Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Give your quick lube a lift

March 8, 2011

One major component to certain quick lube facilities is the equipment that gets the vehicle into the air: That’s right, we’re talking about lifts — the machinery that raises them up to make oil changes a lot faster, easier, more profitable and a lot safer.

There are many types of different lifts out there including scissor lifts that are mobile and without posts; and two and four-post lifts. There are even ones capable of lifting up school buses and trucks.

Choosing the best lift for your business
If you are an operator thinking of opening a quick lube at your wash or upgrading your current facility, it’s important to take the time to consider which one is right for your business. Space, sizing, safety are all concerns to consider and we talked to one expert in the lube lift industry are here to help.

According to Steve Perlstein, sales and marketing manager of Mohawk Lifts, a lift manufacturer based out of Amsterdam, NY, some of the conditions you have to consider are whether or not you will be offering such services as tire rotation (see sidebar), because in that case, “you will need a lift that raises the vehicle by the frame and not by the tires.”

Perlstein said he has been doing a lot of work with carwashes that are adding on quick lubes and it’s important for a carwash to get a lift that can handle soup to nuts and one that can lift up any size car that can fit through the carwash bay or tunnel. After all, you don’t want to have to turn away any vehicles that just spent money in your carwash bay.

Scissor lifts
These types of lifts are smaller than a sheet of plywood and are good for someone with a smaller area to work with.

“If you can fit a car into the bay, then you can fit this lift into the bay,” Perlstein said. The lift doesn’t have any posts and gives access to the sides of the vehicle which means it allows for tire rotations.

Four-post lifts
These take up the most amount of room, according to Perlstein, and cars are able to drive right onto the equipment.

These types of lifts can allow for tire rotations.

These can hold more weight and you don’t have to be as critical in positioning the car onto the lift. Perlstein explained. “People might not trust the guy who makes minimum wage to properly position the vehicle onto the lift.”

“They’re also safe and fast,” he added — it’s the two-post lifts that can make customers nervous.

Two-post lifts
These types of lifts give complete access to the entire vehicle, allowing for tire rotations, but, unlike the four-post lifts, do not have the easy-drive-on stability, and an employee will have to know how to raise the vehicle and lower it onto the lift’s safety locks, according to Perlstein.

It’s also important to not exceed maximum per swing arm with these types of lifts and to verify axle weight beforehand.

Safety first, last and in between
If you’re thinking of adding a lift and you’re concerned about the safety involved (and even if a four-post lift has been chosen) it is important to have employees who know how to properly use one. They are not necessarilydifficult to operate, but mishaps are a possibility for an untrained or distracted auto technician. Employees need to know how to properly position and raise a vehicle and how to make sure the weight and size are safe for the lift being used.

Also, employees need to know to never stand on or leave anything on the lift when it’s operating. Also, it is imperative that technicians keep any customers away from the lifts and to make sure they’re given a waiting room or area in which to wait while their cars are being serviced. Mohawk Lifts offers a poster which outlines which auto technicians have been properly trained and when; and when the lift was given a safety inspection.

Don’t forget to look up the ALI
There seems to be an association or organization for just about everything, and there is even one for automobile lifts. The Automotive Lift Institute, Inc. (ALI), founded in 1945, is a great resource for safety, product, installation and construction tips. The Institute posts national safety standards and provides a third-party certification program. It also offers a directory of certified lifts.

On the Institute’s website, found at www.autolift.org, a Buyer Beware feature allows those purchasing a lift to check for and be aware of the American National Standard which govern automotive lifts. It states that buyers look for the ANSI/ALI-ALCTV or ALI marking(s) or logo(s).

The ALI website also provides a listing lift manufacturers that have fraudulently used the markings or logos. Currently, there are 17 companies listed for fraudulent claims.

Don’t let this happen to you
You want to see some pretty shocking photos and videos, visit YouTube and enter the keywords: Car+falls+off+lift or car+on+lift+accident. And, while not all of the incidents are at oil change facilities, they still show the dangers involved when vehicles are not loaded onto the lifts properly.

Please note, however, that the video entitled: Car Falls on Jimmie Johnson, was a pre-planned fall. In the video, a NASCAR car is shown crashing down on top of a Kobalt toolbox while cameras are rolling for an commercial with the popular racecar driver.

The video, taken last March, was used for a Kobalt commercial.