Two-Post vs. Four-Post Lifts
What should I get? Why should I get it? What are the benefits of each?
This article will briefly cover the main differences between the 2-post style lift, and the 4-post style lift.The easy answer is that one has 2 posts, and the other has 4 posts, but we're here to give you a little more insight than that.
Auto lifts come in all shapes and sizes. Which one is the “best one” depends on the work, circumstances, and location where one intends to use the lift. A change in these variables might change which auto lift is the best to use. Many auto lifts try to accommodate all types of automotive repairs, however each have their advantages.
Whether you're running a car repair shop from home, or a high-end repair shop, choosing the right lift is vital.
If you are running a home repair shop, and fixing your own car, a classic car, or your friend's car, the lift you get will be on a completely different budget than one designed for the automotive repair industry. Grade of equipment, maintenance requirements, and capacity all vary as widely as does the cost. The point is, you don't need an industrial lift if you plan on home use only. If you are going to use the automotive lift in a professional capacity you need to get a lift that lasts and is built for that purpose. A home lift is not going to cut it in the long run.
Four-Post Automotive Lifts
This is the wheel-engaging type auto lift, with runways to park on, as opposed to lift arms. With cables usually running through the post, and hydraulic cylinders inside as well.
Four-post automotive lifts are the most common solution used in the home enthusiast market. Due to the additional support given by four posts, and their ability to keep the suspension from hanging, these lifts are more commonly trusted for leaving a parked car on it for extended periods of time.
Some four-post home automotive lifts require no anchors in the floor. They can be moved with relative ease when needed, using manufacturer-supplied casters. This makes them a popular choice for some hobbyists and home-owners, as their placement is not “set in concrete” and one can always move them temporarily if needed. They can also be used for storage, for example, when stacking two cars in one spot.
You will quickly find out that 4-post lifts are beneficial for their ability to double your garage space, and they are great for many repairs; but, they are generally considered "limited" in comparison to 2-post lifts simply because of the under-car access.
However, with 4-post bridge jacks, you are able to lift the car off of the runways, making the wheels suspended and opening up a wide array of additional repair abilities for the 4-post lift.
Four-post lifts are usually priced slightly higher than the two post lifts, due to the extra mechanics and materials involved in manufacturing them.
Two-Post Automotive Lifts
Two-post lifts are the best-selling "frame engaging" lifts. They are recommended as the “drive-through” garage solution – drive it in, lift it, fix it, put it down, and drive it out.
These lifts are considered the best for professional shops, as they leave the entire under-car open to repairs; making it simple to drop an engine, transmission, etc. They also leave the suspension hanging, making tire changes easier than 4-post lifts.
With their lack of ability to leave a car parked on them for months at a time, these are generally not considered for parking applications.
There are two types of two-post lifts on the market: symmetric lifts, and asymmetric lifts.
They both work great. However, with a symmetric two-post lift, one needs to take care not to bump the car doors after one has driven the vehicle into position for the lift. There's only so much space available, to open the doors between the posts. Really, it's not a problem providing you stay alert of what’s happening while you work with the lift. There are also wider symmetric two post lifts available on the market that address this problem.
Asymmetric lifts are specifically designed to handle the problem of accidentally denting car doors. Their posts have been rotated at a thirty-degree angles of each other and the front arms are shorter than the back arms – this balances the car’s weight distribution so you don't have to worry about denting the doors (you stop the car about a one third the way in, in as opposed to half-way between the posts – eliminating car-door dent syndrome).
With all that in mind, the biggest advantage of having a two-post car lift is that it works out cheaper than a four-post lift and still provides full access to the wheels (as well as the rest of the car body).