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Old 04-08-2010, 10:53 AM   #1
Gunslinger99
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Default 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I have been reading around on this site about automobile lifts but haven't found a thread that discusses the difference between a 2 post and a 4 post.

For a few years now I always thought that when I got down to buying a lift I would go with a 2 post no questions asked. Now that I am getting closer and starting to think about the purchase more realistically, I am wondering if my initial decision is correct??

The main advantage that I can see for a 4 post lift is the storage feature, one car on top and one underneath and having 4 points of contact on the floor, possibly easier to install/use? Disadvantage cost seems higher and it has a bigger foot print.

I'm a DIY'r and will be using this at home, light auto repairs.

Seems to me the extra cost of a 4 post may be worth it as I can reclaim some of the floor space by stacking cars BUT am I giving up anything? Is a 2-post better for working on cars? Seems it would be in some cases.

I'm hoping someone has been through a similar decision and could provide some insight.

Is the main use of a 2-post lift for auto work and the main use of a 4-post for storage?

Thanks in advance for any and all replies.
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Old 04-08-2010, 10:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Why can't you stack cars with a 2 post?
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Old 04-08-2010, 11:52 AM   #3
Stuart in MN
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

The search function doesn't always work very well here, as there have been a bunch of debates on which one is better. It'll depend on your needs; a four post is nicer for storing two cars one above the other, since a car on a two post lift will have its suspension hanging down unloaded, which some people feel isn't good for the car if it's done for long periods of time. A four post is also easier to install since you don't need to bolt it down to the floor.

On the other hand, a four post usually isn't as good for working on the car, especially if you're doing brake or suspension work since the car is still sitting on its wheels. You can get a crossmember for four post lifts so you can use a to lift the car up, but it's not as convenient.
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:03 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Another possible advantage with a 4 post lift is that many of them have casters, so you can move it around.
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:10 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Yes, the search function on the site is less than functional, I usually use google to search the site.

It has become painfully apparent to me when this subject comes up, that most posters on this subject have either never seen, or just dont know what a "Rack Jack" is in reference to a 4 post lift.

Ive owned both two and four posts, and now only have a 12K 4 post Challenger with rack jacks.

Time and again, all I ever here is " 4 post is great for parking" and thats it. If it doesn't have rack jacks, then I would almost agree.

At this point in my life, you can not give me a two post for free, if that is what I had to use.

A 4 post kicks a two posts ass up and down the street, but it HAS TO HAVE RACK JACKS, TWO OF THEM!!!!, pnuematic or hydraulic.

For those who dont know what a rack jack is, its a rolling jack in the center of 4 post that lifts the car up off the rack so you can pull all 4 wheels. Then the racks themselves turn into a work platform for setting tools and parts, which is the bomb!

The 4 post is twice as stable, especially on larger vehicles, you dont have to crawl around on the F'in floor to set the lift points, and you can get in and out of the vehicle without obstruction (hitting a post). Oh, and you just drive on, and put her up, no screwing around, no dropping the car off the rack, because yo didnt get it right or an arm slid up a leaf spring and then dropped on the floor, can you tell I hate 2 post lifts?

Yes, it takes up amassive foot print, in comparison to a 2 post and here is the real reason I think most don't like the 4 post, cost. A new 4 post with rack jacks is probably 3 times the cost of a new 2 post of the same quality.

You can only appreciate a 4 post after working under a 2 post. By all means, if you have the $, and the space, do yourself a massive favor, and go with 4 post. I would also recommend buying one built with leaf chains and not cables.

The only thing a 2 post has on a 4 post, if you dropping sub frames out, as in FWD drive cars, then you dont want a 4 post. I work on light trucks and suvs exclusively, so I only have a 4 post.

I went through this with a good friend, he went and bought a 2 post (only told me after it was delivered), I installed it for him, when I got there to start the install, I asked "why didn't you buy a 4 post" to which his reply was "I dunno?", 1 year later I was removing the 2 post and installing a new 4 post. He really likes his 4 post, he damn near gave away the two post just to get it out of his shop.

