How to Fix a Heavy Ramp on a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

A critical part of a wheelchair accessible vehicle is the rear ramp so it is important that it functions as it should do. An issue we often see is the owner or user of the vehicle finds it very difficult to lower and raise the ramp because it has become too heavy.  

As a dealer who specializes in the sale of used wheelchair accessible vehicles, we regularly come across this issue. So I thought I would share some of our experiences of common faults we see with the ramps and what parts need to be replaced to fix it to return the ramp to operate as it should.  

At this point, it is worth noting that not all wheelchair accessible vehicles are fitted with ramp assistance which makes them lighter, so what I am about to show you in this article will not apply. But hopefully, it will help you identify if there is a fault with your ramp or whether the weight of your ramp is characteristic of its design. You can’t fix what isn’t broken. 

Also, I am only going to focus on the most popular wav vehicles, like the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner, Fiat Doblo, and VW Caddy Maxi, that have been converted by the major wheelchair vehicle manufacturers. However, if I haven’t included your vehicle the principles of how the ramp works may be similar so this could give you an insight into what is wrong with yours and hopefully get you on the right track to repairing it. I will include as many detailed pictures as possible, but this will be limited to suitable vehicles I have in stock at the time of writing this.

How to Fix a Heavy Ramp on an Allied Vehicles Peugeot Partner Tepee Horizon 2016-2019.

These are one of the easiest ramps to repair if they become heavy. The fault is usually the gas strut on the left-hand side of the ramp. You will see there are two gas struts on the ramp, and it is the larger one of the two that needs replacing. To replace the gas strut first you need to remove the retaining clips on both the top and bottom ball joints of the gas strut. Do not try and remove the gas strut until the ramp is in the upright position. Once the retaining clips have been removed and the ramp is in the upright position using a screwdriver or small lever bar simply lever the gas strut off the ball joints. I usually do the top one first, then open the ramp and remove the lower one. A new gas strut will need to be ordered from Allied Vehicles Parts Department on 0800 587 9622.  To refit the new gas strut just reverse the removal process. 

How to Fix a Heavy Ramp on an Allied Vehicles Peugeot Partner Tepee Horizon WAV 2014-2016.

Like the later model Peugeot Partner it is usually the gas struts that fail causing the ramp to become very heavy. Unlike the later model, these have two gas struts that are located underneath the vehicle, one on either side of the ramp that will require replacing. From experience I would always recommend changing both struts to achieve the desired result, so don’t be tempted just to replace one. To remove the gas strut there are two attachments that need to be undone.  At one end you have a metal pin that is secured by a split pin. First, remove the split pin, then push the pin out past the gas strut knuckle. Sometimes the pin will be seized and will require some persuasion by using a hammer and punch. The other end is fastened by a nut and bolt, 13mm I think. These can be a bit tricky to access because they are located underneath the vehicle, so it is easier if the vehicle is on a ramp, but this is not essential. A pair of replacement gas struts are available via the Allied Vehicles Parts Department 0800 587 9622. Once you have the new gas struts just repeat the remove process but in reverse. 


How to Fix a Heavy Ramp on an Automotive Group Citroen Berlingo WAV 2015-2019 

These have a long single gas strut that is located underneath the vehicle. The most common failure we see is the ball joint that attached the gas strut to either the vehicle or ramp shears off causing the gas strut to hang down and be of no assistance. I have also seen vehicles whereby the gas strut has been completely removed from the vehicle as a quick fix to stop it from rubbing on the floor because one end has sheared off. So if you have purchased a Citroen Berlingo that was converted by the Automotive Group and you find the ramp very heavy and you cannot see a gas strut attached this is possibly why. The reason why the ball joint fails is most likely because the gas strut is seizing up and increasing the stress on the joint so I would recommend replacing the gas strut and both the ball joints at the same time. Fortunately, the new gas strut is supplied with new ball joints. The Gas struts can be ordered via the Automotive Groups Parts Department on 0191 2628090. The removal and insulation procedure is easy with just two fixings, one at each end. 

How to Fix a Heavy Ramp on an Automotive Group VW Caddy Maxi WAV 2015-2019

Essentially this vehicle has the same ramp as the Citroen Berlingo listed above although the ramp may be a few centimeters narrower.  Since the ramp was manufactured by the same company, we generally see the same faults. Either the gas strut has failed so it no longer offers any assistance or one of the one of ball joint fixings has sheared off meaning the gas strut is no longer attached. A replacement gas strut can be ordered by calling the Automotive group parts department on 0191 2928090. 

How to Fix a Heavy Ramp on a Gowrings Mobility Fiat Doblo WAV

If you have read any of the other vehicle sections regarding a heavy ramp you will notice there is a common theme regarding what causes the ramp to become heavy. The Gowrings Motability converted Fiat Doblo is no exception, these have two gas struts one either side of the ramp that fail and on the last one, we repaired the gas strut ball joint mounting had also sheared off.  To gain access to the gas struts you need to remove the moulded plastic bumper end caps that are on either side of the ramp. New gas struts can be ordered by calling the Gowrings Motability Parts department on 0345 608 8020. It has been a while since I have had to order some but if my memory serves me correctly the gas struts have been upgraded and now include thicker ball joint mountings. However, because of this the refitting process is slightly more involved and will require the enlarging of the holes in the ramp and vehicle to allow for the new upgraded parts to be attached. I apologize that I don’t have any detailed pictures showing the gas struts. The pictures I have used are library pictures of a Fiat Doblo that I had previously sold. 

I hope you have found this article helpful. I will over time try and update this with new vehicles as and when we have one in stock that requires attention because of a heavy ramp. If you are experiencing problems with your wheelchair accessible vehicle you may also be interested in our wheelchair accessible vehicle troubleshooting guide.

Finally, if you are in the market to update your existing wheelchair accessible or looking to purchase your first one, then please do get in contact with us on 01934 820077. At Michael Harraway Cars we always have a large selection of wheelchair accessible vehicles in stock and are always on hand to offer help and advice and to discuss your individual requirements. We are based on the outskirts of Weston Super Mare in the small village of Banwell. Situated on the main A371 and less than 10 minutes from Junction 21 of M5.