View Full Version : 4 post car lift

10-11-2013, 11:07 PM
I am trying to get feedback from owners of 4 post car lifts. I've searched the internet and all I find are ads and more ads. I live on a farm and don't have access to the big city and its resources. So thought I would ask fellow home shop machinists if they have any experience that they could pass on to me. As I understand these lifts are activated by a large hydraulic cylinder that through a system of cables and pulleys lift the car,lock it in position,so it can be worked on. Thankyou for your help. Paul

10-11-2013, 11:41 PM
I don't own one, but have used a few and will eventually get a lift for myself. I much prefer a two post lift. The platforms of the 4 post get in the way a lot. If you want to do wheel, brake, or suspension work, you still have to jack the vehicle up while it's on the lift. The two post lifts grab the frame so everything else is clear to work on.

I've always thought that a two post with a drop in table would be handy for getting real heavy items up off the floor to work on or roll into a truck bed.

10-11-2013, 11:43 PM
I don't have a 4 post lift but I do have a 2 post lift.
When I was looking I knew I didn't want 4 post due to what I use mine for. The 4 post limits what you can do, due to the under side of the vehicle not being fully open.
If you want to work on brakes, tires ect. you need to jack vehicle off of ramps. They are good if you work on extremely large vehicles.
Another thing with a 4 post you can move them around.
You're right hyd cyls do the lifting with cables or some use chains.


10-12-2013, 02:22 AM
FWIW, the automotive shop at the school uses only two-post lifts.

10-12-2013, 03:42 AM
I own a Fog 411 four post ramp that is in the barn. Yes it has a central hydraulic cylinder running the length of the ramp which pulls on four cables which go up each post and tension of which provides the lift. Hydraulic power is provided by a 3 phase pump on one of the legs on mine. I imagine you can find a manual online somewhere for any older 4 post ramp and study it if you wish to know more.

You need less concrete/stability in the base, and have less risk of the thing tipping over if something goes wrong. Its also 4 ton working load and as a result I can also pick up every vehicle I own on it apart from the backhoe (that is 8 ton), and use it as a straight reference to various points when setting up.
While you do have to lift the vehicle clear of the ramp, if your pockets are deep you can get dual capability ramps that have a second small scissor lift permanently on the ramp and an integral part of it, then you can lift the vehicle clear of the ramp on a whim for the same accessibility as a 2 post. I dont have this but thats what the latest ones now sport. But I do have a jacking beam, which slides up the length of the ramp on rollers in a track designed for it and has a air jack. Its easy to slide it under the vehicle and connect the air and pop the vehicle is lifted clear.

I'm also happy to park a vehicle on it for storage, it has locking mechanisms in the legs which stop hydraulic pressure loss causing its descent over time.

If you are doing lots of driveshaft and brake work, the ramp does get in the way a bit compared to a two post, but for the reasons above I went for a four post and am happy with that choice.

10-12-2013, 05:03 AM
I have a 4 post, made by bradbury which was a main brand in the UK 20 years ago.
It has a master column with hydraulic pack and ram, the ram lifts one corner of the bed directly and the others via cables/pulleys. There is a ratchet on the master column to stop decent if the hydraulics fail, likewise ratchet locks on each post to catch a cable failure.

As for practicality a set of wheels free beams is almost a must and a jacking beam sure would be nice. I made a tray that slides between the bed to allow jacking, supporting things, and holding a drain tray for oil services. The bed is a handy place for tools when working, but as others say; for exhaust, engine/transmission jobs a two poster would be easier. But brakes, wheel alignment etc are easier on 4 post. often opening the doors on a two post can be difficult if the vehicle is on backwards

If you're tight for space then i'd go two poster, wish i had.


10-12-2013, 09:27 AM
I have a Backyard Buddy four post lift that has served me well for 20 years.
I think they were made in Ohio.
If they are still in business I would check them out.

10-12-2013, 10:13 AM

I'll see if I can find one of my many posts on lifts.


10-12-2013, 10:31 PM
Lot of information about different lifts on Garage Journal.

10-13-2013, 06:07 AM
A four post lift is the only way to go, especially if you are lifting pickups. I've had pick ups almost come off two post lifts..scary!!

