Best Wheelchair Car Lifts for Seniors

Best Wheelchair Car Lifts for Seniors

Best Electric Lift & Carrier

Harmar Mobility AL100 Universal Scooter Lift Outside Fully Automatic Carrier + AL105 Swing Away Joint

Harmar Mobility Electric Scooter Lift

Lifts and secured power wheelchairs and scooters up to 350 lbs

Best Budget Pick

ECOTRIC Carrier for Electric Wheelchair Cargo Mobility Scooter with Hitch & Loading Ramp

ECOTRIC Carrier with Loading Ramp

Affordable 3-position ramp and wheelchair carrier

Most Lightweight Option

Custom image

EZ-Access Trifold Advantage Wheelchair Ramp

Lightweight, folding vehicle wheelchair ramp designed for portability.

Quick Picks: Best Wheelchair & Scooter Car Lifts for Seniors

  •  Harmar Mobility Electric Scooter Lift [Best Overall] This electric scooter lift from the popular Harmar company boasts 350 lb weight capacity, an automatic hold-down arm (eliminating the need for tie-downs) and also comes with a swing-away arm attachment, a class III hitch receiver, and a weather-proof cover!
  • ECOTRIC Carrier with Loading Ramp [Most Affordable Car Wheelchair & Scooter Carrier] This budget-friendly steel trailer-style carrier boasts a 3-position ramp and the ability to hold up to 500 lbs.
  • EZ-Access Trifold Wheelchair Ramp [Best Lightweight Manual Folding Ramp] This manual ramp is ideal for those looking to push their wheelchair or scooter up into a van cargo area. Designed with portability in mind, this ramp can fold with ease but can still handle up to 800 lbs!

Wheelchair Lifts for Cars can Enhance Elders’ Freedom to Live Fully

A wheelchair or motorized mobility device can make a big difference in an elder’s well-being

It can offer tremendous benefits, allowing a senior to get out and about, maintain meaningful activities of interest, and keep up with friends and family.

However, if it’s exhausting, dangerous, or cumbersome to get out with a wheelchair or powered device, many seniors can’t or won’t do it and will opt to stay inside instead.

This is where wheelchair lifts for cars come in. Wheelchair lifts can be attached to a car or SUV and allow an individual to easily secure and transport a wheelchair to various locations, allowing an elderly individual to access wheelchair-friendly spaces like parks, malls, restaurants, or other spaces.

There are tons of car wheelchair lift options available, and the best choice for an individual senior’s situation will vary tremendously with factors such as their physical abilities, vehicle type, chair type, and budget.

Some lifts, like today’s Best Overall pick, the Harmar Mobility Scooter Lift, are bundled with some additional accessories or equipment that can simplify the process and save some money.

Today we will break down and lay out these considerations, as we review some of the best wheelchair car lifts for seniors.

Top Outside Manual Carrier Trailer Options

1. Silver Spring Folding Steel Scooter and Wheelchair Carrier with Ramp

Best Wheelchair Carrier for SUVs
Silver Spring SC500-V3 Folding Steel Scooter and Wheelchair Carrier with Ramp

Silver Spring Trailer Carrier

Folding steel carrier with ramp

This versatile high-capacity steel carrier includes a bi-fold ramp, a swing-away arm, and the option to fold away when not in use.

About: This Silver Spring Folding Steel Scooter and Wheelchair Carrier is constructed to support mobility aids weighing up to 500 pounds and features an extra long (59 inch) bifold ramp. This allows it to work in a variety of locations and circumstances, even with higher trucks. 

When not in use, it can be folded up against the vehicle for easier parking, or folded down for better visibility. An optional swing-away arm allows for easy access to the vehicle’s trunk.

  • Three-position folding ramp stows out of the way when not in use
  • Anti-rattle device reduces noise and wear and tear
  • 500 pound weight capacity supports power chairs and scooters
  • Optional swing-away feature allows for easy access to vehicle’s rear

The user simply pulls down on the ergonomically designed handle to release the ramp. As with all manual lifts of this type, this may be difficult for individuals who have arthritis, reduced strength or other conditions. 

For those with limited strength, an electric lift might be a better option. Otherwise, it’s not difficult to pull the ramp down for loading.

The Silver Spring Folding Steel Carrier with Ramp is constructed of powder coated steel. Its heavy duty metal mesh surface covers sturdy beams for strong support that also drains well in the case of rain.

