What To Do When Towing a Wheelchair Van
Choosing Your Towing Method for Your Mobility Vehicle
We sometimes get the question “What should I do if I need to tow my wheelchair van?” Reasons for towing may be a flat tire, an accident, or traveling a long distance with an RV or U-Haul. You’ll need to keep some things in mind when choosing your towing option for your BraunAbility vehicle.
First, is the coach vehicle (the one towing) heavier than the vehicle you are towing? How are the brakes in the coach vehicle? Could they effectively stop the momentum of both vehicles when needed? You may need to test this in a controlled environment. If not, consider looking for an aftermarket brake system to enhance your performance.
Next, you’ll need to decide which towing method makes the most sense for your situation and vehicle. As you are aware, wheelchair vans have lowered floors to accommodate wheelchair passengers comfortably. This can make towing the vehicle tricky due to the decreased ground clearance. Here, we will discuss your three towing options: trailering, tow dolly, and flat towing.
Trailering a Wheelchair Van
Trailering refers to the method of towing in which the vehicle is hoisted onto a flatbed truck or trailer and transported. This is often the chosen method for vehicles that have been totaled or that may have a flat rear tire. For the safety of the vehicle, this is the preferred method of towing your BraunAbility vehicle.
- Check that you are not overloading the towing capacity of the towing vehicle (check the Owner’s Manual of the towing vehicle to be sure).
- The person with disabilities will not be able to use this method independently.
- Parking can be challenging with this method of towing.
- You must have trailer breaks if using a trailer for this method of towing.
- This is the only method that will allow you to back up without unloading the vehicle being towed.
Using a Tow Dolly on a Wheelchair Van
A tow dolly looks like what delivery people use to transport heavy boxes but made for a car. This device keeps the front two wheels off the ground to tow.
- Check that you are not overloading the tow dolly (check the manual of the tow dolly).
- Depending on dexterity and strength, a person with disabilities may be able to operate independently.
- Tow dolly brakes are recommended.
- Under no circumstances should you back the towing vehicle while using this system. Serious equipment damage, personal injury, or even death may occur. Don’t enter an area that will not allow egress by going forward. If you do, unloading the vehicle being towed is the only option.
Flat Towing a Wheelchair Van
When flat towing, all four wheels remain on the ground while being towed by the coach vehicle. This is also sometimes called four-down towing or dinghy towing. This requires installing a tow bar on the front of the vehicle and is often used when pulling a vehicle behind an RV for example.
None of the vehicles converted by BraunAbility may be flat towed without major modifications to the vehicle front frame members as well as transmission cooling, lighting, and braking systems. If you choose to make these modifications, they will most likely not be transferrable to another vehicle.
- Depending on dexterity and strength, a person with a disability may be able to operate independently.
- Parking will be less of a problem with this method of towing.
- Under no circumstances should you back the towing vehicle while using this system. Serious damage or death may occur. In order to back up, you’ll first need to disconnect the vehicle being towed.
Call a BraunAbility Dealer for Towing Help
If you are in an unfamiliar area or you just want to talk to a friend when going through a challenge, call your BraunAbility Dealer for help finding a preferred towing company or to discuss towing methods for your next vacation.
Though most of us will never have to experience calling a tow truck (we hope), when you are in the vehicle service industry for long enough, you often develop relationships with all kinds of related companies – even towing companies. When you call your dealer, they can recommend companies with a great service reputation.
And if you are preparing to drive cross-country for a vacation or a move, your dealer can help you find the right towing option for your vehicle based on the design of the vehicle’s undercarriage or ground clearance. Give your local dealer a call today!
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