. Many shop owners simply look at the heaviest vehicles they service say, 6000 pounds fully loaded and figure a 7000 pound capacity is more than enough to handle anything that comes in the door. Big mistake!

Actually, the capacity of a lift is more a function of its arm strength than its internal mechanisms with each arm designed to handle one-fourth of the load. For a 7000-pound lift, that’s 1750 pounds per arm.

Let’s see how this can get you into trouble: Suppose a plumbers van comes into your shop for an oil change. It weighs in at 6000 pounds, but 4000 of those pounds are concentrated at the rear of the van where the plumbers stores his pipes, fittings, adapters, etc. Each rear arm now has to support 2000 pounds- well over the 1750 pound per arm limit. The lift will still get the truck up in the air, but you’re putting yourself and your techs in jeopardy by getting underneath it. Our advice: When in doubt, get a lift with more capacity than you originally planned.

What’s your shop layout like? The depth, width, ceiling height and floor and soil quality of the bay in which you’re planning to install the lift should always be prime consideration prior to purchase. Many two post above ground lifts use cables or chains mounted in an overhead cover to mechanically equalize the two carriages. Unfortunately, the cover can interfere with the lifting of higher profile vehicles, such as full sized conversion vans and delivery trucks.

Many manufacturers now offer optional extenders for their lifts, which give you added clearance necessary to get those vehicles up to the proper working height. If your thinking of going this route, don’t forget to measure your ceiling height to figure out what length extenders the bay can comfortably accommodate. Rather that overhead cables or chains, some lift makers rely on steel lines to provide hydraulic equalization of the carriages. The advantage here is that the lines can be adjusted to any height or width, and can even be routed underground, if need be. This added flexibility also allows you to install the lift columns closer or wider to accommodate different bay widths.

If your leaning toward an above ground lift, your bay will need at least 5 inches of solid concrete to adequately support the columns that will be bolted to it. If you don’t have that, you’ll need to contract with a reputable concrete mason. In-ground lifts require an excavation pit for the lifts guts, plus repatching of the shop floor once the lift is in place. In addition to the added expense of the inground installations there’s the issue of soil quality to consider. Some soils are more acidic than others. Acid soils, when combined with moisture, tend to promote electrolytic currents, which can pit and corrode the lifts pipes or supply tank and lead to underground fluid leakage-a disaster both environmentally and economically.

The Players

Lifts fall into two basic categories- in-ground and above-ground. In-grounds made their first appearance on the automotive scene in the 1920s, borrowing from the technology found in-of all things-a barbers chair! In general, in-ground lift take less floor space than above grounds, meaning you maybe able to fit an extra lift or two in an unusually large shop.

On the negative side, in-ground lifts are more expensive to install and can cost you a bundle to fix something goes awry underground. And because in-grounds are considered “permanent” installations, they make absolutely no sense for the shop owners who lease rather than own the premises. With the EPA cracking down on repair shops seemingly on every front, lots of shop owners today have become wary of purchasing in-ground lifts for fear of the astronomical cleanup costs they can incur should hydraulic fluid leak into the soil.

It’s estimated that 75% to 90% of all lifts sold today are of the above-ground variety. As we mentioned, above-grounds take up a little more floor space than in grounds, but they have advantages that far outweigh this shortcoming.

Above-ground lifts are generally cheaper and faster to install than in-grounds. They can be easily uprooted and reinstalled if you change or expand your shop’s layout or move to another location. They can also be fitted with power outlets for operating air and electric tools and accessories. Probably the biggest advantage of going the above-ground route is the great variety of lift capacities and styles available.

The two post asymmetric lift has gained tremendous popularity in recent years. This above-ground, frame-engaging lift provides for a “clear floor” while allowing full opening of the vehicle’s doors-basically putting it on par with an in-ground. The asymmetric design is achieved by either rotating the columns slightly toward the rear of the vehicle or putting a bend in the front swing arms of the lift. Critics of the latter method claim it places undue stress on the arms while allowing the beefier columns to take it easy. Proponents counter that there haven’t been any major mishaps and that the design works just fine. Talk to a few lift suppliers and fellow shop owners before making a decision.

