Shop Tip: Building your detailing on a strong foundation
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Shop Tip: Building your detailing on a strong foundation

If your shop doesn’t have a car lift, chances are good that you wash and detail most cars with all four wheels on the ground. If done by hand, this can mean a lot of bending and reaching, which may not be a big deal for some people, but after a full shift, it can cause muscle and joint pain in others. And while washing a car with the wheels on is fine for routine washes, it’s less than ideal for detailing.

To thoroughly detail a car, you have to remove the wheels to get full access to the wheel wells, brakes, shocks and suspension components. Removing the wheels also lets you clean both sides of the tires and rims. Traditionally, removing the wheels involved the time-intensive use of good old-fashioned jack stands. But developments in the lift industry mean you can now build your detailing on a stronger foundation and take advantage of the benefits of using a car lift instead.

A portable low-rise lift can slide under the vehicle and have it at a comfortable working height in seconds. With the vehicle on the lift, you can work more ergonomically, even sitting on a rolling work seat instead of stooping over or kneeling on the ground. Cleaning the undercarriage is also easier. Plus, using a lift eliminates the fear of potentially bumping or shaking the car off the jack stand while you’re scrubbing off some stubborn tar, sap or bug carcasses. 

If you want to give your detailing business a lift, here are some important factors to consider:

  • Does the lift manufacturer approve using the lift outside? Many lifts are rated for indoor use only.
  • Is the lift rated for use in washing applications? Some lifts specifically prohibit wash bay use and cannot get wet.
  • Has the lift been third-party tested and certified by the Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) to meet all industry safety and performance standards? The ALI Gold Certification Label is the only proof that a lift is safe. 
  • What is the rated load capacity of the lift? Make sure the lift is rated to hold the vehicles you work on. Never overload a lift.
  • How low is the lift when collapsed? Make sure it can slide under the vehicles you service, especially if you work on a lot of low-slung cars.
  • Is it portable? If you don’t want to dedicate a bay full-time to a lift, portability is a must.
  • Does it provide clear access to the vehicle undercarriage? Many low-rise lifts have structural steel connecting the two lifting platforms that can hamper access to the vehicle undercarriage.

Next time we’ll discuss: How to address workplace heat regulations.

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