Portable lifts aren’t just for detailing cars

Dan Smith

A portable lift makes car detailing easy and efficient. But it doesn't have to stay in the car. The ergonomic and efficient benefits of using a low-rise portable lift can be safely extended to SUVs and trucks. Ergonomic benefits are a hallmark of a well-designed portable car lift. This is because hand detailing a vehicle can cause muscle and joint pain in the back, elbows and knees. But with a portable low-rise lift, you can put your vehicle into a comfortable working position, so you can sit in a rolling work seat instead of crouching or kneeling on the ground, giving you more ergonomic detail. I can confirm. With a lift, you can remove the wheels to gain full access to wheel wells, brakes, shocks, and suspension components, while eliminating the risk of the car being bumped or swayed from jack stands. If you're lifting an SUV or pickup truck, look for a portable lift with a large capacity. A 7,000 lb rated lift is generally sufficient for small trucks and vans. Also make sure it's long enough and that you can reach the truck or his SUV's lifting points. Consider a lift with extended length and lifting point reach. You'll probably also need an SUV and truck adapter kit. To determine which lift best suits your needs, start with the vehicles you commonly service and discover these four basics:
  1. Vehicle weight: Usually printed on a sticker on the driver's side door, in the manual or online. Your lift should be rated to lift at least this weight.
  2. Tire spread: Hold the measuring tape about 3 inches off the ground and measure the distance between the front and rear tire treads. Then subtract 2 inches. The result is the tire spread measurement. The lift frame should be smaller than this to fit neatly between the vehicle tires.
  3. Lift point spread: Measure the distance from the inside of the OEM lifting point on the front of the car to the inside of the opposite lifting point. This is the minimum lifting point spread. Then measure outside from one lifting point to the other lifting point. This is the maximum lifting point spread. The range you can use to place the lift adapters is from min to max.
  4. Ground clearance: Measure the distance from the ground to the lifting point. This is the ground clearance. The lift must fold below ground clearance for it to slide under the vehicle.
With these four measurements, you can compare them to vehicle lift specifications and choose the best model. If you service a wide range of vehicles, you can run these calculations on several different vehicles to find lifts that work for the majority. Or you can purchase multiple lifts to handle everything from short roadsters to luxury SUVs and full-size pickup trucks.