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Choosing The Proper Garage Car Lift - What's Your Problem?

Four-post hoists are most often used when additional vehicle storage is desired. Even with an 8-foot ceiling, it is possible to stack two cars (depending on their combined height). Keep in mind that while the post height will probably clear an overhead garage door when open, the upper vehicle must also be able to clear the door. If you happen to own a GT40 (that's only 40 inches tall) or any low vehicle like a Corvette, then placing it on top would be an advantage. The typical muscle car is somewhere between 50 and 55 inches tall. Unless you are one of the few car crafters in the world with a vehicle that doesn't leak, you'll also want to invest in a drip pan (or two) to protect the lower car.

The third version of vehicle lift is the scissor hoist. This style can either be a drive-on- or four-arm-style hoist. The scissor lift is most commonly used as a midlift-style hoist that is mainly used for wheel service in which full-height access underneath the car is not required. There are also scissor-style hoists that can lift the car high enough to work underneath while standing upright.

If you are at a point in life where you no longer want to work on cars lying on your back, struggling to get that automatic trans back in place, then there are some important questions to answer about fitting a hoist in your garage. Do you have sufficient ceiling height to accommodate a 72-inch undercar height? Garage rafters may have to be modified or moved to make this happen. Do you want a two- or four-post hoist? Is the concrete in your garage floor thick enough? The minimum requirements are generally 4 inches thick using 3,000-psi concrete with no cracks within 36 inches of the baseplates. Will your hoist require 115- or 220-volt power, and do you have sufficient power in your garage to run this hoist at the same time that perhaps your compressor is running? And finally, do you have enough friends who will help you unload a brand-new Dannmar machine from the truck when it shows up? A four-post, drive-on hoist can weigh 1,700 pounds or more. You won't be moving that by yourself unless you own a forklift.

Consider, too, that once you own a hoist, the fun has just begun. You're also going to need a high-quality hydraulic trans jack and some way to get that monster 4L80E up on the trans jack. You'll also need at least two tall, sturdy, adjustable stands to support the rear axle or exhaust system while you work under your hoist. Finally, you're going to need a nice, big dry-erase calendar where all your friends can choose dates and times when they'll want to use your hoist. The good (or bad) news is you will quickly become the most popular car guy in the neighborhood. This might demand a small waiting room with a couch, a refrigerator, and HDTV for the throngs of hoist hopefuls. Tell 'em they have to buy their own cold drinks, chips, and salsa.

More Info
Direct Lift; Madison, IN; 866/347-5438;

Garage Equipment Supply; Moorpark, CA; 800/261-7729;

Greg Smith Equipment; Indianapolis, IN; 800/262-1950;

High-Tech Data Logging
Chris Sommerfeld; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Can you please tell me which data-acquisition tools and procedures you use to record slalom, skidpad, and braking distance? I would like to record my own testing of the typical magazine tests to track progress on my car, but I can't find which systems will do what I need.

Jeff Smith: I would love to tell you that Car Craft has this very sophisticated and expensive data-acquisition system with a team of engineers dressed in white lab coats to help us with the testing. But frankly, what we do is barely one step above using a stopwatch. Let's go over some of the simpler ways to measure performance and then you can come up with ways to spend the money to do more if you so desire. There are some very cool systems out there.

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