Wheelchair Vehicle Accessible Disability Ramps


Vehicle disability ramps are created with one purpose in mind―to make it easier and safer to enter or exit a van or other vehicle.  Many vehicles may use powered lifts to do the job, but there are many credible ramp options.


All vehicle ramps tend to have a few things in common.  First, they are easy to operate.  Designers created them to make entry and exit easier, but they also want to make it fast and efficient to actually use the devices.  Second, vehicle ramps face a common challenge―the incline factor.  They want to facilitate the exit/entry process is the least available space while avoiding dangerously steep inclines.  You’ll see how different types of vehicle ramps address both of these factors as we examine them in greater detail.

Powered vs. Manual Vehicle Ramps

All vehicle ramps fall into one of two categories―manual or powered.  Manual ramps rely on the user to extend and retract them.  That can involve pulling them out by hand or using a crank. Depending on the set up, manual ramps may require the assistance of a second party.

Powered disability ramps may have a remote control or easily accessible switch that controls a motor responsible for extension and retraction.  These are easier for the chair user to operate without assistance and are more convenient than the manual options.  As you’d expect, however, they also tend to be more expensive.

Universal Van Ramp

A universal van ramp is a unit designed to work in virtually any vehicle.  They can be used with side doors or rear doors.  They’re often made in two parts to increase storage options and to provide greater flexibility in terms of installation and use.  Universal ramps are usually 5 to 7 feet long and can handle weights of approximately 500 pounds.

Side Door Van Ramp

Side door ramps are a great solution for getting wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility aids in and out of a van.  They’re generally made of aluminum and can mount to the van in a number of different ways.  Many side door ramps utilize two separate grooved channels, instead of a one-piece construction.

Some of the more popular side door ramps have a center joint hinge to decrease their storage profile while maintaining their strength.  These ramps are usually 6 to 7 feet long and can generally handle about 600 pounds in total weight.

Rear Door Ramp

Rear door ramps extend from the back of the van.  These can have advantages in terms of more easily transporting the wheelchair due to the usually larger volume of space behind a vehicle.  However, placing the ramp in the rear of a vehicle can create loading/unloading problems, especially in street-side situations where parallel parking is the norm.  These ramps can come in a variety of forms.  Some closely resemble common portable options, with the only real difference being the way they’re mounted.  Others are more involved.  Many powered vehicle disability ramps are rear door-mounted.

Hitch-Mounted Van Ramps

Hitch mounted ramps are perfect for those who want to maximize interior van space.  They actually mount outside of the van and are usually made of a heavier metal.  Built in a fashion similar to galvanized steel modular units, they feature grated surfaces.  These are among the most expensive vehicle options, but their sturdiness and the fact that they don’t take up any interior space make them a great option for frequent travelers.