A mobility scooter or electric wheelchair can provide patients with reduced mobility the independence and freedom to explore the outside world.
The problem arises when they need to travel longer distances, and need to transport their mobility devices with them in their vehicles. Trying to load and unload a bulky scooter or powerchair into a vehicle can prove particularly challenging, especially if the individual suffers from impaired upper mobility, or they are unsteady on their feet.
To be able to do this with ease and no strain, the answer is a scooter/wheelchair lift. These lifts can assist with loading and unloading a mobility device into a vehicle. It reduces the need for any heavy lifting, and it can help maintain the patient’s independence, allowing them to take their scooter or wheelchair further afield with them.
In our guide, we show you the different types of vehicle lifts that are available. We also review some of the best scooter lifts that can allow you to easily and safely transport your mobility device with you, wherever you go.
Best Scooter & Wheelchair Vehicle Lifts Comparison Chart
Here’s a handy reference list of our reviewed scooter and wheelchair lifts. Further below is a more comprehensive comparison and review guide.
|Harmar AL100 Outside Powered Scooter Lift||Harmar AL301XL Outside Powered Lift||Harmar AL425 2-Axis Inside Hoist Lift||Harmar Backpacker Plus Hybrid Lift||E-Wheels Outside Manual Platform Lift|
|Weight Capacity||350 lbs||350 lbs||400 lbs||350 lbs||350 lbs|
|Hitch Class||Class II or class III hitch or greater||Class III hitch or greater||N/A||N/A||Class II or class III hitch|
|Platform Size||39" – 46"(L) x 27.5"(W)||39" – 53"(L) x 36"(W)||N/A||43"(L) x 27"(W)|| 60"(L) x 32"(W) – Platform size |
42"(L) x 31"(W) – Ramp size
|Boom Dimensions||N/A||N/A||30" – 41"(H) x 23.5" – 33"(L)||N/A||N/A|
|Boom Pitch||N/A||N/A||0° – 30°||N/A||N/A|
|Lift Type||Outside powered lift||Outside powered lift||Hoist lift||Powered hybrid lift||Outside manual powered lift|
|Installed Weight||83 lbs||100 lbs||66 lbs||155 lbs||155 lbs|
|Suitable for?||Mobility scooter||Mobility scooter / power wheelchairs||Mobility scooter / power wheelchairs / manual wheelchairs||Mobility scooter / power wheelchairs / manual wheelchairs||Mobility scooter / power wheelchairs|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
What is a Scooter/Wheelchair Vehicle Lift?
A scooter/wheelchair lift attaches to the inside or outside of a vehicle. It is designed to carry a fully assembled unoccupied mobility scooter, power-chair, or manual wheelchair. This allows the patient to easily transport their mobility device with them, wherever they go.
Depending on the lift, some are manually powered, while others are battery-powered and can lift a scooter or wheelchair automatically by simply pressing a button. Lifts can be installed on a range of vehicles including, cars, SUVs, vans, trucks, etc.
A lift can offer a range of benefits, which includes:
- Avoids the need for any heavy lifting – Trying to lift a mobility scooter or powered-chair into the trunk of a vehicle can prove particularly challenging, especially if the user of the device has impaired upper mobility, or they are unsteady on their feet. Depending on the scooter or powered wheelchair, some can weigh in-excess of 350 lbs, which can mean even able-bodied individuals may struggle to load/unload them even if they are disassembled. A lift can eliminate the need for any heavy lifting. The lift can quickly load and unload the device with ease into and out of a vehicle, without requiring any effort from the user.
- Offers greater independence and freedom – Patients who are unable to load and unload their mobility scooter into their vehicle by themselves, may have to rely on a caregiver for assistance with this. With a lift, however, the individual no longer needs helps with this task. This provides them with greater independence and freedom.
Types of Scooter/Wheelchair Lifts
There are a range of scooter/wheelchair lifts. There are ones that need be installed in the trunk, while others can be attached to the exterior of the vehicle.
