The simple answer to this is, in most cases, more often than they are!

Vehicle lift pads are a crucial part of any automotive garage or shop’s equipment. While they may seem like a small thing, failing to change worn lift pads can lead to unsafe conditions and expensive repairs. Despite their importance, many technicians neglect periodic pad replacement, risking damage to lifts and vehicles.

On 2-Post Lifts and Scissor Lifts, if jacking points are used to get the wheels free the lifting pads are the only point of contact between the lift and the vehicle. They must be in optimal condition to ensure a car is correctly supported and remains stable when raised. Properly maintaining your lift pads ensures a smooth, safe lifting process and protects your heavy investment in the equipment. As well as ensuring the safety of the vehicle and any technicians working on the vehicle or indeed anywhere near the vehicle in the workshop.

What are Vehicle Lift Pads?

Vehicle lift pads are rubber or polyurethane pads placed under the lifting arms of a vehicle lift, where they are either hooked over or screwed to a metal plate. They provide a protective barrier between the metal lift components and the underbody of the vehicle during the lifting process. The main purpose of lift pads is create an anti-slip surface between the vehicle and the lift. If the rubber pad is missing, metal on metal can be quite slippery and cause accidents.

Lift pads protect the expensive investment that is the vehicle, while also protecting the lift itself. Most modern lifts are designed to be used with pads and are dangerous when used without them. Pads vary from lift to lift but are generally a rubber compound either circular or rectangular in shape and between 10mm and 50mm in deep.

Due to constant use, lift pads can become aged and worn out over time. Using worn-out lift pads can lead not only to vehicle damage but also poses the risk of the car becoming unstable on the lift, presenting a significant hazard.

Signs Your Lift Pads Need Replacing

One of the most important signs that your vehicle lift pads need replacing is cracking. Over time and repeated use, the material can develop cracks along the surface or edges. These cracks compromise the integrity of the pad and its ability to properly grip and support the vehicle’s weight. It’s crucial to replace cracked pads before the damage worsens.

Deformation is another warning sign. As lift pads wear out, you may notice indentations, flattening, or changes to the pad’s original shape.

Finally, pay attention if your lift pads seem to be losing grip. Slippage while lifting, sliding of the vehicle, or instability can all signal that the tread has become too worn. Declining grip is a safety issue you’ll want to address immediately by installing new pads. Change vehicle lift pads as soon as signs of aging and wear become apparent.

Regular Maintenance is Key

The Garage Equipment Association (GEA) state that all vehicle lifts should undergo a daily visual inspection before first use. This includes checking for hydraulic leaks, any damage, arm locking systems are operating correctly and excessive wear on the support pads.

In our experience we have seen pads that are no longer fixed to the support arms, ripped in half, non-existent or that have been replaced by a block of wood. In all these cases the lift shouldn’t be used until they have been replaced by pads which are approved by the lift manufacturer.

How Often to Change Pads

Vehicle lift pads are subjected to a tremendous amount of weight and force every time a vehicle is lifted. This repetitive stress takes a toll on the pads over time.

In addition to daily visual checks, the GEA recommend that all vehicle lifts should have a full service by a competent person every 6 months. And it is compulsory under PUWER reg.5 that vehicle lifts have a full annual service – again by a competent person.

Replacing your vehicle lift pads is a straightforward process that can usually be done in under an hour.

A Step Towards Safety

Taking a proactive approach ensures your lifts stay in good working order, fostering a secure and efficient working environment.

Here at Automotive Tools our engineers are GEA accredited allowing them to undertake these 6 or 12 monthly services to put your mind at ease. If you have any questions about vehicle lift pads or require any garage equipment, feel free to get in touch with our expert team at 01282 771432 – we’d be delighted to assist you.