As versatile as asymmetric lifts are, they’re not for all vehicles. Some full-sized trucks and vans, for instance, are long that you can’t place the doors where were you want them and still position the vehicle’s center of gravity properly on the lift. Since improper spotting is probably responsible for more lift accidents than all other reasons combined, it may be wiser to go with a symmetric lift if you do lots of truck work. Four-post lifts allow the vehicle to be driven onto the runways. They’re great if you do lots of high volume quick-service jobs, such as oil changes and lubes, and if you work on heavier trucks. Add an optional rolling jack and turntable and this lift becomes ideal for wheel alignments and almost any other type of service.

Full-rise portable lifts are also gaining favor with today’s shop owners. The advantage to this type of lift is that it provides complete undercar access to handle any type of repairs while allowing you flexibility to create a service bay in just about any area where there’s a level surface. Some of these lifts are powered by 12 volt batteries, so your techs can even swing them outside on a nice sunny day.

Don’t Pinch Pennies

We’re all looking to get the most bang for our buck. But shopping for a lift-particularly an above-ground lift-on price alone can end up costing you big time in the long run. If your offered what you perceive to be a sweet deal by a guy in a checkered suit, selling an off brand lift, always ask what’s included with the lift with regard to warranties, freight and delivery charges, installation costs, service fees and adapters. The answers you get could be eye-openers.

With reputable lift makers, freight, delivery and installation are often included in the price of the lift. In addition, you can expect a very generous warranty period covering almost every part of the unit, and service is usually included free of charge.

Don’t forget to ask about insurance. Quality lift makers carry ample liability insurance, so even if your tech gets hurt through his own ignorance, you wont get stuck footing the bill alone for medical or legal fees.

Also think about how long it will take to get a broken lift working again. Better lift companies realize that down lifts cost people money and that their reputations as manufacturers are directly reflected in the service provided by their distributors. Distributors who can’t cut the mustard get axed in a hurry. Expect distributors of name-brand lifts to get you up and running again quickly, often within 24 hours. Lift adapters are an absolute necessity these days due to the proliferation of high-frame vehicles such as pickup trucks, vans and sport/utes. So look at what type of adapters are available, and whether they’re included in the lift price.

Adapters fall into three general categories- then flip up pad, the screw-in pad and the quick connect stacking adapter. The flip-up pad is what you typically find on an inground lift. Its chief advantages are that it adjusts easily to several fixed heights and is self contained. Disadvantages include longer set-up times, less contact area with the frame and a relatively high profile, which may effect low riding cars. The screw-in adapter is infinitely adjustable and provides for a large frame contact area. But even at its lowest point, it may create clearance problems for low riding vehicles. In addition, set-up takes some time because the four pads must be adjusted equally to prevent unequal weight distribution and possible slippage.

More and more lift manufacturers are turning to the quick connect stacking adapters. Think of this set-up as being similar to your ratchet extensions-just keep adding the things until you’ve got the length you want. Stacking adapters can be installed in a flash, offer a large frame contact area and can be stacked as high as needed, yet allow the lowest possible arm clearance to accommodate even the lowest riding sports cars.

Safety First

With 4000 pounds of metal hanging over your head day after day, you obviously want a lift that has every possible safety feature built into it. Any lift worth considering should be equipped with mechanical locks, or safeties, to prevent a vehicle from coming down before its time. On some lifts, the safeties don’t engage until the lift is significantly off the ground, which leaves a small window of opportunity for a mishap. On others, the safeties kick in right away, but must be reset manually when you stop the lift at mid height. Some manufacturers provide automatic engagement of the safeties every few inches. That means that the locks are poised for action from the moment the lift arms contact the frame to when the vehicle is lowered back down to the floor- and everywhere in between.

Hydraulic safety systems are designed to shut down the lift if they sense a severe loss of hydraulic pressure from, say, a burst line. Some systems have the added ability to detect minor pressure differentials between cylinders. So if one cylinder is leaking slightly or you inadvertently lower the lift onto a tool box, the system will automatically sense an imbalance and lock the lift. In 1990, The American National Standards Institute updated its lift design and safety standards (ANSI B153.1-1990) by requiring that all two post lifts be equipped with some sort of restraint mechanism on the swing arms to prevent accidental shifting of the vehicle while its in the air. As a result, most major lift manufacturers today equip their lifts with either manual or automatic swing arm restraints.

