How Does a Hydraulic Car Elevator Work & Why to Use Them?

Hydraulic Car Elevator Work 1

If you’re an automobile enthusiast, you must be interested in a hydraulic car elevator and how it really works. The hydraulic elevator systems are fascinating because of the way they offer vertical transportation for cars and other heavy loads. Hydraulic car lifts are an important part of the automobile industry that allows secure vertical lifting of heavy objects. This system is also popular compared to other car lift systems due to its limited space occupancy and cheaper installation cost. When it comes to ensuring safe working environments in the automobile sector, the hydraulic car elevator is an unparalleled choice. Being the investigators of hydraulics, we look to get into the components of this system and find out how they coordinate so well to make car lifting so easier. We believe the discussion will let you have a better understanding of the hydraulic car lift’s working procedure.

How A Hydraulic Car Elevator Works

The hydraulic car elevator mechanism is nothing different from a regular hydraulic elevator system. Generally, hydraulic elevators are systems powered by a piston capable of traveling inside a hydraulic cylinder. They include an electric motor that pumps the hydraulic oil into the hydraulic cylinder to push the piston. This allows the piston to smoothly lift the elevator cabin to transport heavy objects in buildings as high as five or six storied.

The hydraulic car elevator has the lar components as the regular hydraulic systems. The hydraulic car lift is also made up of such as a pump, a piston, a motor, a valve, and an oil tank. It needs a machine room generally (machine-room less are also available) that can accommodate the pump, the motor, and oil. While going up, the pump in the system pushes the hydraulic oil into the cylinder. The cylinder then pushes the piston and finally, the piston forces the lift to move up. While going down, the valve in the system opens allowing the hydraulic oil to flow back into the hydraulic reservoir and then the lift starts to descend.

If we analyze the working mechanism we find the valve as a crucial component that enables the unidirectional flow of the hydraulic oil when it’s open. But when it’s close the oil can only flow from the system reservoir into the hydraulic cylinder. This oil movement is controlled by the pump operator from the elevator cabin. Once the elevator reaches the destination, the operator turns the pump off allowing the elevator to rest on the piston that stays in place because of the hydraulic oil in the cylinder.

Hydraulic Car Elevator Work
Exporters India

Hydraulic Elevator vs Traction Elevator

While looking up for the hydraulic car lifts, you may have come across something called the traction elevator. You can consider a traction elevator if you lack the space generally required for a hydraulic car lift. The difference between the traction elevators from the hydraulic elevators is mainly the working mechanism. The traction lift is based on the counterweight mechanism and uses the pulley system having steel cables, ropes, or belts to complete the elevation process. In this system, the counterweight descends as the elevator ascends or vice-versa. The traction elevators use less energy, reduce motor pressure, and provide more longevity than the hydraulic elevators. However, they have some cons compared to the hydraulic ones such as they are more costly, not suitable for transporting heavy loads such as vehicles, and require costly maintenance and servicing.

hydraulic car elevator 1
Qingdao Mutrade Co., Ltd.

traction car elevator

Where to Use Hydraulic Car Elevator

Hydraulic lifts have a wide range of applications, however, the automotive industry is our main concern here. It’s because the hydraulic car lift is a crucial part of this industry. There’s hard to find any car garage or vehicle service center without having any hydraulic car elevator. The technicians are very careful about selecting the perfect hydraulic car lift so that it becomes easy for them to take the car up to the desired height and they can also adjust it according to the requirement. The car lifts also allow the garages to have an increased parking space while also making it easy to perform the car servicing and maintenance works. Another place that commonly uses the hydraulic car lift is the car showrooms and super malls for increasing the parking space. The ability to deal with the heavy loads while using minimum human effort makes these elevators so popular.

Where to Use Hydraulic Car Elevator

Types of Hydraulic Car Elevators

Considering the varying requirements of the users, you’ll find different types of hydraulic car elevators available in the market. Let’s find out some of them below.

4 Post Car Lift 1
Rotary Lift

Four Post Elevators:

As the name suggests, the four-post elevators have four posts at every corner and one ramp-like elevating platform that connects the posts allowing the car to get on. They are available in different base area dimensions and lifting capacities. These car elevators come with an excellent locking system that securely holds and positions the vehicle at the desired height. The base platform is rectangular and strong to provide great stability to the lifted cars or vehicles. They are commonly used in wheel alignment applications, different repairing services, and oil-changing tasks.

Two-Post Elevators:

Two-post hydraulic elevators are an excellent option for small cars. They consist of two posts having arms jutting triangularly. The small garages find them the best options as they occupy less space and are less expensive. They can be both symmetrical and asymmetrical. The symmetrical ones have their posts facing each other while each of the arms holding half of the load. Whereas, the asymmetrical ones come with a rotating post and offer swing arms in varying lengths.

Two Post Elevators
Two Post Elevators Reviews
Rotary Lift

Scissor Elevators:

The scissor elevators contain two superimposed car platforms and are mostly suitable for places with limited space. They generally include retractable levers that can extend in zigzag and are located between the platforms. You can also get them in portable and fixed versions. This hydraulic car elevator base uses a perfect hydraulic mechanism to offer a steady and smooth operation.