It features ten tie down points so there are plenty of options for securing a wheelchair well, regardless of its shape or size. Note that tie downs are not included with this ramp.

When not in use the ramp can be stowed upright, or folded down for more compact travel – and better visibility. Alternatively, it can actually be folded up against the vehicle, which is especially nice when trying to park in tighter spaces.

The Silver Spring is compatible with class III or IV 2-inch hitches between 11-18 inches from the ground. 

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: Class III or IV two inch hitch receiver
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Lift Weight: 86 pounds
  • Platform Dimensions: 48 x 28 x 4.25 inches 
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: 59.125 inches long x 27.5 inches wide
  • Power: Manual

Pros

  • Budget friendly price point
  • Fold down for improved visibility
  • Fold up for smaller size and easier parking
  • Swing-away option for easy access to trunk
  • Anti rattle device reduces noise as well as wear and tear

Cons

  • Tie downs are not included

2. ECOTRIC Carrier with Loading Ramp

Most Affordable Wheelchair Carrier
ECOTRIC Carrier for Electric Wheelchair Cargo Mobility Scooter with Hitch & Loading Ramp

ECOTRIC Carrier

Affordable carrier with loading ramp

This sturdy yet affordable steel carrier has a three position ramp with easy folding features

About: The ECOTRIC Carrier with Loading Ramp is one of the most affordable solutions available for transporting wheelchairs, scooters or other devices weighing up to 500 pounds. It features a three-position ramp and a three-inch safety rail around the platform.

  • Three position ramp
  • Pull locks ensure ramp remains securely in position, but are easy to release when needed
  • Ramp handle makes folding up and down easy

The ECOTRIC Carrier is constructed from heavy duty steel with black powder coating for durability. It features a three inch safety rail around the platform and 11 tie-down points. Tie downs are not included with this carrier.

It features pull locks to ensure the ramp remains securely in position, but can be released easily when needed.

The three position ramp can be closed flat, open flat or open in an L-shape. 

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: Class III or IV 2-inch hitch receiver
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Lift Weight: 73 pounds
  • Platform Dimensions: 29-3/4″ (W) x 43-3/4″ (L) x 5″ (H)
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: 29-3/4″ (W) x 42-1/2″ (L)
  • Power: Manual

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Can be locked flat when not in use
  • Easy installation – all required hardware is included

Cons

  • Tie downs are not included

3. MaxxHaul Aluminum Cargo Carrier with 60 inch Folding Ramp

Best for Sedans!
MaxxHaul 70275 Aluminum Cargo Carrier | With 60' Folding Ramp | 53.5' x 29'

MaxxHaul Cargo Carrier

Heavy duty aluminum chair & scooter car carrier

This cargo carrier allows for better security with a stable design and unlimited tie down options.

About: The MaxxHaul Aluminum Cargo Carrier with Ramp is one of the best choices for seniors with sedans. Many sedans are able to pull modest loads and this super lightweight trailer ramp won’t add much to a heavy wheelchair’s weight. 

The MaxxHaul has been consistently impressing seniors for years due to its sturdy construction, ease of use and value for price.

  • Aluminum construction is lightweight and rust-free
  • Reinforced with steel for 500 pound weight capacity
  • Extra reflectors for road safety

This MaxxHaul carrier is constructed from lightweight aluminum so it won’t rust or corrode. Powder coated heavy duty steel reinforcements beneath the basket add to its strength. 

The MaxxHaul features a wide carrier bed which can support most mobility devices weighing up to 500 pounds.

The MaxxHaul Carrier’s basket is constructed with 8 inch tall sides for increased stability. Its design allows for unlimited tie down options in addition to its dedicated anchor points. This enables mobility devices to be well secured, regardless of shape and size.

The 60 inch folding ramp (which is long enough to reach most curbs) also features closely spaced rungs so it can accommodate equipment with small wheels as needed. 

Many seniors appreciate the lightweight sturdiness, and ease of raising and lowering the ramp – although it still takes a certain level of strength and ability to do this independently. Those who would have difficulty maneuvering the ramp independently should consider a powered lift over manual.

The MaxxHaul also includes built in reflectors to enhance road safety.

