Rolling Jack Measurement Guide

Will This Jack Fit My Lift?

Runway and Ramp Style

To determine which of our Atlas Rolling Jacks will fit your 4-post lift, you must first look at the design of the runways on your lift.  There are three primary runway track designs that will affect which types of rolling jack you will be able to use on your lift.

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Lift Carriages: Rollers vs. Slider Blocks

At some point, while shopping for a vehicle lift online, you are bound to run across at least one company – possibly more – advertising their “innovative roller carriage design” as the new industry benchmark.  These assertions are usually coupled with ideas that roller lift carriages are better than the alternative slider block lift carriages in a two post lift.

Do not be fooled.  Rollers – state of the art technology in the 1970’s – have a line of contact that creates high stress on both the roller surface and the interior surface of the lift column.  Within a few years of commercial service, this high stress contact will wear grooves into the column casing.  Such grooves lessen the ability of the roller to contact properly and create a very unsafe lifting condition.  Because of this tendency, most manufacturers switched from roller carriages to slide blocks in the 1980’s.

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Where Should I Position My Two Post Lift?

This is one of most frequent questions we hear.  Unfortunately, there is not one single answer that is correct for all customers.

There are many factors that will determine the best place to mount your two post lift. If you have unlimited garage space, then there is really no restriction as to where you can install your lift…assuming you have the correct ceiling height and an adequate amount of space in front of and behind the columns.

The question about where to position the lift becomes relevant when the customer does not have unlimited floor space. (Especially bay length)

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Baseplate vs. Overhead Two Post Lifts

Our two post lifts (as well as most of those on the market) employ one of two different methods of cylinder configuration. All of our Atlas two post above ground lifts have a power unit (220 volt single phase) located on one of the columns. The columns are symmetrical so the column with the mounting fixture for the power unit may be located on either side.

The power unit supplies pressurized hydraulic fluid to the cylinders (located in both columns) through hydraulic hoses that run between the columns. Each of these cylinders have a piston that is moved (actuated by hydraulic pressure) and raises the carriages and arms, which in turn lift the vehicle. There are also two sets of equalization cables that connect the carriages located in each column. These equalization cables (high strength aircraft cable) provide tension on the carriages to make sure that both sides go up at the same speed. The cables do not do the lifting!  The pressurized hydraulic fluid powering the cylinder/piston combination provides all the lifting power.

The hydraulic hose and cables for two post lifts need to run from the powered column to the slave column; either on the floor or through an overhead bar.

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Lift Terminology: Drive-Thru Measurement

When shopping for a new lift, it is very easy for someone to get confused when looking at all of the various terms and figures in the specification tables.  While some measurements, such as minimum and maximum heights or width are fairly straightforward, other terms – like “drive-thru” – can get a bit more complicated.  This is especially true when the measurement changes depending on whether the lift is in the “up” or “down” position.

Drive-Thru Measurement for 2-Post Lifts

For a two post lift, the “drive-thru” measurement is the shortest distance between the arms when in the lowered position. To determine the “drive-thru” width of your vehicle, measure the outside distance of the widest wheel assembly that will need to “drive-thru” the arms.

Most wheel assemblies are narrower than the body of the vehicle. Width between columns is important when you are working with wide vehicles.  A dual-wheel truck does not need to completely “drive-thru” the lowered lift arms to be properly positioned for lifting. Only the front wheels of the dual-wheel truck need to “drive-thru” the arms for the truck to be raised.

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Lift Terminology: Asymmetric vs. Symmetric

When shopping for a two-post lift, many customers get confused by the asymmetric and symmetric terminology.  In addition, customers often get inaccurate information from other lift distributors regarding the differences in these two styles of lifts.


This term may apply to the column configuration or to the arm configuration of a lift. This term is usually associated with lifts “that make it easy to get in and out of the car.” Many lift distributors would have you believe that unless the columns are asymmetric or “turned”, and the arms are asymmetrical in design, the customer would be “trapped” inside of the car. This is a ridiculous assumption.

Let us explain: 

Above ground lifts originated in Europe. Cars were (and are) smaller in Europe than in the United States. Lifts could be narrower and needed to support less weight in Europe than in the United States. Service centers in the USA were largely dependent on in-ground lifts as above ground lifts were not popular in the States. In the 1980’s, many of the in-ground lifts began to deteriorate and leak. These lifts needed to be replaced. Many US service centers did not want to go to the expense of “digging up” in-ground lifts and replacing them. These service centers were also concerned about environmental issues associated with in-ground lifts. Above ground lifts offered a safe and economical option to the in-ground lift with a minimum amount of “down time”.