10-13-2013, 08:22 AM
I lift pickups all the time on my lift. Just like any tool you must use it right, put the arms in the right spots where they won't slip, and read the lift manual to know balance points of different types of vehicles. Typical lifting trucks on my lift (A-symmetrical) is 2x4's you line up the pillars with the back side of the dash/mirrors, 4x4 trucks you line up the pillars with the center of the dash, extended cab 2x4's line up just a little further back than the back of the dash, 4x4 extended cabs line up with back of dash. Cars is the same deal, fwd 2 doors get lined up with the dash, rwd 2 doors are lined up around the same spot. 4 door fwd get moved a little bit forward as well as rwd 4 door cars. All of this along with pictures is in the lift manual.

The thing to consider is you can't lift anything but a vehicle with a 4 post. Look at my link in my last post to see just a fraction of some other stuff I use my lift for. Here is another, can't do box or cab lifts with a 4 post.


Same truck up on the hoist.


This is not an option on a 4 post.


I lift everything with it! Lawn mowers, golf carts, lathes, you name it. I am even able to lift junk cars off my trailer and/or drop them on my trailer after stripping them down.


10-13-2013, 08:48 AM
VPT nailed it. Versatility is best with a 2 post. I can park a car under my 2 post as well...
+1 on the Garage Journal site. I post there all the time.

10-13-2013, 04:50 PM
It really depends on what you prefer to use it on. For years (in my youth) I worked on a four-post lift, and it was perfect for the job. I built & installed muffler systems (stock & custom). A four-post lift is great for exhaust work, oil changes and transmission work. But, as somebody mentioned, there's a lot of iron in the way if you want to do wheels & tires, brakes or any other axle related service or repairs. Getting the wheels off the ground presents more than a few problems when you're limited to a four-post lift. I'll have to agree with VPT, twin post, side-by-side lifts are probably the most versatile. I have a friend who thought he had the answer, when he built his garage, a few years ago. When they were laying out the forms for the foundation slab, he asked them to dig a pit on one side of the garage (two-car-garage). Well, they dug the pit, and lined it with concrete, installed steps in the center to make it easier to enter and exit the pit. Of course, for anything but oil changes, and transmission services...it's completely useless. There's barely enough room for a guy to turn around in. Anything like a screw jack or a transmission jack won't fit, and guess where the steps are, when you pull a car over it? Yeah, right below the door opening...
For what extra it cost him, he could have run a 220Volt line and had a two-post installed.

10-16-2013, 09:37 PM
[QUOTE=vpt;879659]I lift pickups all the time on my lift. Just like any tool you must use it right]

no argument there. I think if you ask any mechanic that has used four post/ two post lifts you will find the four post lifts safer and less prone to lifting balance errors. All you have to do is just look at the vehicle on a two post life..the damn things are hanging there with the often used frame extensions precariously perched on the main lift arms. A four post life is much safer for the mechanic. I worked in a busy tire/ oil change shop..lifted many crs/trucks per day. I don't need to worry about a pick up slipping on a two post lift because I didn't get the vehicle balanced just perfect.

J. Randall
10-17-2013, 01:51 AM
I have worked on them all, and my personal favorite was the 2 post, front to back. Back post was stationary, front post was in the floor and adjustable for shorter or longer vehicles. We built a pair of heavy duty stands that could be used at either end. You could put them under the frame at the back and lower the entire differential housing down to the floor. Or up front and lower an engine down that had to come out the bottom. If you need to pull a set of heavy heads, put the back up high and you could take them off with hardly having to bend over. Any style is a lot better than working off of a creeper.

10-17-2013, 09:14 AM
[QUOTE=vpt;879659]I lift pickups all the time on my lift. Just like any tool you must use it right]

no argument there. I think if you ask any mechanic that has used four post/ two post lifts you will find the four post lifts safer and less prone to lifting balance errors. All you have to do is just look at the vehicle on a two post life..the damn things are hanging there with the often used frame extensions precariously perched on the main lift arms. A four post life is much safer for the mechanic. I worked in a busy tire/ oil change shop..lifted many crs/trucks per day. I don't need to worry about a pick up slipping on a two post lift because I didn't get the vehicle balanced just perfect.

I agree the 4 post is safer and can be quicker for some jobs. But like mentioned for all around versatility (usually what a home shopper wants) a 2 post is the way to go. Normally a home shop guy will only lift one vehicle a day or so and can take their time to set up the lift right when lifting a vehicle. Personally I need to be able to do anything to a vehicle while it is on the lift and the two post allows that. I have also worked off pretty much every style lift ever made and know that the 4 post would piss me off many times but that is also my own personal situation.