If you look at the pics I posted, you will notice how the wheels are not touching the rack ? They come with vertical adapters if you need more lifting height.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg ATPK-412A-ATPK-RJ6-20.jpg (43.8 KB, 500 views)
File Type: jpg TPPRO-14-17.jpg (44.0 KB, 483 views)
File Type: jpg VGAL-12S-16.jpg (44.9 KB, 468 views)
File Type: jpg VGAL-12S-19.jpg (44.8 KB, 439 views)
File Type: jpg VGAL-12S-20.jpg (39.3 KB, 405 views)

Last edited by Busted_Knuckles; 04-08-2010 at 12:33 PM. Reason: pics
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Old 04-08-2010, 12:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I love my 4 post and the foot print really isnt that bad, when its full or empty i just put it all the way up and the floor plan opens up again, i love it, i too only work on older stuff and can pretty much do all i have to do.
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I went through this decision about a month ago and was waffeling between the 2 choices for almost a month. I have worked as a auto tech using both 2 and 4 post lifts, above and in ground, so I did have the experience of what the strengths and weaknesses of each were. I work on several FWD/AWD cars, so I need the openness to work on those, but also have a F350 crew cab diesel pickup (heavy). I did not have a need for storage, so that reason went away. While I do have a barn for the hoist, a 4 post hoist would have to be in the middle and block access as I have storage racks on the sides. One other issue I faced was that the pickup is fairly tall, plus the height of the ramps, I would have truss issues and would have to modify all of them, with the 2 post, I only had to modify 2 of them.

Cost was not the deciding factor, as I went with a Mohawk lift (System 1A), but I am happy with my decision. If I have to leave the vehicle up overnight or during the week, while at my day job, I just lower it to the lowest possible position (Mohawk lifts have locks every 4", starting 5" off the ground) so I can sleep better at night and not have to worry about an anchor/concrete failure.

To make a long story short, it is really a personal decision, depending on YOUR needs, not what everyone else's opinion is. I know this is not a 2 or 4 post endorsement, but you really need to think about what you will be using the hoist for, realizing that there might be times where one or the other clearly wins, but what about the majority of times.

Happy hoist shopping.

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Old 04-08-2010, 01:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I've only worked with 2 posts lifts... seems good for me. Hitting the doors on the posts is a minor inconvenience. Getting down on the ground to set the arms is a minor inconvenience. Not having this massive hunk of metal 4 post in your garage is nice! A service cart or a rolling toolbox is a nice alternative to using the lift as a toolbox, and you don't have to remove all the tools from the ramps to get the car off.

I do see what you are saying about the 4 post though. That's a nice setup with the rack jacks, but heck ya its pricey. I think for a hobbyist... just having a 2 post rack is luxury. If this was your bread and butter, then I would probably give a second thought to a 4 post. It does seem like a most solid platform too. How stable is the car once its on rack jacks??
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Old 04-08-2010, 01:53 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirsloop View Post
I've only worked with 2 posts lifts... seems good for me. Hitting the doors on the posts is a minor inconvenience. Getting down on the ground to set the arms is a minor inconvenience. Not having this massive hunk of metal 4 post in your garage is nice! A service cart or a rolling toolbox is a nice alternative to using the lift as a toolbox, and you don't have to remove all the tools from the ramps to get the car off.

I do see what you are saying about the 4 post though. That's a nice setup with the rack jacks, but heck ya its pricey. I think for a hobbyist... just having a 2 post rack is luxury. If this was your bread and butter, then I would probably give a second thought to a 4 post. It does seem like a most solid platform too. How stable is the car once its on rack jacks??
Like I said, you only can appreciate a 4 post after working under a 2 post, and BTW, Ive been doing this for 25+ years...bought my first 2 post (mohawk) in 1985. Its like the difference between a 21" walk behind mower, and a 35 hp Kubota diesel powered Zero Turn mower with a 72" deck, both cut grass and make for a good looking lawn, from the tool user side, they are hard to even compare. My first 4 post was a 12k Ammco, purchased new because I was afraid of dropping light trucks (I did allot of fleet work) off my 9k Mohawk (read that as unstable), some how I was able to do the mental math that twice the lift had to be twice as stable. Once the Ammco 4 post was installed next to the Mohawk, my guys would fight over the 4 post... as to who got to use it on what job. Nobody wanted any part of the 2 post anymore. So I saw first hand, that I was not the only tech that was exposed to a 4 post after a 2 post and didn't care for the 2 post anymore.