Manual restraints work just fine, assuming your techs have enough common sense to engage and release them when they should. Automatic restraints take the technician out of the equation by automatically locking as soon as the lift leaves the ground. And they stay locked until the lift is safely lowered to the floor before releasing. There are so many other aspects of lift safety that we simply can’t cover them all here. But there is an organization that can provide you with any information you might need- the Automatic Lift Institute.

ALI is a consortium of lift manufacturers that was started almost 50 years ago with the intent of providing top-quality lifts and lift information to the automotive repair industry. The institute has worked closely with ANSI to develop lift standards, including the latest version we’ve already mentioned, ANSI B153.1-1990. In the past , ALI members were required to self-certify that their lifts met and complied with the National Standard. That changed on March 31 of this year, when ALI enacted a change to its bylaws requiring members to have at least one lift model third party tested. ETL Testing Laboratories, one of only 12 such laboratories in the country acknowledged by OSHA, was chosen to administer the program. Among the test ETL performs are a maximum load test, a lowering test, a static load test and a structural test, which checks the integrity of the suspension components , mechanical locking devices and the arm restraints under a load. Lifts that pass get an ALI/ETL certification label affixed to them.

Things will get even more interesting for ALI members after December 31, 1995, when new bylaws go into effect requiring that fully 70% of all lifts sold by them undergo the same third party certification process. Tough? You bet! But as a shop owner who depends on a lift for both your livelihood and your life, you deserve nothing but the best. To see if the lift you’re about to purchase passes muster with ALI/ETL, talk to your lift distributor. Or contact ALI directly at P.O. Box 33116, Indialantic, FL 32903-3116. Happy shopping!

What To Look For When Buying a Lift

Reprinted with permission of Professional Tool and Equipment News, May 1996

In buying a lift, our study shows that shop owners consider capacity, design, product features, safety systems, and the manufacturer to be the most important features. Since 87% of lifts sold are 2-post, surface mounted units, we will limit our report to this style.


Twin-post lifts range from 6,000 to 30,000 lbs. Deciding which is best is crucial, as one should never overload any lift.


Most lifts are “clearfloor” lifts. A crucial question is whether the lift uses a fixed position overhead bar to connect the two posts, or an adjustable height overhead hydraulic line. A fixed position bar may not fit in many shops (low ceilings), or will not allow the technician to fully raise taller utility vehicles.


One frequently overlooked feature is the swing arm height in its lowest position (to fit under low-riding cars). Another overlooked feature are the adaptors needed to service truck and vans. Don’t you forget either one.


All lifts should have 1) all-position mechanical safety locks, 2) infinite-position hydraulic safeties as a backup system, and 3) automatic engaging swing arm restraints. Make sure the lift you’re considering does.


Are you buying a name-brand lift, or an off-brand? A name-brand lift manufacturer will generally send his local rep to your shop to discuss your lifting needs and to recommend the best piece of equipment. That rep will also deliver and install your new lift. Name-brand manufacturers offer fully inclusive warranties covering parts and labor as well.

Off-brand lifts on the other hand, rarely have sales or service people visit your shop, and generally will drop ship your new lift. You install it, and you service it. If the lift isn’t perfect, they’ll talk you through the problems over the phone. The same holds true on lift warranties. Do you want to fix your lift that was bought over the phone (or through an equipment catalog) yourself, or do you expect that manufacturer to fix it for you? Will parts be available? Will that manufacturer still be in business tomorrow? Do a thorough background check.

The best advice is to go out and physically compare the different brands of lifts you’re considering. See how the lift is constructed, look at the welding, compare the cylinder sizes, and talk to other users. Choosing the right lift is a decision you should only have to make once, as a quality lift from a know manufacturer will last a lifetime.

Wheel Engaging Lift Adaptors

Reprinted with permission of Motor Magazine, September 1996

Electric and alternate-fuel vehicles are on the way – courtesy of the Clean Air Act amendments. And make no mistake about it, we’re all in for a lengthy learning curve before we get comfortable working on them. That’s assuming we can get them up into the air to work on them!

You see, electric and alternate-fuel vehicles (CNG, LNG, etc.,) have one major service drawback – their underbellies are so crammed with battery packs, external storage tanks and the like that it’s just about impossible to access the frame contact points using a traditional two-post lift. That leaves the four-post runway lift as the only safe, reliable method of getting these vehicles off the ground for routine service and maintenance…until now!

