How to Install a Wheelchair Car Lift in Your Vehicle

January 27, 2012

People with disabilities will find a wheelchair car lift a convenient way to bring along or store a wheelchair for ease of transport. What some people don't realize is that the disabled are prone to routine medical checkups at a local hospital and need a way to properly carry a wheelchair into a car or a van. 

There are a lot of wheelchair lifts available for any vehicle application, and most require professional installation that needs to conform to various safety laws. It should be noted that wheelchair lift applications vary in price as dictated by the technology built in the system. The budget conscious consumer could install a simple wheelchair car lift with the use of common household tools. Make sure the installation complies with your local and state laws.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • Towing hitch
  • Wheelchair carrier
  • Socket wrench
  • Screwdriver (optional and may depend on the carrier assembly)
  • Drop extension (optional)
  • Hand gloves for protection

Step 1 - Have the Towing Hitch Installed

If your car does not have a towing hitch installed as standard, then it would be best to have it installed by a professional. A towing hitch should be bolted on the chassis of the car for strength and safety, and this procedure is best performed by an expert that will guarantee the effectiveness of such an application. A faulty installation may result in improper operation or an accident.

Step 2 - Choose a Wheelchair Carrier

Your wheelchair carrier should conform to the size and weight of your wheelchair for a more efficient and safe assembly. It is advised that the wheelchair carrier have a warranty to protect against manufacturing defects. Make certain that you buy a wheelchair carrier that is in accordance with your mobility device.

Step 3 - Modify Towing Hitch

To properly install the wheelchair carrier in your car, the ball of the towing hitch must be removed as the mounting point will be used to bolt the wheelchair carrier in place. Wear protective gloves during the entire installation procedure and use a socket wrench to loosen the nut on the ball. Set the ball aside for future use.

Step 4 - Check for Clearance

The wheelchair carrier should be at least 12 to 14 inches off the ground to better facilitate the wheelchair upon storage. You could either mount the carrier on the top or at the bottom of the towing draw bar. If the carrier is set too high off the ground, then a drop extension should be purchased to bring the carrier closer to the ground. Install the drop carrier using a socket wrench and torque to proper specifications.

Step 5 - Connect Wheelchair Carrier to Draw Bar

A wheelchair carrier may come with a sway bar that disables unnecessary movement when the vehicle is in motion. Other models have the sway bar equipped as standard. Connect the carrier to the draw bar and tighten the main bolt to proper torque specifications.

Step 6 - Attach Accessories

The extension post and locking arm of the wheelchair should be attached according to manufacturer specifications. Use a screwdriver to attach the extension post on the carrier body.

Test the system by placing the wheelchair on the carrier to check for proper fit prior to vehicle operation. This will ensure that the wheelchair is properly attached to the carrier even in sudden maneuvers on the road.

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