Mobility — Trailer Hitch Mounted Carrier

Two years ago we traded in my wife’s Jaguar S-Type for a Buick Enclave. The Jag, which she no longer drove, was not a practical vehicle to drive half way across the country on vacation with two people, two cats and their luggage and assorted paraphernalia. We looked around for a replacement vehicle — not a van — and selected the Buick. Roomy, comfortable and quiet, it suited our needs. I added a roof-mounted 17′ Thule carrier and we were set to go. I’d rather have purchased a Cadillac SRX, but it just didn’t have the room we needed. The only gripe I have about the Buick is the in-town gas mileage — 14-16 mpg; on the open road, even at speeds above 70 mph, it averages better than 20 mpg. (See: Summer 2015 Gas Prices)

Carrier with Scooter
Carrier with Scooter

Future Needs

My wife has had a GO-GO Elite Traveller 3-wheel battery powered scooter. She used it at work (teaching) for the last few years for going across her intermediate school campus (1800 students). We kept it in her classroom, and when she had to go to distant classrooms and meetings it was there and ready for use.

I foresaw a time when we would have to take this scooter with us — when her rollator (walker) or cane would not be enough. Therefore, I purchased the Buick with the trailer package. While I never intended to tow a trailer, I saw hitch-mounted bicycle and scooter carriers on many vehicles. I figured we’d need to take the scooter with us eventually and the time has come.

Purchase

I looked on-line at a number of sites for dealers and manufacturers, at weights, features and costs and eventually chose Discount Ramps (DiscountRamps.com).

My wife’s scooter weighs in at just under 90 lbs, and I selected an SC400-V2 Hitch Mounted Mobility Carrier with Ramp which has a carrying capacity of 400 lbs. The carrier itself weighs in at about 80 lbs.

Of course, there was some assembly required.

In addition to the carrier I purchased:

Tie-Down Strap Package Includes: (4) 1″ inch wide x 6 ft long ratchet straps. 3000 lb capacity each. (The tag attached to the straps says 1000 lbs, not 3000 lbs.)

5/8-inch Silent Hitch Pin(TM), Barrel Locking for 2-inch receivers. Includes wrench and set of keys

Cargo Net 30″ x 45″

Total price for all of the items (including the carrier) was $276.96. No shipping charges.

I placed the order on October 7, 2015 and received it via UPS ground on October 13 in the afternoon with plenty of time to put it together before dark.

Packaging

The packaging was a thick but flimsy cardboard; it appeared to have gotten damp and then dried out and there were several punctures and tears. The smaller items arrived at the same time in a smaller box that suffered no damage.

The carrier suffered some damaged en-route but not enough to return the carrier–of course, I couldn’t return it in the original packaging and would have had to find some other packaging to do so.

The damage suffered by the carrier amounted to some bending of the sides, where the handholds and holes for the tie-down strap hooks would go. My 36″ pry-bar was able to straighten, mostly, the sides so that the lift-ramp and pins lined up correctly. And, I didn’t even scratch it.

Putting it Together

The instructions are “fairly easy” to follow — suggestion: watch the video several times first (but it’s not quite that easy).

I used the 5/8″ Silent/Locking Hitch Pin I purchased to install the assembled Carrier Main Tube / Hitch Receiver Tube instead of the included parts and mounted it first. I then worked on the carrier basket / carrier ramp (on the grass because I did not have the same tools you see on the video). It was here that I had to do some “convincing” to get the carrier parts to function correctly.

Eventually, I got to where I was satisfied that everything fit and functioned correctly. I lifted the carrier (side toward the car) up and placed some blocks under it so that the tube was about even with the tube in the hitch. I then lifted the other side and shoved the carrier on to the hitch attached tube and secured it with the provided pins and bolts.

And, what do you know — it worked. I tried it in all positions — so far so good. And, then I rolled her scooter on to the carrier — it fit.

I then took two of the tie-down straps and secured the scooter to the carrier. Scooter didn’t budge. Brought Charlie out to show her (the whole thing was a surprise to her) — thank you, Honey, X O X O X.

The next morning I took her to her hair appointment. The scooter was not on the carrier. Nothing came loose; it wasn’t noisy and didn’t seem to bounce around.

Later in the day, I mounted her scooter and took her to a meeting at a local high school — to which we’d never been. She was able to use it and navigate around the large campus without trying to walk. The carrier was a success.

I checked the carrier and, again, nothing was loose or out of whack — same when we returned home.

In a week or so I’ll readjust some of the bolts and nuts to smooth things out. I’ll also use some Loctite to make sure nothing comes loose on those days we travel three or four hundred miles.

Conclusion

It seems like a good investment, so far. Long term? I’m hoping it’ll work.

Addendum

Tools Required: 17mm wrench, 3/4″ or 19mm wrench, 7/8″ or 22mm wrench, 1/2″ or 13mm wrench, Phillips screwdriver, 10mm allen wrench

If you’ve got a good adjustable wrench, use it. 10mm allen wrench? That’s not in my set — they should include this in the kit. You’re not going to use it anywhere else, and you’re not going to want to go to the hardware store in the middle of assembling the carrier.

Tie-Down Straps — Get good ones; do NOT use bungee cords or twine. The tie-down straps above are good. If you’ve never used them before, they’re not too hard to figure out. If in doubt, buy them at an auto supply or camping store and have the clerk demonstrate how to use them. Work them yourself and make sure you strap something down and loosen the straps before you purchase them.

Auto: The rear lift-gate on my Enclave will not function if the carrier is in the unloaded vertical position or is loaded with the scooter. There is an additional Scooter Carrier Swing Away Kit available for $135. Also, with the scooter carrier attached the parking assist on the Buick does not function. And, if the carrier is unloaded and stored in the vertical position, the rear back-up camera is just about useless.

Oh yeah, get some reflective tape to put on the carrier. The two included reflectors are inadequate.

Update on Scooter Carrier–Nov. 5, 2015

It already shows signs of rust (cheap Chinese manufacture and finishing?). I am not pleased, but I can purchase a can of Rust-Oleum black paint for the carrier. Some of the bolts and nuts are also showing rust–very cheap plating.


Unloaded carrier in vertical position.

Vertical
Vertical

DSC_0283s DSC_0284s

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0285s DSC_0286s


Unloaded horizontalDSC_0287s DSC_0290s DSC_0289s DSC_0288s

 


Unloaded — ramp upDSC_0291s DSC_0292s


LoadingDSC_0296s DSC_0301s DSC_0300s DSC_0299s DSC_0298s DSC_0297s

 


 

LoadedDSC_0303s DSC_0305s


 

DSC_0308sTied downDSC_0309s DSC_0312s DSC_0311s DSC_0310s


 

Rear camera view - carrier unloaded and vertical.
Rear camera view – carrier unloaded and vertical.
Rear camera view - scooter on carrier.
Rear camera view – scooter on carrier.

Navigation screen

 

 

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