What’s the best portable car lift for my garage?

There are several portable car lift options on the market that might appeal to both home buyers and professional body shops. The decision to purchase a new lift can be a major investment, and there are a few things to consider:

  •  Budget
  •  Desired weight capacity
  •  Type of work being done
  •  Available workspace
  •  Permanent or temporary setup

Generally, the goal of a portable car lift is to provide a temporary workspace that can be set up and dismantled in relatively little time. If you have the budget and would like to establish a more permanent workspace, there are other options available.

To help you understand the market and decide which portable car lift is best for you, let’s look at a few of the car lift options that are out there.

Low-rise car lift

Low-rise car lifts are a unique option for both home and professional auto shops, all thanks to recent mechanical and technological advances. QuickJack is a portable car lift that collapses to a vertical height of 3”, yet it still has the lifting capacity of 3,500-7,000 lbs. while improving your overall safety and user experience. This is the perfect option for someone looking for a temporary workspace that can be set up and taken down in virtually no time at all.

The downside for some might be cost, as models range from about $900-$1,500. Still, this is less expensive than any two-post or four-post car lift (including portable two-post lifts), and QuickJack offers remote push-button technology that allows you to raise and lower your vehicle with the touch of a button. Other comparable yet more expensive models, like EZcarlift™, require use of a hand drill or other forms of manual labor to raise and lower your car.

Portable car lifts engage the frame of your vehicle at specified lifting points, so it’s important to know where these points are located on your car; furthermore, you should never exceed the weight limit of your portable lift. For most light-duty vehicle work, low-rise car lifts, which generally reach max extensions of 20-26”, can be ideal for home maintenance.

Given their portability, these lifts are increasingly used for auto detailing. Professional shops are catching on, as well. The image below was sent to us by Phil Yiu, the proud owner of Detailer’s Domain, an auto detailing shop based out of New Jersey.

Blue BMW M2 on a QuickJack portable car lift in an auto shop.
Detailer’s Domain uses QuickJack to detail this beautiful BMW M2.

This option is increasingly popular among home auto enthusiasts and DIY’ers, as the added safety benefits of a well-constructed portable car lift like QuickJack is worth a little extra upfront cost (when compared to traditional jacks and stands, which will be discussed later in this article). We try to go out of our way to settle all questions regarding safety. Check out the high-stakes fail test below and see for yourself!

Portable two-post lift

A light-duty two-post car lift like MaxJax™ is different than QuickJack in its design, and therefore serves a slightly different purpose. This portable car lift type is a little more expensive: MaxJax™ packages range from $2,000-$2,240 and come with a max lifting capacity of 6,000 lbs. Like other two-post lifts, this portable car lift will engage the frame of your vehicle, so it’s essential to know the proper lifting points when raising and lowering your car.

The main benefit of something like this over a collapsible car lift is the higher max extension. The QuickJack offers approximately 20” of working room, whereas two-post lifts can rise much higher. A portable two-post lift like MaxJax™ can clear 52” off the ground at max extension.

The downside is that a two-post lift is heavier, bulkier, and takes longer to set up and dismantle. While a smaller portable car lift like the QuickJack can be set up in 60 seconds, MaxJax™ takes about 15 minutes. However, if your needs demand a little extra headroom, this type of portable car lift might work for you. You can fold this portable car lift up and stow it away rather neatly, which makes it ideal for a temporary workspace.

Traditional car jack/jack stand

Many car owners recognize that a small, lightweight car jack can be an essential roadside tool. Any poor soul with a busted tire, flagging people down off the side of the road, is likely repeating one question, “Do you have a jack?”

The basic design concept hasn’t changed much over time, but new jack models from companies like Craftsman™ are introduced regularly to the market. Additionally, car jacks and jack stands can be purchased at any number of large convenience stores (like Sears™) or commercial auto shops. They aren’t fancy, but when used properly, they can get the job done. One major downside is that this “old school” car lift method will take you longer to set up and take down, whereas a portable car lift like QuickJack can be set up in about a minute.

