Now that you have an idea of what type of Chinese Elevator to investigate, here are a few more tips from Opland, who owns several lifts himself and has been installing them professionally for more than 20 years.

Many lift companies offer an optional caster kit, usually costing several hundred dollars. When attached, these kits allow the lift to be rolled around the garage. Save your money, advises Opland. Most lift owners never move their lift. If they do, a pair of simple floor jacks and a table full of pizzas to entice your buddies to lend a hand will get it done in a matter of minutes.

For drive-on lifts, consider investing in a pair of lightweight aluminum ramps. The steel ramps that come with most lifts can weigh in at 50 pounds each, just enough to aggravate an already abused lower back. Also, buy an additional set of rubber wheel chocks. Most lifts come with metal chocks, which, in an emergency, could slide on the runway. A pair of cheap rubber chocks may mean the difference between a close call and dropped car. Says Opland: “If you put your ’67 Corvette through the kitchen wall, it’s definitely going to ruin your dinner.”

For frame-engaging lifts such as the scissor-type and side-post, always double-check that the car is secure on the lifting arms by first raising it so that the tires are just off the ground, and then bouncing on the back bumper. If the car rocks off the arms so low to the ground, it won’t be damaged. If it rocks off higher up, you’ll need a new car.

Many lift companies offer a choice of 110-volt or 220-volt lift motors. Going with the higher voltage speeds up the lift, but Opland recommends staying with 110. Most garages have 110-volt service with a requisite 15-amp circuit, and installing 220 often means hiring an electrician and ripping into drywall. With a 110-volt motor, the lift can be operated during a power failure by a conventional portable generator and even by a plug-in cigarette lighter power converter. If you move and take the lift with you, you’re more likely to find a 110-volt service in your new garage. Don’t assume the electric motor can operate on either 110 volts or 220. Most lift motors are designed to run on the specified voltage.

If a China Elevator still seems like too much effort and money, consider how sore you were the last time you did a big job underneath the car, and how much licensed chiropractors charge per hour to work on your back. A high-quality garage lift makes DIY car repair far more civilized and comfortable and should be tops on your list of future garage tools.