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: Class III and IV two inch hitch receivers
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Lift Weight: 72 pounds
  • Platform Dimensions: 46.5-Inch x 28-Inch x 7-Inch
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: 60 inch
  • Power: Manual

Pros

  • Budget friendly price point
  • Lightweight aluminum construction

Cons

  • Tie downs are not included

Top Inside Car Ramp Options

4. Prairie View Industries Rear Door Van Ramp

Best Inside Lift Ramp
PVI - Rear Door Van Ramp

Prairie View Van Ramp

Tri-panel durable manual ramp

This manual wheelchair & scooter ramp boasts a high-traction surface is designed to be operated by just one individual.

About: The Prairie View Industries Rear Door Van Ramp is a lightweight, durable manual ramp that is suitable for loading mobility devices into the back of a van. It easily folds up inside of the van for storage and then unfolds into a ramp capable of supporting up to 800 pounds.

  • Mounts to van floor and stows inside vehicle
  • Designed for 1-person operation
  • High-traction non-slip surface
  • Up to 800 pound capacity*

The Prairie View Industries Van Ramp is designed specifically for one-person operation, making it great for elderly individuals traveling solo or single-team care providers. 

It is made from lightweight aluminum that’s also surprisingly durable, and its three-section ramp uses springs to maximize its ease of use. 

This Prairie View ramp also features a unique center hinge designed to eliminate pinch points when folding the ramp, keeping fingers safe.

This ramp is available in 7 or 8 foot lengths. It folds up vertically inside the back of the van when not in use, so it does not require a hitch or trailer. 

The van door must open at least 34″, and measure 37″ floor to ceiling, to accommodate this ramp.

Basic installation is easy for those with the ability to lift and maneuver its weight, around 75 pounds. Note that a conversion kit, sold separately, will be required for installation into vans with thresholds.

The ramp is made to be mounted to the van floor, so vans which feature stow-away seating (wells that the seats fold down into) are not compatible with this lift.

Anti-slip tape covers the ramp surface for increased traction.  

* Due to differing weight distribution, this ramp supports up to 800 pounds on a two-axle wheelchair, or 400 pounds on a single axle model. 

Technical Specifications (VAN727)

  • Hitch Compatibility: N/A
  • Weight Capacity: 800 pounds if dual axle chair, 400 pounds if single axle
  • Lift Weight: 72 pounds
  • Platform Dimensions: 7′ x 27″
  • Folded Height: 36″
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: 7 feet
  • Power: Manual

Pros

  • No hitch or trailer needed
  • 1-person operation

Cons

  • Not compatible with non-van vehicles or vans with stow-away seating
  • If there is a threshold in rear door a conversion kit will be required

5. EZ-Access Trifold Advantage Series Wheelchair Ramp

Lightest-weight wheelchair car lift ramp
EZ Access Wheelchair Ramp

EZ-Access Trifold Advantage

Portable manual folding ramp

A lightweight wheelchair car ramp that’s foldable and designed for portability.

About: The EZ-Access Trifold Advantage Wheelchair Ramp is a manual folding ramp made of aircraft-grade aluminum that can be used to load a wheelchair or scooter into a van, SUV or utility trailer. It’s designed for portability, and can easily be set up over steps or curbs to enhance accessibility wherever needed.

This ultra-lightweight wheelchair car ramp can safely support up to 800 pounds despite its remarkably light weight. 

  • Designed for compact storage and easy portability
  • Features a slim profile and easy-carry handles
  • Bottom plate self-adjusts for a smooth transition from ramp to ground
  • 800 pound capacity

The Trifold Advantage is available in lengths of 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10 feet. This enables seniors to select the length that will meet their needs, while keeping any extra size, weight, and cost to a minimum.

This ramp is remarkably lightweight, weighing in at only 32 pounds for the five-foot model and a mere 60 pounds for the ten-foot one – considerably lighter than any other model detailed here. 

Additionally, the Trifold Advantage is designed to easily separate into two equal sections for enhanced portability – simply pull two release pins and fold the sections up. 

Each section features a built in handle for easy carrying. Each weighs, of course, only half of the total weight – as little as 16 pounds in the five foot model!

This folding ramp features a unique hinge designed to reduce pinch points and compacts into a bundle 11.5 inches high by 15 inches wide. The length is between 30.75 and 60.75 inches long, depending on the ramp length selected.

The Trifold Advantage ramp is covered in high quality non-slip tape for extra traction. At 29 inches wide, it can comfortably accommodate most scooters and power wheelchairs with room to spare. 

This wheelchair ramp works well with most vans and SUVs – plus, an optional top lip extension is available for improved rear-door access when needed.

