Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2003   by CARS Magazine

Four Tips for Efficient Equipment

Inspect for Lift Safety!Annual lift inspections are mandatory in most Provinces and this is for the protection of the operator and/or owner. You fix vehicles all day, but what about your lift? A safet...

Inspect for Lift Safety!

Annual lift inspections are mandatory in most Provinces and this is for the protection of the operator and/or owner. You fix vehicles all day, but what about your lift? A safety inspection should be performed yearly by an authorized and competent lift service professional. You can also do periodic inspections and service for your lift. Here are some tips:

Inspect cables often, looking for frayed areas. Also, carefully run your fingers along the cables and see if you can feel the ridges of the ropes in the cable. Once a cable feels smooth, it’s time to replace it. Leave cable adjustments and replacements for a professional, as it is critical to the safety of the lift that the cables are properly adjusted and/or replaced.

Inspect hydraulic cylinders for leaks. Also look at the cylinder rods for cracks or obvious problems.

Inspect all arms, adapters, or other parts which contact vehicles during lifting, looking for cracks, weld problems, or corrosion. Service all of the parts of the lift that contact vehicles, as they will last longer and be safer if they function properly.

Test anchor bolts for proper torque, as recommended by the manufacturer. The anchors hold the lift that holds the vehicle. Also look for obvious cracks in the concrete within 4″ of any anchor bolt.

Tighten all bolts and lubricate all parts that move.

Remove all materials that an operator could use as an adapter that is not supplied by the lift manufacturer. This includes wooden blocks.

Remove all hold open devices that have been added to a lift. This includes bungee cords that hold open down valves, lock latches, etc.

When it comes time to trade in your old lift, make sure you look for the ALI/ETL approvals that show you the lift has been 3rd party tested and approved. Many lifts are available that have not been approved, so be cautious when considering a safety device as important as a lift.

Use Care When Lifting Modern Vehicles

It almost goes with out saying that today’s unit construction vehicles are harder to lift than their full-frame counterparts of thirty years ago. Improper lift procedures can seriously damage many cars and light trucks, even where the lift point appears substantial and solid. Unsure about the correct lift point for a vehicle?

There are two excellent ways to be sure about the correct lifting point for a car or light truck. One is to look for the manufacturer ANSI/SAE J2184 label, wither under the hood or in the glove compartment.

The label clearly defines the correct lift points, which are usually marked by a hole, boss or depression in the shape of an equilateral triangle about 3/4 of an inch per side. Another good strategy is to consult the Vehicle Lifting Point Guide produced by the Automotive Lift Institute.

The guide contains clear diagrams showing the correct lifting points for suspension and frame-contact lifting, as well as any special procedures such as air suspension instructions.

Note that in any case where confusion exists about lift points or procedures, the vehicle sticker found under hood or in the glove box is the final word. And speaking of stickers, are the safety labels that shipped on your lift intact and readable? If not, it’s a good safety practice to replace worn or missing labels. They’re available from lift manufacturers and distributors.

The ALI also publishes a list of approved lifts under the ANSI/ALI ALCTV-1998 standard. Approved lifts carry an ALI certification mark.

The ALI also offers a comprehensive array of training materials. The ALI is an industry trade association comprised of Canadian and U.S. manufacturers and some distributors of imported lifts. Their web site is

Use a personal FRL

Looking for better air tool performance? Longer life? Enhanced reliability? Air tools like impact guns, air ratchets and chisels, and even blow guns are only as good as the air supply they work with. And most shops don’t use industrial-grade system filters and water separators; many don’t use traps plumbed into the hard lines, either. Moisture, compressor oils and fine particles of rust and dirt all compromise air tool performance and shorten tool life. The best answer in the bay is a filter/regulator/lubricator set.

The filter not only removes debris, water and compressor oil, but also lets the shop owner know that the compressor needs service. The regulator allows fine-tuning of pressure-sensitive tools and with the gauge usually built-in, lets the tech check line pressure when troubleshooting tool problems at a glance.

The lubricator then adds clean oil to clean air, and can be adjusted to provide the surprisingly small amount of lubricant needed by modern air tools. FRL sets can be permanently mounted, or fitted with quick release connectors for portability. If used in a portable setup, however, the set should be supported by a bracket and not allowed to hang on the connectors.

Also, choose a filter with an easy to operate drain valve (they’re available in both manual and automatic versions) and be sure to specify an explosion guard for the plastic bowl. FRL’s are a great way to protect your expensive air tool investment.

Impact wrenches are particularly susceptible to maintenance-related trouble. Storage for a prolonged period, like a long weekend in a high-humidity area, can promote corrosion. Adding a moderate amount (many manufacturers specify an ounce) of air tool lube into the inlet, then running until an oil fog is seen in the exhaust, will protect tool internals.

And don’t forget: air ratchets and impact guns are not torque wrenches. For safety-critical tightening like wheel nuts, you must use a torque wrench after nut running with the ratchet or gun. Manual torquing will also give you an indication of any power loss in the air tool.

Why trip over hoses?

Exhaust hose reels are an excellent way to keep bays clear, clean and safe. Here’s why:

Keeps the hose off the floor

When not in use the exhaust hose is coiled on to the reel, out of the way. When the system is in use, only the necessary length of hose is uncoiled. The shorter the length of hose lying on the floor, the smaller the risk of a tripping accident.

Easy handling

Everyday handling of an exhaust hose is more convenient when using a hose reel. When exhaust extraction is required, it is easy to uncoil the hose and connect the nozzle.


Less strain on the operator and more convenient handling of the Exhaust Hose Reel could be achieved by optimizing the uncoiling and coiling forces. New material and production methods make new technical solutions possible. Simplified installation of the reel would be possible by using mounting brackets in the ceiling or on the wall and lift the reel directly onto the brackets. There would be no need to hold the reel and fix the bolts at the same time.


Low spring power means greater freedom of movement for and less strain on the operator when handling the hose. The risk of stumbling accidents would be reduced. Low spring power also means low recoiling speed. A hose that recoils freely at low speed will do so with a considerably reduced risk of injuries and damage. A safety device to lock the drum during maintenance work reduces the risk of injury.

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