BendPak leadSome guys have all the luck.

When you’re James Lawrence, CEO of Power Automedia, there are perks that come with being the fearless leader of the definitive automotive media conglomerate on the web. You get to play with race cars, meet fascinating people, get invitations to the coolest auto industry events and employ incredibly creative scribes like your humble author. Cough, cough.

For a guy who’s seen it all in the automotive world, you’d think there might not be much left to aspire to, until visions of the ultimate dream garage began to dance in his head.

Let’s face it, most guys–gals too–have fantasized about the “perfect” home garage. The right tools, cabinets, flooring and equipment are mentally arranged and re-arranged until garage nirvana is achieved.

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One piece of shop equipment many of us have lusted over is a high quality, four-post lift, and recently, that fantasy came true for our aforementioned head honcho, Mr. Lawrence.

If you’ve thought about a car lift for your home garage—or shop—we’ve created a primer here on the ins-and-outs of installing a BendPak four-post lift. Not only is the lift awesome for either routine maintenance or big jobs, it effectively doubles your parking capacity, roof height allowing of course.

We’ll take you step by step on how the lift was installed and give some tips on how to avoid any snafus. This is intended as a “macro” view of the process with a micro approach facilitated by going here and selecting BendPak’s install instructions. A qualified, experienced installer can be of enormous help as well.

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This is what we started with, a very nice three-car garage in suburban Southern California. The third bay is approximately twenty feet high and was perfect space to accept the lift.

For the Lawrence residence, we chose the BendPak HD-9XW  model with the very cool RJ-45 option, an accessory that allows you to lift the car and access the wheels, brakes and suspension components while the car rests on the “runways” of the lift.

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BendPak HD-9XW

BendPak is the big kahuna of lift makers folks. They make big, strong lift systems to safely get your car up off the ground.

They didn’t get to be the big dog overnight either. They’ve been in business delivering high quality products and great customer service for more than four decades.

Good news travels fast and BendPak is known around the world as the leader in service equipment technology, marketing, and training programs, as well as operational and supply systems that are now considered the standard of the entire industry.

Not all lifts are create equal either. When you’ve got a two-ton vehicle up in the air, safety is of the utmost concern.

According to Jeff Kritzer, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at BendPak, “We find  ourselves competing with cheap, dangerous knock-offs that are not ALI Certified and have bad warranties. BendPak lifts are fully certified and offer the best consumer warranty in the industry on lift structure, hydraulics and any costs of shipping and labor.”

He continued by saying the lift should last a long time. “Like oil changes on your car, do all your regular maintenance and inspections. See to that, and your lift is going to last a long, long time.”

BendPak lifts come standard in gunmetal gray but Mr. Lawrence chose a very nice blue color. Red and black are offered as well. Not only is the 9,000-lb. capacity HD-9XW model ideal for vehicle storage in residential garages or commercial buildings, it’s a great service lift for businesses and shops as well.

When installing the lift, the most important aspect to consider is the condition of the concrete that the unit will be sitting on. A stable foundation without any settling issues is ideal. Because of the post-tension slab foundation in the Lawrence’s residence, it didn’t allow us to drill into the concrete, so we built the lift as a free standing system. Optional casters enable you to move the lift or even roll the unit outside to wherever best suits your needs.

You will also need an air compressor in your garage to actuate the lock system and the optional RJ-45 lift.

About the size of a typical parking space, or 171 square feet, this BendPak lift truly maximizes valuable floor area. The HD-9XW is perfect for detailing, storing ATVs, snowmobiles, jet skis, golf carts, boats or just about anything else that needs to be off the ground. You can finally make use of that unused vertical space above your car. If you’ve got at least the standard 8-foot ceiling, this lift will work for you.

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Although perfect for a home residence, don’t call the HD-9XW a “hobby lift.” This model has features previously found only on commercial-grade designs.  The HD-9XW is the standard version of the high-rise lift. If you are looking for a narrow-width model, consider the HD-9STX.

Now it’s time to look at the installation requirements. At this point we’ve measured the space, the vehicle, and selected the lift. Now, we’re ready to get crackin’. 

These steps are crucial to installing the lift and abiding by city laws.