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: N/A
  • Weight Capacity: 800 pounds
  • Lift Weight: 32 / 38 / 44 / 55 / 60 pounds (depending on length chosen)
  • Platform Dimensions: 29 inches wide by 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10 feet long (select length at checkout)
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: 5, 6, 7, 8 or 10 feet long (select length at checkout)
  • Power: Manual

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Can be used to access steps, raised landings or other locations

Cons

  • Although lightweight, it does require some physical strength and ability to maneuver the ramp and push the wheelchair up or down it

Top Outside Car Electric Lift Options

6. Silver Spring Electric Universal Powerchair Scooter Lift and Carrier

Most Affordable Electric Wheelchair Platform Lift for Car
Silver Spring Electric Universal Powerchair Scooter Lift and Carrier

Silver Spring Powerchair Scooter Lift

Affordable electric scooter car lift & carrier

This car battery-powered lift lifts & carries scooters and wheelchairs with ease. Also features a manual crank and option to fold up and away when not in use.

About: The Silver Spring Electric Universal Powerchair Scooter Lift and Carrier is a powered lift that can electronically lift and store most scooters or power wheelchairs. 

One of the most affordable electric lift options, the Silver Spring Electric Lift offers an easy way to transport electric power chairs without having to manually lift or maneuver anything. 

This lift is powered by the vehicle’s battery, requiring no separate power source – although installation will require wiring (wire included) the lift to the car’s front battery. It also features a manual crank backup which can be used in the event the lift should lose power for any reason.

  • Drive on or off the platform for easy loading
  • 4 retractable locking tie-down straps with hooks are included
  • Carrier folds up when not in use
  • Manual crank back up 

The Silver Spring Electric Universal Powerchair Scooter Lift and Carrier features built in locking tie down straps with hooks that self-retract for ease of use.

A senior can simply drive onto the lift and step off of the chair. Then, one just needs to strap down the mobility device with the included tie-downs and adjust the height of the transport lift with a switch of a toggle. 

This Silver Spring Electric Lift is manufactured from strong, durable and lightweight aluminum. It can transport scooters or power chairs weighing up to 350 pounds and with a wheelbase up to 42″ x 27″. Plus it can stow away vertically against the car when it’s not in use.

Seniors have consistently been impressed by this company’s customer service and support. They especially appreciate that the company takes the time to ensure the lift will fit their vehicle prior to finalizing the sale.

The Silver Spring Electric Lift comes with a license plate holder with taillight and a hitch adapter for Class II, III or IV hitch receivers. 

Some seniors may find that this lift blocks the rear access to their vehicle. If so, a swing-away attachment can be purchased separately. 

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: Class II, III, or IV vehicle 2 inch hitch receivers
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Lift Weight:82 pounds
  • Platform Dimensions: 39 x 27 x 52 inches
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: N/A
  • Power: Vehicle Battery

Pros

  • No manual lifting required
  • Easy to operate
  • Manual backup crank 
  • Retractable locking tie-down straps included

Cons

  • Electric power lifts are at a higher price point than manual ones

7. Freedom Mobility Fully Automatic Scooter Lift Carrier

A Quality Outside Scooter Lift
Freedom Freedom Mobility Fully Automatic Scooter Lift Carrier, Swing Away Joint, Class III

Freedom Mobility Scooter Lift Carrier

Great car scooter lift & carrier

A reliable electric lift carrier that boasts a fully-automatic lock to hold down scooters without the need or tie downs.

About: The Freedom Mobility Fully Automatic Scooter Lift Carrier allows seniors to transport an electric scooter with almost no physical effort. This lift’s unique design even eliminates the need for straps or tie-downs! 

This model comes with an easy-to-use swing away arm for access to the rear of the vehicle. Many wheelchair lifts and trailers block access to the back of the vehicle. The swing away arm allows the lift to be easily moved out of the way, so that the senior can place or remove groceries, luggage or other items from this area.

  • Automatic arm holds scooter in place with no tie-downs needed
  • Swing away design allows easy access to rear of vehicle
  • Manual backup crank

This Freedom Mobility Carrier is specifically designed for transporting scooters. Due to the wheel well configuration that secures the mobility device on the platform it won’t work with many other types of power chairs. 

An automatic arm holds the scooter into place with no need for additional tie-downs or straps. This makes loading and unloading a breeze!

Freedom Mobility is known for their excellent customer service, readily welcoming questions to help elderly individuals find a scooter lift that meets their unique needs.

