What are Vehicle Lifts?

Vehicle lifts are essential pieces of equipment found in automotive repair shops, garages, and service centres. These lifts are designed to safely raise vehicles off the ground, facilitating a wide range of services, including oil changes, brake repairs, exhaust system replacements, suspension work, and even engine overhauls. By providing unobstructed access to the vehicle’s underside, these lifts enable mechanics to diagnose and address issues quickly and accurately, improving the quality of service and customer satisfaction.

At Automotive Tools, we specialise in high-quality tools and garage equipment, including a variety of vehicle lifts that cater to all your needs. In this blog we will delve into the key features, benefits, and limitations of both 2-post lifts and 4-post lifts to help you decide which one suits you best.

Types of Vehicle Lifts

The most common types of vehicle lifts in the UK are: 2-post lifts and 4-post lifts.

As the name suggests, 2-post vehicle lifts have two vertical posts, one at each side, with either a horizontal overhead beam or a baseplate connecting them. The vehicle is raised by lifting arms or pads that securely grip the designated lifting points on the vehicle’s undercarriage.

4-Post Vehicle Lifts feature a post at each corner. Instead of lifting arms, these lifts have a flat runaway ramp or platform that allows the vehicle to be driven onto the lift. The entire platform then rises, lifting the vehicle evenly from the wheels or tyres.

2-Post Vehicle Lifts

One of the primary advantages of 2-post lifts compared to 4-post lifts is their space-saving design. With the posts positioned centrally on either side if the vehicle with nothing at the front or rear, they take up minimal floor space, making them ideal for smaller workshops or garages with limited space. Additionally, the wheel free design allows you to easily remove wheels for maintenance, repairs, or modifications.

The operation of 2-post lifts is relatively straightforward. Mechanical or electro-hydraulic power systems are used to raise and lower the lift, ensuring smooth and controlled movement. Many modern lifts also incorporate safety features such as automatic safety locks, which engage at specific intervals to prevent accidental lowering in case of power failure or hydraulic failure.

However, 2-post lifts do have some limitations. Historically they have had lower lifting capacities than 4 post lifts but this is no longer the case. OMCN’s range of 2-post lifts includes an 8 Ton model. Also extra care must also be taken when removing large components for example the engine, as the change in centre of gravity can cause the vehicle to become unstable.

4-Post Vehicle Lifts

A 4-post lift typically consists of four sturdy columns, and a flat platform designed to accommodate the entire vehicle. The vehicle is driven straight on to the lift, without having to find jacking points, which saves time when lifting a vehicle. Additionally, the open-floor design of 4-post lifts allows for unobstructed access to the vehicle from all sides. This makes them a very popular choice in MOT bays when the lift is used purely for inspections. The platforms of 4-post lifts, however, can hinder working underneath the vehicles on gearboxes or exhaust systems.

Another drawback of 4-post lifts is they typically require more floor space compared to 2-post lifts. Additionally, the installation process for 4-post lifts can be more complex and may require additional site preparation.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Vehicle Lift

The decision between a 2-post or 4-post lift will depend on your specific needs, workspace constraints, and the types of vehicles you’ll be servicing. Here are some crucial considerations to keep in mind…

Space and Layout Requirements

If you have a spacious workshop or garage, a 4-post lift may be the more suitable choice, as it offers greater flexibility and accessibility. However, if space is at a premium, a 2-post lift could be the more practical option, allowing you to maximise the available floor space while still providing the necessary lifting capabilities.

Type of Work

The major obvious difference between 2- and 4-post lifts is how the vehicle is raised. 2-post lifts from jacking points and 4-post from the wheels. With this in mind if you are going to be working on the wheels, brakes, hubs, etc. it would be much easier to use a 2-post lift as the wheels a already free. You would need a secondary lift from either a jacking beam or secondary lifting platform built into the 4-post lift to release the wheels.

Installation and Maintenance

2-post lifts typically have a more straightforward installation process, as they involve fewer components and require less floor space. However, they require a very good concrete floor to be installed on. This is especially important with baseless 2-post lifts, as all the force is pulling on the anchor bolts in a small area.

On the other hand, 4-post lifts tend to have a more involved installation process due to their larger size and additional components. They still require a level, concrete floor capable of supporting the weight of the lift and the vehicles it will be lifting. However this is not a critical, as the force is spread out evenly over a wider area.

Regarding maintenance, both types of lifts require regular inspections and servicing to ensure safe and efficient operation. Nearly all 4-post lifts are driven hydraulically and have wire ropes which hold the weight of the vehicle. These cables should be changed every 6 years.

2-post lifts – if mechanical will probably require the load bearing nuts to be changed periodically through out its lifespan. OMCN’s hydraulic 2-post lifts require very little maintenance, as the carriages are balanced hydraulically through an electronic system. This is usually done with a cable, which will wear and need replacing on other manufacturers lifts.

Cost Considerations

When it comes to choosing between a 2-post or 4-post vehicle lift, cost is often a significant factor. Both options have different initial investment and operating costs that should be carefully evaluated.

The initial investment for a 2-post lift is generally lower compared to a 4-post lift. However, it’s important to consider the long-term costs associated with each type of lift.

4-post lifts typically have a higher upfront cost but can accommodate a wider range of vehicles, which can translate into increased productivity and revenue.

It’s essential to factor in the cost of installation as well. Ultimately, the choice between a 2-post or 4-post lift will depend on your specific needs, budget, and the anticipated volume of work.

Safety Aspects

Safety should be the top priority when operating any vehicle lift.

For 2-post lifts, one of the critical safety features is the automatic arm restraint system. This system prevents the arms from falling or swinging out, which could potentially cause severe damage or injury. Additionally, most 2-post lifts are equipped with overhead safety shutoffs that automatically stop the lift if an obstruction is detected, preventing potential crushing hazards.

On the other hand, 4-post lifts offer a more stable and secure platform for lifting vehicles. The four-post design provides a solid foundation and minimises the risk of tipping or swaying during operation. Many 4-post lifts also feature built-in safety locks that engage at various heights, ensuring the lift remains securely in place even in the event of a power failure or hydraulic malfunction.

Lift Capacity

2-post lifts generally support less weight, making them suitable for most cars and light trucks. In contrast, 4-post lifts handle heavier loads, ideal for larger vehicles like RVs and trucks.

Choosing a lift with adequate capacity is crucial to accommodate the weight of the vehicles serviced, ensuring safe and sustainable operation.


Consider the types of vehicles you’ll be working on. If you primarily service larger vehicles, such as trucks or SUVs, a 4-post lift may provide better accessibility and stability. For smaller vehicles like cars and light trucks, either lift type could work well.

Ultimately, the decision between a 2-post or 4-post vehicle lift should be based on a careful evaluation of your specific needs, budget, and workspace constraints.

Expert Assistance at Automotive Tools

We understand the critical role that vehicle lifts play in a functional garage. As an authorised distributor of high-quality automotive tools and equipment, including a comprehensive range of car lifts, we’re here to help you make the best choice for your requirements.

We offer an array of 2-post and 4-post lifts, alongside scissor car lifts and motorcycle lifts, ensuring you find the perfect lift to suit your workspace and needs. Our team of experts can provide you with accurate solutions, taking into account your space, the vehicles you work on, and your budget, to recommend the ideal vehicle lift.