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Building full length car ramp/lift for home use

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  • Building full length car ramp/lift for home use

    At $1400 this ramp style lift ( is too expensive for my blood. I'd much rather buy a real lift for that kinda coin. However, I'm intrigued by the simple design that will prove very handy for clutch, exhaust etc type of work. Now I've seen a few examples of similar design attempts using questionable material like cinder block, wood etc but I can't find any examples of this in metal, seems like a fairly straight forward job with metal ?

    For my purposes the whole lift has to support a max of 3500lbs. Any suggestions on the metal thickness, type of metal etc ? I'm considering:

    - 4x4x3/16" angle iron (mild steel) for the perimeter of the ramps or perhaps square tubing (maybe 2x2x1/8"). Covered with 1x12" wooden boards to spread the load.

    - The legs/support could be something like an H configuration built out of square tubing ?

    Attached below is just a crude drawing of what I have in mind. Its gotta be just as strong if not stronger than the stamped steel jack stands and even the kwiklift ramps ?
    MM175 - Gone

  • #2
    I too would love to have a lift at home but without a high ceiling and $$$ to buy I am in your same situation. Personally, I would not build anything like that. Storage would be a pain and it wouldn't even be as useful as a good quality jack stand. Just buy some tall jacks stands and save up for a rotary lift.
    MMMMMMMMMMM........Duff Beer...............Doh!


    • #3
      Hi RussellH, here is a steel chart that might be handy to help with your designing. Remember if your first design starts to get to heavy for you to move around, look into building your ramps with lighter shapes, but in a truss.
      Dynasty 300 DX Tig Runner

      Survey says!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Blue is prettier than purple or yeller


      • #4
        How About A Pit

        about 8 yrs ago a customer had a large motor home[former mech teacher at school] and wanted a pit. we poured 3 stout concrete walls on a down slope next to his house. wide flange i beams to drive on. water flows out the open side.

        this may interist someone here, it wasen't cheap


        • #5
          Originally posted by toolaholic
          about 8 yrs ago a customer had a large motor home[former mech teacher at school] and wanted a pit. we poured 3 stout concrete walls on a down slope next to his house. wide flange i beams to drive on. water flows out the open side.
          Now you’re letting that PILE BUCK attitude show. “Bigger is better”
          Dynasty 300 DX Tig Runner

          Survey says!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Blue is prettier than purple or yeller


          • #6
            Thanks guys. It has to be portable (so a pit won't work ) and must allow the car to be parked on it when its folded down - very similar to the kiwklift in operation but under $400.

            Thanks for the handy chart, I'd never seen it before. I figure it'd be like building a car trailer but instead of one big bed it'll be two smaller ramps and supporting legs. In fact, I might just stop by a custom trailer shop to see if they can build one for me or at least offer any advice.

            As for the weight, I think if its properly engineered (which I can't do) it doesn't have to be made out of heavy duty metal. Think stamped steel jack stands or 2x4s that hold up 3-5 ton houses.
            MM175 - Gone


            • #7
              Russ Be Safe!

              unless you can clean and jerk 3500 lbs


              • #8


                I am Danny Johnson, owner of Kwiklift, Inc.
                While I appreciate your comments about our Kwiklift being a good product, I truly believe that you will be better off purchasing our unit, and not trying to build it.

                Plus, the Kwiklift starts at only $999, not $1400.
                It is constructed in the US, and is not a cheap chinese imported unit.

                I spent more than $150,000 in engineering, testing, and research for this unit, and we have now sold over 10,000 units in the last 7.5 years. So, obviously, this is a product that the car enthusiasts enjoy.

                The HSLA material is one of the best aspects of this lift.
                It is VERY strong, but yet at only .082 thick, it is very portable. It is a VERY rare material, available ONLY in mill run quantities of 250,000 pound minimums.

                Here is a little more info about the Kwiklift -

                The drawing that you posted, reminds me of our very first "prototype" that we built in 1996. It did the job, but was not safe or properly engineered.

                Anyway, just thought that I would interject a little Kwiklift info into this thread.

                Call us if we can assist.



                • #9
                  I left out one very important comment -

                  We are talking about your life, here.
                  You, under a 3-4000 pound vehicle. Do not take any chances.

                  Trust those of us that have the capacity and the expertise to construct a very safe and reliable product that will do a great job for you for the next 30 years !!!

                  If you build your own, and it fails, who your widow gonna sue ?????