This carrier is designed to connect directly to the vehicle’s battery. While it is easy to install for people with the relevant abilities and know how, some seniors may prefer to take it to an auto repair shop for installation.

This Freedom Mobility Carrier is compatible with Class III hitch configurations. Class II adapters are available sold separately.

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: Class III (Class II adapter sold separately)
  • Weight Capacity:350 pounds
  • Lift Weight: 123 pounds
  • Platform Dimensions: 39 x 37 x 10 inches
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: N/A
  • Power: Vehicle Battery

Pros

  • Manual backup crank
  • License plate holder
  • Swing away arm included for access to rear of vehicle
  • No tie downs needed

Cons

  • Smaller vehicles may experience stress on their rear suspension due to combined weight of lift and scooter
  • Designed specifically for scooters, this lift is incompatible with most power chairs

8. Harmar Mobility AL100 Universal Scooter Lift Outside Fully Automatic Carrier

Best Scooter Lift Overall
Harmar Mobility AL100 Universal Scooter Lift Outside Fully Automatic Carrier + AL105 Swing Away Joint

Harmar Mobility Scooter Lift

Popular automatic external scooter lift

Fully automatic and battery-powered car scooter lift that includes a manual crank and a swing away arm to maintain easy access to vehicle trunk.

About: The Harmar Mobility AL100 is the most popular automatic outside lift for scooters today. It’s fully automated and powered for nearly effortless operation. This listing includes a swing away arm for easy access to the vehicle’s rear and a free vinyl weather cover.

  • Fully automated and powered operation
  • Hold-down arm secures scooter without tie downs
  • Accommodates almost any scooter 
  • Manual crank backup
  • Licence plate mount included

As a fully automated and powered lift with no tie downs, the Harmon Mobility AL100 requires almost no effort from the user to operate. The senior using the lift, or the caregiver, will only need to be able to:

  • Drive or push the scooter onto the platform
  • Insert and turn the activation key
  • Stand for a couple minutes while applying pressure to a toggle switch to operate the lift
  • Walk from the lift to board the vehicle 

This lift comes with a hardwire kit to connect directly to the vehicle’s battery. It includes a manual crank backup in case it should lose power for any reason.

The Harmon Mobility AL100 accommodates scooters up to a 42 inch wheelbase and 350 pounds. Due to its arm hold down feature the Harmon Mobility AL100 will work with almost all scooters, but it won’t work with most power chairs.

Tie downs can be purchased separately and used to secure a power wheelchair if desired.

Harmar has an impressive customer service track record. In fact, the company will verify the make and model of your car and scooter, your hitch type, and the height of the hitch from the ground prior to finalizing the purchase. They will work with you to ensure lift compatibility so that your purchase will work for your needs!

This lift comes with a Class III 2 inch hitch receiver standard, but a Class II hitch is available optionally. If the height of the hitch is greater than 18 inches a hitch drop adapter, sold separately, will be required. 

This listing includes a swing away arm for easy access to the back of the vehicle.

Technical Specifications

  • Hitch Compatibility: Class III 2 inch receiver (Class II sold separately)
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Lift Weight: 120 pounds (includes swing-away arm)
  • Platform Dimensions: 26 x 39 inches
  • Extended Ramp Dimensions: N/A
  • Power: Vehicle Battery

Pros

  • Fully automated and powered for almost effortless operation
  • Manual crank backup
  • Helpful customer service team

Cons

  • Mainly works with scooters; not compatible with most power wheelchairs (consult the company to verify exact model)

Which Kind of Car Wheelchair Lift Should I Get?

The best wheelchair car lift for you, or the senior you are shopping for, will depend on a number of different things.

What Type of Vehicle Will You Be Using?

Sedans and hatchbacks, with their relatively small size, have little room to store anything other than a portable transport wheelchair. A trailer carrier with ramp may be your best bet for transporting a powered mobility device with a smaller car. 

Sedans and hatchbacks aren’t the best choice for towing, but they can generally manage lighter loads when needed. They often can tow 1,000 pounds, and some can tow much more than that. 

Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find it’s exact “Vehicle Towing Capacity”. It’s a good role of thumb to stay under 80% of the vehicle’s maximum tow capacity.

Vans and SUVs have some interesting options in the way of interior lift ramps that don’t require trailers. 

