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Mobile Columns or Fixed Lifts? Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’re on the lookout for a new vehicle lift, there are all kinds of options for all kinds of workshop.

So to help you narrow down your search in the early stages, the best place to start is with a comparison of the two main categories: fixed-installation lifts, and mobile column lifts.

Here are the questions that workshops should ask — before they commit to a new piece of kit.


Do you need a flexible workshop layout?

This is one of the biggest questions when you’re choosing between a mobile column lift and a fixed-installation lift.

And if a flexible layout is a deal-breaker for your workshop, there’s really no question about it:

A set of Mobile Column Lifts is the most flexible type of vehicle lift. As long as you’re following the safety guidelines, just about every type of premises will come with multiple different places you can create a lifting station — and you’ll be able to change your layout on the fly as the needs of your business change.

That’s great for smaller premises. But it’s also great for newer workshops or those expecting to grow and scale. You might need to change your layout several times as your business expands and adds new services. And that extra flexibility can really open up your options — without sacrificing your productivity.


Do you need to create more floor space?

This is related to the idea of a flexible layout. But it’s a slightly different question, especially when it comes to fixed-installation lifts.

Nearly all of our fixed lifts come with options for a recessed installation — from the heavier Y-MECH and In-Ground Lift to lighter options like our LCV Four Post Lift.

(The only exception is our lighter Two Post Lift, which only comes surface-mounted. And with our Heavy Duty Four Post Lift, the posts themselves can’t be recessed, which means you won’t get back 100% of the floor space.)

A recessed installation means that your lift is completely flush to the floor when it’s not in use. The structure is ‘recessed’ into the ground, which means you can reclaim some floor space when you’re not using the lift.

That’s fantastic for adding flexibility for smaller jobs. When you don’t need to lift, you can set up new workstations in the same space — especially if you’re using mobile equipment like our Emissions Analyser or A/C Service Units.

But even without those extra workstations, the added floor space you can gain is great for accessibility. In a tighter space or a smaller premises, a recessed fixed lift can help you create new walking routes through your workshop that cut down on wasted time — and can even reduce the risk of safety incidents.


Do you need to access the wheels?

Most commercial vehicle lifts do their lifting from the wheels — either with a fixed platform, or with wheel forks that support the wheels directly.

So when a vehicle is raised on a lift, you usually can’t access the wheels themselves.

But there are ways around it — for both fixed lifts and mobile ones.

The first option is to choose a lift that doesn’t attach to the wheels: like an In-Ground Lift for heavier vehicles, or a Two Post Lift for lighter vehicles.

These fixed-installation lifts raise your vehicles by attaching to the underside of the vehicle, leaving your wheels open and accessible for your team to work on them. But because they attach to the chassis, that means a portion of the underside will become inaccessible — which could be a challenge if you need to work on those components.

The second option is to choose a lift that attaches to the wheels, and use the right supporting equipment to make the wheels more accessible.

With a Mobile Column Lift, you can use a purpose-built Axle Stand to replace one of the columns, working on one wheel at a time as you swap each column for a single Axle Stand.

With a fixed lift, you can use a specially designed Heavy Duty Jacking Beam or Lightweight Jacking Beam. These adjustable attachments can fit onto any type of vehicle lift, allowing you to raise a vehicle that’s already been lifted by attaching to the chassis — giving you access to the wheels while your vehicle’s raised on the lift.


So which is best — mobile or fixed lifts?

There’s no simple answer that applies to every business. Each workshop has its own needs and plans for the future, and the type of lift you choose depends on several different factors.

But if you’re looking for a quick overview, here’s what you should keep in mind:

And if you’re still not sure what’s best for your workshop?

Get in touch with one of our vehicle lift experts — and we’ll help you find the right fit for what you need.