Accessible Vehicles

By Lois Enright

Just as the selection of wheelchairs and scooters gives us an assortment of choices that need to be carefully evaluated, vehicle carriers for these devises present the same diverse assortment. This presentation will cover most of what is available regarding these carriers. First: When one is in need of this assistive device it is very important that a reputable, knowledgeable provider be found to insure good service and assistance for your selection of this product. Ask if they will service these products at no charge for the duration of ownership. This is an important need.

Please note prices quoted in this article may have changed.

The devices available for carriers are Manual Lifts for manual chairs with a price range from $199 to $399 (can be lower and higher) and Electrical Lifts. Both are installed on the backs of vehicles and can be on cars, vans, and trucks. Price listed below can vary by provider.

Manual Lifts for manual chairs

  • Caddy Manual Wheelchair Lifter, price $199.
    Platform Width: 14″
    Lift Height : 38″
    Weight Lifting Capacity: Will lift most manual wheelchairs
    Hitch Requirements: Cass 1, 2 or 3 hitch

  • Silver Star 500 Quad X, price $1,339
    Platform Width: 26.5″
    Platform Length: 54″
    Weight Lifting Capacity: 320 lbs.
    Hitch Requirements: Class 3 hitch

Electrical Lifts

Placed in the vehicle, either in trunks of cars, trucks or in vans. Those available for vans can be placed in the back of the van or come out of the side door of the van, actually in door behind driver’s seat to avoid long walk to back. Prices range from $900 to $2,000 and will vary based on manufacturer and providers.

  • Bruno Curb Sider Model VSL-600
    Weight Lifting Capacity : 200 lbs.
    Works With: Light weight scooters, electric wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs
    Price: $1,995

  • AL 690 Power Side Door Van Lift
    Platform Width: 27″
    Platform Length: 38.5″
    Weight Lifting Capacity: 275 lbs.
    Attaches to existing middle seat tracks
    MSRP Price: $2,395

Note: This one is beneficial if progression at a later time makes the walk to the back difficult to do. It is very important to check that this application would fit in your van.

If you are planning on purchasing a van, it is very important to check them regarding handicapped accessibility for lifts, and to check on companies that allocate reimbursements of dollars for the purchase of lift devices. Some of them provide funds in the $1,000 range.


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The Toyota, Dodge, Plymouth, and GM vans are very handicap accessible. Please be advised that a Mazda is not considered to be strongly handicap accessible. It is a very small minivan. You will be able to put a lift inside the van in the back, but it is very difficult to have this installed. It will not take one for the rear passenger side because the door is too small.

There are also van modifications which give the most access to the worst progressed disabled people. These vans open their side door automatically and you drive directly into the driver’s seat with your wheelchair. There are lock downs for it and you are all set to go. Or you could drive your wheelchair to the driver’s seat and you lift yourself in. All this depends on the options you choose. At this point you would probably have been using hand controls because these vans are adapted with hand controls. Here is a site with examples of these vehicles. The prices range around $35,000 to $45,000, and can range higher.

The prices vary on these products based on the company you would be using and who would be installing these devices. It is therefore very important to shop around and find a very reputable provider for these products and also to see the availability of comparisons. There are also items, including vehicles, which make good buys when purchased second hand. But remember to look at the continuance of the warranty.

Here is a list of web sites that detail the many different types of lift products and lift vehicles available:

Realizing that our disorders can be progressive, it is important to look at ideas for the initial purchase and its financial commitment, if down the road something else may be needed. Sometimes it might be smart to look at the "user friendlier" product if in a couple of years you are unable to use the one you are initially thinking of. For most everyone here, not wanting to use that cane was the first look at our genetic desire to not get the help we should have gotten sooner.

We just never know which way these disorders will turn their heads. And of course because it sure is possible that progression will and can stop, here’s to the good choices and decisions we make to take good care of these very caring, capable minds and hearts to grab the wonderful moments that each day can find.


Saturday, September 8th, 2012