                  • #10
                    Hey Danny, thanks for stopping in and I appreciate the information. Honestly, if I could afford the kwiklift I wouldn't be here but most of us grassroots car enthusiasts/racers just don't have that kind of money. No my garage doesn't look like the garages you see on or Griots Garage nor do I buy the top of the line Snap-On tools. I'm just an avg guy who loves to tinker and occaionally race cars, most of my tools are Craftsman and some Harbor Freight stuff. So my options are to either buy $300 worth of metal and have fun building something on my own (hey at least it'll be American made ) or go back to using the 'made in china' jack stands.

                    As for the starting price for the kwiklift, the $1k includes raw steel then you gotta have powder coating at the very minimum so that your $1k metal doesn't turn into a pile of rust + shipping charges. So as you can see that the cost quickly starts to get into the 2 post lift category. Personally, I could see myself buying a power-coated kwiklift for $600 out the door but anything over that I'd rather pickup a used 2 post lift.

                    Oh and my widow can sue Hobart and you guys for seeding the idea and letting me buy a welder
                    MM175 - Gone


                    • #11
                      If I could build and sell the unit for $600, I would have been retired a multi - multi-millionaire several years ago !!!! LOL

                      A couple of things for others such as yourself to consider :

                      1 - product liability insurance costs..... $50,000 per year.
                      2 - advertising. ( magazines, tv, internet ).... $150,000 per year
                      3 - travel and other marketing expenses. (show space costs ).... $60,000 per year
                      4 - lets not forget employees. None of my guys will work for free !!!!

                      All of a sudden, these things add up.
                      It makes it hard to market for $600, wouldn't you agree??

                      Could I take the low road and build it in China??
                      Sure, but not me.
                      Not gonna do it.
                      The only thing that I like about Asia, is the girls !!! ( thats another story !! )

                      And the 2 post lifts that you keep mentioning that are about $1800, ALL built in Southeast Asia. If you saw the weld quality, you WOULD NOT BUY IT.
                      Believe me !!!

                      Besides, we have many thousands of very happy owners that love the unit. The majority of our orders now come from referrals from current Kwiklift owners.

                      My point is, the Kwiklift is well worth the cost.

                      The price of HSLA material has gone off the chart, lately.
                      What I used to buy for 26 cents per pound, is now approaching 70 cents per pound.

                      Oh well.
                      What do you do ???

                      Good luck with your project. If you "see the light" and change your mind, give the professionals a call !!!!!



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by djlifter
                        If you saw the weld quality, you WOULD NOT BUY IT.
                        Believe me !!!
                        You know dj I had to laugh when I read this part of your post. I met an engineer a couple years ago who worked for K2-skies here on Vashon Island. K2-moved their manufacturing to South East Asia. He was sent there to help set up the machines and get things running. He told me he got the shock of his life, none of the weldors there believed in welding helmets, they would just turn their heads and hope for the best. When he first got there he needed some angle iron brackets welded to a column. He was going to hold the angle for the weldor. No hood couldn’t hold a 6-inch long piece of angle iron and weld at the same time. This engineer says the guy welded for what seemed like 30-seconds, without saying a word, so he let go, angle fell on the floor. That was the best weldor they had.
                        Dynasty 300 DX Tig Runner

                        Survey says!!!!!!!!!!!!

                        Blue is prettier than purple or yeller


                        • #13
                          You are exactly right.
                          We attend over 100 car shows each year, and we always see the chinese made lifts for sale at the shows.
                          The welds look like an 8 year old spread peanut butter with a butter knife.
                          ABSOLUTELY no penetration.

                          Now, I am quite certain that the imported lifts that are sold at the shows will be acceptable for a few short years. BUT, who knows after that !!!

                          We also carry the Revolution lift 4 post unit built by Rotary.
                          American made and very good quality.


                          • #14
                            Bottle jacks and jack stands.

                            If you are only ocasionally lifting a vehicle then the cheapest solution is to buy jack stands and bottle jacks of the rating you need. I occasionally have to lift a 23 foot Tioga motorhome on a Ford E chassis and I use 6 ton jackstands and a pair of 20 ton bottle jacks. Once you have figured out your lift and support points on the vehicle then lifting goes very quickly. Secondary advantage is storage. They take up almost no space when not in use.
                            Victor O/A
                            Century 155GS
                            Big Window Elite

                            Run Silent, Run Deep.


                            • #15
                              Good used automotive lifts are out there and very reasonable especially if you can remove and install them. Contact equipment sales and lease companies in your area as there are usually repos available too. Also ask about old alignment racks or old hydraulic drive on lifts like the older gas stations used. If you don't want the whole lift the ramps are perfect for what you want.