Depending on the type of lift, some can be installed on compact vehicles, while others are more suited for larger vehicles, such as SUVs and vans. The main types of scooter and wheelchair lifts include:
Powered Outside Scooter Lift
The powered exterior lift is simple to install and does not require any modifications to the vehicle. It attaches to the existing hitch receiver, and it is suitable for cars, SUVs, vans, trucks that either have a class 2 or class 3 hitch. Most platform lifts will tilt up against the rear of the vehicle when it is not in use, which can assist with parking.
A powered outside scooter lift can come in a variety of sizes and weight carrying capacities to suit a range of 3 and 4-wheeled mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs.
To ensure the lift can be used even if there is a power failure, most models can be operated manually. This ensures the platform can be lowered or raised irrespective of whether there is an operational power source.
Operating a powered exterior scooter lift is straightforward. To use one, you simply need to follow these steps:
- Lower the lift using either the wireless remote control or the controls located on the lift.
- Once the lift is in contact with the ground, drive the scooter or powered-chair onto the lift platform.
- Raise the lift.
- Once the lift has raised fully and come to a stop, secure the mobility device to the platform using either the tie-down straps or the relevant docking device.
- Once at the destination, to unload the scooter or wheelchair, you perform the same steps in reverse.
One of the benefits of a powered outdoor lift is it does not take-up any inside cargo space, or require the passenger seats to be removed, as the lift is fitted externally. This means the lift is particularly suited for smaller and mid-sized vehicles that have limited inside space. Outside powered lifts are also easily detachable, so they can be refitted to another vehicle if required.
A drawback of an outside scooter lift, is it is not protected from the elements, as the mobility device is carried externally. This can mean during inclement weather, the scooter or wheelchair may get wet as well as dirty.
A crane or hoist lift fits inside a vehicle, and it consists of a motorized crane that can raise and lower an unoccupied scooter or wheelchair into and out of the cargo area.
The hoist mounts to the vehicle floor, this means it will require some minor modifications to be made, which may include drilling holes, as well as wiring it to the vehicle’s battery. A hoist is suitable for a range of vehicles, including cars, SUVs, vans providing there is sufficient room within the trunk to install one, and there is enough room for the mobility device to fit.
As the hoist needs to be fitted within the cargo area, it will occupy some interior space. Some passenger seats may also need to be folded down so that the hoist can be fitted. Most hoist lifts feature a foldable arm that can be collapsed out of the way when it is not in use. This helps to maximize the storage space within the cargo area.
Operating a hoist lift usually involves the following steps:
- Manually swing the arm of the crane out of the vehicle (required for a 2-way hoist, for a 4-way hoist this step is not required).
- Fold the mobility device seat and/or the scooter tiller down to ensure it is within its most compact size.
- Attach the lifting strap to the mobility scooter or wheelchair.
- Operate the lifting mechanism using either the remote control or the controls on the hoist to lift the mobility device off the ground.
- Once the lifting mechanism has come to a stop, manually rotate the scooter or wheelchair into the vehicle (required for a 2-way hoist, for a 4-way hoist this step is automatically done for you).
- Engage the lowering mechanism to lower the device onto the vehicle floor.
As the scooter or wheelchair is stowed inside a vehicle, it helps to keep it safe and protected from all weather conditions, and it reduces the amount of wear and tear on the mobility device.
Powered Hybrid Lifts
A powered hybrid lift is a combination between a lift hoist and a powered outside lift. It mounts inside the vehicle just like a lift hoist does. The difference however, is the lift platform is designed to automatically flip out of the vehicle and lower down to the ground. The mobility device is then loaded onto the platform by the user, and it is then lifted automatically back up into the vehicle without the user needing to lift a finger, apart from having to touch a few buttons to operate the lift.
A hybrid lift is suitable for larger vehicles such as SUVs, van, trucks, etc. They generally take up more space than a lift hoist does. Hybrid lifts can usually be fitted either in the cargo area, or the side entry of a vehicle.
