Mobility help

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My husband is being fitted for power wheelchair and we are looking at Quantum Q6 3. We drive a Lincoln Nautilus. The Wheelchair salesman said I can't attach a wheelchair hauler to the back of SUV, since it weighs 400lbs. I would need a trailer. I have seen haulers that hold 400lbs. Anyone used them, and have any experience? What's my options in getting him to Appointments.
 

affected

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I think a wheelchair van is what you need to look at because you won't always be able to transfer him into the car. Also you can only haul the chair behind in good weather. A van will see you right through and you can purchase them second hand. Lots of threads here concerning vans if you use the search. That will help you see options and maybe then ask targeted questions.
 

swalker

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First, be very careful about picking out a wheelchair. If the Q6 3 works for your situation, then it would be fine. But, don't let the wheelchair folks talk you into a wheelchair that does not suit your needs.

Second, your Lincoln Nautilus will barely be able to haul the wheelchair on a platform attached to the rear. To do so, you will need to have a receiver installed (if one did not come with the vehicle). Then, you will need to mount the platform on the receiver. The platform will probably weigh between 50 and 100 pounds. Finally, you will need to put your wheelchair on the platform. Your wheelchair is around 400 pounds, more by the time you put a few extras on it. So, you will be have a total of about 500 to 600 pounds of weight hanging off the back end of your vehicle.

Your Nautilus has a maximum allowable tongue weight (how much weight can be on the receiver) of 600 pounds. You will be carrying close to 600 pounds, which will not be as stable as a trailer. Those 500 to 600 pounds will be bouncing around a bit as you drive. Unfortunately, car manufacturers give optimistic numbers for towing capacity and maximum allowable tongue weight. Typically, they spec those with half a tank of gas, one 150 pound occupant, and sometimes no spare tire.

It is amazing how rapidly the maximum allowable tongue weight drops as you add passengers, gas, and cargo. The only way to know whether or not you are in spec is to load the wheelchair onto the vehicle and then weigh it on a multi axle truck scale (available at most truck stops). Once you know the weight on each axle, you can look up the maximum allowable weight for each axle and see if you are within spec.

Could you haul a wheelchair on a platform off the rear of the vehicle? Sure. Would it be safe? Maybe. Would it be wise? No. Here is why.

Water is the enemy of power wheelchairs. You don't want to expose the wheelchair to rain, snow, etc. as you drive around. I don't think it is practical to try to cover it in a way that will ensure no water gets to the electronics.

Also, going with a rear platform for the wheelchair is a temporary solution. Eventually, your PALS will not be able to transfer from the wheelchair to a passenger seat. At some point, you will need a solution where your husband rides in the wheelchair. Eventually, you will need something like a wheelchair van.

Rather than spending money on a marginally safe (or unsafe), temporary solution, I encourage you to bite the bullet now and consider getting a wheelchair van of some sort.

Now, with all that said, I started with a set of eight foot long suitcase ramps that allowed me to load the wheelchair into the back of my SUV. It barely fit, but it did fit. It is so impractical to do that we have only done it twice. We use a wheelchair van.

If considering a wheelchair van, get the wheelchair first. Not all wheelchairs fit into all vans. Be sure to try loading the wheelchair into the van before you commit to buying the van.

Steve
 

lgelb

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First, a sad welcome to our CALS group. Steve gives excellent advice on all counts. The first thing is the wheelchair. Different clinics and suppliers recommend different manufacturers for financial reasons. Ordinarily, I would start with the Permobil line as the default unless/until there is reason to believe that none of their models will meet your husband's needs. Was the Quantum considered a better option for a specific reason?

Best,
Laurie
 

affected

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and always listen to everything Steve says about wheelchairs, there ain't much he don't know in that department!
 

swalker

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Here are a few thoughts about a trailer.

A trailer could work, but would be impractical for me where I live.

First, you need to make sure your vehicle is equipped to haul a trailer. It will need a receiver, trailer wiring harness, and a brake controller. My SUV had a receiver and trailer wiring harness, but not a brake controller. I had to have a brake controller added to be able to tow our travel trailer.