The folks at Mohawk Lifts have taken a novel approach to the problem of frame access with their radically new wheel-engaging adapters. In a nutshell, what these contraptions do is convert a typical two-post frame contact lift into a versatile four-post ramp-style job, allowing you to lift a vehicle by its tires without tying up lots of floor space and at a fraction of the cost of investing in another expensive lift. And although the technology is geared to electric and alternative-fuel vehicles, the company points out that it can also save you lots of time when working on traditional vehicles (especially trucks) because it negates the special adapters and setup time required to properly spot a vehicle.

At present, the wheel-engaging adapters are available only for Mohawk-made two-post lifts with 9,000-, 12,000- and 15,000-pound working capacities. The company says the technology is adaptable to other lifts, however, and that they’ll begin building adapters for these units if demand warrants it. Stay tuned!

Local Business Gives Movie a Lift

By: Maggie McGuire

Amsterdam Recorder – June 2005

This weekend, go see the new movie “Herbie: Fully Loaded.” Don’t go because you want to relive an old favorite (“The Love Bug”) or because you’re in love with Lindsay Lohan, though. Go because an Amsterdam native is featured in the film.

Two hydraulic car lifts made by Mohawk Lifts on Vrooman Avenue appear in the new movie. An A-7 and Tomahawk, both two post lifts, can be seen quite clearly, said Gerri Kaezor, shipping manager, who saw the film last Saturday night at Emerald Cinemas.

“It’s good advertising because it’s in there quite a few scenes,” Kaezor said.

She was proud to see a product from her company on the big screen.

“While they’re clapping for Herbie, I was clapping for Mohawk,” Kaezor said of her reaction.

Mohawk lifts made their first lift in 1981 and has grown to be an international business and the “biggest supplier of lifts to the government,” said Steve Perlstein, sales and marketing manager of the company, which also goes by the mane Mohawk Resources, Ltd.

Some of their more notable clients include General Motors, United Airlines, and the U.S. Post Office.

They make 31 basic models of vehicle lifts in five categories: two post, four post, mobile column, scissor and parallelogram lifts, said Perlstein. The amount of weight the lifts can hold ranges from 6,000 to 100,000 lb.

The thing that sets Mohawk’s lifts apart is that they can be bolted to concrete. Most other lifts must be secured into the ground, Perlstein said.

The company has around 75 employees and services coast to coast and Canada, Kaezor said. Their lifts will soon e shipper to Iraq for military use, she said.

Mostly their products are for “bread-and-butter” vehicles like cars, trucks, and buses, Perlstein said. Mohawk did once builds a train lift once for the Toronto Transit Commission, though, he said.

The larger lifts, like the mobile column and parallelogram lifts, are built and stocker, since they are usually in high demand, Perlstein said.

That is the type used in “Herbie: Fully Loaded.”

Disney Studios contacted Perlstein and asked for his services. As simple as that, on a truck, out to a distributed in California he stuck three more lifts that went to the set.

“Whatever the editing reasons were, someone decided not to use the last one,” Perstein said.

The A-7 needed to look older, so the set designers worked their magic and painted it up, he said.

After the movie wrapped, the lifts stayed in California to be used as demo models.

Of seeing his work featured in a Hollywood production. Perlstein said, “It’s satisfying to know that I had this much to do with that machine.”

This is not the first tine Perlstein has experienced this high, though. A Mohawk lift also appeared in he 1987 Kevin Costner film “No Way Out.” On some episodes of the television show “Monster Garage” a Mohawk life can be seen, and another was featured in a Superbowl commercial for Firestone tires, Perlstein said.

Mohawk Lifts does not pay for placement of their products, nor do the studios offer funds for its use.

“We’ve never paid the placement fee that some of these shows want,” Perstein said.

“I have one condition for lending my lifts for free, the decal stays on the lift,” he said.

Kaezor confirmed that the mohawk emblem is displayed in the plain view in the new Herbie movie.

Though Mohawk Lifts has no plans as of now for another Hollywood deal, Perlstein said, “If the contact us again, we’d do it again.”

An Education in Two-Post Lifts


Is it to make more money or is it to make a difficult job easier?

Do people buy lifts to save time or to save money?