Outside Manual Powered Scooter Lift
For those on a budget, a manually powered outside scooter lift is the most affordable option available.
It attaches onto the exterior of a vehicle using a hitch the same way a powered outside lift does. The only difference however is, it is manually operated. They are suitable for users that have some upper body strength, who do not suffer some balance issues, as they do require some manual lifting, as well as bending, to operate them.
An outside manual powered scooter lift consists of a flip-up platform, and a ramp that folds down. To load the scooter or wheelchair onto the lift, you unfold the ramp, you then push the mobility device up the ramp onto the platform. Once on the platform, you secure it using the relevant tie-downs, and you finally fold the ramp back up again.
How to Choose the Right Scooter/Wheelchair Lift?
Choosing the right scooter/wheelchair lift will allow you to load and unload your mobility scooter or powered chair easily and quickly from your vehicle without having to struggle. It will allow you to take your mobility device with you wherever you go, providing you with greater independence and freedom to explore the outside world.
If however, you choose the wrong scooter lift, it could mean it may be unsuitable for your vehicle. It may not be able to accommodate your mobility device, or you may even struggle to operate it if you suffer with a particular physical disability. This is why it is important that you choose the right scooter or wheelchair lift for your particular needs. Before deciding on the right scooter lift, consider the following factors:
Dimensions & Weight of Scooter/Wheelchair
Before considering the type of lift that you may require, you will first need to know the dimensions and the weight of your scooter or wheelchair.
Knowing the length, width and height of your scooter or wheelchair will allow you to determine whether the lift is large enough. If you’re considering an external platform lift, or whether there is sufficient room in the cargo area to carry your mobility aid, if you’re thinking of opting for a trunk hoist.
When taking the height measurements, ensure that the backrest and/or tiller has been collapsed first (if applicable).
The hoist or platform lift should be able to safely lift your scooter or wheelchair. Exceeding the advertised weight capacity of the lift may prove dangerous. You should therefore always check what the total weight of your scooter or wheelchair is before considering any type of lift.
Powered or Manual Lift?
The patient’s physical limitations will often dictate what the most appropriate scooter/wheelchair lift will be.
If the person has impaired upper mobility and they are unsteady on their feet, a powered hoist lift or platform lift will usually be the best option to go for. It will reduce the need for any excessive bending or lifting. It will allow the user to quickly and safely load and unload their scooter or wheelchair without any hassle.
Alternatively, if the user has relatively good upper and lower mobility, a more affordable manual platform lift may be a better option. To stow the scooter or wheelchair, the user needs to retract the ramp from the loading platform and push their device up the ramp, and then secure it to the platform, before returning the ramp.
Inside or External Lift?
You will next need to decide whether you want an inside or outside lift. While a hoist lift or hybrid lift will help to protect your scooter from the elements, it will mean that it will take up valuable cargo space. Some rear passenger seats may need to be folded down so that it can be fitted within the vehicle. Inside lifts are usually better suited for larger vehicles, such as SUVs or vans.
A platform lift that mounts onto a hitch is suitable for a range of vehicles. They are, however, particularly suited for smaller sized vehicles, as they do not consume any interior space as they are fitted externally.
If you’re considering an external platform lift, always check that the class of hitch that the vehicle is fitted with, to ensure it is suitable for the particular lift.
Best Scooter/Wheelchair Vehicle Lifts
1. Harmar AL100 Universal Outside Powered Scooter Lift
Best Outside Powered Lift for Mid-Sized Scooters
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Hitch class: Class II or Class III hitch
- Platform size 39" – 46" (L) x 27.5" (W)
- Lift weight: 83 lbs
- Suitable for: Mobility scooter
The Harmar AL100 outside powered scooter lift is perfect if you need to transport a small to mid-sized 3-wheeled or 4-wheeled scooter. As the lift is fitted externally, it means it won’t take up any space within the cargo area of your vehicle.
