Buyer's Guide for Wheelchair Vans
Ask the Experts
Compatibility between the size of a wheelchair fitting in an accessible van and your lifestyle are critical to picking the right wheelchair accessible vehicle. Our specialists are trained to evaluate not only the individual’s vehicle needs, but also consider how their mobility products should work together with ease and convenience.
We encourage you to call or visit so that we can assist you in determining what type and brand of wheelchair accessible van will best suit your needs and your budget. Here is a list of a few products and services we can help you with:
* Comprehensive needs analysis for your mobility vehicle
* Assistance in locating funding sources and finance solutions
* Complete line of wheelchair vans and accessible vehicles from BraunAbility, VMI, FMI, AMS, Ryno, Rollx and others
* One of the largest inventories of new and certified pre-owned accessible vehicles
* Satisfaction and best value pricing guarantee
* Sales and installation of transfer seats, EZ-locks, restraint systems, hand controls and many other mobility options
* Factory trained technicians and authorized warranty centers
Five Tips for Choosing an Accessible Vehicle
#1 More Vehicle Options are Available Than Ever Before
There are more wheelchair and accessible vehicle options for convenience, comfort and utility than ever before. In addition to the traditional full size van with wheelchair ramps, mobility conversions are widely available for mini vans, SUV’s and trucks.
SInce the late 1990’s, lowered floor minivans started becoming the choice when many were choosing an accessible van. Today's accessible minivans have reached the high level of quality, functionality, safety and comfort never before obtainable in a wheelchair van. Best estimates indicate that for every full-size wheelchair van that is sold in the US, about 100 lowered floor accessible minivans are sold. A high-quality minivan from Braun or VMI will give you many years of true mobility and convenience.
#2 Not all vans are created equal
You’ll want a van that is quality built and convenient to maintain. Look for a conversion brand that utilizes automotive assembly line technology and a true nation-wide network of factory certified technicians and warranty centers.
In addition, a name brand vehicle will maintain a much higher resale value and service life.
We recommend Braun and VMI, the top selling conversion manufacturers, building thousands of vans every year.
#3 Use factory/OEM authorized converters
Make certain any wheelchair van converter you are considering is authorized by the original manufacturer of the vehicle. Both Braun and VMI are authorized by Dodge, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota to convert their vehicles. Choosing an authorized converter will ensure that you will not experience any problems when trying to get your vehicle serviced under factory warranty.
#4 Lowered floors for comfort and convenience
Wheelchairs sit higher than typical car seats, so a wheelchair accessible van with a lowered floor is often used to give more headroom for easier movement within the vehicle and a more comfortable ride.
Converting a minivan to a lowered floor requires a major modification of the vehicle’s original structure. The original floor is completely cut out and a new, stronger and lower floor is installed. Many of the original components such as suspension, wiring, fuel and brake lines, doors and seats to name a few are modified and reconstructed to fit the application. The utilization of an automotive assembly line ensures that each and every component and step of the conversion are controlled by using only the highest quality standards.
Careful consideration should be used when choosing which brand of lowered floor minivan you purchase. History has proven that Braun and VMI are the conversion companies of choice when seeking quality and value.
#5 Ramps: In floor or folding?
In-floor ramps neatly retract into the floor rather than folding up in the doorway, offering the ability for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle through the ramp door. The in-floor also provides less hinderance when using a passenger front transfer seat. It is also thought that since the infloor ramp is not in the passenger compartment, it would be safer in the event of an accident.
VMI’s Sure Deploy system utilizes a back up battery which operates the ramp in case of vehicle battery failure.
Folding ramps are typically chosen over in-floor ramps for one of two reasons:
- Folding ramp systems tend to be less expensive than an in-floor conversion system.
- Traditionally for individuals who drive from their mobility product, folding ramps are viewed as easier to manually override if ever necessary.