Monthly Archives: April 2017

Racing Time

One of our favorite parts of summer is laying on the couch on a warm Sunday and dozing off to the roar of the engines and the excitement in Darrell Waltrip’s voice with NASCAR on the TV. Somehow, we always end up dreaming about racing one of our own cars.

If you’ve ever had the same dream and want to do something about it, there are a lot of ways for you to test your mettle behind the wheel, no matter what you drive.

The easiest way to start is to find a local autocross event, usually offered under the auspices of the Sports Car Club of America (https://www.scca.com). You’re probably not going to be competitive in a bone stock Cruz, but if you’ve got a valid driver’s license, a helmet, and are OK risking knocking over some orange cones, you’re good to go. Since you’re only racing against the clock, any danger is minimized, and courses are  usually set up in large, empty parking lots with a big safety margin in mind. All you need to do to get started is find an event near you: https://www.scca.com/pages/find-your-fun.

The best part is that a day of racing is usually around $50, although that may be the most expensive $50 you ever spend, because you’ll want to make some improvements to your car for the next race (or start eying a new Ford Focus RS). Autocross classes run the spectrum from factory stock through various bolt-on modifications, to cars built specifically for autocross, so there is a class to match your level of interest, finances, and skill.

If you like your fun a little more on the dirty side, SCCA also holds timed solo dirt track rallycross racing. Just like in autocross, the tracks are set up on flat ground with safety in mind, and are open to stock daily drivers as well as cars with slight modifications (studded tires, custom suspensions), and custom rally racers.

Once you’ve got a little more confidence, the SCCA also offers head-to-head racing, although this requires a larger investment of time and money. You’ll need to be an SCCA member, pass a physical, and earn a racing license from a certified driver school event. You’ll also need a proper racing suit and other equipment, and will want to bring a friend or two that know how to wrench to be your pit crew. At this point, to be competitive you’ll need a dedicated car that has been modified to meet race rules (available here: https://www.scca.com/pages/cars-and-rules).

SCCA also offers special classes and races for vintage cars, karts (a great way to start kids in racing), and even custom built college team cars, although these can be harder to find.

Of course, if you’re more into pure muscle, there’s also amateur drag racing. You COULD pull up next to someone at a stoplight and give them the traditional rev and nod, but that tends to get expensive once the blue lights start flashing. Instead, if you’ve got a local race track, you’ve probably got an opportunity to see what your car can do in a quarter mile. While there is not a single organizing body like SCCA for drag racing, most local tracks offer an amateur race, and there is almost always an entry class requiring little more than a working seat belt and a helmet.

Since we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t mention it, if you start racing and inevitably need to upgrade your car to compete, don’t forget to upgrade your garage with one of our Backyard Buddy lifts. As always, we are here at (800) 837-9353 from 8:00 to 5:00 Eastern time to help you find the lift that meets your needs. See you on the track!

5 Things to Consider When Buying the Best Car Lift

Buying a new car lift is not exactly as exciting as a buying a new car. However, picking the best car lift is nearly as important as picking the car you’re going to put on it.  There is nothing worse than thinking you’ve picked a quality product, only to learn later that it is substandard in design and, crucially, safety.

But with so many companies and brands of auto lifts to choose from, making the right choice for your auto needs can be difficult.  It’s necessary to understand the differences between lift designs, and make decisions based on the quality of the lift and its manufacturer.  Just like a car, if you want find out how well your auto lift will function, you need to “pop the hood”!  Whether you’re a mechanic working in a full-scale garage or a car collector who needs a car lift for the home garage, you’ll want to consider these 5 things to buy the best car lift:

Car Lift Column and Lock Design

The Column and Lock design is one of the most important things to consider as relates to the safety of your auto lift.  The leg and slider combo of a lift determines its rigidity— will it wobble, or will it stand firm under the pressure of your vehicle? To know for sure, all you really need to consider is whether the column and lock is designed as an “inside plastic slider” or an “outside steel sleeve.” The inside plastic slider is the design to avoid! These designs have a smaller plastic material block that rides inside an open-sided, bent thin gauge leg, to keep the sliders and lock inside the leg. Unfortunately, this means the legs can also pivot and wobble where the sliders meet the leg. On the other hand, outside steel slider joints are engineered much differently, because they use steel tubing to wrap around the outside of the leg instead of plastic blocks on the inside. Steel equals rigidity! An outside steel slider creates a solid joint that eliminates wobble and keeps your vehicle secure.

Power Unit

Picture this: you push the button on your lift to engage the power unit, and begin lifting your classic car. You’re approaching the garage ceiling, and it’s time to shut off the power. But instead of stopping, the motor keeps running— and your car keeps rising. In a matter of seconds, you’ve turned your classic into a crunch of scrap metal. How could this happen? Probably because your lift’s power unit came from an overseas distributor whose power units are prone to failure. A lot of Chinese units pull upwards of 30 amps, and only offer a 90-day warranty on the life of the power unit. You’re probably planning to own your auto lift for more than 90 days… so you should have a power unit that is also designed to last for much longer.  Before making a lift purchase, do some digging to find out where the power unit has been constructed. For companies like us at Backyard Buddy, American-made power units (and our 5-year warranty) are the standard put into all our auto lifts.

