Choosing a Wheelchair Vehicle Lift

Choosing a Wheelchair Vehicle Lift

Posted by Susan T. on Oct 13th 2023

If you have a wheelchair that you bring along when traveling by car, consider investing in a wheelchair lift. A wheelchair lift for vehicles, alternatively referred to as a platform lift or vertical platform lift, is a motorized device designed to elevate a wheelchair and its occupant, enabling them to safely navigate steps and other vertical barriers.

Wheelchair lifts are installed in homes and commercial buildings. Government bodies add them to public vehicles to ensure compliance with accessibility regulations outlined by disability acts. In homes, they serve as an alternative to stair lifts, which only transport passengers and not their wheelchairs or mobility scooters. Wheelchair lifts offer numerous advantages. They help reduce risk of falls, allowing wheelchair users to enter and exit vehicles safely and conveniently.

Types of Wheelchair Vehicle Lifts

There are three types of wheelchair vehicle lifts to choose from. When deciding between these types, take the time to understand their features. Weigh their shortcomings and advantages, and then decide.

Hoist Lifts

A hoist lift, also known as an inside auto lift, enables you to raise your wheelchair into a van, minivan, SUV, or truck. It transports your wheelchair or any other mobility aid you are using inside the vehicle. You can’t use your wheelchair while it is being lifted.

Hoist lifts do not have a platform and do not take up much space inside vehicles. A hoist lift won’t block your back up camera.

How Does the Hoist Mechanism Work?

The hoist mechanism is installed inside the car with a long arm that swings outside the vehicle. This extended arm can lift your wheelchair or scooter, placing it securely in the back of your car. One significant benefit of an inside auto lift is that your wheelchair remains protected from adverse weather conditions, allowing you to travel regardless of the weather. Depending on the hoist style, a hoist lift can fit into SUVs, minivans, vans, and trucks. When choosing a hoist lift, consider its size and make sure it fits into your car or you may need to modify your vehicle.

Outside Lifts

An outside lift or hitch-mounted lift is a platform that connects to the vehicle's hitch. This type of wheelchair lift can raise and lower while the lift securely holds the mobility device while the vehicle is in motion. Outside lifts simplify the process of loading and unloading wheelchairs. A hitch-mounted lift saves space in your vehicle and can help maximize storage space. Outside lifts are a perfect choice for sedans. Some models can be used with vans, trucks, and SUVs as well.

An outside lift can be safely and easily transferred from one vehicle to another. Since your outside lift will be outside your car, you will still have interior space available for storage and seating. Outside lifts are easy to install and operate. They eliminate the need for major modifications.

Hybrid Lifts

Hybrid lifts, also known as platform lifts, enable wheelchair and mobility scooter users to roll directly onto a platform and be lifted into their vehicles. This type of lift is especially useful for individuals who cannot ambulate without their mobility aids. A major advantage of a hybrid lift is that the user can remain seated in their wheelchair while they and their mobility aid get transferred into the car. This helps simplify and speed up the process of loading and unloading wheelchairs.

Is a Hybrid Lift the Right Choice for me?

A hybrid lift typically needs a large cargo area. If you have a small car, you may have to modify it to ensure your hybrid lift fits into the vehicle. Hybrid lifts are designed to resist the elements, which makes them the right choice for wheelchair users who live in areas with unpredictable weather.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wheelchair Vehicle Lift

Just because many of your loved ones or friends are using a particular model, do not automatically consider it the right choice for you. Your mobility and accessibility needs may be very different from that of other wheelchair users. Prior to investing in a wheelchair lift for vehicles, assess its features and capabilities and then decide if it can meet your needs.

Here are some things to consider when selecting a wheelchair vehicle lift to fit your needs.


If your vehicle lift has a regular platform, your wheelchair can slip and injure you while you are trying to transfer it into your car. You will therefore want to invest in a vehicle lift with a non-skid platform and a compact base. Also, make sure the wheelchair vehicle lift you are considering has an adjustable arm designed to help users safely, conveniently, and swiftly load or unload wheelchairs and scooters. Some vehicle lifts come with interlock arms and cannot be used in unsafe conditions.

Load Capacity

Check the weight limit of the vehicle lift you are considering to make sure it can safely accommodate the weight of your wheelchair. The lifting capacity of wheelchairs used for commercial vehicles should be at least 600 lbs. Many wheelchair lifts can handle up to 800 pounds, while others are designed to accommodate loads up to 1,000 lbs.

Platform Length

Make sure the platform of the wheelchair vehicle lift you are considering is wide and long enough to accommodate your mobility aid.


Price is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a wheelchair lift for vehicles. While you will want to stick to your budget, steer clear of unreasonably cheap wheelchair vehicle lifts as they may lack even basic features.

Mobility Masters is a renowned supplier of mobility aids. All our products undergo rigorous testing and meet the highest quality standards. Have questions about a mobility aid you are interested in? Call our store at (800) 936-7006.