Car Lift Safety Rules

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If you are an automobile mechanic, chances are you use an automotive car lift on a regular basis. Whether you're a tire tech or a muffler installer, or your duties require access to the underside of the car, a car lift can make your job a lot easier. But keep in mind basic safety rules, and also take some time to read the lift manufacturer's safety instructions. Failure to heed car lift safety rules can result in injury or even death.

Do's

  • Ask for training from your employer before you operate the lift for your first time.
    When you arrive at work, do an inspection of the lift prior to your shift.
    Make sure the lift's locking devices engage.
    Wear safety glasses for work done under the car.
    Make sure the vehicle is centered and balanced on the lift as described in a service manual.
    If the lift is of the drive-on type, be sure to use chocks behind the wheels.
    Check ceiling clearance before raising trucks and RVs.
    Gently check to see if the car is stable when it is at knee height.
    Clear the area of tools and bystanders before lowering the lift.

Don'ts

  • Never raise a vehicle that has occupants.
    Don't exceed the capacity of the lift.
    Never stand below a vehicle on a lift that does not have the locking devices engaged.
    If vehicle support stands are used (such as in the case when an engine or transmission has been removed), do not lower the vehicle onto the support stands because this might push the car off the lift. Instead, bring the supports up to make solid contact with the vehicle once it has reached the proper height.
    Do not try to repair a faulty lift yourself---let your supervisor know that the lift needs attention.

Car Lift Facts

  • A typical automotive lift can raise a car or light truck weighing up to 7,000 pounds. It achieves this by using an electric motor to drive a hydraulic pump, which provides the means to lift the car. Car lifts come in different designs, including in-ground lifts, scissor lifts, and the most common, the two-post lift. Working with a car lift can be hazardous, particularly if the vehicle falls off the lift, so all safety rules should be heeded at all times.

Safety Rules' Significance

  • The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources department cites numbers from the Consumer Product Safety Commission that detail the extent of annual injuries related to car lifts. These numbers show that in 2003 there were about 15,000 people treated in a hospital for injuries involving automotive lifts, jacks or jack stands, including 2,000 fractures and 1,500 head injuries. That should be enough to make anyone pay attention to the car lift safety rules.

Benefits

  • Automotive car lifts save time and make some repair jobs much more accessible to the technician. For example, to change the oil, one must remove the drain plug at the bottom of the oil pan to allow the old oil to drain out. In addition, the oil filter in most cases is more easily reached from below. Without a lift to raise the car, the technician must use a hydraulic hand jack to raise the front end of the car a couple feet, then rest the car on two jack stands before performing the oil change, and finally use the jack again to bring the car down. With the price of an oil change as it is today, it stands to reason that not only does the mechanic benefit from the use of a lift, but so too does the customer's wallet.

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