Still, jacks and stands have long been a staple for DIY’ers doing simple repairs and maintenance, such as oil changes or brake pads. Jacks usually cost under $100, and jack stands are highly recommended as an added measure of safety. Never, ever skimp on safety. Obviously, while portable car lifts like the QuickJack can fit easily into the truck of most cars and truck beds, car jacks and stands take up the least amount of space. While this option fits most any budget, if you rely on car jacks and jack stands for your auto repair, make sure you take every available measure to ensure your jack and stand can handle your car weight. They’re all rated differently. It might be a good idea to invest in multiple jacks and stands when operating underneath a motor vehicle, as you can never be too safe.

Parking lift

While not functionally the same as the other portable car lift options on this list, it’s important to know what parking lifts are and what they are not. Parking lifts are not the same as four-post lifts, although both lift types engage the wheels when raising your vehicle (as opposed to the frame on collapsible and two-post lifts). Also unlike all aforementioned lift types, parking lifts do not offer undercarriage access, as they are built to be raised parking platforms, not maintenance tools. Think of it as an extra parking space in your garage.

The benefit of such a device, however, is that they are more compact and less expensive than four-post lifts. If you simply need more vertical parking space in your garage, and you know your available headspace, there is probably a parking lift available to suit your needs.

Editor’s note: This post was updated on 4/13/2017. The latest fail test video was added, as well as information about QuickJack for auto detailing.

Is QuickJack safe to use without a jack stand?

Two jack standsWhen the QuickJack Portable Car Lift is used according to our instructions (vehicle frame’s lifting points properly engaged, weight capacity not exceeded, etc.) the lift is safer and more stable than any jack stand on the market. In fact, QuickJack has been awarded EC-Type Examination Certificate. Safety systems, strength-of-design, manufacturing quality and electrical compliance are just a few things that these third-part testing laboratories investigate rigorously before awarding certification.

If you compare our safety standards to those of other portable car lifts, you’ll find that QuickJack leads the industry in both safety and quality. We’re proud of that.

There is no portable car lift like QuickJack on the market, so it’s natural to ask questions related to safety, and we’re glad you care enough to ask. Collapsible and portable car lifts are not entirely new products. In general, auto enthusiasts are used to seeing portable scissor jacks, traditional jacks/stands and of course, a garage lift like MaxJax™ that resembles familiar two-post lifts. QuickJack, for lack of a better phrase, is sort of a wrench in the system because it looks and behaves unlike any of the other aforementioned car lifts. To ensure safety (and receive EC-Type Examination Certification), QuickJack is constructed with 14-gauge welded steel frames. It’s thick, high-quality steel that’s made to last. We’re also very proud of QuickJack’s automatic safety locks. These locks engage at both the mid and max levels.

Sometimes people wonder if the maximum extension is somehow more unsafe than the mid-level. Interestingly enough, while the mid-level rise is certainly safe to operate under, the max extension further reduces the horizontal force of the car against the lift, which in turn reduces stress on the unit. Think of it this way. If you stick your right arm straight out in front of you and let a trusted (non-violent) friend smack your forearm, your arm is easier to move (QuickJack, however, won’t.) If you take that same arm, stick it straight up in the air, make a fist and let your friend hit it, your arm is better locked in place. Given that QuickJack is an engineering marvel, it’s not going to fall on you at any rise level. The auto-locking safety arms just the icing on the cake for an already extraordinarily safe car lift.

What is the Difference between QuickJack and other car lifts?

There are many different car lift options on the market: two-post lifts, four-post lifts, portable car lifts, alignment lifts, etc. Some are intended for commercial use, while others can be conveniently operated in most small business or home garages. QuickJack is entirely different. Its main features are its portability and ease-of-use, and it sets itself apart from other low-rise lifts because it offers open undercarriage access. If you’re not familiar with QuickJack or portable lift options in general, we’ll break down the difference between the QuickJack, two-post lifts and four-post lifts.

QuickJack Portable Car Lift

QuickJack Portable Car JackInvented in 2013, QuickJack was designed to revolutionize the way home buyers view portable car lifts. While QuickJack can certainly be used in commercial garages, its main purpose is to provide automotive hobbyists and home buyers with an affordable, premium-quality portable car lift that can be stowed, set up and utilized with no hassle. Three models are offered with weight capacities of 3500, 5000 and 7000 lbs.