Installing the lift requires minimal effort. It attaches to the vehicle hitch and will work with both class II and class III hitches. This means it is suitable for most vehicles, including cars, SUVs, vans, etc. The lift can easily be removed, and used on another vehicle if required.
The aluminum deck on the lift can extend from 39″ up to 46″. It can accommodate mobility scooters with a wheelbase up to 42″ that weigh up to 350 lbs.
The outside platform lift is easy to operate. This makes it suited for users with impaired upper and lower mobility. To use the lift, simply turn the key on, and push the button down, and it will automatically lower to the ground. Drive the scooter onto the deck, and then activate the lifting mechanism to raise the lift. Once it has raised fully, a hold-down arm will automatically secure the scooter to the lift. This avoids the hassle of having to mess about with tie-down straps.
It is fitted with a manual crank back-up. This allows you to operate it even if there is a power failure. This means you will never need to worry about not being able to load or unload your scooter no matter what. When the lift is not in use, the deck will tilt against the vehicle’s bumper, which saves space and assists with parking, and makes maneuvering easier.
2. Harmar AL301XL Extra Large Fusion Outside Powered Lift
Best Powered Outside Lift for Larger Scooters or Power Chairs
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Hitch class: Class III hitch or greater
- Platform size: 39" – 53" (L) x 36" (W)
- Lift weight: 100 lbs
- Suitable for: Mobility scooter, powered wheelchairs
If you’re looking to transport a larger heavy-duty scooter or powerchair with you, but you only have a small vehicle, the versatile Hamar AL301XL Extra Large Fusion outside powered lift could be the answer to your problems.
The Harmar AL301XL is fitted with extra-large deck that can extend from 39″ up to 53″. This means it is suitable for larger mobility scooters and powerchairs weighing up to 350 lbs with a wheelbase up to 48″. Due to its larger and wider deck, users will not have to struggle to maneuver their scooter or wheelchair onto and off the platform. This makes transfers quicker and safer.
The external lift fits most vehicles that have a class III hitch or higher. Operating the lift is a breeze. The one-switch operation allows you to easily lower and raise the deck with minimal effort, without requiring any awkward bending or lifting. Once the scooter has been raised fully, all you need to do is connect the retractors to secure the scooter onto the deck. In case there is a power failure, the lift has a back-up crank which can be operated manually to lower or raise the deck as needed.
The lift automatically detects if there is a scooter on the deck. If it is empty, it will retract against the vehicle’s bumper in order to save space. The Hamer external powered lift comes with a 3-warranty. This protects against possible defects with the mechanical and electrical components and the platform.
3. Harmar AL425 2-Axis Inside Hoist Lift
Best Fully-Automated Inside Hoist Lift
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs
- Boom dimensions: 30" – 41" (H) x 23.5" – 33" (L)
- Boom pitch: 0° – 30°
- Lift weight: 66 lbs
- Suitable for: Mobility scooter, powered & manual wheelchairs
The fully automatic Harmar AL425 2-Axis inside hoist lift is an excellent choice if you need a hassle-free way of transporting your scooter or wheelchair within your vehicle.
The Harmar AL425 inside hoist lift only requires 30″ of headroom to fit one, this makes it suitable for use in a SUV, truck, or van. With its hefty 400 lbs weight capacity, the hoist lift can safely load and unload anything from a lighter manual wheelchair to a heavier powerchair or scooter.
Simple to install, the lift bolts to the floor and it can be fitted to either side of the vehicle, in either the cargo or side area. Due to its compact and low-profile design, the lift won’t take up too much space, thus helping to save precious cargo space.
What sets it apart from other hoist lifts, is it is fully automated. It will lift and lower your mobility device. It will also rotate it into and out of your vehicle without having to guide it yourself. All you need to do is attach the retractable strap to the mobility device, and the hoist will perform the heavy lifting for you. The wired remote control is simple to use. With its larger-sized buttons, it can easily be operated, even by users with limited finger dexterity.
