Wheelchair Vans and Wheelchair Van Accessories

March 9, 2012

For consumers, most wheelchair vans are conversions. Learn about the essential wheelchair van accessories, and the characteristics of appropriate vans.

If you are comparing the best wheelchair vans, there are some generalities that should help you out. Unless you are trying to economize, it is a good idea to use a full-sized van. Chevrolet's E1500 van will fit the bill, as GMC's Solana van and Ford's E150 will also fit this category.

Full-sized Frame
Each of these vans is full-sized and is built on a truck platform, not a converted auto platform. You will find that minivans are usually built on a converted auto frame, and require far too much conversion work to be economical for the average driver.

Where to Check
Check with the manufacturer to see if they offer a mobility plan. Mobility programs specialize in assisting you in finding the companies in your area that handle the best wheelchair van conversions. For example, Chrysler offers a full mobility program in an effort to ensure the handicapped are able to be independent.

The best place to find out if the manufacturer you are considering has a mobility plan is with the public relations office or marketing office, as they have this information at hand.

Partner Specialist
Each manufacturer likely has one or more specialists in an area with whom they work comfortably, and whose work they will recommend.

By working through the factory, you are not jeopardizing your vehicle's warranty and you are, in fact, picking up warranty coverage from the manufacturers of the van conversion equipment, whether it is a chair lift or a set of hand controls. Using the recommendations you are given by a manufacturer, you may receive a small price break. If not, then you will have warranty coverage, which can be extremely important if your wheelchair van conversion lift breaks and you find you have to bring the vehicle back for repair.

Further, if you work with a manufacturer, a local dealer may be able to loan you a conversion van if your van needs work.

One overlooked outlet may by the Medicare or Medicaid office of your state, or your state's office of disability or handicapped. They will also likely have a list of recommended dealers and conversion outfitters.

Essential Wheelchair Van Accessories

Wheelchair van accessories make it easier for those with limited mobility to maintain as much independence as possible. Improving independence improves the overall quality of life for those who may need a wheelchair.

Wheelchair Van Conversion
A wheelchair van conversion can help to save you quite a bit of money. Wheelchair accessible vans can cost quite a bit. If you already have a van, then getting a conversion kit will make your van work just as well as the other wheelchair accessible vans out on the market. You can have conversion kits installed at most dealerships.

Wheelchair vans can be equipped with manual or hydraulic ramps. Although you might think that the hydraulic would be a better buy, they are not nearly as reliable or easy to maintain as the manual ramps.

Steering Wheel Hand Controls
Steering wheel hand controls are great for those that have trouble with their legs and feet. The hand controls allow you to accelerate, break and shift the van with your hands in a way that your body will allow.

Removable Front Seat
A removable front seat is a great way to save space whenever you need it. You will be able to take the front seat out whenever the wheelchair needs to be in the van. You will also be able to put the front seat back into place whenever the extra room is not needed and you have a front seat passenger on board.

Remote Control Entry
A remote control entry helps you to stay hands-free when your hands are busy or unable to open doors. Just by pushing a button you will be able to get the door open and the ramp lowered. There are also magnetic entries. You carry a magnet that on your key chain. All you need to do is press it to the tail light and it will work the same as the remote control entry.

Power Kneel
A power kneel system allows the vehicle you are using to lower whenever the ramp is in use. This help you not have to worry about the ramp being too steep, or bumping your head on the roof.

How to Lower the Price of a New Wheelchair Van

A new wheelchair van is a pricey object. Not only do they cost a lot of money, but they need more maintenance. Since buying one can be tough on the wallet, here is some general information on how you can lower the price of new adapted cars for the disabled.

Find a Disabled Vehicles Transportation Dealer
Find a disabled vehicles transportation dealer. Dealers that specialize in this type of vehicle typically sell them closer to your price range. This will allow for you to haggle less than if you go to a dealer where such a vehicle is more exotic. This will also save you time.

Contact Local Disabled Organizations
Disabled organizations may be able to offer assistance in getting a discount or perhaps even sell some vans themselves at a lower price. You may also wish to look into state or national organizations for the disabled and see if they can give you a discount or advice. Some may require a membership, while others may not.

Churches and Community Organizations
Ask a local church or community organization if they know of any place that sells wheelchair vans for cheaper. You may be surprised in the end if you do find out some information from this resource.

Used vs. New Wheelchair Vans

A common question is whether or not to buy a new, or a used, wheelchair van. Here are a few of the pros and cons associated with each to help you make a better, more informed decision.

Warranty Protection
Buying a new wheelchair van gives you the protection of having a factory warranty for the vehicle, and a warranty from the company that modifies the van with a wheelchair lift, driver's cockpit, or hand throttle controls. Since these modifications are made through certified mobility shops, the factory warranty is not voided. There may be some alterations that change the warranty vs. that of a non-modified vehicle, but you are still afforded very good mechanical protection.

No Old Problems
Disabled vans come with a lot of extras included. There are more moving parts, more safety equipment, and more opportunity for things to go wrong. New wheelchair vans are going to be clean and without any type of inherent problems. You are not going to have to worry about quirks you must work around in order for some parts to work correctly. There is also the added benefit of clean upholstery, rugs, and ceiling liners.

Trade in Value
When you purchase a brand new wheelchair van, you not only have great protection with the factory warranty, but you will also receive more when it comes time to trade it in for another one. The general depreciation of your vehicle will be much less than the purchase price, but will still hold enough value for a large enough down payment that will lower the cost of a newer van.

Fewer Payments
Used wheelchair vans are quite prominent in large cities. They can be bought at relatively cheap prices and still be in very good condition. One of the benefits of buying a used wheelchair van is you will own the vehicle in less time than buying a new one. Generally, used car loans are from 36 to 48 months. This means you will have it paid off in less time.

All Inclusive
When someone will either trades in their wheelchair van, or simply sell it outright, they have already done all the work of converting the van for wheelchair use. Many times, any problems, once they are known, can be repaired with little cost. Once they have been taken care of, the van will run smoothly without further complications, ant a much lower price than purchasing a new van and having the conversion done from scratch.