If you’re shopping around for a new vehicle lift, you might be getting confused between all the options.
And even if you’ve narrowed it down to one particular type — lifts for light commercial vehicles — there’s still one big decision you need to make:
Should you buy a four-post lift, or a two-post lift?
Before we get into the differences between each type of lift, we need to talk about what they have in common.
- A fixed installation — giving you a permanent setup that’s always ready to go.
- A lift that works for most standard LCVs — the only difference in capacity comes at the extreme top end of the scale.
- A lift that’s perfect for longer vehicles — with both of types of lift built specifically for long wheel-base vans.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the details. Here are the questions you need to ask before you choose between a two-post and four-post lift:
Do you need access to the wheels?
This is the biggest practical difference between the two — and it should be one of the first questions you ask if you want to maximise your efficiency.
With a Four Post Lift, you’re driving the vehicle onto a platform that gets raised up. That platform is only in contact with the wheels, and they’re supporting the full weight of the vehicle.
So when you’ve raised up a vehicle on a Four Post Lift, you can’t do any work on the wheels themselves — and you might not have easy access to any components that are next to the wheels.
But with a Two Post Lift, you’re not driving up onto a platform. The lift attaches to the chassis near the centre of the undercarriage, somewhere between the front and back axle — and that means the wheels themselves are hanging free and unconnected.
When you raise a vehicle with a Two Post Lift, you’ve got free reign over the wheels, the axles, and any parts close to them. So if working on wheels is a huge part of your everyday servicing, you might be better off with a Two Post Lift.
But that doesn’t mean the Two Post Lift is always the best choice:
Do you need access to the full chassis?
A Four Post Lift can get in the way of wheel work. But in a similar way, a Two Post Lift can make it difficult to work on the centre of the chassis — a problem that the Four Post Lift doesn’t have.
Because a Two Post Lift connects to the vehicle near the centre of the undercarriage, you might not have access to some components on the undercarriage. And if you’re servicing a vehicle that also needs work on those centre parts, you’ll need to lower the vehicle and find a different way of lifting it.
But with a Four Post Lift, you won’t have that problem. The platforms you drive onto connect at the sides of the vehicle (under the left and right wheels), which leaves the centre of the chassis free and clear.
Unfortunately, there’s no single solution that takes care of both problems at once. However, you can bring in ancillary equipment like a jacking beam to allow wheel access when using a four post lift.
There’s no on-size-fits all solution – you have to lift the vehicle somehow!
Is speed an issue?
Our Two Post Lifts and Four Post Lifts are both built for speed and efficiency — helping you to keep your throughput high and minimise the time spent on every lifting job.
But if you’re making a direct comparison, there are some important details to think about.
A Two Post Lift requires some precise positioning. You’ll need to find the vehicle manufacturer’s designated lifting points and spend a few seconds making sure the vehicle is in exactly the right spot.
But with a Four Post Lift, things are a bit simpler. You’re driving onto a platform, which means the ‘lifting points’ are the same with every type of vehicle — it lifts from the tyres themselves.
You’ll still have to make sure you’re in a suitable position with an even distribution of weight. But with one step already taken care of (finding the lifting points), a Four Post Lift can make things easier for your workers — especially the ones who are less confident or less experienced.
Is space an issue?
No matter which type of lift you go with, the floor space you’re using is about the same as the vehicle you’re lifting.
But that’s only when you’re using it. When your lift isn’t in use, there’s a big difference to the space it takes up — and the Two Post Lift has a clear advantage.
The Four Post Lift works with platforms under the wheels. That means the frame of the lift covers the same area as the vehicle would. So an unused Four Post Lift isn’t saving any space.
But with a Two Post Lift, you’re working with a vertical frame shaped like a doorway. The vehicles it lifts extend forwards and backwards outside of that frame — which means an empty Two Post Lift takes up only a fraction of the floor space compared to when it’s in use.
So why should that matter?
If you’re running a smaller workshop where space is at a premium — and you’re not lifting vehicles all day long — you can put that space around a Two Post Lift to good use.
When you’re not using the lift, you can bring smaller mobile equipment into the space around it, and add an extra workstation to carry out smaller jobs (like testing components or changing tyres).
By creating an extra space for work that wouldn’t normally get done, you’re directly improving the productivity of your workshop — and reducing the strain on your teams and your schedule.
Need an expert opinion on the right lift for you?
Whichever lift you choose, it’s a serious investment. And that means you need to be sure you’re making the best decision for your specific situation.
So if you’re still unsure about the lift you need, you can get the full details on our Two Post Lift and our Light Commercial Four Post Lift in our online shop — or start a chat with one of our vehicle lift experts to help you find exactly what you need.