The answer is: People buy lifts for all these reasons.

Simply stated, a decision to purchase a lift is motivated by productivity and profit.
Where profit is not the goal, then cost cutting usually is. A city garage might not be interested in profit, but they are certainly interested in buying a lift which will save them the most amount of time. MOHAWK IS THAT LIFT.

Often a lift buyer purchases a price … in other words, the choice of lift is made without regard to profit or productivity. Instead, the buyer chooses the lift with the cheapest price. At Mohawk, we’ve known from the beginning that PRICE AND COST MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS.

A lift that is poorly designed will cost you valuable time every day you use it. Lost time isn’t part of a lifts price, but it has its cost. We know the extra cost of poor quality and design can exceed $2,000 per year! Mohawk lifts are faster and easier to use! We may not have the cheapest price, but no lift will ever cost you less than a Mohawk.

Every Mohawk lift built does more to save you time and make you more money than any lift made. We pick up vehicles other lifts can’t, fit where other lifts can’t fit, provide access that others don’tâand we provide warranties that other lift companies wouldn’t dare. We’ll show you that a cheap lift is short-term thinking yet your success is long-term.

Following is an abbreviated but in-depth analysis of two-post, above ground lifts and the many different designs available.

You may have noticed that most companies have knuckled under to pressure from competitors to lower their prices. (One company just lowered its prices by 27%.) To sell a lift with a lower price, even the biggest companies have to cut back on materials and quality. Not Mohawk! Mohawk has always used the highest quality materials and designs available because smart lift buyers demand it! We know you want the best because your success depends on it. And you can depend on Mohawk to keep building lifts where performance is more important than cutting materials and production costs.


All Mohawk lifts are made of 3/4″thick rolled steel [-shaped forklift channel columns. This is what makes a Mohawk lift a Mohawk lift! In comparison, most of our competitors use 3/16″ to 5/16″ sheet metal (yes, some only 1/4th as thick as Mohawk’s) that is put on a brake and bent to “form” their columns. Bent sheet metal is stressed sheet metal! Under load it continues to stress.

Ultimately it can (and often does) crack and spread (unbend itself). A manufacturer can’t build it better when the goal is to build it cheaper.

Mohawk’s steel column is inherently stronger than either bent sheet metal or extruded columns. Using a forklift as an example … Have you ever seen a forklift mast bend, break or even wear? Never! This is the kind of strength and solidity you surround yourself with when you choose a Mohawk lift. After nearly 100 years forklifts still don’t use sheet metal posts and plastic slide blocks!

Some of our competitors say our lifts are “over built.” We accept the compliment. Some ask, “Do I really need all that steel? Won’t less expensive lifts work too?” The answer is no! All the “extra” steel in a Mohawk lets you pick up vehicles the other lifts can’t. Some competitors may rate their lifts at the same capacities as Mohawk lifts, but the issue isn’t capacity, it’s ability. You may be able to lift an 80-lb. bag of cement, but can you hold it at arms length? Safely? For how long?

Mohawk footings are made of 3/4″-thick steel plate. No lift manufacturer uses thicker steel.

Furthermore, by making our footings as large as we do, pressure exerted on your shop floor is reduced. Competitive lifts with small footprints that exert a high pressure are bad because they don’t provide a stable footing. Large footprints like Mohawk’s exert a low pressure and are best for any lift’s stability.

Competitive lifts concentrating all that weight in a small footprint exert a lot of pressure on the floor, and don’t provide much stability for the lift, or its load.

Many of our competitors try to compensate for their small footprints by adding 90-degree angle iron to the foot of the lift. These angle irons are an annoying obstruction for a mechanic trying to roll equipment around the shop.

In providing for strength and stability, Mohawk’s design spreads the load. That’s why Mohawk lift columns range from 18″ to 22″ wide. By comparison, most other lifts only have a six inch to 10 inch column width. You never try to raise a 100lb. barbell in the middle. You space your hands shoulder-width for a stable grip. There’s no difference when raising a vehicle six feet in the air.

It’s time for a quick laugh. What if a customer accidentally drove his car into a Mohawk lift? He’d have to replace the car. What if a car were accidentally driven into a competitor’s sheet metal column? You’d replace the lift (and car). Case closed.

