Mechanic using a low-rise automotive lift

Best Automotive Lifts for Small Shops

Small auto shop owners face one frustrating challenge—finding lifts that fit within their limited space without sacrificing performance.

The good news is that plenty of high-performance lifts have small footprints. In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of our recommended lifts.

Best for Low Ceilings


The VLX10 low-rise automotive lift pad

With a full rise time of 40 seconds, the VLXS10 pad lift is perfect for quick-service operations like oil and filter changes, tire and brake servicing, or quickly inspecting the undercarriage of cars or trucks up to 10,000 pounds. This ALI Gold-certified system includes high-power, dual-lifting cylinders, four three-position adapters, four 1.5-inch rubber blocks for low-profile vehicles, and four heat-resistant pads.

With an overall width of 78.5 inches and two drive-over ramps, the VLXS10 can accommodate various vehicle widths. The VLXS10 more than compensates for its lighter lifting capacity with improved service speed and flexibility.


SPO12 automotive lift

For smaller shops needing more lifting power for larger, heavier vehicles, there’s the ALI Gold-certified SPO12LC—specifically designed for service centers and garages with low ceiling bays. This two-post lift has a 12,000-pound lifting capacity, an 11-foot, 8-inch overall height, and requires no more than an 11-foot, 10.75-inch minimum ceiling height.

This incredible lift has standard front and rear three-stage arms for greater reach, symmetrical “Double S” columns, and non-metal truck adapters with stackable inserts. Although it has a slower full rise of 60 seconds, it can be equipped with Rotary Lift’s patented Shockwave™ technology, drastically reducing the rise time to 25 seconds.

Best for Electric Vehicle Servicing


SLW210 inground lift from Rotary Lift

While uniquely designed to service and repair exotic and electric vehicles, the SLW210 is a multi-function, obstruction-free, and extremely versatile inground lift. With a 10,000-pound capacity, it can easily accommodate standard class 1 vehicles. The SLW210 comes with fast and easy-to-position TRIO™ Arms that increase reach by 18% and have interchangeable adapters, allowing you to service EVs, sports cars, standard vehicles, and trucks on the same arm.

While it requires a professional installation, the SLW210 is well worth the time and money and comes preassembled, so excavation during installation is minimal. It also features an obstructive-free design, providing 48% more under-car clearance and 360-degree access around vehicles. The SLW210 is equipped with SMARTLIFT® technology, which makes required routine maintenance faster, easier, and less expensive. Although it has a full rise time of 53 seconds, it can be equipped with Rotary Lift’s Shockwave™ technology, which cuts the rise time in half.


SLW212 inground lift from Rotary Lift

Offering the same functionality as the SLW210—but with increased lifting capacity—the SLW212 is another versatile inground lift that comes preassembled and requires minimal excavation. With a capacity to lift 12,000 pounds and the same design features as the SLW210, the SLW212 is another solution for small shops that need to have unobstructed access when working on trucks.

Easiest to Use


IG210W automotive lift

The IG210W is a wide inground lift with a 10,000-pound lifting capacity, making it ideal for shops that service class 1 vehicles. With 85 inches of drive-thru clearance, low-profile arms and adapters, and a mechanical safety locking system, your service technicians will have safe, obstruction-free access to any vehicle’s undercarriage. This automotive lift is extremely durable, featuring a self-contained, high-strength steel frame, hardened chrome pistons, and maintenance-free guides and cylinders.

While this lift requires considerable excavation and installation time, its many features and multiple functions mean your garage can service any electric vehicle. The IG210W is available with optional Shockwave™ technology, which reduces its rise time from 54 seconds to 30 seconds. It also comes with the option of wall-mounted or one-touch operating controls.

Best for At-Home Garages

Forward EFP9

Forward's EFP9 four-post lift

Generally, we recommend lift pads, two-post lifts, and inground lifts for small garages and service centers because they have smaller footprints. However, Forward’s EFP9 four-post lift is a great option for small shops, including at-home garages.

It can support up to 9,000 pounds and has a 20-inch-wide runway, making it perfect for standard wider vehicles. This lift is also ALI- and ETL-certified, comes with variable height locking positions, an adjustable lock ladder leveling system, and has versatility mounting capabilities, as its power unit and single-point lock release can be mounted on any of its columns.

With a maximum rise height of 84 inches (7 feet) and an under-runway clearance of 79.25 inches, the Forward EFP9 is perfect for doubling your parking space. You can easily park vehicles underneath, while the 30-inch high-strength, black powder-coated steel ramps allow you to park your low-sitting sports car up top.

While the Forward EFP9 has multiple uses, it is unfortunately not designed to hold or lift higher-weighing vehicles like pickup trucks either under or above, especially given the high ground clearance of today’s trucks.

Most Versatile & Adjustable

Forward |10

Forward |10 two-post lift

While the Forward EFP9 is a more specialized lift for sports cars and specialty vehicles, the Forward |10 is a versatile and easily adjustable lift for everyday vehicles. This ALI Gold-certified lift has a 10,000-pound lifting capacity, top-mounted Direct-Pull lifting technology, and a symmetrical column design. The Forward |10 also features adjustable width options (10 feet, 9 inches or 11 feet, 5 inches) and an optional extended height kit, which adds two feet to the lift.

Other features of the Forward |10 include a single point lock release, low-profile threaded adapters, an adapter storage bracket, and a Spot-Rite™ three-stage front arm design that allows symmetrical and asymmetrical vehicle spotting.

Most Portable


FLEXMAX MCHM14 mobile column lift

If you service heavy-duty trucks, vans, and buses but need mobility to accommodate your small space, the FLEXMAX™ MCHM14 is the lift you need. This intuitive system powers its adjustable lifting forks, allowing your technicians to operate different columns, while its forklift pockets allow them to relocate columns throughout the bay.

Each column supports 14,000 pounds, allowing all eight columns to support payloads of 112,000 pounds. This lift also features remote-control capabilities. Your technicians can use the FLEXMAX™ wireless, hand-held remote to select and change column groups and cycle lifts from any column. Each column displays the vehicle’s height and weight while providing column-lock safety lighting and visual cues when the column is locked in position. It also features REDFIRE® technology, providing a fast set-up time.

Get Product Assistance Today

Allied, Inc. is a trusted partner and top supplier of Rotary Lift and Forward Lift products for commercial garages and service centers. We can ship lifts anywhere in the United States and also offer reliable installation services and ALI-certified inspections to shops in Michigan and northern Ohio.

If you need help selecting the right lift for your garage or would like a quote for any of the products covered in this article, contact us today.