Personal tools

Interested in disability history? Check out what happened Today in AT History!

Wheelchair and scooter stowage

From ATWiki

Jump to: navigation, search

There is an array of specialized devices made to stow a wheelchair or scooter for transport depending on the user’s preferences, abilities and vehicle. The device usually has a method for hoisting the device and securing the device. Concerns for hoisting the device into the vehicle include accessibility of the device user. Will the chair user be able to reach the device after the trip? Some concerns before choosing a stowage device include the weight capacity of the vehicle, dimensions of the vehicle, and accessibility to the user. Types of stowage devices include car top carriers, hoists that place the device inside the vehicle, bumper mounted, or hitch mounted.


Car Top Carriers

Sedans and compact cars should consider car top carriers. Car top carriers include a lift that will hoist a manual chair into a fiberglass container that will close to conceal and protect the device from the elements. They usually have hand controls and weigh around 100-125 lbs. Visually, they look just like any other vacation car top carrier. This particular device also allows the user to transfer from their chair to their car and stow their chair without having to ambulate after stowage to get into the vehicle.


Hoists are designed to lift your wheelchair or scooter into the interior of your vehicle. They involve some sort of lever that may or may not be telescoping and chains, cables and platforms. They can mount to the floor of the vehicle or the side enabling the device to be retracted when not in use. They will load your device into the interior compartment of a minivan, MPV, Pick up truck or the trunk of a sedan via a boon or platform. Lifting capacities range from 200 to 400 lbs. and may need approximately 32"-37" headroom for clearance. Some may disassemble for trunk use. Some mount to the existing 2nd or 3rd row seat hardware, like the Harman Mobility AL-600, eliminating the need to drill holes in your vehicle. Some have on board controls and some have remote controls. These devices require that the user stow their device and then be able to ambulate to the driver door or have an aid that will stow the device for them.

Truck Bed Stowage

If the device is stowed in a truck bed, a cap may be required or desired to protect you device from the elements, which creates other concerns that are easily addressed. If the device is stored in the interior of your vehicle or truck bed and is not tethered to the hoist to secure it during transport, separate tethers may be acquired to secure it from shifting while in motion. These devices require that the user stow their device and then be able to ambulate to the driver door or have an aid that will stow the device for them.

Costs and Concerns

Depending on the weight of the device needing to be stowed and the size of the vehicle, prices range from approximately $600 to $3000+ not including installation.

As a precaution, check with your insurance or rehabilitation provider before choosing a stowage device. Some states do not permit hoists or stowage devices funded by rehabilitation services to mount to the vehicle via a hitch. Installation should be done by a qualified professional.

In short, some questions to consider when choosing a stowage device:

  • What is the weight of my wheelchair/scooter?
  • What is the weight capacity of my vehicle?
  • What is the head clearance of my vehicle, or trunk clearance?
  • Will I be able to operate the lift or will I require help?
  • Does the lift I am considering meet my insurance or rehab services requirements for coverage?
  • What separate accessories may be need (i.e. cover, tether anchors, remote control if not included)?
  • How will the device be serviced or warranted?

Just in case you thought this would tell you about stowing your device for the long haul, the following websites have some great travel tips: