The Difference Between Symmetric and Asymmetric Automotive Lifts

Automobile lifts originally date back to the invention of the Otis lift, but we do not need to go into history to understand this subject. It is enough for us to know up until the 1980s the most popular type of automotive lift for sale, as well as the most popularly used type were the in-ground type. These elevators for cars had the machinery for lifting the car or truck beneath the ground. Throughout the 1980s many garages found that their car lifts needed major repairs, and that they often needed a complete overhaul of the mechanism installed under the ground. Furthermore new customers looking for a garage elevator did not find the idea of having to dig a hole in the ground a very cost effective idea.

In Europe the most popular automobile lifts were two post ones that were installed above ground. The installation process was much easier than that of the American in-ground and American garages soon started installing these types of elevators. Unfortunately the European vehicle lifts were made for European cars, and these were narrower than American cars. The space between the hoisting posts was much less than what was needed, and the front car doors could not be opened except with great difficulty. This was due to the fact that the vehicle lift posts were too close to the vehicle.

The answer was the asymmetrical car lift. All two post elevators have four lifting arms connected to the two posts. Each post has two of these hoisting arms, one for the part of the car that will be in front of the lifting post and the other arm for the part of the car that will be behind the hoisting post. Asymmetric lifts use a shorter lifting arm in front of the post and a longer one behind the post resulting in a configuration where only 30% of the vehicle remains in front of the posts while 70% remains behind them. However this configuration creates an unbalanced load on the lift and and results in higher maintenance costs to keep the lift in service. The problem is solved by turning the posts from facing each other outwards to 30 degrees towards the load centre. A fully asymmetric vehicle lift will have unequal arm lengths and hoisting posts rotated at thirty degrees, while a lift with only different arm lengths can still be referred to as an asymmetric car lift but is really only half-asymmetric.

The advantage of this type of lift is that the vehicle door can be opened and closed with ease and it does not give the same problem of the narrow gap. However you may now buy symmetric car lifts that have a wider gap between the two posts, and this is not a problem for most garages, especially business garages that have a large space to use. Nevertheless the asymmetric lift makes it easy for you to open the car door in a lift that takes up far less space and is thus considered ideal as a car lift to be used in home garages. Garage owners that need a lift for larger vehicles will be less interested in asymmetric lifts and more interested in symmetric lifts, because larger vehicles are generally longer than cars and their doors can open fully when using the latter type of lift. It is therefore important when looking to purchase a lift to consider what type of vehicle you will need to lift, as well as your space requirements.