What Is an ETL-ALI Certified Lift — and Why Is It Important?


We’ve certainly all seen online videos of garage lift mishaps. They can seem funny at first glance, but as auto industry professionals and amateurs, we know that when an auto lift fails because of misuse or lack of service, the results can be extremely serious. Keeping your auto lift in good working order is critical for several reasons:

  • A reliable lift helps you stay on schedule and work on vehicles when you need to.
  • A lift that breaks down or fails can damage your or a customer’s vehicle.
  • A failure of your lift while loaded with a vehicle can injure or even kill an operator.
  • Failure to follow lift safety certification may be illegal in your state or province.

To provide a common reference and standard for all auto lifts, ETL-ALI certification was created. ETI-ALI stands for "Electrical Testing Laboratories-Automotive Lift Institute." ETL testing and certification dates back to the era of Thomas Edison, who saw a need for standardized safety testing of lightbulbs and created a safety label. Over the years, this testing organization evolved and today carries the name of ETL.dates back to the era of Thomas Edison, who saw a need for standardized safety testing of lightbulbs and created a safety label. Over the years, this testing organization evolved and today carries the name of ETL.

This set of safety standards applies to all auto safety lifts installed in the USA and Canada and ensures that a wide range of safety criteria are in place and verified. At North American Auto Lifts, all of the lifts we supply meet these stringent standards. We’re proud to offer high-quality auto lifts for professional and personal use that are easy to use and offer you safe, reliable lifting.

How Does a Lift Earn ETL-ALI Certification?

The proof of ETL-ALI certification is a gold sticker bearing the ETL and ALI logos, as well as the ANSI testing standards stamp of approval. This sticker should be displayed in an easy-to-see location on your lift as proof that it has been certified. It’s a reminder that you take auto lift safety seriously and can reassure your employees, customers and visitors to your shop that you work in a safe and respectful manner.

To certify a lift, you need to contact a third-party Automotive Lift Institute laboratory tester. They will schedule an appointment to inspect your lift and verify that it’s up to standards. Their thorough inspection and verification covers the following points:

  • General requirements for the strength of all auto lift components: This involves confirming that no modifications (drilled holes, welding, cutting) have been made to your lift structure or components and that no damages or cracks are present that might cause failure when the lift is in operation.
  • General requirements covering drive components: This involves inspecting your drive components (cables, chains, gears, etc.) and verifying they're in proper working order. Your ALI tester will run your lift to confirm that it’s functioning properly through the entire range of motion.
  • General requirements covering electrical components: This involves checking all electrical components and looking for issues such as broken or frayed wires, malfunctioning electronic components, faulty or sticking buttons on your lift controls and burnt-out control or emergency lights.
  • General requirements for control devices and speeds: This checks that your lift raises and lowers at the correct speeds, with no “run-away” conditions during operation. Your controls must work correctly, with proper labeling and no signs of damage or modification.
  • Specific requirements: Depending on the type of lift you have, your ALI tester will verify many specific elements, including frame and component welds, adapter position and condition, swing arm movement, travel limits and other mechanical position and integrity points.
  • Safety requirements: Safety is a big part of ETL-ALI certification, which is why your tester will verify all security and safety elements, including emergency stop systems, fail-safe mechanical systems and locking mechanisms for lift arms and lift position, where applicable.

As you can see, an ETL-ALI certification is an extremely thorough inspection of your auto lift. The goal is to provide a consistent and reliable analysis of your lift and ensure that, when the gold label is affixed, your lift is in accordance with ETL-ALI criteria and that you can count on your lift for safe use for the period the label is valid.

Do I Have to Certify My Auto Lift to ETL-ALI?

Currently, ETL-ALI is not required in the U.S. or Canada. Many states do have provisions in their workplace health and safety codes for auto lift maintenance, inspection, and tracking, however, and ETL-ALI is the only nationally-recognized standard. Conscientious and responsible lift owners and operators can choose to contact the ALI and request certification.

This is proof for your customers and employees that you care about their safety and the integrity of their vehicles. You’ll also have the assurance that your lift is ready to use when you need it. Failing to certify your lift means you might not notice issues creeping up, such as frame and component cracks, defective electrical elements or failing safety features.

Once your auto lift is certified, you can also take inspiration from the criteria for certification to perform your own monthly inspection. You can do a visual inspection and look for cracks or other damage, test the travel limits and verify that all safety stops and cut-offs are functioning.

Choosing to have your auto lift certified to ETL-ALI standards shows that you’re serious about lift safety and helps create a culture of safety in your automotive repair or service garage. Even if you’re an amateur with a lift at home, you can have your lift certified to give you and your family peace of mind.

More Information From North American Auto Lifts

If you have any additional questions, we invite you to contact our team here at North American Auto Lifts. We’re serious about the quality, reliability, and safety of the lifts we sell, repair and service. Let us help you find a local ETL-ALI certification lab for your lift once it’s installed. We can also point out the important safety features designed into your auto lift to help you better understand the importance of certification and regular verification.

At North American Auto Equipment, we’re passionate about the auto repair industry, so make us your partner for your auto lift purchase and we’ll share our experience on auto lift safety. Check out our list of auto lifts that come certified to ETL-ATI standards for your peace of mind