If you’re the sort of person who likes to work on your own vehicles, you know that a car lift makes everything easier. Sure, easier is what you want—but is it feasible?

A growing number of manufacturers now make car lifts for home use. They can be just as safe and reliable as the ones you see in a commercial garage. What’s more, some of them can double as a way to store your vehicle. Here’s what to look for.

Usage

Car lifts for home use are often rated by their capacity—but they also are sold based on how you plan to use them. A smaller scissor or low-profile lift might be what you need if you’re just planning on using it for regular maintenance.

If you plan to do regular comprehensive work on vehicles in your garage, you’ll want to look for higher clearance. A 2- or 4-post lift gives you access to a vehicle’s undercarriage.

Are you really just looking for a way to reclaim some space? Certain lift manufacturers sell lifts just for vehicle storage. While they’re constructed for long-term storage, they often also give you ample space to park another vehicle underneath.

If you’re not lucky enough to find a climate-controlled self-storage unit nearby, you’ll have to take some extra steps to keep your belongings safe from the things mentioned above that are kept at bay otherwise.

Before you accept the unit, check the floor for cracks and water spots that would suggest either ceiling leaks or water that seeps in from below. The last thing you want is to expose the things you’re storing to water.

How Much Will You Lift?

This is an important consideration. Lifting your lawn tractor or a subcompact doesn’t require the power of a heavy-duty auto lift. And often, the power and capacity determines the investment.

Lifts with maximum capacities from 6,000 to 12,000 pounds will give you the ability to work with most small cars. Do you plan to work on motorcycles? Purchase a lift designed specifically for this task. They tend to be narrower and often have a maximum capacity of about 2,000 pounds.

If you’re planning to work on your pickup truck or SUV, you’ll want to go with a heavy-duty lift. These often are column lifts that are capable of hoisting up to 100,000 pounds. It might be necessary to work through a commercial vendor.

Floor Space

It’s easy to forget about height when thinking about installing a lift in your garage. The average height of a garage ceiling is only 8 feet—and this is often because the height allows for a standard 7-foot roll-up garage door.

You’ll probably want a minimum of 12 feet to be able to lift most vehicles to be able to comfortably work underneath them. Consider a scissor or low-profile lift if you don’t have the height.

Or, consider upgrading your garage. We offer Miracle Truss® designs with wall heights of up to 30 or more feet, and the design of our clear-span trusses make all of that height usable. Check out our gallery of garages for inspiration.

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