Scissor Car Elevators

In-Ground Auto Elevators:

The next option we have is the in-ground auto elevators that are excellent to maximize your space. They have the hydraulic lifting mechanism located underground and are used by a switch connected to the lift to bring them above the ground. This is one of the most common hydraulic car elevators for automotive service shops as they can stay hidden while not in use. They are durable, flexible, and safe; however, the installation procedure is a little complex. You can get them in different versions such as single-post, side-by-side twin-post, and so on.

Alignment Elevators:

Finally, we have the alignment elevators which are an excellent option to deal with while alignment tasks. They are much similar to the four-post hydraulic car elevator in terms of appearance. However, the alignment function is highly suitable for different automotive purposes.

Alignment Car Elevators


Advantages of a Hydraulic Car Lift

There are some excellent advantages of using the hydraulic car elevator. The hydraulic system makes these elevators the least expensive and quickest to install. They are capable of moving very heavy weights and lifting a car is just a breeze. These elevators have lower pit & overhead requirements. They also don’t require any crane or roof access. You can also find above-ground models for the hydraulic car elevator with/without machine rooms. They occupy less space and require minimum maintenance.

Disadvantages of a Hydraulic Car Elevator

There are a few disadvantages associated with the hydraulic car elevator as well. They are not anything major but you should be aware of them. Being a hydraulic system, the car lift can have leakage creating a mess in the operation. These elevators are also a little slow that can frustrate the users a bit. They also need large power requirements.

Hydraulic Car Lift
The Kwik-Lift

Things to Consider Before Buying A Hydraulic Car Elevator

There are some factors to consider while buying the hydraulic car elevator. Because you don’t want to regret in case of such a crucial buy.

Platform Width & Length: First of all, it’s the platform width and length that needs to be considered. The standard size should be around 230-300 cm for the width and 500-650 cm for the length. However, the dimension can vary based on the user requirements. 

Loading Capacity: The loading capacity is another important factor for the hydraulic car elevator. The standard capacity of the hydraulic car lift is around 3000-5000 kg.

Travel Distance: You also need to consider how much distance the hydraulic elevator can cover vertically to find if it can reach your desired height or not. Generally, you get hydraulic elevators that can travel up to 11.9m.

Pit Depth: The bit depth of the hydraulic car lift is also a crucial factor. The pit depth makes a safe space below the vehicle allowing technicians to work under the car safely. A good pit depth is considered between 20-60 cm based on the user requirements.

Speed: Generally hydraulic car elevators are not as swift as other elevators. However, you will find them at varying speeds. The standard speed for a hydraulic car elevator is up to .15 m/s.

Additional Features: The customizable hydraulic car elevators are also great options to consider. You can have additional features to customize the appearance and switch cabinet of the lift. You can find the right color, lighting, finish, etc. for the hydraulic car lift as you want. The multimedia and assistance tools that come with a switch cabinet that allows remote service is another excellent feature to consider.

Holed or Holeless Hydraulic Lift?

The holed or holeless hydraulic car lift is another topic that shouldn’t be unnoticed. The holed hydraulic system allows the elevator car to mount on the piston that can travel inside the hydraulic cylinder. In this system, the cylinder is placed into a drilled hole and can extend below the ground to the depth equal to the height the lift can rise. It allows the car to rise when the fluid is pumped into the hydraulic cylinder using the valve. And the car lift descends when the fluid is back to the reservoir. This system is also called Inground Hydraulic.

On the other hand, the holeless hydraulic elevators are the ones without requiring a drilled hole. They are the perfect choices for the existing infrastructures or in places where drilling would be costly or difficult. In these elevators, the pistons are mounted into the hoistway to lift and lower the cars. They mainly use a direct-acting piston to lift the car.

Cost, Maintenance & Service of Hydraulic Car Lifts

The research on the hydraulic car elevators would be somewhat incomplete without checking out its cost, maintenance procedures, and servicing issues. These topics will make you more aware of the hydraulic car elevator.


The cost of anything is always crucial. In this case, it’s not about finding the costlier hydraulic lift for your automotive, rather finding one that isn’t the perfect zone. The standard pricing for the car lifts with a capacity of 5000 kg range somewhere between $2000 to $3500. It applies to regular two-post and lower capacity four-post lifts. However, that price can vary up to $1000 based on quality and other additional features. Besides, the buying cost you should be also informed about the installation cost which is generally around $500.

Hydraulic Car Elevator Work 2


The hydraulic car lift has to go through a proper maintenance checklist as well. The maintenance tasks can be broken down into daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The daily tasks may include visual inspection, checking safety locks, checking cables and hydraulic connections, and so on. The weekly ones may include cleaning and greasing the lift, lubricating, and checking different parts like hydraulic cylinder, oil, etc. Every month, you can check and retighten anchor bolts, check cables, eliminate dirt build-ups, and so on.

Repair & Servicing:

The repair and servicing tasks are associated with every machinery and hydraulic system. There can be many issues with the hydraulic elevators in terms of their hydraulic cylinders, ballooning tubes, bearing area, hose, and oil changing issues. A regular inspection should be performed and the issues should be addressed as soon as they’re encountered. All the prominent lift companies provide servicing and they should be contacted to solve any such issue. 


This article acts as a basic guide on the hydraulic car elevator, how it works, and the issues related to it which the enthusiasts should be informed about. The better you know about it, the better chances that you end up with the best one. We hope this article works well for you and you keep on doing your best with the much-loved hydraulic systems!

Feature Image Source: MaxJax

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Mia A Chloe
Author: Mia A Chloe

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