How do I transport a walker?
October 3, 2009 5:39 AM   Subscribe

How do I strap a walker to the top of a Pontiac Sunfire for a long distance trip?

I'm taking my parents to Nova Scotia for the week and my Mom requires the use of a walker. The walker is too big to fit in my trunk so the only option is to put it on the roof - but I've never done this before. Any help or suggestions would be welcomed.

posted by klwatts to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
Put down a bath towel to protect your roof. Get a ratchet strap (1" nylon webbing, ratcheting gear, hooks on ends), loop it through the walker on the roof. Pass it under the roof and connect it inside the car (open the car doors before you do this). Tighten the strap. Close doors.

You want the ratchet strap to be toward the front of the walker, not the back. And you should try to make it so that the ratchet and hooks aren't driving you nuts inside the vehicle. Once you're all tightened up, you're going to want to tie off the free (loose) end of the strap to the ratchet so it doesn't flap in the breeze. And after about five minutes' driving, re-tighten the strap.
posted by notsnot at 5:58 AM on October 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

notstot's advice is good.

If you're looking for actual gear (roof rack and/or cartop carrier) and are in the GTA or lower mainland BC, find a Rack Attack store and they can set you up.
posted by winston at 6:21 AM on October 3, 2009

I've used ratchet straps on my 1999 Sunfire and it worked fine. In my case, I used 2 straps to hold a canvas cartop carrier. The straps could infringe on your headroom, so so a couple try a few different places. With 2 straps, I had to have one as far forward as it would go, and this blocked by ability to use the sun visor. The rearward strap was just behind the front seats (2-door), and it was fine.

As notsnot says, use towels or something similar for padding. I would also suggest washing the car just before attaching the straps, and make sure to wipe off the rubber pads on the straps that contact the car. On a long strip, dirt can act like sandpaper and scratch the finish.
posted by The Deej at 7:04 AM on October 3, 2009

The worst thing about having something like this strapped to your roof, especially during a long trip, is the wind noise will drive you batty. If it was me I'd try to attach the walker to the trunk lid. That's a bit of a problem on a sunfire because it's all swoopy. However Canadian tire sells trunk tie downs similar to these that just hook onto the edges of your trunk lid. You could run them front to back instead of side to side and attach the walker vertically between the tail lights.

Also check with the Red Cross. Locally they'll lend/rent collapsible walkers which even if you still can't fit it in the car will make for a much less bulky package outside of the car.

As another option I've seen walkers hung on bike racks so if you have or have access to a bike rack you could give that a try. Trunk mount models don't require any kind of special equipment.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 AM on October 3, 2009

If you put it on the roof keep in mind that the walker could rub through whatever padding you use and damage the finish. Check it periodically.

Also, a lot of walkers fold up for just this reason. Are you sure that your mother's does not?
posted by LarryC at 10:05 AM on October 3, 2009

For a short-distance trip, I'd strap it to the top as described. For a long one, though, you're going to want one of those Thule or Yakima racks to avoid damaging your car from long-term rubbing. Also, it will be annoying having your windows cracked for the whole trip if you use strapping through the passenger compartment.

First, though, I would consider disassembling the walker, even if I had to replace some hardware with bolts and wingnuts from the hardware store.
posted by ctmf at 10:39 AM on October 3, 2009

Also, it will be annoying having your windows cracked for the whole trip if you use strapping through the passenger compartment.

This is not an issue, at least on my Sunfire. The window is fully framed, so the top of the frame just closes on the strap.
posted by The Deej at 2:27 PM on October 5, 2009

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