Tips for purchasing the right in-ground lift

Updated Jul 31, 2017

Which Heavy-Duty In-ground Lift is Best for You?Rotary Lift has released a series of tips for service providers looking to purchase an axle-engaging in-ground lift.

According to the company, heavy-duty in-ground lifts come in three basic lifting styles–standard (full-length pistons), modular (staged pistons) and scissor. Common among the three styles are the following benefits:

  • Dramatically speeds heavy-duty repair service.
  • Provides more working room around and under a vehicle.
  • Provides unobstructed access to all vehicle service areas, including sides and wheels.
  • Engages the vehicle by its axles, so wheels are immediately free as soon as the vehicle is raised.
  • Adjustable to accommodate a wide range of two-, three- and tandem-axle vehicles in a variety of wheelbase ranges.
  • Biofluid compatible.
  • Average 25- to 30-year service life

Rotary Lift says choosing the right in-ground lift for your application involves evaluating your budget, your facility and the vehicles you service. Rotary Lift, America’s largest lift manufacturer, provides expert guidance.

Standard: The original, basic inground lift offers the lowest upfront equipment price. Its hydraulic pistons are non-telescoping, so the lift requires the deepest continuous concrete finished pit, typically 9 feet deep. The pistons have the greatest oil displacement of the three inground lift styles. Rotary Lift offers standard electrical and chemical protection on the pistons, but not all manufacturers do. The power unit on a standard inground lift is the fundamental up, down, forward or back, with mechanical equalization and operator-controlled speed via the push button controls. The lift’s power unit can be mounted in the trench to save shop space, and controls can be either floor- or wall-mounted. It features a wheel spotting dish for axle positioning and a front jack with hydraulic adjustment. The standard is the only inground lift style that offers both recessed and non-recessed types of installation. When the jack saddles remain above ground, the typical drive-over clearance is just over 4 inches.

Scissor: From a budget standpoint, a scissor-style inground lift is the mid-range option. Instead of relying on larger pistons to lift the vehicle, inground scissor lifts utilize a collapsible scissor mechanism with many moveable parts and pivot points to minimize pit depth. Since the lifting components fold in on themselves, scissor lifts can be mounted in an economical finished concrete pit that is only about three feet deep. Scissor lifts require more maintenance than hydraulic pistons, and utilize the least amount of hydraulic fluid per cylinder. An upright control console allows technicians to operate the lift from a comfortable standing position. Computerized equalization and programmable wheelbase settings are available on some scissor lifts, representing a technology step up from a standard inground lift.

Modular: Introduced by Rotary Lift in 2002, modular inground lifts set the standard for environmentally friendly, easy-to-use design. They are entirely contained within a coated steel underground enclosure that protects the lift from corrosion, while preventing oil and shop fluids from entering the soil. The enclosure also reduces installation costs and allows for easy access when servicing the lift. Modular inground lifts are available with two or three synchronized multi-stage hydraulic cylinders to provide lifting capacity up to 105,000 lbs., which is more than any other heavy-duty inground lift. They can be operated at an upright console or, for even greater versatility, the Rotary Lift MOD35 Series inground lifts feature patent-pending pendant controls, letting technicians operate the lift from anywhere in the bay for more efficient spotting. The pendant’s joystick controls provide infinite variable speed control for positioning, raising and lowering the lift, as well as fine adjustment. The electrical console needed for MOD35 inground lifts can be mounted on a wall up to 100 feet away from the lift, freeing up about five additional feet of floor space in the bay. The most sophisticated models of modular inground lifts include multiple programmable vehicle settings, universal saddle adapters, automatic equalization and a clear floor design that provides a zero-clearance drive-through when the lift is in the down position.

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