No, the runways don't turn into a "tool box", when ever you are doing suspension, brakes, bearings, ball joints, you have hand tools out that you are using on that specific operation and at some point you set your ratchet down and pick up another tool, and you either have a cart next to you, or you are walking back and forth to a bench or large tool box. The "runways" allow you to set down a tool, and lay out your rotor, bearings, seal, nut, washer, etc, like a work bench, except its right under you work. You don't unload your whole tool box on the runway, just whats needed at the moment, that you know you will need again before its over. Example, Lug nuts, hub cap, wheel assembly, parts, impact, flashlight, tools, torch, penetrate can.. and so on. And yes, when you are done, you put your tools away, from where ever they came....

Rack Jacks are as stable as the rack itself. Nothing moves. And yes, the 2 posts arms, and the post themselves are a major PIA (after you don't have to deal with it, it sure seems that way). To get into a car in the air on a 2 post to start it while in the air, is a Massive and very unsafe PIA. Not the case with a 4 post.

Last edited by Busted_Knuckles; 04-08-2010 at 01:55 PM. Reason: sp
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:32 PM   #10
oiler
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I've spent 20 years under 2 post lifts
latest one is a 12K rotary
can't stand 4 posts and wouldn't take one if it was free
big footprint,interferes with work,have to duck under it all the time,need 2 railjacks$$
buy a quality 2 post and you're set
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:49 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

My Mohawk 1A is super stable, not sure what kind of footprint the 9000 had but this is huge and is rock solid with light trucks on it. 90% of ours is brake stuff, wheels off work. Takes up 0 space in our shop design when not in use. I don't have a pic but did engine R&R a bit back on a mini van, super easy.
Knuckles has the 4 post experience I don't though, my master wanted this when we got it, but I don't have problems with not getting lift points secure. I can see the getting in the car issues, so far not a real big deal, but as for being solid, don't see it as a problem or unsafe at all. I see the Bendpak deals have a very small print on the floor though. This 1A is 6 times bigger.
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Old 04-08-2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

interesting arguments on both sides. i do not have as much experience as people on here.

i just built my garage and i have one of each. i do not have those rack jacks for the 4 post though.

i have yet to do any work on the 4 post. i dunno if it would be worth the expense to get them.

i do have a jack tray.


hmm...maybe i should try doing some work on the 4 post and see how it goes.


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Old 04-08-2010, 03:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I think the jack racks are a must for a 4 post, good for changing oil without them or for storage. I made some brackets to swing the air hoses around the columns.
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File Type: jpg Hoist 1.JPG (48.8 KB, 228 views)
File Type: jpg Hoist hose swinger.JPG (46.2 KB, 206 views)

Last edited by sberry; 04-08-2010 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:07 PM   #14
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Sberry, from what I can tell, the 1A replaced the earlier 9000 lbs I dont remember it having a "name", they look identical to the eyeball (I think it was nothing more than a name change). Same tower/foot, locking system, dual cylinder, leaf chain, etc. When I say Unstable, I mean E350 extended cargo diesel, F350 box or stake diesel, 3/4 Suburban 4x4, etc., so yes, at the top of the light truck scale, I don't like the way they "rock" on the lift. So I'm talking about trucks that where just a ton under what the lift was rated for. I rarely had a car on the lift. I was maintaining 3 delivery fleets, all most exclusively ford one tons, and some Ford/Step Vans that where duallys as well. That lift is still in a service today, as a primary lift in a buddies shop and it has not yet had a repair since new, its a good lift, I'm not knocking the lift in anyway. Just compared to a 4 post WITH RACK JACKS, its an apple/pear comparison, if youre without limitations.

