How Wheelchair Van Ramps and Lifts Make Life Easier for the Disabled


Wheelchair van ramps really do make life easier for those with disabilities. They provide individuals with mobility they would not otherwise have. However, to get the most out of any of these ramps, it is critical to purchase the right product for your particular needs.

Fold Out, In Floor Or Something Else?

One of the first decisions you need to make is how the wheelchair ramp or lift will attach to the vehicle. There are several models on the market.

Fold Out: Fold out wheelchair ramps or lifts do just as their name suggests: they fold out from within the van. Some of the most basic products do not require any type of conversion of the van itself, but rather attach to the van “as is“. These may be manual or powered ramps.

Fold out models:

  • Are often inexpensive
  • Require very little maintenance
  • Are easy to use
  • May be less durable, especially if the hinges do not have a proper design.

Key Benefit: For the user, the fold out models of wheelchair ramps or lifts are best for a combination of convenience as well as budget control. These models are a bit more difficult to use than automatic versions, but provide most of the same benefits.

In Floor: In floor lifts and ramps rest within the floor when not in use. These types of lifts, generally speaking, require professional installation. Only a minority of in floor options can be installed without seeking professional assistance. In floor ramps may be automatic, powered ramps or they may be manual.

  • In floor models cost a bit more, but do save a great deal of space.
  • Some are automatic, which can make them a better option for those that need this feature.
  • They go with you wherever the van goes.
  • May require installation professionally, depending on the model and type selected

Key Benefit: In floor wheelchair ramps and lifts are best for those with limited mobility and those who want the simplest of ways to maneuver into a vehicle. These models are beset for those who cannot use other models of ramps or lifts.

Portable Models: In addition to those mentioned, there are also several options for easier installation. For example, side door and rear door ramps may be portable. This means that you can latch them into place when they are necessary and remove them when the vehicle is operational. Another option is the roll out ramp, which offers the same type of features, but this one rolls up rather than folding up or coming off in pieces. Portable ramps like these can be automatic, but most of them are manual ramps.

  • Portable ramps are affordable
  • Most are strong, well made and can withstand regular use.
  • Portable ramps are interchangeable and may work for overcoming steps or curbs, too.
  • These ramps do need to be put in place and removed manually when they are being used. This can take a bit of time.

Key benefit: Portable models are less expensive and there are more varieties, including channel or track ramps, folding ramps or roll up ramps. They also are interchangeable between vehicles.

Choosing the Right Wheelchair Van Lift or Ramp Model

When it comes to selecting the right model of wheelchair ramp for your van, you should keep a few things in mind:

  • Select a model that works well for the vehicle you have. If you have an SUV or a minivan, it may be best to select a hitch mounted van ramp instead.
  • Keep your budget in mind. Automatic or powered ramps will cost considerably more than alternatives. On the other hand, they may be the best option for those who need as much control as possible.
  • Some of the wheelchair lifts on the market really allow people to gain maximum mobility by providing access to the traditional van seats. Some provide the user with the ability to get behind the wheel easily. Select the model that provides as much comfort and convenience that is necessary.