Retrofitting vs. Factory-Built: Which Is the Better Option for Wheelchair Vans?

For families and individuals considering a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the choice between retrofitting an existing vehicle and opting for a factory-built wheelchair van is crucial. Each option has distinct advantages and limitations. This article aims to provide a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed decision.

Retrofitting Existing Vehicles:


  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Retrofitting can be more budget-friendly, especially if you already own a suitable vehicle.
  2. Customization: Offers the flexibility to tailor modifications to specific needs and preferences.


  1. Potential Warranty Issues: Vehicle modifications can affect the original manufacturer's warranty.
  2. Variable Quality: The quality of retrofitting can vary depending on the service provider.

Factory-Built Wheelchair Vans:


  1. Designed for Accessibility: These vehicles are engineered from the ground up with wheelchair access as a core feature, ensuring better integration and functionality.
  2. Manufacturer Warranty: Comes with a warranty that covers the entire vehicle, including accessibility features.


  1. Higher Initial Cost: Generally more expensive than retrofitting an existing vehicle.
  2. Limited Choices: Fewer model and brand options compared to the broader automotive market.


Cost Considerations: The initial cost for a factory-built wheelchair van is typically higher than retrofitting. However, it's important to consider long-term maintenance and potential warranty issues, which might add up in the case of retrofitted vehicles.


Customization Options: Retrofitting offers more personalization in terms of vehicle choice and specific modifications. In contrast, factory-built vans, while less flexible, are designed with a comprehensive approach to accessibility.


Impact on Vehicle Warranties: Retrofitting can potentially void the original manufacturer's warranty, while factory-built vans come with a full warranty, including the accessibility features.


Customer Testimonials and Expert Opinions: Gathering insights from current users and industry experts is crucial. Many appreciate the customization possibilities of retrofitting, but others prefer the integrated design and reliability of factory-built options.


The choice between retrofitting and a factory-built wheelchair van depends on individual needs, budget, and preference for customization. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons, considering long-term reliability, safety, and financial implications. Consulting with a mobility expert can also provide valuable guidance tailored to your specific requirements.