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Which Wheelchair Lift is Best for You and Your Vehicle?

BraunAbility Commercial Wheelchair Lift in white Ford Transit

With your wheelchair, you have your set of wheels and the increased mobility that comes with it. But to get further afield than your immediate neighborhood, you need wheels for your wheels. A vehicle wheelchair lift would mean greater independence for you and the freedom to go where you need to go.

Your choice of a wheelchair lift for your vehicle is almost as important as your choice of a wheelchair. Finding one that best suits you and your needs becomes easier once you know your options. For a new unoccupied wheelchair lift or scooter carrier, it will run $3000 to $6000 installed. For an occupied wheelchair lift, that cost will be between $7500 to $15,000 installed.  However, remember that used lifts & carriers are readily available at reduced costs, so be sure to ask if you are interested. 

Vehicles Suitable for Wheelchair Lifts

Superior Van & Mobility specializes in vehicle conversions and adaptive driving solutions, including wheelchair lifts and scooter carriers. However, it’s no secret that vans and SUVs work best when it comes to wheelchair-accessible conversions and driving adaptations. Their larger platform, height, and floorplan options provide more space and accessibility options.

Exterior Vehicle Lifts

A blue mobility scooter sitting behind a blue SUV with a Harmar AL100 wheelchair lift installed on the rear

Exterior Scooter Carriers secure your mobility device to the vehicle’s exterior, generally at the rear. Because of this, the main advantage of an exterior lift is increased vehicle compatibility. More lift and carrier options, including sedans, are available for more vehicle types.

An exterior wheelchair lift or scooter carrier attaches to the vehicle’s towing receiver. If your vehicle does not have one, one must be installed. Note: vehicle tongue weight will dictate using an external wheelchair lift on your vehicle. Please be sure to contact one of our lift managers to check the compatibility of your car.

Another great benefit of using an external lift is that you have multiple vehicles. It is possible and easy to move an external lift from one vehicle to the next if compatible.

To use an external lift, the user must be able to stand for two to three minutes while the lift is running and walk a short distance without assistance. However, an exterior carrier is still an option if you travel with a companion or caregiver.

Interior Scooter Lifts

Smart Lifter Wheelchair & Scooter lift inside the rear hatch of a blue hatchback holding a power wheelchair

There are many different models of interior scooter lifts & carriers available. Most store the mobility scooter or power wheelchair in the cargo area of a vehicle. Some lifts work like a crane. We call these hoist-type lifts. They are usually installed inside the rear hatch of a vehicle or in the bed of a pickup truck. They use a strap attached to a lifting point on your wheelchair or scooter. They lift your device into the air and then rotate for placement inside your vehicle.

Some options utilize a drive-on platform. This type of lift is called a hybrid lift. Hybrid lifts are one of the easiest to use. A user drives their mobility equipment onto the platform, secures it, and then uses a handheld pendant to operate the lift, storing their device inside the vehicle’s rear hatch.

However, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for scooter carriers & lifts. The make and model of your vehicle have as much to do with which lift type will work best for you as your scooter or power wheelchair. We suggest you converse with one of our lift managers for these reasons. Their experience matching your equipment, vehicle, and the most suitable lift or carrier type is invaluable.

Wheelchair Lifts for Wheelchairs With an Occupant

Photos of commercial wheelchair lifts installed in vehicles

One last type of lift available is called an occupied lift. These types of lifts are often found in commercial applications. They are much larger but also much more substantial. They have lift capacities of 800 to 1000 pounds.

These lifts are designed to lift a person while seated in a wheelchair. The user does not transfer from their chair into a vehicle. They will remain in their chair during transport.

Due to their size and operation, occupied lifts have strict requirements for use. They require full-size vans or buses for installation and are generally not used in consumer applications.

If you would like more information on internal or external wheelchair lifts and scooter carriers for sale or to check if your vehicle is compatible, please get in touch with our lift managers. You can call them direct at 1-844-341-LIFT (5438). You can also research and view the available lift models by clicking the link below.

Picture of Richard W. Maxwell, MBA

Richard W. Maxwell, MBA

Richard Maxwell, is a seasoned automotive marketing executive with over two decades of experience. Starting in 1999 with his advertising agency, Maxx Design & Marketing, he has consistently delivered innovative marketing solutions. After earning his MBA, Richard shifted focus to adaptive technology, serving as Marketing Manager for Superior Van & Mobility. Today, he leverages his expertise to promote and educate others about adaptive equipment in transportation and drive change in accessible mobility.