The safety locks on all Mohawk lifts are ALL-POSITION safeties. These safeties engage every two inches all the way up. Many competitors’ safeties don’t engage until the lift is 18″ or even 36″ off the ground. Mohawk’s strongly held belief: If a car is only 3″ in the air the lift should operate in total safety! Under a Mohawk lift you feel completely confident and safe at any height. Why would you even think of buying a lift that doesn’t have mechanical safety locks that start engaging as soon as the lift starts going up? Would you get under a car that was held up by a floor jack? There’s no difference between this and working on a lift that hasn’t reached its safeties yet. Mohawk lifts offer additional safety, but not at additional cost.

Mohawk may be preoccupied with safety, but it’s for your protection, your shop’s reputation, your employees, your investment and your customers’ vehicles.

Mohawk carriages are made of 3/4″ welded steel plate. We emphasize welded because most of our competitors build their carriages in the same wimpy way they build their columns: sheet metal, put on a brake and bent. Mohawk’s carriages (see below diagram) grip the arm distributing the load throughout vs. competitive lifts with 100 percent shearing force on the arm pin.

Welding is the most expensive way to build a carriage, but Mohawk isn’t in the business of cutting corners. Welding results in the strongest possible carriage. By comparison, the more times you bend a piece of steel, the weaker it gets.

Mohawk carriages are designed so the swing arm fits securely into the carriage between two pieces of 3/4″ steel plate. The load on the arm is supported by a steel “shelf” underneath, and a snug-fit top. We then use a 1″ steel swing arm bolt to pin the arm into the carriage. The Mohawk design virtually eliminates shearing forces.

To save money, most competitive lift carriages are assembled just the opposite way – the arms fit over the carriage and are then pinned in. Mohawk’s method of securing the arms means less deflection, less chance of bending, and it grips the arm more firmly.

Again, on most competitive lifts, since the arm is holding the carriage (instead of Mohawk’s stronger method of the carriage holding the arm) the swing arm hole pin wears, the hole grows out of round, and the arms will sag permanently.

All Mohawk lifts use at least 16 double-sealed, self-lubricating, steel ball bearing rollers, housed in steel casings throughout the design of our carriages. There isn’t a better bearing for this type application. Years ago, all lifts used steel bearing rollers, but to continually reduce manufacturing costs, most of our competitors have chosen the plastic slider method. (Besides, would you rather be using a lift which depends on a bearing surface or a friction surface?)

If a competitive lift company tells you the heavy steel construction versus formed sheet metal, and steel ball bearing construction versus plastic slide blocks aren’t necessary for a lift, ASK THEM “WHY?” After 50 years forklift manufacturers haven’t changed their design to these lightweight materials! These bearings are maintenance-free. All this equates to your spending more time servicing vehicles and making money as opposed to checking your lift and servicing it.

Instead of steel bearings, most lift manufacturers use plastic/Teflon (R) sliders (aka slide blocks).

These plastic sliders make competitive lifts much cheaper to manufacture. Plastic sliders don’t have the life expectancy of steel bearings. All lifts using plastic sliders require heavy greasing between the column, slider and carriage. Grease is a “magnet” to any grit in a repair shop. As the carriages travel up and down, the grit acts as an abrasive between the lift column and plastic slider. This condition always results in wear.

When the owner needs to replace the plastic sliders, the new sliders will wear even quicker as they’re now rubbing against the scratched steel column. This is similar to a customer driving his brake pads down to the rivets. Once you replace the pads, it’s too late; the rotors are worn. The difference is you can put the rotors on your brake lathe, with the lift column … well, you’ll have to buy a new column.

All Mohawk lifts use two cylinders. Mohawk uses the biggest cylinders in the lift industry. Large cylinders serve three functions: 1) they make lifting the load easier on the structure; 2) they decrease the pressure needed from the pump; and 3) they let, the electric motor and pump work more easily and last longer.

A smaller cylinder has to work at higher pressures than a large cylinder to raise the same load. Higher operating pressures lead to premature wear of the hydraulic cylinders, seals, wipers and O-rings, causing the power unit (motor and pump) to work harder and wear faster.

Higher pressures also cause competitors’ lifts to leak or burst their hydraulic hoses (Mohawk uses steel lines throughout), again leading to maintenance cost and downtime. We put our money where our mouth is and warranty our cylinders for as long as you own your Mohawk lift!