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Hydraulic Cylinder Systems of Two-Post Lifts

Atlas two-post lifts primarily use one of two different hydraulic cylinder systems for raising vehicles off the ground.  Either the lift will use a chain-over-roller configuration or a direct drive cylinder.

Chain-Over Roller Configuration

The “chain-over” cylinder lifting method is preferable for low ceiling applications because it uses a shorter cylinder to achieve maximum lifting height. A roller attached to the end of the piston exerts pressure on the chain. One end of the chain is fixed to the bottom of the column and the other end of the chain is attached to the carriage. When the piston roller raises 1 inch, the carriage lifts two inches. This is an effective way to maximize lifting height without the piston extending above the top of the column. The “chain-over” cylinder lifting method is less efficient than the direct drive cylinder configuration.

Direct Drive Cylinder Configuration

The direct drive hydraulic cylinder configuration is the preferred cylinder lifting system for commercial overhead two post above ground lifts. The direct drive cylinder configuration has fewer moving parts than the chain-over-roller cylinder configuration. In this direct drive configuration, it is actually the cylinder – attached to the carriage – that moves up as the hollow piston rod exerts pressure on the base of the column.

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Which Lift Should I Buy: 2-Post or 4-Post?

We hear this questions dozens of times each week. Most professional shops know what type of lift will work best for their business. Most professional shops have both two post and four post above ground lifts in their service bays. Unlike these commercial shops many of our individual customers will only buy one lift for their home garage. While there is no single correct answer to this question, by comparing advantages and disadvantages of both styles of lifts, you should be able to choose the right lift for your needs.


Typically, individual homeowners purchase a lift for one of two reasons, either they wish to “store” a vehicle that is not being driven much or they are automotive enthusiasts that want to be able to do their own repair work.

“I just want to store my car and do a little cleaning and polishing once in a while. I am not a “big car guy”, and really only want a lift to store a car that I will not be driving much.”

If this sounds like you, and if “storing a car” is the primary reason for owning a lift, we would recommend a four post lift. The four post lift supports entire car “wheels” much better than a two post lift. Imagine yourself suspended six feet in the air. Would you rather have your entire body supported (as if lying in a bed) or would you rather have just your torso supported (lying in a string hammock) with your arms and legs dangling?

A four post lift acts much like the bed, supporting the entire vehicle. The two post lift acts like the hammock, supporting only the torso, and allowing the four wheel assemblies to “dangle”.

“I want to do all types of repairs on my vehicles, and I am on a limited budget.”

Then you want a two post lift for sure! The two post lift is the most inexpensive way to raise the most amount of weight. The two post lift allows the operator to easily access all parts of the vehicle, including the wheel assemblies, whereas the four post lift requires an auxiliary lift (at an extra cost) that will raise the car off the runways (to allow wheel service).

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Deciding What Alignment Machines to Purchase

Deciding which alignment machines are best for your repair shop depends on several different factors like the amount of space you have available. You also have to consider whether you want to dedicate specific service bays for alignments or desire the flexibility to use those bays to provide your customers with other repair services. This will influence the types of auto lifts you need to have installed in your service center.

Another important factor is the amount of money you have budgeted for investing into alignment machines. AtlasŪ alignment equipment and machines come in a variety of models to fit all sizes of repair shops. For instance, the AtlasŪ Edge 101 provides accurate alignments, is easy to use, and is a state of the art wireless alignment system designed for smaller businesses or those that only perform a few alignments per week.

On the other hand, body shops or service garages which do work for body shops should consider the AtlasŪ 601 Body Shop Pro alignment system. This system is well suited for full body alignments after a vehicle has been involved in an accident, to determine whether the frame or unibody has been bent and is not repairable.

Work on Your Bike at Home with a Motorcycle Lift

You can save money on your motorcycle repairs and maintenance by doing them yourself at home. If you like working with tools, have a little patience, and can follow detailed instructions, videos, and other diagrams, working on your bike can fun and rewarding. Not only do you become more familiar with how your motorcycle works, but you also eliminate paying labor to have a mechanic change your oil or do other types of work on your bike. In order to properly work on your bike at home, you will need to acquire a motorcycle lift.

A motorcycle lift makes it much easier to gain access to the underside of the bike. In addition, you can raise the motorcycle off the ground so you do not have to sit directly on the ground. Depending on the height of the lift, you can sit comfortably in a chair or stool while working on the bike, or raise it all the way up, if you prefer standing up as you work.

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