Do you live in Earthquake country? If so, make sure that the lift is earthquake rated.
Also, make sure that the lift has built-in inter-locks. That will keep the lift from falling if power fails or a cable snaps.
Check the dimensions for these 4-post lifts. You'll want to make sure that you have enough height for the posts (typically about 9 feet) and you'll need to add about 5-6" in total clearance to the car parked below. (The ramp itself is about 5 inches thick.)
Check the power requirements. Some require 220 volt, single-phase power. Some others require 220/3-phase power (but that's rare now.)
I'm in the same boat as you... I'm looking for a lift, but for space consideration purposes, I'm leaning toward a single-post lift. (This leaves more room in the garage for another car.) But the single-post lifts are more expensive and I haven't received any information on whether they're earthquake safe or not. So I may end-up with a 4 post lift anyway...
I've done a lot of research on lifts and when I break ground on my custom garage in the spring, I'm putting in a four post Eagle lift with the center jacking equipment to lift it off the rails if needed. Two reasons:
1) Well built with a great warranty and support to upgrade if
2) Our Lotus club members, Lotus Ltd. (www.LotusCarClub.org)
receive a discount from Eagle for their lifts.
Some additional information on lifts, fyi. It’s free so it’s worth what you are paying for itJ
In regards to a 2 post or 4 post, if you plan on doing a lot of work on the car, I’d look into 2 post. The 4 post, even with a jack tray, is a pain imo. I changed out the suspension on my Exige with a 4 post using a jack tray and the ramps are always in the way. For any serious work I’d go 2 post. 4 posts are great for storage, easy to install, and are very very stable.
In regards to lifts, I researched many manufacturers before I bought mine and found that most lifts are very similar. They break down into two types, separated by the way it locks, which is an important failure point. Here’s some comments from my research…
Post type – Some lifts have square posts; some have “C” shaped posts. From a structural engineering point of view, the square is much stronger; I would not consider any lift that does not have a solid post.
Pad size – Lifts have different sizes of pads. The pad is the square part that sits on the floor, the posts are typically welded to the pad. The larger the pad, the more distribution of weight. If you are building a garage, you can discuss the PSI strength of the concrete you are putting down and the thickness with your contractor. If your garage exists, it probably was not designed to handle the weight of a 1,500lb – 2,000 lb lift plus a heavy car, therefore, weight distribution is a good thing imo. I looked for 12” pads.
Ramp type – There also seems to be two basic types of ramps (the long ramp that the car sits on). Some are three piece’s, two “U” shaped sides with a piece of diamond plate steel welded to the sidepieces. The other type is a solid piece of steel that is bent into the correct “U” shape. A structural engineer I know, who is much smarter than I am, tells me the single piece is better. My lift has three pieces but since it is rated at 7,000lbs, and the heaviest car I have is 3,500lbs, I don’t lose any sleep over it…
Lock type – This is a critical area imo. Many lifts have welded stop points for the lift. If that weld weakens or breaks, you’ve got a big problem. The only lift I would buy is the type where the lock is a hole cut into the post. The way the lift locks is that a pin goes into that hole and the ramp sits on the pin. Many parts would have to fail before you had a problem, the weld on ones do fail.
I’d suggest, even if you don’t buy one, that you watch the video on the www.backyardbuddy.com site. It outlines many of the lift differences and is worth the time before you make an investment into something that can crush your carJ