The old adage says you ought to have the right tool for the job. The right tool can make repairs go quicker and easier, and generally speaking the repair will better and will last longer when the correct tool is used. But if you are like us, for years you’ve been learning how to make do with what is without a doubt the wrong tool in one way or another.
One time when making do has really been a pain in the, uh, back was when we needed to lift a vehicle off the ground to get under there and make repairs and improvements. Sure, having suspension lift helps, as do a creeper, a floor jack, and an ample supply of jackstands, but there’s a reason every repair shop across this great country uses a vehicle lift. Vehicle lifts safely and securely allow you to get under your 4x4 rigs to make repairs and improvements, and to clean stuff up. Also, now that more and more types of vehicle lifts are available, the price on this tool, either used or new, has come within reach of most people who regularly work on a 4x4. All this adds up to a story that really makes our backs feel great thanks to one of the titans of the vehicle lift industry, BendPak.
Buying a vehicle lift isn’t necessarily easy if you don’t know much about vehicle lifts, but we had done some research so we had an idea of what we wanted. A quick call to BendPak’s toll-free 800 number confirmed what we were thinking, namely a 10,000-pound two-post symmetrical lift with a top beam (BendPak also has lots of info online to help you decide what is right for you).
First, we knew we wanted a two-post lift because we change a lot of tires and do a lot of axle work. A four-post is great for transmission, exhaust, and other repairs where the tires stay on the vehicle. Second, the top beam means there will be nothing to drive over or slide transmissions/transfer cases over. From there we also decided we wanted a symmetrical lift. Unlike an asymmetrical lift, a symmetrical one allows the user to load the vehicle forwards or backwards on the lift.
From there it was just a matter of deciding how large of a lift we needed. We hemmed and hawed between 10,000 and 12,000 pounds so even the largest rigs we built would fit, but BendPak’s Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) certification (which tests structural integrity, manufacturer quality control, overload protection, and more) helped assure us that even our 3/4-ton to 1-ton trucks would be safe when up on the 10,000-pound unit.
With all this in mind, BendPak sent us the XPR-10S/10K capacity lift with an adjustable width top beam. This lift has lots of features, including dual hydraulic direct-drive cylinders for lifting, telescoping arms with drop ends, a single‐point safety release, a four‐piece 63mm stackable adapter set, and two types of pads. We then leaned on Boggs Equipment to install the lift. Check it out.
There isn’t much we won’t dive into when it comes to working on a 4x4. Some parts still mystify our simple minds, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fix them. Some folks are also fine with installing their own vehicle lift, but since it’s not something we do every day (and we don’t have a forklift to unload the lift from the freight truck), we reached out to Boggs Equipment in Arizona at BendPak’s recommendation. Boggs literally does this every day and will ensure that the lift is installed properly for a lifetime of safe use. Boggs drilled the holes, bolted everything together, filled the hydraulic system, and even tested the lift. We ran some conduit and supplied 220-volt power to the lift. Boggs also helped alleviate any concerns about the concrete to which the lift is mounted. Our slab is overkill for the lift, but these guys can help you determine what needs to be done to securely mount this or any two-post lift.
Our BendPak XPR-10S came with two different style of pads for the arms (more on them in a second). We’ve mostly used the frame cradle pads since most of our rigs have frames. The telescoping screw pads are useful for pulling bodies off frames or cars with pinch welds and unibodies. The screw pads do have dual stage adjuster screws for adjusting pad height. The lift also came with four of these 63mm stackable adapters to adjust height on either of the types of pads. Learning how to balance the vehicle on the lift is critical and something that you should take very seriously.
The “front” arms on the lift have three-stage sliding length adjusters, and the “rear” have two-stage. Since ours is a symmetric or symmetrical lift we can use it with the front of the rig in either direction as long as the vehicle is balanced properly. The arm restraints and pins are plated for rust prevention and are easy to use. Each side post or column has a direct drive hydraulic ram for lifting, 1/2-inch equalizer cables, and safety locks that click every 3 inches. Use the rams to lift, and then bleed down the system so the weight is on locks when you’re working underneath the vehicle.
We also ordered up four (two pairs) of these Sunex 1,500-pound Underhoist Stands (PN 6809, $77.99 a pair). They are designed to only hold vehicle components like exhaust or axles while you work on them, and not the whole vehicle. But with four of these stands or jacks under the vehicle, they might just buy you a few seconds if the vehicle were to fall off the lift. We can’t stress enough how important it is to properly load and balance a vehicle on a lift like this. If it falls it won’t only destroy the rig but may also kill you. We always load the lift, raise the vehicle an inch or so off the ground, and give it a good shake to make sure it is stable on the lift before lifting to height and again resting the weight of the vehicle on the locks, not the hydraulic rams.