Greg Smith Equipment Sales hears this questions dozens of times each week. There is no correct answer to this question! However, by comparing advantages and disadvantages of both styles of lifts, perhaps we can make your choice a little easier.
Most professional shops know what type of lift will work best for their business. Most professional shops have both two post and four post above ground lifts in their service bays. Unlike these commercial shops many of our customers will only buy one lift for their home garage. Greg Smith Equipment wants you to make the best buying decision.
"I just want to store my car and do a little cleaning and polishing once in a while. I am not a "big car guy", and really only want a lift to store a car that I will not be driving much."
If this sounds like you, and if "storing a car" is the primary reason for owning a lift, we would recommend a four post lift. The four post lift supports entire car "wheels" much better than a two post lift. Imagine yourself suspended six feet in the air. Would you rather have your entire body supported (as if lying in a bed) or would you rather have just your torso supported (lying in a string hammock) with your arms and legs dangling?
A four post lift acts much like the bed, supporting the entire vehicle. The two post lift acts like the hammock, supporting only the torso, and allowing the four wheel assemblies to "dangle".
"I want to do all types of repairs on my vehicles, and I am on a limited budget."
Then you want a two post lift for sure! The two post lift is the most inexpensive way to raise the most amount of weight. The two post lift allows the operator to easily access all parts of the vehicle, including the wheel assemblies, whereas the four post lift requires an auxiliary lift (at an extra cost) that will raise the car off the runways (to allow wheel service).
A four post lift can be portable (most come with a free caster kit). The four post lift may also be permanently anchored. A two post lift MUST be anchored to the ground.
A four post lift generally features a 110 volt motor which does not require special wiring to install. A two post lift will come with a 220 volt single phase motor.
A four post lift takes up much more room than a two post lift.
A two post lift will raise a car "higher" in a low ceiling garage. This is because the four wheel assemblies hang below the four lifting arms (the vehicle is lifted by the frame). For instance, a vehicle that is 72 inches tall (from the bottom of the tires to the luggage rack) will remain 72 inches tall when lifted on a four post lift. However, this same vehicle may only be 55 inches tall when lifted on a two post lift, because 17 inches may be "hanging" below the arms. If you have a 10 foot ceiling, the two post lift will raise most vehicles to about 6 feet off the ground.
A four post lift makes it much easier to load and position the vehicle. The runways of the four post lift make it easy for the operator to just drive onto the lift. There is no need (as on a two post lift) to get out of the car, kneel down, and correctly position the arms to ensure that the vehicle will be lifted evenly.
Extremely low ground clearance vehicles are much easier to load on a four post lift.
So which lift is right for you? Only you can make that decision. We just hope that your new lift will come from the hundreds of above ground lifts we stock at any of our Greg Smith Equipment Sales locations.