Wheelchair Lift Troubleshooting: 5 Most Common Problems + Solutions [Video]

While a wheelchair lift offers a convenient and safe way for passengers to ride in a van, it is one of the most frequently serviced parts of a wheelchair-accessible van. Some easy wheelchair lift troubleshooting will fix most problems.

Won’t the lift unfold? Does the lift stop moving while in use? Chances are your commercial wheelchair van’s lift needs some preventative maintenance. Read on for wheelchair lift troubleshooting tips.

Commercial accessible vans are often equipped with a wheelchair lift that enables wheelchair users to enter and exit the van safely. A wheelchair lift, sometimes called a platform lift, is operated by hydraulic components with mechanical and electrical parts.

While a wheelchair lift offers a convenient and safe way for passengers to ride in a van, it is one of the most frequently serviced parts of a wheelchair-accessible van. This does not mean it is flawed or poorly designed; it simply requires preventative maintenance to ensure optimal function. Some easy wheelchair lift troubleshooting will fix most problems.

What Causes a Wheelchair Lift Not to Work?

There are a variety of factors that can cause wheelchair lift issues. Incorrect use may activate certain safety features that stop the lift from operating. In this article, we will cover the 5 most common problems you may encounter when using a wheelchair lift, as well as the solutions to fix them.

Safety Overview

As MoveMobility’s Operations Manager, Bryn Jones, tells us in the video below, wheelchair lifts are designed with many safety features. While these safety features may cause frustration when they prevent the lift from working, they are in place to prevent injury or harm to operators and passengers. Without any safety features such as the rollboard barrier, wheelchair lifts would be too unsafe for commercial transportation use.

1. Wheelchair Lift Troubleshooting – Lift Will Not Unfold

Solution: Ensure safety catch hooks are not engaged.

If your wheelchair lift will not unfold, / always that the lift’s power is on. The power switch is located at the bottom of the pump module (see diagram below).

If the power is on, check that the safety catch hooks are not caught on the lift. Safety catch hooks located on each side of the lift are designed to prevent the lift from suddenly deploying in the event of hydraulic failure. A sudden deployment of the lift could cause injury to operators or passengers.

Safety catch hooks are a safety device, and should not be used to stow the lift during transportation. To prevent improper use of the safety catch hooks, fold the lift completely into the van. Do not release the lift to catch it on the hooks. Once completely stowed, unfold the lift again.

Should the hand-held pendant not work and the lift not stow, use the manual backup pump to stow the lift completely to reset the safety catches.

Follow the steps in the video below to troubleshoot the lift if it will not unfold.

2. Wheelchair Lift Troubleshooting – Lift Stops Moving While Raising or Lowering

Solution: Ensure there is no pressure on the outboard and inboard barriers.

If the wheelchair lift stops moving while you are raising or lowering it, pressure on the inboard or outboard barriers may be preventing it from moving. Objects such as luggage or wheelchairs leaning on the barriers are the most common reasons they become activated.

Check that a person or object is not putting pressure on the barriers, as shown in the video below.

Inboard and outboard barriers are safety features that prevent the lift from moving if activated. When something is pressing against these barriers, it tells the lift that an object is too close to the edge of the lift, preventing its movement until the object is removed.

Follow the steps in the video below to troubleshoot the lift if it stops moving during raising or lowering.

3. Wheelchair Lift Troubleshooting – Folding is Slow/Needs Help to Start Folding

Solution: Ensure no objects are activating inboard/outboard barriers; adjust the safety valve.

Located on the hand-held pendant, unfold and fold buttons control the movement of the lift. After a few months of using a new wheelchair lift, users may find that the Fold button does not work. The folding may be slow or the lift may need help to start folding.

First, ensure that nothing is pressing on the inboard and outboard barriers (such as wheelchairs, limbs, and luggage). An adjustment may be needed for the safety valve. This can be done by your maintenance personnel over the phone with our Customer Care Team. This valve adjustment is a regular maintenance requirement.

4. Hand-held Control Lights Are Off/Unfold Button Does Not Work

Solution: Ensure the power switch is set to On.

Before operating the lift, ensure that the power switch located at the bottom of the pump box is set to On. A green light will display when the lift power is on. Use the manual backup pump to ensure the lift is fully stowed to reset all safety switches.

If the lights do not illuminate when the power switch is set to On, there may be an electrical issue. Call our Customer Care Team for further assistance.

5. Wheelchair Lift Troubleshooting – Electrical Failure

In rare circumstances, your lift may experience electrical failure. For your safety, the advanced systems in the BraunAbility Century Series allow the lift to detect an electrical failure and disable the lift from working. If components such as a blown fuse need to be repaired, call our Customer Care Team to diagnose the issue and arrange for repair.

Troubleshooting Wheelchair Lift in a Commercial Van

It is recommended to conduct regular maintenance on wheelchair lifts regularly. Some indications that your lift needs attention include when the lift does not stow securely, if it does not unload, and if the lights on the hand-held control do not turn on.

For a full maintenance manual, visit BraunAbility’s Commercial Product Service Manuals Page.

We recommend using the videos above and on our YouTube channel to self-diagnose any wheelchair lift problems. If the problem you experience is not described, our Customer Care Team is available to provide assistance.


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