Larger SUVs and pickup trucks may be good candidates for inside lifts, trailer-type carrier ramps or exterior electric platform lifts.

Is Using a Trailer Towing Hitch an Option?

Does the vehicle have a towing hitch, or can one be installed? Many trailer-style lifts require Class II or III hitch receivers. Class II hitches have a 1.25 inch receiver and can haul upto 3,500 pounds. Class II hitches have 2 inch receivers and can haul upto 8,000 pounds.

What Type of Mobility Device Is Being Used?

Different models of scooters and power wheelchairs can vary tremendously in size, shape and weight.  In general, scooters tend to be heavier and more bulky while power wheelchairs can often be broken down to fit more easily into a small space like a car trunk.

You’ll also want to consider the amount of physical work the senior or caregiver is able or willing to do.

Manual ramps and lifts require varying but significant amounts of strength and dexterity to set up, push a chair up the ramp, or stow away. 

Automated power lifts can reduce physical exertion to almost nothing. This can make a big difference in how free a senior will feel in getting out and about. 

Outings themselves can take a toll on a senior’s energy level.

Having to exert even more energy struggling with a manual lift or ramp can sap a senior’s motivation to go out at all. This simple reasoning justifies the higher price point of electric-powered lifts for many seniors.

In some cases, the senior’s caregiver or family member may be able to manage the physical labor easily. They may be able to first assist the senior into the vehicle manually, or with a device such as a wheelchair to car transfer lift, and then proceed with loading the mobility device.

Keep in mind that electric wheelchair lifts for cars generally require a more complicated installation, hooking the lift’s wiring to the car battery. A handy car-knowledgeable individual can do this without too much hassle, or any car repair shop can install it with ease. 

What Locations Need to be Accessed?

Consider where the lift will need to be used. Will the vehicle need to fit in a small garage? Perhaps an interior lift – or an electric exterior lift that folds up to next the vehicle – would be a better option than a trailer, which would add too much length.

Will the lift or ramp need to be portable? There are some portable ramp options that can be used both with a vehicle and separately from it. These portable ramp options can be set up over steps or curbs, for example, to make all sorts of locations more accessible.

Weight Capacity

Weight capacities of wheelchair lifts very widely from around 100 to 800 pounds or more. 

When determining the total weight load, be sure to include the weight of footrests or other accessories as needed.

When calculating vehicle towing weights be sure to include the weight of the trailer and swing-away arm, if applicable.

Pricing

The price of a lift will be a big factor to consider for most seniors. There is no denying that the powered lift options are more costly than their manual counterparts. 

Unfortunately it’s not as straightforward as simply comparing price tags because there are potentially a lot of hidden costs to any option. 

  • Will a hitch need to be added to the vehicle?
  • Will any tie-downs, accessories or adapters be required?
  • Will there be any cost for installation?

Of course, one injury prevented by not having to manually load a wheelchair could easily pay for any cost difference when it comes to car lifts! And how do you quantify the cost of enhanced freedom when you don’t have to wrestle with stressful manual options? 

All these considerations will need to be weighed by each individual. Every situation is different.

Different Mobility Devices: Scooter vs Wheelchair

Both scooters and power wheelchairs are mobility devices powered by electricity, but they are different from one another. 

Some scooter or power wheelchair car lifts will only work with one or the other so it’s important to consider this distinction when making a lift selection.

Mobility Scooter

mobility scooter

A mobility scooter is controlled by a tiller and handlebars and typically has three or four wheels.

Three-wheeled scooters offer more legroom for tall individuals. Four-wheel scooters’ broader wheelbase means enhanced stability, as well as resulting in a heavier load. Scooters are often optimized for outdoor use.

Power Wheelchairs

motorized wheelchair

Power wheelchairs are operated via joystick. They typically have six or more wheels, usually two large drive wheels and at least four small wheels for stability.  They often are more maneuverable indoors as compared to scooters.

Types Wheelchair & Scooter Car Lifts

There are both interior and exterior wheelchair car lifts and ramps.

Interior wheelchair car lifts are mounted inside the vehicle and are designed to lift the chair into the vehicle for transport. Exterior lifts remain outside the vehicle at all times, and often store the wheelchair outside of the vehicle.

