In Focus: Shop Lifts?

Need a heavy-duty lift?

Latest offerings don’t require major install time, cost

Getting under a tractor or trailer is the best way to inspect many of its components properly, and this also makes draining fluids much easier. Lifts that raise the vehicle by its frame make tire and brake work possible, supporting the vehicle safely and also bringing it to a height at which technicians can work without back strain.

While Rotary Lift’s most popular product for Class 8 vehicle service is the Mach 4 mobile column lift, some fleets may prefer the company’s SM18 four-post surface lift for medium-duty applications.While Rotary Lift’s most popular product for Class 8 vehicle service is the Mach 4 mobile column lift, some fleets may prefer the company’s SM18 four-post surface lift for medium-duty applications.

Some of the latest offerings available for shops can go to work without major installation time or expense, while in-floor designs may offer higher capacity and do a better job of getting the vehicle up off its wheels.

Rotary Lift

Rotary Lift’s most popular lift for Class 8 vehicle service is the Mach 4 mobile column lift. The Mach 4 is sold in sets of four or six battery-operated mobile columns. Since the columns are mounted on wheels, they can be moved easily from shop to shop.

Each individual column has a rated capacity of 18,000 pounds, so a set of four can lift up to 72,000 pounds and a set of six can lift up to 108,000 pounds. The lift can raise a vehicle 70 inches in 78 seconds.

Each Mach 4 hydraulic column is powered by two deep-cycle marine batteries and is equipped with an onboard waterproof Minn-Kota charger. It can be used anywhere in the shop – including wash bays – as well as outside. Each column can be moved using its spring-loaded handle.

The Mach 4 uses three communication cables instead of four, which helps make it easy to set up. Column functions are coordinated electrically, so a technician can run the lift while standing at any of the columns. The Mach 4 has locking mechanisms every three inches and a lower-to-lock function so that the vehicle always ends up resting on mechanical locks while technicians work.

For medium-duty applications, some fleets may prefer Rotary Lift’s SM18 four-post surface lift, which is powered by a hydraulic cylinder and has a lifting capacity of 18,000 pounds. Its adjustable latch bar is designed to ensure the runways are level at any of the multiple locking positions. Single-point-release airlocks help save time by enabling a technician to release all four spring-loaded column locks with the push of a single button. The hydraulic cylinder and lift mechanism is located underneath the runway to help protect it and eliminate obstructions. Rolling jacks can be added to lift the vehicle’s wheels off the runways for brake, tire, alignment and suspension work. Alignment kits also can be added to the lift.


Mohawk’s Stenhoj Multiflex 230-450 High Pressure In-Ground Lift is offered in capacities of 55,000, 64,000, 82,500, and 99,000 pounds. A single concrete vault houses both front and rear pistons to help ensure that all service and repairs can be done from the top without the need to dig, while eliminating concerns about rusting walls or moisture attacking the lift’s structure.

The lift – designed to be easy to install, operate and maintain – uses a single high-pressure piston housed in a massive outer chrome casing that slides in a lubricated top bearing for added rigidity and stability under the highest load. This design is not dependent on multiple cylinders or lifting stages.

With 6 gallons per cylinder, Multiflex uses a low amount of oil, and all cylinders and lock bars are chrome-plated to resist the elements while protecting against corrosion. The hydraulic locking system operates automatically whenever the power unit is activated; there are no air cylinders to rely on for lift safety or to service.

The lift’s overhead pendant control runs on a full-length track system that helps ensure the controls are with the operator when he needs them. This helps the operator make certain the lift is set correctly to each vehicle and helps facilitate safe lifting of the most difficult vehicles.

Galvanized shutter plates that move with the front piston at the push of a button offer the safety of a continuous covered work area. A hydraulic geared motor moves the front piston quickly and efficiently into position using a welded linked chain that Mohawk says won’t kink.

Mohawk also offers its MP18 column lifts that roll around the shop floor. These have capacities of 18,000 pounds per column, and four or six columns can be used depending upon the number of wheels on the vehicle. The columns can operate singly, in pairs or all together. A technician can circulate around the vehicle and lower or raise it from the control panel on any of the columns, which can lift the vehicle 67 inches off the floor for use by taller technicians. The lifting forks are adjustable from 13 to 24 inches, allowing them to accommodate tires up to 48 inches in diameter. The communication cables can be disconnected at both ends.

Challenger Lifts

The Challenger CLM Series consists of wheeled column lifts offered in capacities of 16,000 or 18,000 pounds per lift; for three-axle vehicles, the total capacity is 108,000 pounds. The heavy-duty mobile lifting system (4 or 6 columns), along with extra sets of accessory stands, is designed to serve multiple bays with one lift system. The columns can be operated on almost any solid surface, indoor or outside. The lifts are designed to lift any vehicle from small passenger cars (with special adapters) to the largest two-and three-axle vehicles up to 108,000 pounds without pits, hydraulics or compressed air. The mobile lifts also can lift vehicles of any axle length or wheelbase. The maximum lifting height is slightly more than 96 inches.

Challenger’s 44060 four-post 60,000-pound-capacity heavy-duty truck lift is designed for large commercial, construction and mass transit vehicles. Features include large columns with 10 laddered locking-height positions, an independent power control console for technician safety and convenience, dual heavy-duty hydraulic lift cylinders with variable-synchro power control, and drive-on and optional drive-off ramps.

Other features include a large high-tensile-strength leaf chain and sealed roller bearings for maximum reliability, a single-point air-actuated lock release system, a velocity-fused redundant hydraulic safety system, adjustable runway widths, fixed heavy-duty diamond-plated approach ramps for drive-on traction (optional drive-through ramps available) and a built-in rail system for rolling jacks and rolling oil drain pans. The lift is available in standard, extended and extra-long lengths to handle different vehicle lengths. n