Your Wheelchair and Mobility Scooter Resource
Saturday, December 5th, 2009 at 10:23 am
Vehicle Lifts are used to make it easier to transport a wheelchair or mobility scooter. When considering what type of vehicle lift to use, there are several factors that should be taken into account, including what type of mobility vehicle is being transported and what type of vehicle is being used. These factors will often help narrow down the options that are available to the wheelchair user, making it much simpler to select the right wheelchair lift.
The type of mobility vehicle that is being transported is often the biggest factor that helps determine what type of vehicle lift to use. There are many different models of mobility vehicles, but they can usually be classified as manual wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and mobility scooters.
In the case of transporting a manual wheelchair, most people will simply fold it up and put it in their trunk. However, since manual wheelchairs can be rather heavy, sometimes lifting them into the back of the car can be difficult. Also, there is often simply not enough room in the car, so an external wheelchair lift is used. These are usually not motorized and attach to the hitch of a vehicle.
Of course, if you have a mobility scooter or an electric wheelchair, a manual wheelchair lift will not work. Instead, you would need to invest in a motorized wheelchair lift. In some cases, electric wheelchair carriers and mobility scooters carriers can be used interchangeably, but this is not always the case.
For example, often instead of a full platform, mobility scooter lifts will use a lift that has metal tracks, which are only large enough for the wheels of the scooter to fit into. When loading the scooter, the wheels will be driven into the tracks, which support the entire weight of the device. For three wheel scooters, the lift will have three tracks and for four wheeled scooters, there would be two tracks.
Some other lifts will have automatic hold down arms, which engage as the lift is being raised and hold the scooter in place without the need for tie-down straps. The automatic hold down arm works, because of the longer design of the mobility scooter, making contact with the floor portion where the use rests their feet. However, most electric wheelchairs will not work with this type of lift.
When in doubt, if the lift is labeled as an Universal Lift this means it will work with both electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Otherwise, it will often only work with one or the other.
The type of vehicle that will transporting the mobility vehicle is also important.
For example, those that wished to use a passenger car have fewer options than those with a van or SUV. Typically, the only option would be a hitch mounted lift or a crane lift. The hitch mounted lift is simply inserted onto the vehicles hitch and either has its own battery pack or uses the vehicles power. Crane lifts are installed into the trunk of the car and simply hoist the wheelchair off the ground in the same manner a crane lifts a heavy load to the top of a building. One feature to look out for when shopping for crane lifts is Powered Rotation, which means the crane’s arm can be completely controlled electronically.
Those who have a SUV or van can also use the hitch mounted lift or the crane lift, but internal wheelchair lifts are also an option. These use a small platform that extends from the vehicle, allows the scooter or wheelchair to be driven onto the platform, then retracts, storing the wheelchair inside of the vehicle. These are most popular with vans, as by removing one of the rows of seats, the scooter can be stored directly behind the drives seat. In SUVs, internal lifts are used in the rear trunk area.
Those with trucks also have a few options and can of course use the crane or hitch mounted options described above. There are also several specially made truck lifts that are designed to lift the scooter off of the ground and into the bed of the pickup truck.
Yet another factor that helps determine what type of wheelchair lift is right, is where the person lives or where they plan on using the lift. For example, those who live in an area that gets a great deal of rain, snow, or other inclement weather, would probably want to go with a internal wheelchair lift. This way the wheelchair or scooter will be stored safely out of the weather.
However, those who live in a more moderate climate would be able to use a hitch mounted wheelchair lift that stores the wheelchair outside of the vehicle. However, it is still usually recommended to invest in a cover for the wheelchair or scooter, to protect against sudden storms or road debris.