Liftgates are an essential part of enclosed auto transport vehicles. They allow for easy loading and unloading of vehicles onto the transport trailer.

In this in-depth guide, we will explore the different types of liftgates available, common liftgate features, maintenance considerations, and more.

By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of liftgates and how they can benefit your enclosed auto transport operation.

Types of Liftgates

There are a few different types of liftgates commonly used on enclosed auto transport trailers:

Foldable Ramp Liftgates

Foldable ramp liftgates are the most basic style. They consist of a ramp that folds up and locks into place against the rear of the trailer when not in use.

To load/unload a vehicle, the ramp is unfolded and lays across the rear opening. Foldable ramp liftgates are affordable but don’t offer as much versatility as other styles.

Towable Liftgates

Towable liftgates are mounted on wheeled frames so they can be towed separately from the trailer when not needed. This allows the liftgate to be stored off the trailer and out of the way.

Towable liftgates offer more functionality than foldable ramps but require extra labor to attach/detach from the trailer as needed.

Powered Rail Liftgates

Powered rail liftgates operate using an electric motor and rail system. The platform raises/lowers vertically on sturdy rails, providing a level surface that drives vehicles can easily maneuver onto.

Rail liftgates take up less space than other styles when stowed but tend to be more expensive to purchase and maintain.

Liftgate Type Description Pros Cons
Foldable Ramp Basic folding ramp design Inexpensive Less versatile than other options
Towable Mounted on wheeled frame, towed separately More functional than foldable ramp

Can be stored off trailer

Requires extra labor to attach/detach
Powered Rail Electric motor raises/lowers platform on rails Takes up minimal space when stowed

Drivable surface is level

More expensive to purchase/maintain

Common Liftgate Features

Beyond the basic design and operation, liftgates can also equipped with various convenient features:

Lifting Capacity

Lifting capacities usually range between 2,000-6,000 pounds, allowing most passenger vehicles and light trucks to safely carried. Higher capacity liftgates are needed for larger trucks.

Power Operation

Electric or hydraulic power make lifting/lowering the platform much easier, especially when loading/unloading solo. Manual operation requires more physical effort.

Platform Sizes – Enclosed Auto Transport Vehicles

Platform widths of 6-9 feet and lengths up to 12 feet accommodate a wide variety of vehicle sizes. Custom sizes are available for extra large loads.

Safety Features – Enclosed Auto Transport Vehicles

Things like safety legs that lock the platform in place during loading, LED lighting, and remote key fobs increase safety and convenience.

Weather Resistance

Powder coated or galvanized finishes provide corrosion protection. Heated platforms minimize ice/snow accumulation in colder climates.

Liftgate Maintenance

To keep liftgates in good operating condition and maximizing their service life, perform regular maintenance like:


Lubricate all moving parts monthly with a lithium-based grease to prevent corrosion and ease operation.

Inspection – Enclosed Auto Transport Vehicles

Inspect hydraulic hoses, cylinders, electric wiring, safety components, and structural parts for deterioration, leaks, or damage.


Wash platforms periodically to remove dirt, road debris, and corrosion using a degreaser if needed. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Calibration – Enclosed Auto Transport Vehicles

Have electric motor/hydraulic power systems serviced and calibrated annually for optimum performance.

Promptly address any maintenance issues to avoid breakdowns and safety risks. Consider a preventative maintenance contract for your entire auto transport fleet.

Key Benefits of Using Liftgates – Enclosed Auto Transport Vehicles

In summary, liftgates offer enclosed auto transporters significant advantages including:

  • Increased safety – Drivable platforms eliminate need for lifting/lowering vehicles by hand
  • Higher productivity – Faster loading/unloading allows more stops per day
  • Reduced physical demands – Power operation isn’t as strenuous as manual ramps
  • Easier for drivers – Level access is simpler than climbing into trailers over ramps
  • Compliance – ADA requirements for commercial passenger vehicles dictate powered access
  • Year-round use – Heated models enable winter weather operation

Choosing the right style and equipped liftgate maximizes any enclosed auto transport business’s efficiency and competitive edge in the industry. Don’t hesitate to consult dealers for recommendations tailored to your specific needs.