Regular tail lift servicing is crucial. Tail lifts often support heavy loads and if they malfunction or break they could cause serious accidents or damage. Furthermore, it can be extremely costly to repair or even replace a broken tail lift gate. Not only is it far cheaper to get regular tail lift servicing but it is also a legal requirement. Commercial vehicle diagnostics for tail lifts must take place legally at least every six months and an up-to-date report of this inspection should be fitted in place to the vehicle. This blog outlines the different types of tail lift and discusses the signs to look out for to identify problems that may indicate the need for tail lift servicing.
What is a tail lift?
A tail lift is a mechanically-operated platform mounted to the end of a vehicle. The platform can be raised up to level with the body of the vehicle or lowered to the level with the ground. Once the tail lift is securely in place, it is much easier and safer to load or unload awkward or large items while reducing the risk of injury or accident.
What kinds of tail lifts are there?
A column lift is suited to smaller vehicles with limited ground clearance. The platform can be mounted via the rear using an H-frame. It will run vertically across the body of the vehicle. The lift is chain linked to a hydraulic power pack and the exterior platform can be manually opened and closed.
Cantilever lifts are chassis mounted and fold upwards to form part of the rear. Used mainly for large loads that are unsuited to column lifts, cantilever lifts are fully hydraulic and so have bigger lifting capabilities.
Like a column lift or cantilever lift, tuckaway lifts are also chassis mounted but with a foldable split platform. This means that this does not restrict access to the rear as it requires lesser storage space. Additionally, as the lift is mounted beneath the rear, it is not likely to get damaged. However, they do require more ground space and clearance.
Parallel Arm Lifts
Often installed on pickup trucks and service truck bodies, parallel arm lifts support lower lifting capacities. The parallel “arms” attach to the sides of the lifting platform and guide the platform out and away from the liftgate mainframe. Some Parallel Arm lifts have two hydraulic cylinders that apply force directly to the lifting platform while others have singular hydraulic cylinders that use a cable-pulley system.
Railgate lifts are quite similar to column lifts in their design but also support lower lifting capacities. Railgate lifts get their name from the outrail which installs directly onto the vehicle body and performs as the guide for tail lift platform. Platforms on railgate lifts are larger than parallel arm lifts and, like column lifts, fix at a 90-degree angle from the outrails and lift vertically.
Slider lift designs work by folding and storing directly underneath the vehicle bed, much like tuckaway lifts. Moreover, soldier designs feature lifting platforms that slide out from underneath the vehicle bed. This is instead of lowering and unfolding like other lifts. Designed for the heaviest lifting capacities, these lifts are extremely sturdy and are usually used on larger vehicles.
Why do commercial vehicles need a tail lift service?
Regular tail lift servicing is crucial. Tail lifts often support heavy loads and if they malfunction or break they could cause serious damage to property or hurt individuals in an accident. Furthermore, it can be extremely costly to repair or even replace a broken tail lift gate, whereas regular maintenance is a much lesser cost.
A tail lift may have a number of different failure points:
- A short or bad ground in the electrical components that operate the tail lift.
- The hydraulic cylinders are damaged in some way, typically worn seals or pitting on the shaft.
- The solenoid on the motor is malfunctioning.
- The hydraulic hoses are leaking or inhibiting flow. This can be the result of improper installation or damage.
- The valves, coils or pump are not working correctly
Commercial vehicle diagnostics for tail lifts must take place at least every six months. It is a legal requirement that you have an up-to-date report of this inspection for the tail lift that is fitted in place to the vehicle.
Signs that you may need tail lift servicing
It may not be immediately apparent that your tail lift needs servicing and some vehicle diagnostics may have to take place. These are some useful signs that you may need tail lift servicing:
Aesthetic damage to the tail lift
Have a look at your tail lift. You may be able to see clear evidence of damage on the trolley stops or on the handrails which could mean that there is more serious damage elsewhere. By simply looking at your tail lift you may be able to identify a problem early on and thereby save yourself time and money on a costly tail lift repair.
Tail Lift Is Not Moving
If you press the button to move the tail lift and nothing happens, there is clearly something wrong. This could be an issue with the motor, the controls, or the circuit breaker. A broken tail lift is a major issue as if it does not go up or down you may be unable to complete the job required. In this case, it’s best to get a professional involved as soon as possible in order to run some vehicle diagnostics.
Hydraulic Fluid Leaks
You may notice dampness around the hydraulic cylinders or along the lines. This could mean that the hydraulic system is leaking. Ill-fitting pipes and connections are the most common failure points, but old or damaged cylinders can leak too. If you notice any type of leaking, you should get it seen by a professional vehicle testing facility as it could be a symptom of a more serious problem.
Are there strange or loud noises when you move the tail lift? This is a sign that something isn’t working correctly. Squeaks, screeches, rattling, and squeals are not normal and should be assessed by a professional as soon as possible. While these noises may simply indicate that the system needs lubrication, it could be something more complex that will require a more expensive repair if not seen too quickly.
Slow or Stuttering Operation
Hydraulic tail lifts are designed to operate smoothly and at a controlled speed. However, they should not be moving extremely slowly or in a jerky manner. If the tail lift is moving excessively slowly or has any inconsistency, this may be a sign of a problem. To be on the safe side, and to avoid more costly repairs later on, it’s worth getting in touch with a vehicle testing facility to find out how serious a problem you have.
Are you looking for tail lift servicing?
Here at Transcare, our highly skilled and experienced technicians can offer commercial vehicle diagnostics and tail lift servicing for the majority of all tail lifts. Based in DErbyshire, we are a UK authorised tail lift service agent for DEL Cargotec. From LOLER inspections to weight testing and double-deck service, our team can offer all of the appropriate tail lift services and vehicle diagnostics to ensure that your commercial vehicle is running in top condition.
It is essential that your commercial vehicle is safe to use at all times. Here at Transcare, our professional and highly trained team provide specialist commercial vehicle diagnostics in Derby. We deal with all major models and are dedicated to providing a top quality service. You can depend on us for your trailer, commercial vehicle maintenance, and repair in Derby, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and Yorkshire. To find out more about the services we offer, please get in touch with us for more information or call us on 01773 832697 to speak to our helpful and friendly team.