What I have found towing a travel trailer is that once you commit to using a trailer, parking becomes quite limited. For example, there is absolutely no place to park my SUV with a trailer attached at our grocery stores, hospital, or doctors' offices. Where I live, most gas stations are not readily doable with a trailer.

I don't recall ever seeing a handicap space that would be suitable for a vehicle pulling even a small trailer.

With our trailer, I have to use extra side mirrors that stick out far enough to allow me to see around the travel trailer.

Things may be different where you live, so a trailer may be more practical.

With a trailer, you will still need to transfer your husband to the vehicle, roll the wheelchair to the trailer, and then load it into the trailer.

Depending on the trailer, you may need to use ramps to load the wheelchair. Keep in mind that wheelchairs don't go up steep ramps well. One CALs talked about installing a winch into their toy hauler camping trailer (which had a ramp at the back) so that he could winch the wheelchair up the toy hauler's ramp. Without a winch, you would need to push the 400 pound wheelchair up the ramp, which is just not practical for most folks.

It will be easier to load the wheelchair into a trailer that is tall enough for you to walk in and wide enough for you to be alongside the wheelchair. To protect the wheelchair, you will want an enclosed trailer. So, a practical trailer will likely wind up being larger than you initially considered.

With all that said, I know that it is possible to haul a wheelchair in a trailer. I have seen people do it. It just would not be practical for me.

Steve
 

Doglady

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Someone said it earlier. In all probability you won’t be able to transfer your PALS into your car at some point. Good luck.
 

swalker

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Here are some thoughts about the OP's final question regarding how to get her PALS to appointments.

You can load him into your SUV and arrange for a manual wheelchair to be available when you get to your appointment. This might work for a short while, but be aware that sitting in a manual wheelchair will be quite tiring. A power wheelchair is custom fitted to provide proper support. A manual wheelchair is not. At best, this is a very temporary solution.

You could rent a wheelchair van for the times you need it. In our area, they run about $130 per day for up to 100 miles of use. Various agencies operate differently. For some, you need to drive to the agency, rent the van, then drive back home and pick up your PALS. Other companies will deliver the wheelchair van to you.

You could ride the bus. That works very well where we live. Here it is free and in the winter the bus runs every 15 minutes. In the summer it runs about every 30 minutes. All the buses in our system are wheelchair accessible. It is great to wheel the couple of hundred yards to the bus stop and then catch a bus downtown. It is a 20 minute ride downtown, where the hospital is. From there, I can catch another free bus to the grocery store. I really enjoy riding the bus. I have become friends with most of the bus drivers, who have been absolutely wonderful.

You could use your local transportation department's ADA van. Our local transit system allows us to call 24 hours in advance to schedule a wheelchair accessible van to pick me up and take me to wherever I need to go in town. Here the service is free to those with a disability. I have used the service many times. In doing so, we have become friends with the wonderful woman who manages the transit system.

You can use a commercial service to transport your PALS. We have scheduled rides to the airport (100 miles away) with a company that runs shuttle busses. They arrange for a wheelchair van to pick me up and take me to the airport. It casts about $100 each way for my wife and me to go to the airport this way.

Note that most transit systems that charge for a ride offer a discount for wheelchair users. For example, I have a card that allows me to ride the Rapid Transit District (RTD) buses and trains in the Denver metro area for half price.

Finally, you can buy a wheelchair van. That is what we did pretty early on. We purchased a well-used, full size chevy van with a wheelchair lift in it. It had 82,000 miles on it and cost $11,000. We had to put another $1,000 into it to take care of some deferred maintenance issues. We have since put another 115,000 miles on it that have been pretty trouble free. That van has changed our lives in a positive way!

Steve
 

Firefighter58

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Hi, at one time I had a rear platform to carry my scooter around, the platform was well made and very useable but it would strike the roadway at every bump, my wife also had to be careful where she parked to allow for the ramp to be lowered to allow for loading and unloading. The ramp itself was also heavy to lower and raise, we used it for one summer then sold it.
Al
 
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