Hydraulic Car Lift Troubleshooting

Hydraulic Car Lift Troubleshooting

As a mechanic in the automobile repair industry, aside from vehicle repairs, you also need to be aware of equipment maintenance and fixes. The critical equipment in the auto repair scene is the car lift. The hydraulic car lift comes to your help in parking, wheel alignment, and general repairs focusing on under-the-car tunings. Just like any other implement under your watch, it is also bound to have issues once in a while; hence you need to know about hydraulic car lift troubleshooting.

In troubleshooting, you are in a position to identify car lift problems depending on symptoms. From the symptoms, you can come up with a fixation plan, sort out the issue, and also prevent its recurrence. There are several issues you may encounter while using the 2-post lift, and your mechanical skills can save you some funds in repair costs.

Below are some of the most common issues you may come across with your auto lift and how to deal with them.

Heat Degradation

One common problem that you may encounter when using your auto lift is heat degradation. In this case, there is too much heat in the hydraulic system due to its inability to dissipate it away. The hydraulic pump is the most affected by the hydraulic fluid’s viscosity dropping which can result in its foaming. The thinning of the liquid affects the lubrication properties making it depreciate.

With further exposure to heat, oxidization of the fluid occurs and may lead to deposits in the chamber, which can cumber the operation of the hydraulic system.


The following are some of the signs of a heat degradation problem with your hydraulic lift.

  • Hydraulic fluid leaks are noticeable in the hydraulic chamber or pump. It is usually thinner.
  • Heating up of the hydraulic chamber.
  • Instability in the up and down movement of the lift.


To solve this problem, you need to monitor the level of the reservoir liquid and ensure that it is right. Then check on the air valve and release any excess air, as an air bubble can cause a heat dissipation issue. The heat exchanger and the hydraulic system’s cooling compartment are other areas to look at to ensure that it works all good. In case there is dirt build-up, clear it up, especially around the reservoir, to prevent the air valve from getting blocked.


To prevent the issue of heat degradation, you can install a heat alarm, which goes off if the temperature exceeds a certain level. Also, conduct routine checkups with any hitch sorted out upon discovery.

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Air Contamination

As a professional in auto repairs, you know how severe air contamination can get in hydraulic systems. An improper air balance can lead to air contamination in the hydraulic fluid. Cavitation can also occur, where air cavities or fluid vapor bust due to the force exerted on them. The result is a knocking sound when operating the auto lift.


The main sign of an air contamination problem is the knocking sound due to the implosion of vapor of air bubbles. At times, you might notice cracking sounds.


For rotary lift troubleshooting in the event of air contamination, you open the air valve and bleed out the air until you see the liquid coming out.  Other lifts may work in the same way so long as you locate the air valve.


A crucial preventive measure to deal with air contamination is regular bleeding-off air in the car lift. When bleeding, you open the air valves and let air come out until there is uniform circulation in the pump.

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Mechanical Damage

Being an auto expert, mechanical damage is one thing to expect from your garage equipment. Mechanical damage is common, and most of the time, depends on the effort of the manufacturer of the lift aiming at durability.

Mechanical damage focuses on the dysfunction of one or more parts that affect the overall performance of the auto lift. One issue you may encounter in the event of mechanical damage is where the hydraulic car lift won’t go up or revert down.


  • Cranking noises.
  • Stalling of the lift. At times it may go up well during initiation and then get stuck at an unwanted height.
  • Pieces of metal pieces from the lift. It is common in instances of wear and tear of the elevation system.
  • Slanting of the lifting podium.


On identifying the problem, you need to sort it out immediately before it goes overboard.  For minor mechanical damage, you can bring your car repair kit and fix issues such as a loose bolt or such. Your experience in dealing with cars puts you in a great position to perform the right tuning of the car lift.

Your welding kit may come in handy in severe cases of wear. If you think the damage is beyond your mechanical know-how, do not hesitate to contact your manufacturer for further consultation.


The key preventive measure is for you to conduct routine maintenance on the lift, the same way you advise your clients to do so for their cars. The maintenance schedule includes checking on movable parts and greasing where necessary. You can also replace some parts when you notice their wear. Also, conduct hydraulic lift table troubleshooting for an overall check-up practice for the vehicle elevator.

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Electrical Faults

Electrical faults may come in the way of running your auto outfit. If your auto lift runs on an electrically run pump, an electrical fault is something to expect. The failure can come up due to various issues such as installation problems, blackouts, and power surges. Depending on the issue, it may be severe or mild.  Your electrical knowledge can come in handy in repairing this hitch in your garage or repair shop.


The main symptom is the malfunction of the whole system, and the car lift may stall. If it is up, you may notice that the hydraulic lift won’t go down.  Electric sparks, when starting the elevator, are also another sign to look out for. Crackling noises may also be indicative of an electrical issue.


When dealing with electrical faults, your mechanical repair knowledge, especially in the wiring aspect, comes in handy. Look out for the problem in areas such as wiring and fusing, and switches. Once you get the problem, sort it out immediately to prevent it from turning chaotic, courtesy of fire and injuries due to electrocution.


To prevent electrical faults from coming up, conduct routine maintenance practices. Check on and replace fuses, wires, and other installations. When you spot a problem, use your mechanical knowledge to sort it out and ensure it is of functional integrity. If complex, an experienced hand is an option to consider to help you out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do you troubleshoot a hydraulic system?

Answer:  Troubleshooting a hydraulic encompasses you making routine checkups to detect any hitch. Once you come across any anomaly, you pause running it and look for the underlying problem and possible ways how to fix it.

If you are not proficient in troubleshooting the car elevator, you can have a professional do the work for you.

Question: How do I know if my hydraulic pump is bad?

Answer: There are telltale signs that, as a mechanic, you will know point to a faulty hydraulic pump. They include stalling of the pump system, strange noises during operation, and the presence of liquid in the hydraulic chamber, among many more.

If you notice any of this, you need to pay keen attention to unearth the problem.

Question: What causes hydraulic cylinder drift?

Answer: Hydraulic drift comes about when there is internal leakage in the hydraulic chamber. As a result, the hydraulic fluid gets unevenly distributed, causing a subsequent uneven balance. If the problem is present in your car elevator or any other hydraulic-operated equipment, you will notice it takes a slanting position.

Final Word

The hydraulic lift is a mechanism to appreciate, and among the vital equipment, its features include the car elevator, boat lift, and many more. You need to be on standby with your mechanical knowledge in case where there are hydraulic boat lift problems for your boat lift or car lift problems for your auto elevator.