The Top Engine Hoists For The Money
When you want to make sure your vehicle is truly taken care of, you invest in the best tools that let you do most of the maintenance in-house.
Now, in the situation when you’ll need to be working on one of your vehicle’s engine, the only way to do this properly is to get it out of the car and into the open space. This gives you access to all the sides of the engine, but also means you’ll need an engine hoist.
Vehicle engines are extremely heavy (usually over five hundred pounds and up), and it is difficult to get them out of the car and maneuver them without a specialty tool. This is where engine hoists come in. Also called engine lifts, cherry pickers, or engine cranes these are specialty tools designed for lifting extremely heavy auto parts.
While they don’t have the power to raise an entire vehicle (they are not car lifts) most engine hoists can lift several tons. Furthermore, an engine hoist occupies less space than a car lift and can be stored away whenever you don’t need it.
While they can be relatively expensive (a good tool can get to a couple hundred dollars), this is an investment with a high return rate. If you know how to work with vehicle engines (repairs and maintenance) then you save big time by keeping the work in-house.
Professional mechanics will charge for getting the engine out of the car and then will charge for the work on the engine. This way, you skip two hefty bills and do the work just how you like it.
Now, before you go shopping for an engine crane, you need to know there are three types of products on the market (electric, hydraulic, and chain). Each has its pros and cons (which we’ll discuss further in the article), which is why it can get a bit confusing.
To help you out, we put together a list with the best products in each category and a buying guide with tips on how to use an engine hoist.
Click the buttons above for detailed information about each unit, or read on for our review of each of the top 3 engine hoists.
Our top choice for the best product in this review is the Goplus 2 TON 4000 lb Engine Hoist. This lift made it to the top of our list for many reasons, including the high lift capacity, strong and durable construction, great reviews, and reasonable price.
The Goplus unit matched the highest capacity lift in our roundup. Rated for 4,000 pounds, this crane has more than enough strength to lift even the heaviest of engines. The unit is constructed of steel, and is covered with paint that is resistant to oil, grease, and dirt. If taken care of, this hoist will be able to haul out engines and last a lifetime.
The Orion is easy to move around the garage or shop with its 360-degree castor wheels. 6 wheels in total provide the stability that is needed when holding something as heavy as a motor. The extendable boom offers different weight capacities at varying lengths, and an 8-ton ram hydraulic cylinder provides the power. You don’t have to worry about this tool taking up much space in your work space, as the boom conveniently folds down for easy storage.
This engine hoist is one of the best rated models on the market, receiving mostly four and five star reviews. Garage owners and residential customers both had good things to say about this model, mentioning things like “good and solid”, “works great”, and “good product for the price”. Not only is the Orion Engine Hoist the best on the market in this price range, it can also be had at a great price.
- 【Heavy Gauge Structural Steel】This engine hoist is made of heavy duty structural steel, durable and sturdy to keep its shape and also very safe when use. With the solid steel construction, it has 4000 lb closed boom capacity and 1000 lb extended boom capacity.
- 【Adjustable Positions and Easy Storage】There are 4 adjustable positions for your different work needs: 0.5Ton ,1Ton ,1.5Ton and 2 Ton. Equipped with 8-ton ram hydraulic cylinder, it can be used for long time. The foldable design is good if you are looking for an easy cranes to store.
- 【360º Swiveling Wheels】There are six durable wheels on the lift, which can be rolled around and swung in any direction. It provides maximum maneuverability and it is a good choice for moving heavy parts.
- 【Useful Lift】This lift could lift almost any gas engine and some smaller diesel engines. Useful for moving heavy parts such as axles, transmissions and transfer cases around the shop.
- 【Powder Coated Finish】It is painted with glossy corrosion-resistant and anti-rust paint, which can be used both indoors and outdoors. With this feature, it is also very easy for you to clean.
The 2nd best option in our roundup of engine hoists is the Dragway Tools Folding Hydraulic Engine Hoist. This folding cherry picker is another quality tool, although it is a little more expensive than the other options in this list.
