No other application is more true to the name and purpose of hydraulic systems than the fluid-powered lift. A lift makes use of the energy hydraulic systems produce in the simplest way possible – by direct transference from a pace of low surface area to a space of high surface area. Take a look at the image below –

hydraulic lift

This is a great example of a lift. They are most often used in auto repair shops to elevate vehicles safely and effortlessly. There are two important things to keep in mind about a lift that operates in this way, but first, we’ll tell you exactly how one of these machines works.

It works much like the explanation we provided in this article, but we’ll have no problem going into it again right here – this time in context.

“The piston is the thing pushing the fluid downward on the left side of the image. It provides the initial force that gets the hydraulic principles functioning and producing the required work. The hydraulic lift makes up the right side of the image (the area under the car). Because the piston is pushing down on the left side at a constant force, the right side is rising upward at the same force. Because the surface area is larger on the right side, the work is multiplied to the point where it can effortlessly lift the car.”

That’s how a hydraulic lift works (basically). Now, on to what you need to remember about these things.

Hydraulic lifts only work if they aren’t leaking everywhere

This should be obvious, but the severity of leaks is often not considered by people who maintain these lifts. And they are indeed severe. They can cause up to 85% work loss in lifts and similar devices. The price of replacement fluid is also not something to write-off as a non-issue. Keep leaks in mind when working with and around these machines – patch them up when you can.

Do not overload a Hydraulic lift. Ever.


Some people are unaware that this is at all possible – but it is. Most of the time, overloading is practiced on mobile hydraulic lifts such as forklifts. If a lift is overloaded, many terrible things can happen. The main piston seal can let go, causing a jack or lift to drop its load rapidly. Some models have drop protection, but not all do. Trust us, it just isn’t worth the risk to overload the things in the first place. Look into acquiring a new one that can handle the load instead.

Worse-case scenario, you break one of these beauties and have no idea how to fix it. That’s where the professionals come in. Take a look at our brand new website and learn a little bit more about hydraulics if you’d like. We’d be happy to teach you all we know.

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