Wheelchair lifts for vehicles

7-minute Mobility Guide: Exterior Wheelchair Lifts for Vehicles

If you have an over-sized wheelchair or power scooter, there are a wide range of wheelchair lifts for vehicles to enhance your mobility freedom. From hoists to lifts, there is a portability option to help you prepare your vehicle for travel. Our 7-minute mobility guide will discuss available models along with the accessories you’ll need to complete the setup.

Exterior wheelchair lifts for vehicles are mechanisms mounted to the outside of wheelchair-accessible vehicles that raise, lower, and secure larger wheelchairs and power scooters for transportation. They come in various sizes and designs that match your mobility device and the type of vehicle that you use. Wheelchair lifts for vehicles can also be mounted to RVs and motor homes for extended trips — a popular choice for retirees and road-lovers.

Wheelchair lift

Wheelchair lifts are available for sedans, SUVs, and full-sized and mini-vans.

Wheelchair lifts for vehicles: Lifts & carriers

The first category of exterior wheelchair lifts for vehicles is lifts and carriers. These devices are mounted on the rear of wheelchair-accessible vehicle — or possibly on the front of RVS and mobile homes — and serve as docking bays for wheelchairs and power scooters. They are typically motor-operated, via a button on the side of the mount or keyless remote.

Inside platform lifts. This device operates using a platform that lifts or lowers the wheelchair or scooter device into side-entry vans, rear cargo areas, or pickup truck bed.

  • Operates with the touch of a button and requires no physical exertion to complete the lifting or lowering
  • Models are available for all full-size wheelchair accessible vans, SUVs, and mini-vans
  • All equipment is stored inside of the vehicle and is protected from the elements
  • Attaches using inherent vehicle mounts and requires no additional drilling in the chassis
  • Powered by an external battery pack or through wiring into the vehicle battery system

Outside manual platforms. This device operates using a platform that lifts or lowers the wheelchair or scooter device into side-entry vans, rear cargo areas, or pickup truck bed.

  • Requires some manual dexterity and effort to raise and lower the platform
  • Represents the most affordable solution for those seeking a mobility adaptation
  • Manual platforms do not have a ‘swing-away’ feature for trunk access
  • Uses wheelchair tie-downs to secure the wheelchair or power scooter
  • Powered by an external battery pack or through wiring into the vehicle battery system

Outside power platforms. This device operates using a platform that lifts or lowers the wheelchair or scooter device into side-entry vans, rear cargo areas, or pickup truck bed.

  • Operates with the touch of a button and requires no physical exertion to complete the lifting or lowering
  • Secures the wheelchair or scooter with a hold-down bar or retractable straps
  • Lifts are folded against the vehicle when not in use with a ‘swing-away’ option for trunk access
  • Most require a Class II or Class III hitch to be street legal in most states or regions
  • Powered by an external battery pack or through wiring into the vehicle battery system

If you have a smaller vehicle and would prefer a lifting system that takes up less space, hoists offer an exceptional option — and, in most cases, at a more affordable price.

Wheelchair hoists

Wheelchair hoists use an external arm to lift and lower your mobility device.

Wheelchair lifts for vehicles: Hoists

The next category of exterior wheelchair lifts for vehicles is the hoists. These devices are typically mounted on the rear bumper, trunk, or truck bed. They feature a one- or two-arm design — depending on the wheelchair or power scooter size — and connect to the chassis of the mobility vehicle. Hoists raise and lower via button the side of the mount or keyless remote.

Inside boom lifts. This device operates like a crane and loads the wheelchair into the side-entry area, rear cargo area, or pickup truck bed.

  • Uses a reinforced strap to secure the wheelchair or other adaptable mobility device
  • All equipment is stored inside of the vehicle and is protected from the elements
  • May be used to load a scooter into the trunk of some sedan models
  • Can be bolted to the corner of the cargo area or side entry door of most vehicles
  • Powered by an external battery pack or through wiring into the vehicle battery system

Once you’ve selected your lifting system, the next step is to consider various accessories that work in coordination to improve your mobility experience.

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Wheelchair lifts for vehicles: Accessories

There are a variety of accessories designed to enhance the operation and protection of exterior wheelchair lifts for vehicles. While some view them as an added expense, these lift, carrier, and hoist accessories serve specific purposes that extend the life of these high-dollar investments in your mobility freedom.

Protective mat. This is a protective mat that situates in the tray of a wheelchair, power chair, or scooter carrier and serves to protect your mobility vehicle from debris that may ricochet off the road

Battery pack. This is a lightweight and effective power source that operates a lift or hoist to prevent the device from having to be hardwired directly into the vehicle’s battery circuitry — most plug directly into the dashboard power source

Mobility cover. Made of a water-resistant material, the mobility cover envelopes your wheelchair, power chair, or scooter and protects it from the elements — it can be bought separately or as part of a travel kit that contains a variety of accessories

Ratchet straps. These retractable tie-downs operate with a ratchet-type action and serve to fasten your wheelchair, power chair, or scooter to the lift or carrier — also available separately or as part of a travel kit that contains a variety of accessories

Wheelchair lift devices

Wheelchair lift devices are perfect for vacations in RVs and motor homes.

AMS Vans carries an impressive inventory of exterior wheelchair lifts for vehicles to enhance your mobility freedom. We carry lifts and hoists that fit most wheelchair-accessible vehicles — including the installation services and accessories to get you up and moving quickly.

About AMS Vans

America’s Mobility Van Dealer is a national wheelchair accessible van dealer and manufacturer with a mission to deliver the industry’s best adaptable vehicles and mobility equipment that meets the unique needs of our customers at a price they can afford.