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Pit or Lift — Which Is Better for Your Workshop?

Vehicle over inspection pit

We’ve talked before about the comparison between lifts and pits.

It’s the debate that never ends — and there’s a reason for that.

Despite years of back and forth with arguments from both sides, there simply isn’t a clear-cut answer that works for every type of business.

So instead of asking a question that doesn’t have an answer, you need to understand the ins and outs of each of them — and start asking the questions that dig into the specifics.

Here are the real questions you need to be asking:


Can you commit to groundworks?

One of the biggest differences between a pit and a lift is in the structure itself.

With the exception of an In-Ground Lift, most vehicle lifts are installed on top of the floor space you have in your workshop. Even a fixed installation like a Heavy Duty Four Post Lift is only fixed in the short-term: if you ever move to a new premises, you can take your vehicle lift with you.

But with a Vehicle Inspection Pit, you’re building it into the ground itself. And that makes it a permanent change to the structure of your workshop — one that you’ll leave behind if you change locations.

On top of that, these structural changes come with their own obstacles. You might need planning permission for civil works, and the intensive installation process could mean an interruption to your workshop’s schedule that lasts for weeks.

And of course, that intensive installation is going to come with some major costs. But that’s also one area where an inspection pit starts to shine:

After the costs of the initial setup, a vehicle inspection pit has one of the lowest maintenance and running costs of any vehicle-servicing station. So if you’re in it for the long haul, a pit could work out to be the most affordable option for your workshop.


Do you need a consistent setup?

An inspection pit is a fixed installation — possibly the most fixed that any installation can be.

But there’s an upside to that permanence. And that’s having a consistent working environment at all times.

With a fixed vehicle lift (and especially with a Mobile Column Lift), you won’t always have everything you need right next to the job you’re doing.

With an inspection pit, you’ll have a consistent setup that you can rely on every time:

You’ll have permanent directional lighting — always arranged in the optimal position for the vehicle above you.

You can fit Brake Testers and Play Detectors over the top of your pit — so you can finish multiple jobs without moving the vehicle.

And if you build for it, you can have every smaller tool you need at your disposal with an underground workshop installed into your pit.

So what’s the downside?

If you’re using equipment that’s not part of the pit, you’ll have to move it down into the pit with you. And if that equipment is heavy or large, that’s an extra struggle (or more time) added to the job.

With an overground vehicle lift, there’s no limit to the extra equipment you can roll up alongside it. You might not get the same consistent setup as you would with a pit — but you will have an easier time bringing ancillary equipment into the mix.


Is height an issue?

All vehicle lifts need to raise up their vehicles. That’s a given.

And if you’re running a workshop with a ceiling that’s lower than usual, you could run into problems when you’re lifting taller vehicles.

With an inspection pit, the vehicle doesn’t move at all. If you can drive it over the pit, then you’re good to go — and you won’t need to worry about the ceiling height at all.

But it’s not just about the height of the ceiling and the vehicle itself. You also need to think about the height of your technicians:

With a vehicle lift, you can adjust the height of the vehicle to the exact position you need for a particular job (and for the physical height of each worker). If you’re servicing the wheels, you can set the lift higher — and if you’re working on the chassis, you can bring the vehicle down to find a comfortable height to work at.

With a pit, things are usually more static. While there are some pits with an inspection floor that can be raised and lowered (like our new Totalkare Compact Pit), the typical setup has a fixed floor with the vehicle at a constant height above your workers.

That could make some jobs uncomfortable or difficult for different-sized workers — or for jobs that need a different position.


How often do you change your workshop layout?

Whether you’re using a pit or a fixed lift, you’re fully committed to the positioning of your workstation. You won’t be able to adapt your workshop on the fly — and in the busiest times, that could create a bottleneck in your workshop’s throughput.

But there’s one particular product that gives vehicle lifts an edge over pits. And that’s our Totalkare Mobile Column Lift.

With a set of column lifts, you can create a new workstation wherever you have a space that’s safe. You can wheel away some other equipment to create a lifting station during your busiest days, and then pack it down and use the space for something else when things get quiet again.

With our galvanised Washbay Column Lift, you can even add a lifting station to an outdoor area like a carpark or courtyard, which is a huge boost to your productivity when demand is high.

So if you’re running a workshop that thrives on its flexibility (and you want the option of adapting your layout as your needs change), a mobile column lift could be the answer that beats all the others — regardless of whether it’s a pit or a lift.


Still undecided?

Getting the right equipment is a big investment. And with so many options for servicing vehicles, it’s not easy to make the right choice for your workshop.

So if you’re still not sure (or you just want to know more), take a look at our full range of Vehicle Lifts and Inspection Pits — or start a chat with one of our specialists to help you pinpoint exactly what you need.