One other note, I remember from an earlier thread on this subject, on this site, on poster wrote " Ive heard of guys going from a 2 post to a 4 post, but never from a 4 post to a 2 post.... so I know its not my imagination.

Clearly if you don't have the room (for the large foot print), the money for the rack jacks, or need to do FWD service that includes dropping the front or a rear subframe, its the wrong lift (4 post). However, if you do have the room, the money, and your not dropping sub frames,....I dont know why you wouldnt.

On that note, I would take a 2 post over a 4 post with out rack jacks. A 4 post with out rack jacks, is like a car without a trans, it really loses all utility, unless all your doing is oil changes or RWD transmissions. So when I see somebody talking down a 4 post and they have worked under a 2 post to compare, I can only assume the 4 post didn't have rack jacks. Otherwise I just dont get it, all ups and no downs...thats my 2 cents.

One other caveat I should mention, when I sold my Mohawk to my buddy, of course I got sucked into installing it, anyhow, we got to do it twice, the first lift about 3/4's of the way up, his floor let go on one side. So we got to unhook it, move the posts out of the way, cut, dig, pin, pour, re-drill, and re-set. If you guys are doing your own install and dont know how thick you pad is, try putting a heavy, not so nice car up on your maiden lift...best to find out up front if all is going to go well before losing something nice or expensive, just a thought, it does happen.

I managed to dig up a picture that shows both side by side...the picture is circa about 1990. The lift is really not that tall, at the time I only hired vertically challenged mechanics...they had a special going on them, 2 for the price of one....
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Last edited by Busted_Knuckles; 04-08-2010 at 07:56 PM. Reason: added pic
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:10 PM   #15
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I bolted a hanger to keep the ladder off the floor for storage but will likely fab something up at some point, still need to add some wiring yet.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:27 PM   #16
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Quote:
Originally Posted by manansal View Post
interesting arguments on both sides. i do not have as much experience as people on here.

i just built my garage and i have one of each. i do not have those rack jacks for the 4 post though.

i have yet to do any work on the 4 post. i dunno if it would be worth the expense to get them.

i do have a jack tray.


hmm...maybe i should try doing some work on the 4 post and see how it goes.


sigh.... Why not get another 4 post with rack jacks. You'll have room for a new aston martin and a maserati then...

Last edited by sirsloop; 04-08-2010 at 04:30 PM.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:32 PM   #17
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I have a ton of different equipment, some heavier trucks but only 1 one ton with box that I haven't picked yet, several 3/4 and lots of cars/vans. I had an irrigation pumping unit up the other day but didn't snap a pic. I made brackets for the mower but carts are easy with the factory arms.
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File Type: jpg mower hoist.JPG (46.0 KB, 193 views)
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:35 PM   #18
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

Quote:
Originally Posted by sberry View Post
I have a ton of different equipment, some heavier trucks but only 1 one ton with box that I haven't picked yet, several 3/4 and lots of cars/vans. I had an irrigation pumping unit up the other day but didn't snap a pic. I made brackets for the mower but carts are easy with the factory arms.
We used the Mohawk for a bunch wierd uses, like unloading a load of steel before I bought a fork lift, and swapping truck cabs, both big and small, I changed roll back wrecker body with it, and lifting whatever you could get under off the floor... I even used it a an anchor fulling pulling out body work with.

The picture was originally a polaroid... that's why its soo poor.
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Old 04-08-2010, 04:36 PM   #19
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

makeshift engine puller! HAH!
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Old 04-08-2010, 05:09 PM   #20
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Default Re: 2 Post Lift vs 4 Post Lift

I recently got a Bendpak HD9XW. So far i am totally happy with my decision. I too had a hard time deciding. In the end the 4 post was more useful for me because it serves a purpose when not being used as well. Effectively i gain another bay in my garage by being able to store vertically.

The guy that made the "4 post lifts are only good for oil changes" comment has no idea what he is talking about. (Pull a tranny/ drive shaft/ cv-joints etc.) I have a rolling bridge jack that i haven't had a chance to put to much use yet.

Now, all this being said, if i had a bunch more space, i would have went 2 post... or one of each. Its amazing how quickly my 1700sq ft filled up.
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