Like two-post lifts, QuickJack engages the frame of your vehicle at your vehicle’s designated lift points. It rises to a maximum height of approximately 21” off the ground (with stackable rubber blocks) and sits a mere 3” above the ground when fully collapsed (3.5″ for the 7000 model). Additionally, QuickJack takes only 30 seconds to fully rise, and it does it all with the simple touch of a button on the pendant remote control. Safety locks automatically engage at the mid and max levels. No pumps, mechanical cranks or jack stands necessary. Urethane wheels let you roll it around the garage and make it easy to transport the frames to and from the track. In fact, racers love the QuickJack because it’s so portable and easy to maneuver around tight spaces.

Regardless of where you set up your car lift, QuickJack is safer and more stable than jack stands and doesn’t feature crossbeams that interfere with your work. so think of QuickJack like a safer, more advanced and user-friendly car jack/stand combination, making it the perfect portable car lift. As an added bonus, QuickJack is the perfect tool for washing and detailing your car, light-duty truck or SUV. Watch the video below to see what we mean.

Summary: If you want a portable car lift that emphasizes safety and ease-of-use, QuickJack is perfect for you.

Pros:

  •  Automatic safety locks—safer than traditional jacks/stands
  •  Remote push-button control
  •  Open-center design
  •  3″ collapsible frame
  •  30 seconds to reach 20″ max rise
  •  Constructed with high-grade 14-gauge steel
  •  Equal or higher lifting capacity compared to other portable car lifts

Cons:

  • Less rise than two/four-post lifts

Two-post lifts

BendPak two-post car liftStill the staple car lift of the commercial automotive industry, two-post lifts offer excellent undercarriage access and can rise high enough to operate while sitting comfortably or standing. Arms extend from each post that branch out and engage the right and left lifting points on the front and back of your vehicle frame. It’s vital to know where the lifting points are located on your vehicle. Given the increased size and thickness of the support beams (compared to QuickJack), as well as the increased support power of the arms, two-post lifts can handle more weight than the smaller, more portable QuickJack. BendPak offers two-posts lifts with weight capacities between 9,000-18,000 lbs. and max rises between 69-72”.

Two-post and four-post lifts are much bulkier than QuickJack, and they are intended to be permanent fixtures that remain bolted into the ground. They are more expensive and therefore less ideal for the casual automotive hobbyist, but anyone with enough garage space and an inclination to do a lot of work on cars might find one worth the investment. This lift type is serious equipment—heights range from 113-192”.

Summary: The most commonly used professional car lift. Can be used in spacious home garages that are able to accommodate the size of professional equipment.

Pros:

  •  Excellent undercarriage access for most repairs
  •  More rise than portable car lifts
  •  Same lift type used by most professional auto/body shops
  •  Higher lift capacity than portable car lifts

Cons:

  • Bulky, cannot be stowed away
  • More expensive than QuickJack
  • Requires more space to install and operate

Four-post lifts

BendPak four-post lift with two carsLike QuickJack and two-post lifts, four-post lifts offer complete undercarriage access. The four-post lift is unique, however, because your vehicle’s wheels rest on a lift platform. Since the frame is not engaged, getting cars on and off the lift is as easy as driving over a platform, eliminating the risk of missing a lifting point and damaging the vehicle frame. Four-post lifts can also be used as parking lifts. Because they require four posts to be bolted firmly to the ground, they are capable lifting almost any automotive vehicle. BendPak offers four-post lifts with lifting capacities between 7,000-40,000 lbs. These lifts are necessary for the most heavy-duty vehicles, such as commercial transport vehicles and trucks. Rolling bridge jacks can be used to elevate wheels to perform wheel service.

Summary: Automotive hobbyists and commercial shop owners may enjoy this lift’s ability to handle nearly any weight load, as well as the added benefit that this lift doubles as a parking lift.

Pros:

  •  Heavy-duty models are capable of handling incredible loads
  •  Easy to drive on/off lifting platform
  •  Complete undercarriage access
  •  Doubles as parking lift

Cons:

  • Larger and bulkier than two-post lifts
  • Generally the most expensive option
  • Wheel service requires separate bridge jack