Is an exterior wheelchair lift right for you? Here are some considerations:

  • Exterior wheelchair carriers are great for sedans or other smaller cars.
  • They usually attach to the vehicle via hitch and fold out of the way when not in use. 
  • Exterior wheelchair lifts typically block access to the rear area of the vehicle, which means that a senior would be unable to utilize the trunk without disconnecting the lift or trailer, which can be an involved process. 
  • External car chair lifts leave the mobility device exposed to the elements, although a proper cover can go a long way towards combating this issue.

Interior wheelchair car lifts and ramps function similarily to the exterior options, but are stored inside the vehicle rather than outside.

Are interior wheelchair car lifts right for you? Consider these factors:

  • Inside lifts keep the mobility device out of the weather so they are quite secure and help protect the chair from damage.
  • Interior lifts need to be mounted to the bottom floor, rear, or side of the van. This installation requires professional work and is often costly.

Let’s dig further into the various external and internal lift options available.

Trailer Carrier (Manual)

Trailer carriers are a manual chair transportation option featuring a ramp that a wheelchair or scooter can be manually pushed up and then secured in the external carrier.

exterior trailer carrier

Electric Lift & Carrier (Electric)

External electric lifts and carriers are attached to the exterior of a vehicle through the use of a trailer hitch.

Electric lifts have a platform that lowers to the ground so that the wheelchair or scooter can be driven or pushed onto it. The platform elevates the wheelchair or scooter using power from the vehicle’s battery or its own battery pack.

electric scooter lift

Is an exterior electric wheelchair lift right for you? Here are some considerations:

  • The senior must be able to transfer into the vehicle. If leaving the wheelchair at all is a problem, an interior lift should be considered instead.
  • Many exterior lifts require the device to be secured with tie-downs. Some powered lifts don’t need to be tied down as they use “effortless” means, such as an arm that holds the device in place. 
  • These lifts often block access to the back of a vehicle. They are usually compatible with optional “swing-away” arms, which enable access when the lift is not in use.

Although exterior lifts can block access to a vehicle’s rear, swing-away arms can be attached to most powered exterior lifts.

Swing-away arms allow a senior to easily move the lift out of the way to access the vehicle’s rear cargo area, which can be important for those who need that area to transport groceries or other items.

Swing-away arms don’t usually work with trailer carriers. They often must be purchased separately from the lift.

Pros of electric lifts:

  • Often require little or no physical effort to operate

Cons of electric lifts:

  • They can be expensive

Foldable Wheelchair Ramp (Manual)

The main manual option for transporting a wheelchair outside of a vehicle is a carrier with ramp. They typically feature one wall that manually folds down to form a ramp to the ground.

manual wheelchair car ramp

The senior or caregiver can push the empty wheelchair up the ramp and secure it to the cargo area using tie-down straps. This feat can take a good deal of physical strength and stamina to accomplish.

Pros of exterior manual ramps:

  • Less expensive than powered options.
  • Don’t take any room inside of the vehicle which, might be needed for other items or passengers.
  • Can be the best or only option for smaller cars that can’t support an electrical lift.
  • Can be transferred to other vehicles if needed.

Cons of exterior manual ramps:

  • Requires a good deal of strength and dexterity to push a wheelchair up a ramp and secure the device. It can be impractical or impossible for some seniors to accomplish.
  • It can be tricky to drive or park a vehicle towing a trailer, especially in smaller spaces or if the driver is not used to it.
  • Often block access to the back of the vehicle.
  • Can obscure rear cameras or interfere with backup sensors.

Interior Mounted Ramps (Manual)

Interior ramps are mounted inside the rear or side door of a van or truck and typically fold into the vehicle when not in use. The senior or their caregiver must push the chair up the ramp into the vehicle and secure it.

interior manual wheelchair car ramp

Pros of interior-mounted ramps:

  • Interior ramps offer added protection from the elements and security by transporting the device inside the vehicle.
  • Ramps tend to be much less costly than lifts.

Cons of interior ramps:

  • It requires quite a bit of strength and stamina to push a wheelchair up a ramp and secure it.

Interior Powered Lifts / Hoist Lifts (Electric)

Interior powered lifts (also known as “hoist lifts” or “inside lifts”) mount inside the vehicle’s cargo area – where it be the bed of a truck, side of a van or back of an SUV.

A crane-like hoist mechanism swings outside of the vehicle and lifts the wheelchair up into it.

hoist lift

The operator must attach a hook securely to the wheelchair. While the machine does the lifting work, the operator must physically guide the chair into the cargo area, which can be difficult for some seniors – especially if it’s a larger mobility device or smaller cargo area.