The Dragway tools engine hoist is very similar in specs to the Orion lift. One of the main differences between the two being lifting capacity. This model can only lift 2 tons, where as the Orion could lift 4,400 pounds. The range of the lift is the same, with it being able to lift from the floor up to 102 inches.
This engine lift is made of steel construction, which adds to its durability. Similar to the Orion, this hoist has 6 castor wheels for mobility, and folds up to save space in the garage. At the furthest boom extension, the weight capacity is 1,000 pounds. Included in this package is a forged steel chain that is plenty strong to lift most motors.
There is good product support for this product, as the manufacturer offers a full 1 year warranty.
The Dragway Tools 2 Ton Folding Hydraulic Engine Hoist is also well rated, earning over 80% 4 or 5 star reviews. In general, buyers of this crane had good things to say about it, such as “quality is excellent”, “darn useful lifting device”, and “impressed with this hoist for the money”. Overall, the Dragway Tools Engine lift is an excellent product at a reasonable price.
- Dragway Tools 2 Ton Folding Hydraulic Engine Hoist Cherry Picker Shop Crane Hoist Lift
- (6) Fully Rotating 3" Steel Caster Wheels Easily allow you to move this hoist in any direction
- Working Dimensions: 60in x 37in x 56in
- 12in. Forged Steel Chain and 5/16in. Hook
- Boom Range: Floor - 88in.
The last product in our list of the best engine hoists for the money is the Torin Big Red Steel Engine Hoist. This hoist is the least expensive product on our list, and even though the durbility is not as good as the other ones mentioned, it still shares the same basic functionality that they do. If you are trying to save money but are still looking for a decent quality lift, this is the probably the choice for you.
The Torin Big Red Steel Engine Hoist shares the same basic style as the other two; a 6 castor, steel construction lift, with multiple lifting positions. The hoist is also foldable. One of the biggest differences between this model and the other two is lifting range. The hoist is capable of lifting anywhere from an inch off of the ground up to 78.75 inches. While this range may still be acceptable for most engine lifts, there may be special circumstances where it is not adequate, such as a tall vehicle or lifted truck.
The Torin Engine Hoist is not as well rated as the other two lifts in this review. Some people were very happy with their purchase, however, others had concern with its cheap hardware and low quality. Although this is certainly not the best product on the market, it will get most jobs done, and the ultra low price makes the lower quality a little more reasonable.
- Lifting range: 1inch-78.75inch
- 6 wheels for added mobility
- 4 hole position boom
- Heavy duty 8 ton long ram
- Foldable design
Our reviews provide some insight into the elements of a well-built engine hoist. Features such as weight capacity, number of wheels, type, and others are important in selecting the right product for your home garage.
In this buying guide, we’ll take a closer look at the features that matter and why.
It’s important to understand that the weight capacity is a feature crucial for your safety and damage-free operation.
Engines are heavy, bulky, and difficult to maneuver without specialized tools. However, even with an engine crane, things won’t be a breeze. For instance, if you use a small hoist to lift the engine of a truck, you run the risk of damaging the vehicle, the engine, and hurting yourself and anyone working on the job.
When the engine is heavier than the weight capacity of the hoist, it can tip over, a chain might break as you lift the engine, or the hook and/or the boom might collapse.
Now, if you’re working with different engine sizes, it’s best to get a hoist with an adjustable boom. This type of product comes with holes that allow the boom to extend from a 1000 lb. capacity to a 4000 lb. capacity.
Still, if you’re only going to be working on personal cars, then you may not need an adjustable boom (especially considering the price).
In summary, the engine crane must be a fit for the size and weight of the engine you want to maneuver.
Adjustable vs. Extendable Boom
Most products that have an extendable boom don’t allow to adjust it for different weights (the boom is fixed).
So, before making a purchase, you need to decide: do you need a crane that can be used with engines of different sizes or do you need a boom that can be extended?
An extendable boom offers more flexibility when it comes to moving the auto part (engine or anything else) around but it doesn’t offer much wiggle room when it comes to weight capacity.
