Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read This

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Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read This

Post #1 by Placerville » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:55 pm

Yesterday, a friend and I took advantage of Harbor Freights sale on their #68892 1000 lb. lift. With 20% coupons in hand, we tossed down $342 each and brought them back to my shop where we assembled them. I ran my bike onto mine in a trial run to see how the lift functioned. After raising the lift to its maximum height, I slide the 'safety bar' into the front lift arm and then slowly lowered the table to test its functionality.

As the table came down and the bar contacted the lower frame, the bar collapsed. That 3/4" steel bar bent like a wet noodle. There was no hesitation in the tables decent, it just kept coming down and the bar collapsed along with part of the frame. If I'd have continued depressing the 'release' peddle, the table would have continued it's decent. I backed off when I saw the bar collapsing.

So, rather than take both of them back to HF (highly disappointing and a major hassle), I'll be taking both of the lifts to a welder to have the frame reinforced and pick up a larger and better quality steel bar. I know a lot of you have this particular lift (#69904) and I'm encouraging you to, 1. Be aware that the safety bar is..., well, not 'safe' and, 2. Consider replacing the bar with one made of a higher grade of steel.

I've sent Harbor Freight corporate an email describing this failure and included the photos you see below. I (strongly) suggested that they pull this lift from their Web site and stores until the issue can be resolved.

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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #2 by VintageGW's » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:04 pm

I have a similar lift with a better bar as it has not had the same banana issue. I confirmed that the bar I have is solid though is deflects about 1/4" under a load. You have a new bar coming I would say...See attached photos. Please also note the difference in the lower frame of the lift. Where the bar rests on mine and where it rests on yours is different too. In fact as I examine the photos again, there are a lot of structural differences. HF may have a new supplier with a way different quality of build...
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Last edited by VintageGW's on Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:21 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #3 by brokentoe » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:10 pm

Holy cow. :shock:
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #4 by JBz » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:18 pm

my bar is a 7/8ths never had a problem . That bar looks small for the hole as my eyes see it. jb
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #5 by Recycled Roadkill » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:33 pm

It's great that you tested that bar rather than blindly assuming that it would work as it was designed to, which I'd probably have done myself. So, thanks for the heads up with it.

One other word of caution. About 10% (my estimation) of HFT's hydraulic cylinders have a way of failing where they'll leak internally causing whatever they're holding up to slowly descend. I haven't seen any that just allowed anything to drop catastrophically though. I've been fortunate that none of mine have failed in such a manner but I've seen a few that have. This usually occurs within a few months of the purchase. After that, if they haven't failed they probably won't.

It might just be worth the money to get an extended warranty although I haven't bought into that.

Guy, I'm pretty sure you know about HFT's "no questions asked" guarantee but they really are good at taking stuff back when there's a problem although I see no real disadvantage in taking the one you've got to a welder to beef it up where it needs it aside from starting from new again.

That said, I'd still buy one once I can figure out where I can put it.
Last edited by Recycled Roadkill on Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #6 by zman » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:02 pm

Looks like the lower frame on yours is upside down compared to vintage GW pics. Not the whole frame but the rails.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #7 by Placerville » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:08 pm

zman wrote:Looks like the lower frame on yours is upside down compared to vintage GW pics. Not the whole frame but the rails.


I noticed that and I'm wondering if that's an issue a well.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #8 by zman » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:11 pm

Placerville wrote:
zman wrote:Looks like the lower frame on yours is upside down compared to vintage GW pics. Not the whole frame but the rails.


I noticed that and I'm wondering if that's an issue a well.

It will be but I figured you would have a welder weld some plate steel or a horseshoe shaped piece of steel where the bar will rest.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #9 by Placerville » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:16 pm

Recycled Roadkill wrote:It's great that you tested that bar rather than blindly assuming that it would work as it was designed to, which I'd probably have done myself. So, thanks for the heads up with it.

One other word of caution. About 10% (my estimation) of HFT's hydraulic cylinders have a way of failing where they'll leak internally causing whatever they're holding up to slowly descend. I haven't seen any that just allowed anything to drop catastrophically though. I've been fortunate that none of mine have failed in such a manner but I've seen a few that have. This usually occurs within a few months of the purchase. After that, if they haven't failed they probably won't.

It might just be worth the money to get an extended warranty although I haven't bought into that.

Guy, I'm pretty sure you know about HFT's "no questions asked" guarantee but they really are good at taken stuff back when there's a problem although I see no real disadvantage in taking the one you've got to a welder to beef it up where it needs it aside from starting from new again.

That said, I'd still buy one once I can figure out where I can put it.


Someone from their corporate office has emailed me and asked for the OD and length of the bar so I'm assuming that their going to send a replacement. But, I'm not going to let them off that easily. The frames is bent so I might just push the issue and have them deliver a new one to my door step. We'll see which way the river flows.

Recycled, I'm concerned about buying an extended warranty. One of the reviewers on the HF site said he bought one and, when his pump went out after using a dozen times, they said it couldn't be replaced.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #10 by zman » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:47 pm

Thats good news they are willing to send you the bar. still have to deal with the rail, it is already bent so it is weaker now even if bent back strait it will fold again, I would weld a plate there even with a new lift but definitely with that one.
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #11 by Recycled Roadkill » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:28 pm

zman wrote:Looks like the lower frame on yours is upside down compared to vintage GW pics. Not the whole frame but the rails.
Quality control has always been an issue with the inexpensive Chinese stuff. Assembly? Yours is certainly different from the pics posted just below. Or maybe the manufacturer found a cheaper way to build them?

I bought a 40lb sand blasting cabinet a few years ago and it's really a decent unit BUT, sometime since they've replaced it with a similar looking unit, obviously cheaper and the cabinet is put together in pieces rather than a unit as the older ones are. Reviews of leaking sand with the newer one are common but I'm sure they've saved lots of money on shipping the newer ones. Of course that has nothing to do with your unit.

At my local HFT I've never had an issue with returns but that may be something to do with individual store managers. While I hated to do it, I once returned a power washer due to a pravelent oil leak but mostly because my wife insisted on using herself at her sister's house and melted a hole in the high pressure hose. The only thing I've bought with an extended warranty. The price of the washer and extended warranty was refunded.

Anyway, I don't think the steel safety bar bending wouldn't have made much difference which ever way the rail was installed, except for the damage to the rail caused by the bar.

Some of the HFT is great, some not so great. I'm a huge fan of their US General Pro tool boxes though. That's the red one's and not the black. They are truly a great value and decent boxes. That is, unless they've improved them. :)
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #12 by rtccp » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:52 pm

here is my cheap-o $150 lift , it ain't pretty but it sure is strong,,,, i basically laminated to 3/4" plywood with glue and screws to make a 1.5" thick top, then go that line-x'd, and used rabbit joints to construct the 4x4 pressure treated frame , the whole thing it super strong, i can barely move it and the bike goes up with no movement whatsoever,, what i prob will do is cut a small hole in the middle under the motor and put a small bottle jack through that to life the bike while it is on the stand..... forgot to mention that i also put a locking chock to hold the bike solidly , and with a few screws removed i can remove the whole top and use it to transport the bike on the back of a truck ( used that before i got a trailer)
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #13 by Recycled Roadkill » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:03 pm

How do you get the bike on your lift?
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #14 by joedrum » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:14 pm

ive never looked at bike lifts before ...but what junk design they are both examples ....
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Re: Harbor Freight Lift 1000 lb Lift - Fatal Flaw - Read Thi

Post #15 by rogue1000 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 11:28 pm

A little off topic, but Placerville, could your shop be any cleaner?
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