  • Permit: Usually your city will require a permit to install a lift in your garage (home or business). This may actually be the hardest part of a lift install, but with a little research, your local city hall should also be able to direct you to any county or state requirements.
  • Overhead clearance: Be careful with the overhead clearance. Depending on the vehicle to be lifted, it may be necessary to lower the garage door before raising the vehicle. Otherwise to gain additional overhead clearance it may be necessary to relocate the garage door track, replace the door or change the automatic door opener.
  • Electrical: Although the majority of professional-quality lifts are prewired for 220 volts, most homeowners choose to have the wiring on the lift converted to a standard 110 volt. While the lift could be powered by an extension cord from a wall receptacle most installers obtain their power by dropping a line from the ceiling to the lift tower.
  • Air supply: A BendPak lift requires a compressor with a 25-psi air line to release the safety locks. There is a pin connected to an air cylinder and as the lift is being raised, the safety pin slides past slots placed every 4 inches in the safety rail. Once the lift reaches the desired height, the lift is lowered until the pin locks into the next slot down. The air cylinder pulls the safety pin back to allow the lift to be lowered to the floor.
  • Concrete: The concrete floor should be at least 4 inches thick and able to handle 2,500 psi or greater which is a usually a standard core for home garages. For lifts with capacities greater 12,000 pounds, check the specifications. Jason also pointed out the two post lift is available in two different configurations. One configuration is considered “standard” when the columns are directly symmetrical to each other. In a two post “asymmetric” lift the columns are turned about 30 degrees back. The asymmetric lift is designed for sports cars or body shops where the vehicle will sit further back than a standard lift would allow it. That position allows the vehicle doors to be opened while the vehicle is on the rack. This is good for body shops because it gives them more room to work around the vehicle.

We think utilizing a experienced contractor to install one of these systems makes the most sense, but again, if you want a deeper dive into the skill level and tools needed to install it yourself refer to BendPak’s installation material.

Here come the workmen! TJ Auto Lifts out of Los Angeles have installed many of these systems so we leveraged their talent and experience. This is what the lift looks like when it shows up at the door. Nicely flat packed and ready to go. Everything comes with kit except for five gallons of hydraulic fluid.

We chose the professional installation team AJ Lifts and they did a very nice job. We met them at the house bright and early and they got to work unloading all the parts and components needed to install the unit. The only thing we needed to bring was 5 gallons of hydraulic fluid that the system uses to actuate the lift.

For such a big device, it came flat packed in a relatively compact package. The installation company wasted no time laying everything out to access and survey all components.

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Lift comes complete with all hardware and detailed instructions, customer support and online reference materials.

Essentially, the unit comes with four posts, two runways, two sets of ramps, a hydraulic pump that powers the lift and the cable system to stabilize the lift. There are various bolts and accessories that come included in the packing and completes the kit.

The build is fairly simple and straight forward with some skill needed to erect the posts, level the unit and plumb the hydraulic lines and cable stabilization system.

Our techs prep the verticals with all moving mechanicals and get ready to stand the posts up. The stamped steel, slotted pieces that fit inside the verticals, are part of the locking system.

Once all components are laid out, the guys got busy assembling the unit

First, the four posts are built and then set in an upright position. There are “ladders” that the system uses to lock the moveable run. Remember, we did not anchor the verticals into place, as the tension slab of the house was not compatible with anchoring the lift by drilling into the slab.

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Safety is of the utmost concern here and the system is stable and strong standing on it’s own. The ramps along with the cable tension system creates tremendous rigidity to ensure a safe lift environment.  With the optional casters you can even move the system around.

Although a serious project that requires a mechanical knowledge base to install correctly, this is a fairly simple step when erecting the four posts.

Because the system is a drive-on unit, the runways are added next and even though they the raise up and down, they also locate and tie together both two-legged vertical assemblies.  These are enormous, super-strong, 5 mm thick, cold-rolled steel and required the picker to lift into place.

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Horizontal components are key structural pieces. BendPak heavy-duty quality ensures a stable lift.

Next up is setting up the  hydraulic fluid lines.  The lift is activated by the hydraulics and an electric pump included with the lift. The lock system is pneumatically actuated by aforementioned air compressor, so the next step is routing all the lines and cables.

The nice thing about the BendPak HD-9XW is all the lines are skillfully enclosed in the unit so not only does it reduce possible damage from being exposed, but also affords a clean and tidy look.

The included hydraulic pump is what actuates the lift. Most plumbing lines are enclosed with the HD-9XW. Lower right - Canister holds five gallons of hydraulic fluid.

The system uses five gallons of hydraulic fluid. Next up, getting the cable system in place.  The four posts are tied together with this cable.

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After the hydraulic lines are plumbed and cables fished and connected, it’s time to hook up the power and the air compressor and do an initial run run.

The the locking mechanism along with the hydraulics and cable mechanism, contribute to the lofty safety standards of every BendPak Lift.

We filled the hydraulic pump with almost 5 gallons of fluid, calibrated the system and with all sytstems “go,” we did a successful maiden run.

Lastly we also installed the very cool and helpful RJ-45 lift system. What this allows you to do is the wheels up of the runways to access.  This is run by the air compressor as well and slides on built-in tracks on runways so you can slide it under the front or rear of the car.

The RJ-45 lift system is a very useful addition to your BendPak lift, allowing you to change tires, brakes and other unsprung components.

The install took the better part of the day or roughly 8 hours or so. It helps to work closely with your installer and have your space clean, clear and ready to go.  Once installed you might wonder how you ever lived without it.

Oil changes, detailing, and working on the car are now easier forever. Plus, your parking space just doubled.

Go to BendPak’s website for more details, pricing and assistance with planning your dream car garage.