4. Harmar Backpacker Plus Hybrid Lift
Best Easy to Install Inside Scooter Lift
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Platform size: 43" (L) x 27" (W)
- Lift weight: 155 lbs
- Suitable for: Mobility scooter, powered & manual wheelchairs
One of the advantages of an inside hybrid lift over a hoist lift is they usually don’t require a permanent installation. This is the case for the Harmar Backpacker Plus hybrid lift. It can be fixed to the vehicle’s existing seat mounts without the need to drill any holes. This means fitting it is easier and quicker, and it means it can also be removed and be used in another vehicle. If preferred however, it can be fixed onto the vehicle floor for a permanent installation.
Due to its larger footprint, the lift lies flat on the floor. The hybrid lift is suitable for use in a van or minivan. With its 350 lbs lifting capacity and it’s 43″ long and 27″ wide platform, the lift is suitable for scooters, powered and manual wheelchairs of most sizes.
One of the stand-out features of this hybrid lift is its ease of operation. Use the 2-button hand control to retract the lift out of the vehicle, once the steel platform has lowered onto the ground, drive the scooter or wheelchair onto it. Next, press the button on the hand control to raise the lift back up again. It will then automatically load the mobility device into the cargo area, without needing to do anything else.
An optional battery pack is available for the Backpacker Plus hybrid lift. This means you won’t need to connect it to the vehicle’s battery for power.
5. E-Wheels Outside Manual Platform Scooter Lift
Best Economical Outside Manual Platform Lift
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Hitch class: Class II or Class III hitch
- Platform size: 60" (L) x 32" (W)
- Ramp size: 42" (L) x 31" (W)
- Lift weight: 155 lbs
- Suitable for: Mobility scooter, power wheelchairs
If you are on a budget, the E-Wheels outside manual platform lift is a good option to consider, if you need a way to transport your scooter or powerchair with you when you go on longer trips, in your vehicle.
The large platform measures 60″ long and it is 32″ wide, which makes it suitable for scooters and powerchairs of all sizes. The 42″ long and 31″ wide ramp allows the user to easily push their mobility device up from the ground onto the platform without having to struggle. Once on the platform, the ramp simply needs to be retracted, and the scooter or wheelchair just needs to be secured onto the platform.
The platform does not require any permanent installation, it instead attaches to the vehicle’s hitch, and it is suitable for a car, SUV, or truck that has a class III hitch. The lift can also be removed and it can be used on another vehicle if required. When not in use, the platform can be retracted against the rear bumper to save space.
Despite its economical price, the platform lift is constructed from durable steel, and it has a black powdered coating to help protect it against corrosion and scratches.
Due to it requiring some manual handling to load and unload the scooter/wheelchair onto the platform, the platform lift is ideally suited for users with relatively good upper mobility, who are steady on their feet, and do not suffer from balance issues.
Does Medicare Pay for Scooter Lifts for Vehicles?
While Medicare does not cover the cost of scooter/wheelchair vehicle lifts, many vehicle manufacturers offer mobility assistance programs where they will offer reimbursements of up to $1000 if you install adaptive equipment such as scooter lifts in newly purchased vehicles.
See the below table for further information relating to the different mobility programs that different car manufacturer’s offer:
|Vehicle Manufacturer||Mobility Program Name|
|Audi||Audi Mobility Rebate Program|
|BMW||BMA Mobility Program|
|Chrysler||Chrysler Driveability Program|
|Ford||Ford Accessibility Program|
|General Motors||GMC Mobility Program|
|Genesis||Genesis Mobility Program|
|Honda||Honda Customer Mobility Assistance|
|Hyundai||Hyundai Mobility Program|
|Lexus||Lexus Mobility Assistance Program|
|Mazda||Mazda Mobility Program|
|Mercedes Benz||Mercedes Benz Mobility Program|
|Nissan||Nissan Mobility Assist Program|
|Subaru||Subaru Mobility Assist|
|Toyota||Toyota Mobility Program|
|Volkswagen||Volkswagen Mobility Program|
|Volvo||Volvo Mobility Program|