Interior lifts typically work best with larger vehicles such as vans or trucks with ample room for cargo – although it is possible to find a wheelchair lift for car trunks that works on this principle. Some power wheelchairs are designed to break down to fit into the trunk of a car, but others can be tricky to get in there. 

Inside lifts usually collapse when not in use to save space. 

Pros of interior powered lifts:

  • Interior ramps offer protection from the elements and security by transporting the device inside the vehicle.
  • It can be easier for some to drive without pulling a trailer or handling the extra length or bulk of an exterior lift.

Cons of interior powered lifts:

  • Interior lifts can be more difficult to operate than exterior lifts. 

Mounted Hybrid Lifts (Electric)

Mostly found in SUVs or vans with large cargo areas, hybrid lifts are mounted inside the vehicle.

They feature a drive-on platform and a powered system that will lift the mobility device into the vehicle. The device needs to be secured via tie-downs or hold-down arms.

hybrid wheelchair car lift

They combine the ease of outside lifts with the protection of inside lifts, but usually come with a hefty price tag. Two popular brands that offer hybrid lifts are Bruno and Harmar.

Pros of hybrid lifts:

  • Interior storage protects from the elements
  • Easiest option, as it requires no manual lift or movement – the senior just drives onto the platform, gets off the wheelchair, presses a button, and the wheelchair electrically lifts itself and stores itself in the back of the vehicle until it is needed again

Cons of hybrid lifts:

  • Extremely expensive and requires costly installation
  • Takes up most, if not all space in even decent-sized SUVs and vans.

Roof-Mounted Wheelchair Lifts

There are a few options on the market for roof-mounted wheelchair lifts. These offer the advantage of working well for vehicles without trunk or backseat space, or for people who want to keep these areas available for other uses.

roof mounter wheelchair

Roof mounted wheelchair lifts tend to be expensive and typically only accommodate standard wheelchairs. Seniors with power wheelchairs or scooters need to keep looking.

Wheelchair Lift for Car Installation: How Are Car Chair Lifts Installed?  

Many exterior lifts, whether manual or electric, install using a universal Class III, IV or IV hitch receiver on the back of the vehicle.

Hitches are generally sold separately from lifts. Some lifts come with adapters to expand which hitch classes can be used.

If the lift is powered it will need to be connected to the power source. This requires most electrically-powered lifts to be connected directly to the vehicle’s battery in order to operate. Some require drilling into the trunk or cargo space, especially for the advanced hybrid lifts.

In some cases, this is a relatively easy job for someone who has experience with electricity and mechanics. However, it is generally recommended to have a professional install powered lifts. Most auto mechanic shops can assist with wheelchair car lift installation jobs quickly.

Today’s Top Lift for Moving Wheelchairs into the Car is… the Harmar Mobility Electric Scooter Lift AL100!

Although the Harmar AL100 is specific to scooters, it has performed so well for so many years that it ultimately deserves distinction as today’s Overall Best pick.

It’s nearly effortless, tie-down free operation and bundled swing-away arm and vinyl cover are hard to ignore, but it’s the customer service that really makes this lift stand out in the crowd.

The company’s excellent customer service has impressed seniors for years. They have helped many find the perfect lift for scooter into truck, lift for wheelchair into car, or other mobility device vehicle combination.

Special Mention: EZ-Access Trifold Advantage Series Wheelchair Ramp

The EZ-Access Trifold Advantage Ramp deserves special recognition for the sheer number of situations in which it can work wonders. 

The EZ-Access Trifold Advantage can come in handy whether you need:

  • a rental car wheelchair car lift
  • to load a wheelchair or scooter into a van, SUV or utility trailer
  • to move a wheelchair over a curb or a few steps 

With an impressive 800 pound capacity, the Trifold Advantage can stand up under the weight of any mobility device. As an ultra-lightweight, portable ramp it transports easily and can assist in loading wheelchairs into vehicles or creating ramps wherever needed on demand. Once you’re finished, it breaks down quickly for compact storage.


Wheelchair and scooter car lifts can do wonders for helping an older or disabled individual stay mobile and get around.

For the mobility-impaired, car assist handles are also great for helping individuals get into a car’s seating area with ease. Other wheelchair accessories can be helpful too – check out our articles on wheelchair trays to learn more!

Have you ever installed a wheelchair car lift? What was the experience like? Which type of wheelchair cart lift do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Last update on 2020-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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