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Wheelchairs

DIY Wheelchair Van Conversion Kits: How Safe Are They? 

Written by GrigorinaLoa
Last Updated :
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Do you want to know more about DIY wheelchair van conversion kits?

When I was looking for an accessible vehicle for my grandfather’s wheelchair, a friend mentioned these conversion kits and got me curious.

So, I researched conversion companies and available DIY conversion kits for wheelchair users, and I’m here to share my findings with you. 

Just keep reading to find out if it’s possible to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible by yourself and how much it will cost.

Quick Summary

  • Commercial conversion companies do all modifications to your vehicle to make it wheelchair-accessible, but DIY kits require you to make the changes. 
  • DIY wheelchair van conversion kits aren’t as safe as kits produced by certified conversion companies.
  • Always consider the type of conversion and your van’s model when you’re looking for DIY wheelchair van conversion kits. 

What Are DIY Wheelchair Van Conversion Kits?

When you have to convert your van or minivan into a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, you’ve got two options – go to a conversion manufacturer or purchase a DIY wheelchair van conversion kit. 

The conversion manufacturer will do all the hard work for you – lower the floor, modify the frame, widen the doorway, etc., to make space and provide ground clearance for the wheelchair and ramp. 

So, they’re the perfect solution when you don’t want to invest in a new wheelchair-accessible van or need some special accessories installed. 

On the other hand, DIY wheelchair van conversion kits are instructions on how to do the necessary modification without professional help.

And YouTube tutorials, like the one below, can also be helpful if you’re trying to redesign your van into an accessible-wheelchair vehicle from scratch. 

However, accessible conversion requires a lot of experience and skills, so it’s not your usual DIY project that almost anyone can do. 

After all, you’ll have to tinker with the van’s frame to get a comfortable clearance for the wheelchair, install a power/manual ramp, and reinstall seats.

And there’s another angle to consider. Are these wheelchair conversion kits safe? Let’s find out!

How Safe Are DIY Wheelchair Van Conversion Kits?

Professional conversion companies must meet specific regulations and safety standards during the conversion process to ensure wheelchair users’ safety and make it ADA-compliant. (1)

They also offer a warranty, so you don’t have to worry about the cost of your investment if something goes wrong. And you can always contact the company if you need further changes or repairs. 

However, you can’t convert all vehicles because they have to meet specific criteria, such as age, mileage, model, etc. 

Using a DIY wheelchair van conversion kit and doing the modification by yourself may void your car’s warranty. And it can endanger your travel safety if you don’t do it right. 

Moreover, you may be unable to register your van as a wheelchair-accessible vehicle if you do the redesign because it won’t meet the law’s requirements. 

But it can be your only option if you’re on a tight budget. And how much will it cost you? 

How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Van?

You can expect to pay up to $40 000 – $70 000 to turn your vehicle into a wheelchair-accessible van if you hire a company.

The conversion costs depend on the type of modifications and how many changes in the van’s design the company will have to make. 

However, DIY wheelchair conversion is cheaper, and you can do it for about $10 000, depending on what parts you have to purchase, the type of ramp (manual or power ramp), and your van’s model. 

Keep in mind that turning your vehicle into an assessable minivan/van takes several weeks when done by professionals. So, if you do it by yourself, it can take even longer. 

CHECK: How to Make Budget Mobility Van Rentals

3 Things to Consider When Considering DIY Wheelchair Van Conversion Kits

Do you know that making a van wheelchair accessible involves over 40 modifications? So, when thinking about a DIY wheelchair van conversion kit, you should consider several things. 

#1 Conversion Types

The main types of conversions are rear-entry conversion and side-entry conversion. Each has its pros and cons. 

As specialists from Brainability explain, “Rear-entry vehicles allow access to the rear and midsection of the vehicle but don’t allow you to ride in the driver or passenger seats.” (2)

On the other hand, side-entry conversions give you access to the front and allow a wheelchair user to drive the vehicle or sit in the front. 

In general, rear-entry redesigns are a bit less complicated than side-entry ones.  

#2 Vehicle’s Model

The best vans to convert include Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Voyager, Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, and Toyota Sienna Hybrid.

Some SUVs also make great conversion vehicles for wheelchair users. Try Honda Odyssey, Ford Explorer, Hyundai Palisade, Chevrolet Traverse, Kia Telluride, or Buick Enclave. 

Also, don’t forget to consider your van’s age and mileage. Older vehicles may not be good candidates for conversion. 

#3 Your Experience

As I already mentioned, it’s not easy to do van conversion without professional help, especially if you don’t have experience in the field. 

So, you should consider whether you have the necessary skills to make the modifications without risking your travel safety.  

FAQs

1. Can You Convert a Regular Van Into a Handicapped Van?

You can convert a regular van into a handicapped van. Most vans are suitable for conversion, but It depends on your van’s model, age, and mileage. 

2. How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Minivan Into a Wheelchair Van?

Depending on the number of modifications converting a minivan into a wheelchair van can cost from $10 000 to $ 30 000. 

3. How Do You Make a Minivan Wheelchair Accessible?

where can I rent a wheelchair accessible van

You have to lower the floor, install a ramp or a lift, widen the doors, and modify the interior to make enough space for the wheelchair.

Conclusion

DIY wheelchair van conversion kits can be a suitable option if you want to make minor modifications to your vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair.

However, to ensure your vehicle is safe for travel and meets all wheelchair user’s needs, you should talk to a mobility consultant to find the best conversion company. 

handicapped lady riding in a DIY Wheelchair Van Conversion Kit

What do you think about DIY wheelchair van conversion kits? Have you ever used one? Share your experience in the comment section. 

Resources:

1. Conversions FR. What Makes a Handicap Van ADA Compliant? [Internet]. FR CONVERSIONS. 2018 [cited 2023 Jan 13]. Available from: https://frconversions.com/what-makes-a-handicap-van-ada-compliant/

2. Buying an Accessible Van | 10 Things to Know [Internet]. BraunAbility. [cited 2023 Jan 13]. Available from: https://www.braunability.com/us/en/blog/mobility-solutions/top-10-considerations-when-buying-an-accessible-vehicle.html

About Author

GrigorinaLoa
Grigorina discovered that writing is her vocation early in her school years. Since then, she's taken part in several literary contests. For the past three years, she's also been an ELS teacher, pouring her heart into showing children and adults how important English is for their future. She has a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics, an ESL Teacher's degree, and a Master's degree in Accounting. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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