Wheelchair Ramps vs. Lifts on Accessible Vehicles

Wheelchair Lifts vs. Ramps on Accessible Vehicles

Should you buy a wheelchair lift or a ramp for your handicap accessible vehicle? In today's accessible world, there are many options when deciding how you'll get around town. Research the difference between wheelchair van lift or ramp. It's important to invest in the right wheelchair lift or ramp for your needs and lifestyle both now and in the future. With the right choice, you can have a great solution that will give you years of service and continue to meet your mobility needs. Trust in our years of experience to help you find the perfect solution. We have studied the world of accessible transportation to put the very best combination of features for a wheelchair lift and ramp into our new and used handicap accessible vans.

Under Van Ramps

Hydraulic lifts support a metal grid that hides under the converted wheelchair van. 


  • The ramp is out of view and does not take up interior space of the van


  • Damage occurs easily from the underside of the vehicle

  • Adds unnecessary weight to the vehicle decreasing fuel efficiency

  • Expensive to buy

  • Expensive to fix

  • Gets dirty easily

  • Parallel parking is difficult with deployment coming straight out the side, often hitting the curb

  • Only available with full-size vans

  • Finding parking is not always easy for full-size vans

  • Winter months cause significant lift problems

  • Heavier loads cause the van to bottom out often

Arm Wheelchair Lifts for Vans

The single-arm wheelchair lift raises and lowers a mobility scooter or wheelchair with a webbing strap or docking device. 


  • Quiet arm lift

  • Uses existing van power system

  • Quick installation


  • Difficult to repair

  • Dangerous if not strapped in properly

  • Awkward

  • Unavailable on minivans

  • Changing wheelchairs to a larger type can make this wheelchair lift potentially unusable

  • Blocks the view

  • Often gets in the way

  • If interior model, it takes up cargo space

  • If exterior model, exposes the wheelchair lift (and sometimes wheelchair) to the outside elements, causing corrosion to the lift and wheelchair or mobility scooter

  • Depending on the location, it can keep other people from being able to get in and out easily

  • Difficult for the elderly to use

  • Weight limit often 300-500 pounds for the wheelchair and the person

  • Takes a lot more time to enter and exit the van

  • Pole tends to lean over time

Platform Wheelchair Lifts for Vans

The platform lift is attached to the outside of a vehicle on the back or can be an interior model that takes up most of the cargo space. 


  • Exterior style wheelchair or scooter lift keeps interior space at a maximum


  • Interior style platform lift--takes up most of the space within the cargo bay

  • Exterior style platform lift--exposes lift and wheelchair or mobility scooter to the outside elements and may be difficult for drivers to see following behind the vehicle

  • Expensive to fix

  • Expensive to purchase

  • Adds unnecessary weight to the vehicle decreasing fuel efficiency

  • Unavailable on minivans

  • Finding parking is not always easy for full-size vans

Kneeling Systems

A kneeling system is installed on accessible vans to lower the incline of the ramp plane. 


  • Decreases the ramp angle for manual wheelchair users


  • Expensive to buy

  • Expensive to fix

  • Many reports of broken "low riding" vans that never stop kneeling

Wheelchair Van Ramps by AMS Vans

This handicap ramp folds out above curb level allowing the wheelchair user to ride into the van without leaving the chair. 


  • 10" lowered floor means extra head room and minimal "bottoming out"

  • No expensive kneeling system

  • Wired straight into the battery instead of the vehicle computer to save mechanical problems

  • 24-hour emergency call service

  • Wheelchair ramp folds out above the curb


  • Not an easy ramp for manual wheelchairs

  • Rear entry available for wheelchair passengers only, not drivers.

Interested in learning more about the AMS Vans wheelchair ramp van conversion versus power chair or scooter lifts? Talk to one of our mobility consultants at 866-270-7355 for complete information.