Garage Lifts: The Ideal Auto Storage Solutions

Garage Lifts: The Ideal Auto Storage Solutions

Storage space solutions for your garage (and collector cars)

Article updated October 2011

For those among us who have a one- or two-car garage but own three or more cars, a garage auto lift can be a simple and less expensive solution to increasing your storage area. And it certainly costs less money than building a whole new garage.

If you're like many auto enthusiasts, you have more cars or, rather, you wish you owned more cars, than you have garages to house them. There simply isn't enough space, one laments. But, marvels of science and technology and the beauty of competition are readily available to solve the dilemma.

The answer? Get a lift. It's a perfect way to store another car-safely and carefully-and a lot cheaper than building a new garage.

Ceiling Considerations

Initially, the focus must be on deciding which lift best serves your purpose. Naturally, there are limits to this expansiveness, such as ceiling height. The lift needs a wee bit of headroom to accommodate the vehicle that will sit on the top bunk; some manufacturers' requirements state that the buyer must add the height of both cars plus another six inches to get minimum clearance.

Most lifts will rise up 70 to 85 inches, but in order to accommodate that much height with a car on top, a conventional ceiling is too low. And that electric garage door that retracts along the ceiling will most likely need to be replaced since it can't roll up with the upper shelf car in its way. However, a swing-up door might work, connected to springs rather than a chain-driven motor attached to the ceiling or crossbeam with the majority of the door swinging outward and not into the garage.

Many of today's lifts are manufactured to fit within a standard garage. Assuming the cars to be stored on and below the lift are relatively low in height, this should not pose a problem. Most lifts come with lockable operation switches that prevent unauthorized raising or lowering, ensuring that the lift stays in place. This is important from a safety standpoint as well. Additionally, several lift companies' websites offer up a ceiling lift guide, which would be good for any prospective buyer to study, in order to ensure his or her garage's ceiling height can accommodate a stacking of cars.

Form Vs. Function

From an aesthetic point-of-view, there are many varieties of garage lifts, based on requirements, size, features and price. In each case, you must do your homework so you can buy with confidence. The product has to satisfy your trust level. After all, this lift must be able to support a very special vehicle, which will sit above another special vehicle. You have to be confident both cars will be safe.

All lifts appear to look similar, but the fact is some are more sophisticated than others, and a lot is based on the product vs. options. Nevertheless, each manufacturer must meet exacting industry standards to ensure safety and quality. Most will support up to 7,000 pounds, although commercial or heavy-duty lifts can handle up to 10,000 pounds. In either case, these units are suitable for virtually all passenger cars and most pick-up trucks.

There are lifts for virtually every application or need: two-post auto lifts, drive-on four-post and scissor-style models, in-ground auto lifts, mid-rise lifts and motorcycle/ATV lifts. Many are anchored into the garage floor, while others can be ordered as freestanding, even portable. In some cases, special foundations are not required and installation can take place in an afternoon. Many lifts are hydraulic, while others are powered by a 110-volt, 15-amp motor. Depending on the style and requirements, a 220-volt unit may become necessary. Make sure your garage can accommodate the appropriate power requirements.

Options Galore

Options include drip trays, sliding jack trays (which go from front to back, for example, to be used to perform brake work, tire rotations, etc.), and approach ramps. Caster kits are offered, which will move the lift. This might be helpful, depending on the actual size and depth of your garage.

Price obviously plays a role in determining which lift is right. In most cases, enthusiasts looking for increased parking space, or desiring to permanently house a new member of their collection, will look to the economy of a lift rather than build a new garage.

When garage storage space is at a premium, and your collectible cars need to be protected from the elements, anxiety can set in. Installing a garage auto life is a quick and positive way to boost your spirits and provide a safe haven - and a showcase - for your automotive pride and passion. Not only that, you'll make more storage space for your tools, workbench and other auto repair equipment.

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