Can you make do with a fixed hoist or do you need one that can be moved around?
If you want mobility, you’ll need a hoist with a base frame and wheels attached to it. There are 2-wheeled, 4-wheeled, and 6-wheeled designs on the market, but the most popular cranes, especially for home garages, have 4 wheels.
2-wheel designs are not reliable when lifting heavy engines and 6-wheel designs are better suited for large weight capacities.
Now, the wheels are crucial for the mobility of your crane because they need to support the added weight of the auto part and still let you move the crane around. As such, they need to be durable, but they also need to adhere to the floor surface, so the crane doesn’t slip.
Finally, you need caster wheels that swivel at 360 degrees, for maximum flexibility and freedom of movement.
As we already mentioned at the beginning of this article and through the reviewed products, there are three main types of cranes: hydraulic, chain and electric.
Hydraulic Engine Hoists
These designs use a hydraulic cylinder operated by oil pressure to provide the necessary force for lifting heavy pieces of equipment. These require a bit of effort since you need to pump the hydraulic jack in order to create the right pressure for moving the boom up and down.
These designs are our favorite because they are mobile (due to caster wheels), have larger weight capacities, and can be folded into a more compact package when not in use. Finally, hydraulic designs use high-grade steel for the boom, frame, and base.
Chain Engine Cranes
These are the most affordable out of the three, but they are not mobile and can only lift to 6 tons. Chain hoists don’t have a base and wheels and need to be installed on a fixed point above the engine. This means you can’t get the engine out of its bay and move it around to your work =space. If you want more room, you’ll have to move the vehicle underneath.
Also, as you can see in the video above, a chain hoist is operated manually so it is slower than the other two designs and requires more effort.
Electric Engine Lift
This design is operated by a remote-controlled electric motor, but they still need a fixed point when lifting an auto part. They are quicker than any of the other two designs, but the high price tag and low mobility don’t make them too popular among DIY hobbyists and car owners.
In conclusion, hydraulic engine hoists provide the best features and value for the money when it comes to working in your home garage.
Chains, hook, load leveler, and more are accessories that make hoisting an engine out of its bay a lot easier and safer. In fact, the load leveler is kind of an important accessory as it helps keep the engine leveled and secures everything in place.
However, if the budget doesn’t allow it, you can still use a single chain system, but this requires a lot more care while handling the engine.
How to Use an Engine Hoist
When lifting an engine out of a car, you need to be very careful.
The first thing you are going to want to do is find specific instructions for your vehicle, as most cars have different engine types and connections.
Step #1: Disconnect and Drain
Start by disconnecting all connections that keep the engine attached to the rest of the vehicle. Also, keep in mind that the engine uses several different fluids, so ensure you drain everything as you loosen up the connections.
Also, don’t forget to disconnect the wiring, the coolant lines, intake, and exhaust.
Quick note: the transmission is heavy, so as you undo the bolt, place something underneath the engine to catch it as it falls to the ground. This way, you avoid damaging any valuable pieces.
Step #2: Attach the Hoist and Start Lifting
Once it’s free, attach the chain from the engine hoist to the block of the motor and make sure everything is secure. This step is crucial because you don’t want the engine to drop back in the car once it gets up in the air.
If this should happen, you run the risk of damaging the engine, the vehicle, and even injuring yourself or anyone else working on the engine.
Once everything is tight and secure, slowly raise the engine up until it is high enough to clear the engine bay of the car. Next, slowly roll the hoist to where you will be working on the motor.
Quick tip: It is a good idea to have an engine stand or similar product on which to place the motor to safely work on it.
When the work is complete, all you need to do to put the engine back in the engine bay is to perform these steps in reverse.
As you can see from the products we reviewed, engine hoists are quite affordable, and they bring a lot of value for the money. So, if you want to save some money in repair and maintenance bills, this is an investment worth considering.
Just make sure to put your safety first. This means a high-end design that can handle more than the weight of your engine block and that sits on a reliable base. While the price may be a bit steep, it is worth to stretch the budget for smooth operation and safe use.