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Hoists and lifts for wheelchairs and mobility scooters

Mobility scooter and wheelchair hoists

We tested some car boot hoists at QEF in November 2014. We looked at some of the features of different hoists to see how important they were to users. You can see more about this on our page about user-testing hoists.

Using a hoist to lift a wheelchair or mobility scooter into a car:

Two-way hoists

Two-way hoist lifting a folded manual wheelchair into a car boot
Two-way hoist from Autochair

Hoists for lighter chairs are usually two-way hoists. They lift the chair up and down by power but you push the chair by hand to swing it into the car.

Four-way hoists

Four-way hoists:

  • use power to swing the wheelchair into the car AND lift it up and down
  • are generally used if your scooter or wheelchair is heavy
  • are easier to use on roads with steep slopes or hills since you don't have to push your wheelchair up into the boot
  • can be fitted to almost any vehicle, while others are made for larger vehicles such as estates, 4x4s or MPVs

Other types

Six-way hoists: Autoadapt have a number of six-way powered hoists (distributed by Elap Mobility) where the swinging arm is telescopic and moves in and out under power. This allows for more flexibility in where the wheelchair/scooter is picked up/set down.

Telescopic hoist: Brig-Ayd Controls have a telescopic hoist that picks up the wheelchair/scooter and loads it into the boot in one continuous action.

Using a hoist to get a wheelchair or mobility scooter into a car

You'll probably need:

  • to use both hands to use the hoist
  • to be able to stand without much support while you are hooking on and lifting the wheelchair or scooter
  • to fold or dismantle the wheelchair or scooter before you lift it, especially if you have a small car or a large or heavy wheelchair or scooter

Attaching the hoist

There are different ways of attaching the hoist to the wheelchair - open hooks or hooks that close:

  • open hooks are easier to use but can come off when the lifting cord is slack
  • closed hooks may be more awkward If you have limited grip or dexterity,
  • if the hook has a spring, try it to see whether you need both hands, or if your fingers get caught easily
Four-way hoist lifting a powered wheelchair into a car boot
Telescopic hoist from Brig-Ayd

You need to use both hands for some hoists - one to hold it in the right place to stop the hooks falling loose, and the other to take up the tension with the control unit. This may be difficult to do standing if you have poor balance.

Nearly all suppliers provide a range of hooks, so discuss what you need with them before you buy, and make sure you try all the functions.

WIth four-way hoists especially, the wheelchair/scooter needs to be in just the right place, which may take a bit of getting used to.


Controlling the hoist

Most hoists have hand-held control units which can be:

  • either attached by wires
  • cordless

On a few hoists, there are control units that are fixed to the hoist's arm or base which means you can hold on for support while you're using it. Some people find these easier to use than a hand-held control. 

Most suppliers have a choice of switches and should be able to find something to suit you. Try the control before you buy.

On some hoists, you have to remove the lifting arm when the wheelchair is stowed in the boot.

If you're travelling without your wheelchair, some hoists allow you to remove the swinging arm to get it out of the way, leaving more room for luggage. The removable parts can be heavy, especially on heavier-duty hoists. Some can't be taken out of the car because the lifting cords are permanently threaded through them.

What hoists are available?

There is a wide variety of hoists available. You can see summaries of the available products, listed in order of the maximum weight they can lift in our product guide: 

Platform lifts for mobility scooters and wheelchairs

As an alternative to hoists, use a platform lift to load an unoccupied wheelchair or mobility scooter into the boot.

To use a platform lift:

  • you bring the platform out of the boot under power
  • push or drive the wheelchair on and secure it
  • and then transfer the platform back into the boot

Platform lifts are easier than a hoist because:

  • you don't need to fold or dismantle the wheelchair or scooter
  • you don't need the same strength or dexterity to load the wheelchair
  • you can secure the wheelchair to the platform before loading

Platform lifts are:

  • generally used for larger wheelchairs and scooters and they need quite a large load space (see our car search)
  • designed to fit in MPVs, large estates and vans.
  • best fitted into a boot at least 120cm wide and at least 70cm deep (sometimes back seats need to be removed)
  • a bulky solution: you need the same amount of room behind the vehicle to load the wheelchair onto the lift platform

Overview of the lifts available

Backpacker lift in useBackpacker

Price including fitting: £1,998
Max weight lifted (kg): 115
Platform size (cm): 69 x 120 / 77.5 x 155 ('twin')
Space required (h x w x d; cm): 102 x 122 x 122 / 102 x 123 x 122 ('twin')
Distributed by: Alfred Bekker

Joey Lift in useJoey Lift

Price including fitting: about £2,200
Max weight lifted (kg): 159
Platform size (cm): 69 x 112
Space required (h x w x d; cm): 102 x 112 x 115
Distributed by: Elap Mobility




Is there enough space in my car?

Compare measurements such as boot space and whether seats are removable by using our car search, which has measurement data of over 1,000 vehicle models.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is the UK’s leading expert in user-centred research involving disabled and older consumers. We have over 50 years’ experience of independent, specialist research.
This information is unbiased and we hope it will help you choose the right option to meet your needs. We don't sell products.

Last updated: August 2018

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