Our 9,000-lb.-capacity-and-below lifts use a leaf chain lifting over the yoke bearings (yes, we use two bearings) to raise the carriages. Compared with competitors cable lifting systems: chains don’t stretch, chains can’t fray and virtually no maintenance is required on a chain lifting system.

Some competitors use a single hydraulic cylinder to raise both carriages. The single cylinder lifting method requires lifting power to the off-side post. To do this, cables (sometimes chains) are run through a set of pulleys from the main to the off-side posts. For maintenance, these pulleys must be greased so they don’t “freeze up.”

Cables have a limited life span, they stretch, need regular replacing and have been known to snap. A cable-lifting system is not as long lasting, nor as easy to maintain as a chain-lifting system. When a cable needs replacing, figure at least $300/day lost income, plus $200-$300 for new cables plus $100-$200 for service for cable replacement. BUT WAIT! IT HAPPENS AGAIN! Looked at on either a short or a long-term basis, the first time the cable fails, that cheaper lift costs more than a Mohawk.

Mohawk’s totally automatic safeties protect operators with more safety systems, different safety systems, and better safety systems than any other lift manufacturer. Often we don’t even refer to many of our Mohawk systems as safeties, To us, they are just integral parts of the Mohawk lift – features that make a Mohawk lift the best piece of equipment in the lift industry. If you aren’t already a Mohawk believer, consider the following:

As shown, Mohawk lifts have all-position mechanical safety locks in both columns that engage the instant the lifting arms engage the frame. Many competitors have full-time safeties operating on the mainside only. The off-side safety comes into play only when a cable breaks.

Mohawk lifts have automatic engaging swing arm restraints. As soon as the arms return to the floor, the arms release to be removed from under the vehicle. Many lift companies’ arms don’t lock automatically. The arms must be manually locked each and every time the arms are positioned and manually released whenever the lift is lowered.

Mohawk’s external hydraulic safety systems consist of velocity fuses plus pressure-compensated flow control valving. These two types of safeties are always “open” and monitoring the pressure within the entire hydraulic system. If a hydraulic line were to burst, these hydraulic safeties would shut the lift down by stopping the flow of fluid. These hydraulic safeties can’t be reopened until hydraulic pressure is applied from the opposite direction.

These three different valves represent additional safety systems not found on competitive lifts. As an extreme example, take any competitive lift and stand it next to a Mohawk. Put a car on both lifts, release the mechanical safety locks, and cut a hydraulic line! What happens? The Mohawk lift won’t come down, while the other lift won’t stay up!

These internal safety systems are Mohawk’s patented system (U.S. patent #45700071) which has been operational for more than 14 years. It’s also a Mohawk safety exclusive not found anywhere else in the lift business.

Steel hydraulic lines are another Mohawk safety feature. Unlike rubber-coated hydraulic hoses, a steel line won’t melt when a hot exhaust clamp drops on it, and won’t wear at contact points where rubber hoses chafe. Steel lines do not swell under pressure as rubber hoses ultimately do, causing a rupture and requiring replacement.

Hydraulic synchronization through overhead steel hydraulic lines allow the lines to be set at any height, routed up to the shop ceiling, cut lower to fit in a low ceiling shop, or routed underground. The versatility of Mohawk’s steel hydraulic lines and absence of a fixed-position overhead cable or floor cover also allows you to install Mohawk lift posts wider or narrower.

What do competitors do? Most two-post lift manufacturers use either cables or chains to mechanically equalize the two carriages. If the lift has a floor brace, the cable/chain is routed through it. If the lift is a clear floor model, the cable/chain is routed overhead through a cable cover. There are two main disadvantages to a system like this: First, the overhead cable cover (light sheet metal) is fixed in position. This cover often will not allow a taller truck or cube van to be fully raised. The obvious reason is that the vehicle roof hits the overhead cable cover.

