Choosing A Van For A Handicap Conversion

Posted on: 13 February 2019

Mobility and independence are important for everyone who wishes to lead a fulfilled and varied life. Unfortunately, in many parts of the United States, it can be difficult or impossible to get around without the help of a car. This can present serious difficulties for individuals that require wheelchairs and their loved ones. Moving a wheelchair in and out of a regular car can be difficult or impossible, and just the act of getting into and out of the wheelchair may not be feasible.

Wheelchair vans present one convenient solution to this problem. Handicap vans are designed to allow those in wheelchairs to board without having to leave their wheelchair, removing much of the difficulty involved in traveling outside of the house. If you have chosen to convert an existing van into a wheelchair van, there are several factors to consider when choosing a model for conversion.

Vans Are Better Than SUVs 

Although SUV conversions are possible, minivans and cargo vans are significantly easier and less costly to convert for handicap use. The key feature that vans offer over SUVs is the sliding door, which will generally require very little or no modification to accommodate the ramp system. SUVs will almost always require significant modification to the rear door in order to allow for a properly functioning ramp, drastically increasing the cost. These modifications usually involve changing at least one door to be rear or top hinged, which is rarely a trivial process.

Budget for Conversion Before Choosing a Vehicle

Wheelchair conversions can cost as much as $20,000 or more, so it is important to contact the company that will be performing your conversion to obtain an estimate before choosing a vehicle. Make a list of candidate vans that you are interested in an attempt to gain a ballpark conversion estimate for each model. You may find that a higher-end van that seemed to be within your budget is drastically out of reach once you factor in conversion costs. By having this information before beginning the vehicle purchase process, you will be able to make an informed decision and avoid running over on costs once you are ready to begin the conversion.

Keep Additional Passenger Needs in Mind

If the wheelchair van will be driven by the individual in the wheelchair, then it is important to consider any additional passenger needs when making a selection. In this case, a side-entry style conversion is required in order to provide access to the driver's seat. Side-entry conversions involve removing the entire second row of seats, which limits passenger capacity to the passenger seat and third-row seating. Third-row seating is sometimes an afterthought for traditional minivan buyers, but in this case, choosing a van with comfortable third-row seating is vital since it will be the only place that can be occupied by rear passengers.