Filed under: Product Reviews
When the MaxJax lift was announced in our forums a few months ago, I decided I had to have one. It’s compact size was perfect for my low shop ceilings (9′) and I figured its portable posts would be great for when I just wanted to get the unit out of my way. In my mind, I considered the MaxJax Portable Lift to be a sort of replacement for my trusty floor jack and jack stands. I had one shipped to Texas as soon as I possibly could.
The MaxJax people were great to work with. After showing some interest, they actually flew one of their install guys to Austin and together, we got the system installed over a period of about two hours on a cold (for Texas anyway) winter evening. I gave a lot of thought to installation location and the MaxJax people really helped me with some of those ideas. See not only do I have shorter ceilings, but my shop is also relatively shallow and I wanted to be able to have a car on the lift with the garage door both open and closed. I used my 1930 Ford coupe as the measuring subject.
After spending some time rolling the car in and out of the garage and placing (and replacing) the posts, we finally found a sweet spot. With the the little coupe parked backwards in the garage, I can get the maximum lift height of 45″ out of the MaxJax with my garage door open or closed. If I roll the car in forwards, my 9′ ceilings still allow me to get to the max lift height with out any problems. However, an open garage door limits my height. I was pretty happy with this setup and we went forward with the installation.
My unit was actually the first production unit to be installed and we did run across one problem. The holes that mount each post to the concrete floor were so perfectly sized to the hardware, that the drilled holes in the concrete had to be absolutely PERFECTLY drilled – straight and square. We missed on two holes and had to remove some material from the post bases to get all of the hardware installed. I’ve been told this problem has been fixed and the mounting holes are now a bit more forgiving.
Another problem we faced was with the concrete. The minimum requirement for the MaxJax is is 2500-3000 PSI 4″ thick concrete. My home is about 5 years old and my foundation proved to be 6″ thick. Perfect. Even so, my floors did chip a bit under the drill bit. While it’s not bad and I believe it to be mostly unavoidable, it is a tad annoying. Livable for sure, however.
Once the posts were mounted, it was just a matter of hooking up the hydraulics, bleeding the system, and checking for leaks. It was an incredibly simple procedure and before I knew it, the MaxJax install man was on his way back to California and I was left with my very own lift. Since I have three cars and a three car garage, I needed to remove the lift to get all of my cars under a roof. I did so with ease and stored the lift up against one wall. In my opinion, this is where the MaxJax really shines. Although this is a very heavy unit, it breaks down into 7 (two posts, the hydraulic system, and four lift arms) very manageable peices and they all store really easily.
About a month later, I burnt up the clutch in my ’38 Ford coupe. This misfortune proved to be the perfect time to test out the MaxJax under real circumstances. Setting up the lift was easy. While it does take quite a bit longer than just grabbing a jack and jack stands, it’s not nearly as much effort as you might imagine. Once practiced, you can easily have your lift up and operational in under 20-minutes.
Once set up, it was time to situate and lift the ’38. I admit it… The first time I got the car up in the air I was a bit nervous. I mean, there’s my “baby” parked almost 4′ in the air and the only thing securing it from absolute devastation is five anchored concrete bolts. It just looks and seems precarious for a guy that isn’t use to using lifts. That said, the ’38 lifted smoothly and was steady as a rock on the lift arms.
And man, having a lift made the clutch install so much easier and more enjoyable. The 45″ lift height of the MaxJax is the perfect height for working under the car with a seat creeper. Removing the exhaust system, dissasembling all of the linkages, and all of the other light work went twice as fast as it normally does. The only problem I faced came when it was time to do the heavy lifting.
The MaxJax safety system is actually two bars that you slide into the posts through a series of holes. You simply lift the car to two preset locations on the lift posts and then insert these bars as a safety mechanism in case of hydraulic failure. The problem I had was that the location of these holes on the posts didn’t allow me to place the car at the exact height I really wanted it when it came time to take out my Muncie. At the top hole, the car was too high and the heavy tranny was awkward to lift. At the bottom hole, the car was too low to smoothly slide the tranny in and out. We solved the problem by breaking all kinds of international laws (I’m sure) and just lifted the car to the needed height while ignoring the safety bars for a few minutes.
All that being said, the MaxJax really did make my life easier. This system is not a replacement for your jack or jack stands like I had initially hoped. If you are just going to change the oil in your car, I don’t know that the effort of pulling the lift out and assembling it would be well spent. However, if you are going to be under your car for more than a few minutes – the MaxJax is damn hard to beat. It’s simple, small, and incredibly conventient for a completely operational lift.
1. Very well made.
2. Stores easily and sets up fairly easily.
3. The 45″ lift height is an absolute god send.
1. The lift posts needs more safety holes.
2. The mounting system still worries those that aren’t engineers.
A great solution for those that do large scale work in a small scale environment.
You can get more information and order your own MaxJax here. They start at just under $2000.
The MaxJax Video: