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Wheelchair Hitch Lift | External Platform Lifts Vehicle Modifications


What is a Wheelchair Hitch Lift (External Platform Lift) and What Makes Them Different from other Vehicle Modifications?

A wheelchair hitch lift is a small external platform lift that is mounted on the exterior rear of the car.  The hitch lift is built for the purpose of transporting a power wheelchair or scooter.  The hitch lift is attached to a rear hitch receiver on the vehicle.  There is usually a  "swing away" option that allows an empty stowed hitch lift to swing out of the way, allowing access to the trunk or rear cargo area.  The weight of the hitch lift is typically around 100-135lbs, swing away option adds about 40lbs to the lift.  The wheelchair weight can vary, typically between 150-350lbs.  There are several reasons why wheelchair hitch lifts are unique in the world of vehicle modifications for the handicapped and people with disabilities. 

               

 

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What should I look for in a Vehicle that will be Carrying my Wheelchair or Scooter in a Hitch Lift?


I have a Car, Can I Safely use a Wheelchair Hitch Lift?

Please refer to your vehicle's owner's manual, consult with the wheelchair hitch lift manufacturer, and see the webpage XXX for more information on how much load your vehicle can safely handle.

Example 1: Can a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser safely handle a wheelchair hitch lift?

As an example. let's look at a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser.  The owner's manual says the vehicle has a maximum gross trailer weight GTW of 1,000lbs and a maximum tongue load of 110lbs.  Without going into all the technical details of how to calculate this, since the combined weight of most hitch lifts and mobility devices is in the 200+ lb range, I'll say no, your vehicle cannot safely handle a wheelchair hitch lift.  Find a towing vehicle that is more appropriate for carrying an external platform lift. 


If I'm Operating the Wheelchair Hitch Lift, What Will I Have to do?

To use a wheelchair trailer, the user or attendant will need to be strong enough to:


What are the Main Advantages and Disadvantages to using a Wheelchair Hitch Lift?

Advantages

Disadvantages


What are Some Factors to Consider in Choosing a Wheelchair Hitch Lift?

Some factors that will determine the specific hitch lift model that is installed:


How Should a Wheelchair Hitch Lift be Properly Installed?

Hitching Systems

The trailer towing industry has a system that classifies hitches according to their tongue load rating.  You'll need to ensure that the hitch installed on your vehicle at a minimum has the tongue load rating to handle your loaded wheelchair or scooter hitch lift.  Often the hitch will have more tongue load rating than is required by the wheelchair hitch lift.  If the maximum tongue load rating of the vehicle falls between the maximum tongue load rating of two hitches, the larger hitch should be installed with the understanding that the maximum tongue load that your car can safely handle is determined by the vehicle and not the hitch.  Please see the webpage XXX for more information.

Suspension Support Systems

There are different products that might assist in keeping the vehicle with the hitch lift level and from sagging in the rear. Newer brake systems also have a rear height sensor that looks for load on the rear axle and adjusts the car's brakes based on the loading condition.  By keeping the vehicle level when it really should sag in the rear when loaded with a wheelchair hitch lift, you are in effect tricking the height sensor and not allowing the brakes to operate according to the manufacturer's specifications.  You need to be careful in choosing to install suspension supports.  Since the car's maximum tongue load  and GAWR Gross Axle Weight Ratings are determined by the vehicle manufacturer and these are third-party products, they do not increase the car's loading capabilities.  The load of a wheelchair hitch lift, before and after installing these products, is still the same and is ultimately still carried by the rear axle.  You need to be careful in choosing to install suspension supports.  If you think your car needs a suspension support system to safely carry a hitch lift then you really probably need a different car with a higher tongue load capacity or come up with another way to safely transport your wheelchair. 

Air shocks, Air bags, Air struts, Air springs

Air is being used to either replace or assist the existing rear metal spring suspension components on your car. Air has the advantage over solid metal of being adjustable.  These air components are manually charged or discharged depending on loading conditions and must be maintained, checked, and adjusted by the vehicle operator.  You will need to do this either by going to a gas station or buying your own compressor. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Wheelchair Hitch Lifts

How can I determine how much hitch or tongue load my car can safely carry?  Please see the webpage XXX for more information for determining how much hitch or tongue load your car can safely carry.

Before choosing a hitch lift, do I need to be evaluated?  I'd recommend going to an authorized dealer of wheelchair hitch lifts.  They should be able to perform a demonstration whereby you can show that you have or don't have the ability to operate the wheelchair hitch lift independently.

 

 

     

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