One “quick fix” some lift manufacturers resort to is extending their columns to set the overhead cable cover even higher. Again, you pay anywhere from $200 to $400 for a one- to two-foot extension. Yet even with these extensions, roof racks, emergency lights and other vehicle equipment can hit the overhead cable cover and not the shut-off switch (and not all lifts have a shutoff switch!). What if an open hood hits the cover? Problem! You will be in the market for a new hood.
Shipping weight: Some manufactures make a commotion claiming their lifts are heavier. Don’t be fooled. Shipping weight does not relate to safety – heavy packing materials that get discarded do not make a lift safer or better built. Installed weight is what affects safety. Likewise, heavy components that don’t contribute to structural integrity don’t contribute to safety. The point is the operational weight of a Mohawk lift doesn’t get wasted on heavy crating, equalizer cables, cable covers, overhead shut-off switches, column extensions and other needless materials.

Mohawk uses corrugated steel lifting pads to contact the vehicle frame. These are big, easy-to-position pads, not flip pads with little surface area. Steel lifting pads are safer and longer-lasting than any rubber and/or poly contact pad. A steel lifting pad contacting a vehicle has a much lower chance of slipping out from under a vehicle than a greasy rubber pad. Furthermore, the rubber/poly pads always wear and are expensive to replace. But if you insist on rubber lifting pads, we’ll happily provide them.

Adaptors are needed for arm clearance when lifting trucks, minivans, 4x4s or any of today’s popular sport utility vehicles. There are three different types of adaptors in the lift business: 1.) is the Mohawk quick connect” stack adaptor system; 2.) the screw-up (well named) adaptor systems; and 3.) the flip-up adaptor system typically associated with in-ground lifts.

Mohawk’s stacking pin system is the fastest, safest, easiest and best. It allows Mohawk to offer the lowest possible arm clearance (3-1/2″ minimum height), permitting easier access under the low-riding sports cars and imports (and it does all this in just about five seconds).

You say it’s not important as you don’t service imports. What about sagging springs or auto makers lowering the cars for increased aerodynamics? Ask yourself, what will you be servicing two or three years from now?

Full sets of Mohawk quick-connect stacking adaptors are standard equipment with our lifts. Most companies charge extra for lift adaptors, some as high as $475 for their full set of adaptors. If you don’t think you need adaptors because you don’t work on trucks, ask yourself if you work on today’s sport utility vehicles.

Mohawk offers the only limited lifetime cylinder warranty in the lift business. Our five-year parts and service warranty surpasses all others. While a handful of lift companies offer a five-year warranty, our Mohawk warranty includes all parts, labor and mileage to and from your shop, and freight paid both ways should a part be needed from the factory. Most competitors include the fully inclusive coverage for only 12 months. Mohawk offers five years’ peace of mind!

Questions to ask before you buy
Beware with some lifts where no salesman comes to your shop and/or no factory phone number is shown on the brochure. Naturally, these lifts are advertised at “come-on” prices. If there’s resistance to having a salesman visit your shop, ask what’s going to happen when you need service on this “bargain lift?”

Regardless of pricing, don’t be fooled. You deserve better – a lot better. You deserve a Mohawk!

Why are Mohawk prices higher than other lifts? Because Mohawk hasn’t cut corners on product quality like all the other lift companies. We haven’t changed from a 3/4″ forklift steel to bent sheet metal columns. We haven’t changed our sealed roller bearings for cheap plastic slide blocks, and we haven’t shrunk our cylinders until they’re as small as your thumb. We’ve simply remained a quality lift builder and the value we provide is greater than ever.

In summary, we’re sure you can see that a Mohawk lift is built like no other lift in the world.

Whether it’s a high-cube van or a low-riding sports car, Mohawk gets it all the way up without the need for floor jacks or wood blocks. With features like automatic arm restraints, quick connect height adaptors, extra lifting muscle, automatic all-position mechanical and hydraulic safeties and many more – a Mohawk lift is easier to use. It saves you time and makes you money that other lifts can’t. If a Mohawk saves you just five minutes a day, that’s more than $1,200 a year in additional income. Other lifts waste 10-15 minutes a day by trying to position the flip-up pads in the right place, or re-adjusting the screw-up lifting pads. And that doesn’t include monthly greasing and never-ending cable adjustments. Now you do the math and see how much less it costs to use a Mohawk lift.

If you’re concerned with the higher price of a Mohawk lift, think about the cost of not owning one, or owning a different brand. Because with these other lifts, the costs never end. We encourage your calls. 1-800-833-2006.

This section is an edited version of a 20-page booklet available from Mohawk. For the full, non-edited version call 1-800-833-2006.