Wheelchairs can be cumbersome to transport, and yet they are necessary for the user’s independence and free movement. Most vehicles are not large enough to accommodate a wheelchair in the trunk, but you can transport it using a wheelchair carrier which will save you the expense of a wheelchair van. Wheelchair carriers for cars come in four designs – car roof top carrier, bumper-mounted, hitch-mounted or pull-behind.
Car Roof Top Carrier
Car roof top carriers are designed to carry folding, manual wheelchairs which mount on the roof instead of a luggage rack. The wheelchair needs to be folded so that it offers less wind resistance. If it is a simple manually-powered wheelchair, it can be lifted up. But if the wheelchair is heavy you will need an automated wheelchair carrier which is powered off the car’s battery. The wheelchair will need to be covered to protect it from the weather elements.
Bumper-Mounted Wheelchair Carrier
This type of carrier is mounted on the back of the car. It is easy to fit on and remove. It picks up a wheelchair or portable mobility scooter and stores it on a small rack, or a large platform for power chairs or electric wheelchairs. The bumper-mounted wheelchair can generally hold a wheelchair of up to 100 pounds.
The easiest way to carry a folding manual wheelchair is on a small bumper-mounted rack specially designed for this purpose. This model holds the wheelchair flat to the back of the vehicle. Other parts and accessories like a canopy or a special attachment to hold an oxygen bottle might have to be removed and accommodated inside the car.
Hitch-Mounted Wheelchair Carrier
This type of carrier, which hooks on to the trailer hitch of a car, comes in two models is designed to transport electric and power wheelchairs. The manual carrier has one side that folds down and doubles up as a ramp which enables you to push the wheelchair up onto the platform. The automated model has a lift mechanism which lowers the carrier to the ground so that the wheelchair can be loaded easily. Once it is properly accommodated, the carrier lifts up and locks in place.
Pull-Behind Wheelchair Carrier
You also have pull-behind models designed to carry electric power chairs. These are small trailers on wheels which hook to the trailer hitch just like the platform of a hitch-mounted carrier. You can also get pull-behind models which are completely enclosed as a protection against the weather or when the vehicle is parked.
Consult a Professional
If you are planning to buy a wheelchair carrier it might be a good idea to talk to a professional. Carriers are available in different sizes so you need to know what’s right for your vehicle. Some carriers are not suitable for smaller cars, so a professional will tell you what the correct match for your car is.
Where can I buy a wheelchair carrier and what will it cost?
A good place to start would be at a wheelchair retailer in your city. You’ll be able to see the various models on display and have all your questions answered. Or you could shop online at www.discountramps.com which has a huge range of carriers on offer. Prices start from $240 onward.
Below is a video of a bumper mounted folding wheelchair carrier.
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