Construction

What kind of stuff is your lift made of?  From the cables to the lock linkage to the shape and material of the metal, how your auto lift is constructed will speak to its quality and safety.  In considering cables, a respectable rule of thumb is: if you cannot see cable coming out of the lift’s threaded end cable, they aren’t good cables.  Good cables have flexibility, strength, and intelligent design. Since cables are responsible for hoisting the weight of your car, these are three vital components you want your cables to possess!  Lock linkage is another little detail that will give you a good indication of a lift’s quality, but it’s also one of the most underrated. Steel rods that are 3/8 inch, with precision rod ends, offer positive locking and a smooth quality feel. This kind of rod engages properly so your lift locks every time. In contrast, cheaply-made lifts usually use 1/4 inch rods with cheap ends; these rods can bend and fail to activate the locking mechanism on a lift— a safety hazard waiting to happen. Don’t overlook those little details! Finally, what metal makes up your lift determines the lift’s durability.  American-made steel lift frames have been proven to outlast foreign steel, and be much stronger, because they lack the impurities that make “off-shore” steel difficult to weld properly.

Functionality

No matter what you intend to use your lift for— working on your car, storing multiple cars, conserving space in the garage— you want a lift that has functionality within its space, and also compatibility with accessories that can increase lift functions.  For example, if you’re a city dweller, where real estate is limited and storage is expensive, a residential car lift should afford you an increase in storage by stacking two vehicles safely on top of each other (so
you’ve got room for the minivan and the Maserati!). But what else can your lift do? Being able to add accessories, like hard rubber casters, increase functionality by making that auto lift easy to move around your space, so you can work in or organize your garage efficiently.  The more customizable the lift, the better it’ll suit your lifestyle.

Warranty

As mentioned earlier, you’re probably planning to own your car lift for a long time. Which means it needs to maintain working order for a long time.  Any distributor that has a warranty full of caveats and asterisks, or a “ship and wait policy,” should automatically raise a red flag.  An auto lift that offers a free, no-questions-asked policy, or has an extended warranty period, is going to give you the best (and most long-lasting) bang for your buck.  For example, at Backyard Buddy, we offer a warranty of 5 years top to bottom, with no fine print to wade through.  Extended warranties are also available at the time of lift purchase.  When buying your lift, always ask about the warranty!

Once you’ve considered these 5 things while buying a car lift— column and lock design, power unit, construction, functionality, and warranty— you’ll be on the right track to choosing the best lift to fit your needs and your life.  When it comes to car lifts, you truly get what you pay for. Considering the key elements that go into an auto lift, from the initial construction to the after-purchase warranty, will help you determine what is worth the most— a lift’s price, or its value? When you’re driving your car, you want that car to be safe, reliable, and maybe a little bit impressive. You should expect the same from your car lift!

Backyard Buddy’s Easy-Access Rolling Jack System

Easy-access rolling jack stand system

Easy-Access

We love telling you all about our Backyard Buddy four-post lifts and all of the ways they can make your life easier, but did you know that our lifts have a little brother than can also help you out, either by itself or used as a space saver with one of our lifts?

Backyard Buddy’s Easy-Access

gives you all the portability of jack stands with the durability, safety, and ease of movement that you’d expect from our full-sized lifts. This two-piece system unobtrusively slides under your vehicle and can be placed just about anywhere you can lift with a floor jack.

With a variety of different stands, pads, and bars, the adjustable Easy-Access can be used to hold a frame, body, or complete car, and can hold a vehicle more than 2 feet off the ground for easy access. This gives you enough room to work underneath your project on a creeper, while also saving your back when working from above.

Easy-Access is also stable and strong enough to be used as a dolly for a partial build or a full vehicle. You can easily roll your project around the shop on Easy Access’ heavy-duty casters, allowing you do things like move it outside for dirty jobs, or even stash your project under a car on a four-post Backyard Buddy lift when you’re not working on it.

Just like our full-sized lifts, Easy-Access uses American certified structural steel, making it strong enough to hold 6,000 pounds and stable enough to roll even the heaviest load on its casters. Its tough powder coated finish will take just about anything you can dish out, and provides excellent resistance to damage and rust.

One of the best parts about Easy-Access is that when you’re done with it, it’s small enough to fit under a workbench until it’s needed again. And just like all of our products, it’s proudly made in the USA by American workers.

To learn more about Easy Access, check out its page on our site: http://www.backyardbuddy.com/backyard-buddy-easy-access.html. To watch a video of Sam Memmolo from Sam’s Garage demonstrating Easy-Access, click here: https://youtu.be/Xg6BXPvv7qI?t=261

As always we’re happy to show off any of our products in our showroom in Warren, Ohio, or to help you find the best product to fit your needs any time during business hours at (800) 837-9353.