For stability while removing or adding heavy parts a guy should use hoist stands like Randel mentions. You don't want to rely on them but just have them there for just in case.


I put my 8900# diesel X on my two post all the time as well as our fleet of diesel and gas work trucks. This is where a good quality lift is nice to have because of the better pads, arms, and stability.


Look at all that room. Thats my office chair I use for rolling around under vehicles.



10-17-2013, 10:22 AM
one thing everyone has missed is the difficulty of setting the arms under the vehicle on a 2 post lift. At least it is for people with limited mobility (old fat guys like me)

BMW Rider
10-17-2013, 10:56 AM
I have a BendPak four post that I use strictly for a parking lift. I looked at a few brands and ended up choosing the BendPak for its superior construction and quality as well as the fact that it has a wider spacing between the columns for easier parking underneath.


10-17-2013, 11:10 AM
My brother has a small garage but it it tall, so he uses a four-post lift to make room for a second car. He's also been known to yank a transmission from a car on the lift. Not so good for rotating the tires and I do that far more than yanking trannys :)

10-17-2013, 06:50 PM
I also have yanked transmissions out of everything including a john deere riding lawn mower, yeah I put it on the lift to pull the trans. :D

10-17-2013, 07:53 PM
Limitations is the key. If space is a limitation then 2P is good. Unlimited space, then a 2P and a 4P. As for the old and fat guys, not sure how sqeezing around the 4P like in the pic is any better. Unless you have unlimited space... Also, you have to deal with those ramps. Not fun either.

jim davies
10-29-2013, 01:29 AM
Lots of good hoist info here. FWIW, I have worked under every type and the worst of them is far better than any whoreboard made, not to mention the jackstands and jacks that go along with that.

In a perfect world you need both a 4 and a 2 post lift. 4's are better for RWD vehicles
and a wheels-free attachment [that's what Bradbury calls it] really helps, making brake jobs etc. much easier. Air operated scissor jacks on frames rolling between the channels
are really nice, too. Also the corrugations on Bradbury channels make organizing tools
and fasteners a cinch.

2 Posters are a bit more dangerous to set up, but years of experience with students using
both shows you can be safe, although I saw lots of scary stuff.

If I had to choose only one it would be a 4 poster.

Not mentioned so far is the scissor lift type, usually found in the alignment world.

10-29-2013, 06:14 AM
I need one myself, who doesn't, i have found 2 post better for mechanical, but 4 posts seem better for welding as there are loads of elbow rests and jacking points handy, plus the vehicle allignment is easier as you retain shape so much better than 2 posts, door gaps and things easier

10-29-2013, 08:22 AM
Also with a 4 post, that stall it is in is now useless for anything but a vehicle on the lift.

j king
10-29-2013, 09:20 AM
im building a lift right now.I only have 8 ft 6 height.It is a scissor lift that will sit flush with the surface of the floor so not a square inch of space is lost to the lift when not in use and full access to the sides of the car for cleaning and detailing and bodywork.The center area between the scissors is 38 inces wide so ill have clear access to the enter of vehical and be able to wheel my stool down the length of the car Also no door dings or scrapes from posts..Should be sweet.

10-29-2013, 12:06 PM
I too have a two post lift. It has worked out great. Easy tire rotations, brakes, suspension work. It would be more difficult on a four post lift. A buddy has a 4 post lift. His is used mainly for car storage, one above and one below.

10-29-2013, 06:07 PM
Son has a 12000lb 2 post Rotary lift in his garage he works in daily.
When working before for others he worked on a 4 post lift, the two poster is the best, and loaded up properly as Andy stated, there is no reason for it to be dangerous.
The Chinese hoists i see now being sold, i would be leery of. Definetly buy one over rated for your'e requirments.

j king
10-30-2013, 12:51 AM
Here is pic of what mine will be like when not in use.http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v24/ikimjing/1383108156_zpsb4c96575.png (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/ikimjing/media/1383108156_zpsb4c96575.png.html)

This is on topic now since it involves a bunch of machining and welding and fab. Lol!

01-09-2014, 11:09 AM
By far the best 4 post lift on the market is "The Voyager" sold by American Custom Lifts. I have several friends who have purchased them, and it's a high quality lift. It is also ALI Certified, which is extremely important.