Mobility AidsWheelchairs

Making A Wheelchair Accessible Van on a Budget

Written by Dayna C
Last Updated :
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If you are a disabled or handicapped person who uses a portable wheelchair, you might think that you have restraints upon you.

Do you want to ride in your car or your van?

Well, the good news is that there is a special kind of chair van that can actually open many doors for you.

Freedom is a value that all we strive for.

This is something people fought for centuries.

Now you can get it too. A wheelchair isn’t a barrier.

Even if you don’t have your own vehicle but want to travel somewhere with your family or friends, you can find a chair van rental on the Internet.

We are aware that many people who use portable chairs need special accommodations to drive a vehicle.

Depending on your needs, you can get a great way of wheelchair transportation.

You can drive your vehicle, or be a passenger.

The scope of options is wide, so be ready for a whole new chapter of your life.

What is a Wheelchair Van?

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A wheelchair van is a vehicle accessible to handicapped, or disabled persons.

It is equipped with a wheelchair entry–ramp or a lift.

Side-Entry and Rear-Entry Vans

It doesn’t matter if you have a side-entry chair-accessible van, or a rear-entry-accessible van, there are plenty of ramps for vans that will ease up entering your vehicle.

A rear-entry van doesn’t provide you with the possibility to drive.

Its advantage is that will leave all the normal passengers seated in place.

This type of van is great for big families.

Yet, you would have to sacrifice the trunk space.

A side-entry van gives you the option to drive, or you can choose the central row in the vehicle instead.

This kind of accessibility will surely sacrifice the rest of the central row seating.

You don’t have to sacrifice any of the storage space.

READ MORE: How to Secure a Wheelchair in a Van

What Kind of Features are Presented in Handicap Vehicles in Comparison to Regular Cars?

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  1. You have hand control for the brakes.
  2. For people who are not able to operate pedals, there is an accelerator.
  3. This type of vehicle has an access ramp.
  4. You can build a wheelchair lift for your van.
  5. Some of the seats might be replaced with a mechanism for a chair.
  6. Some vans allow you an option to lock your wheelchair in the driver’s area.

If you are thinking about purchasing a wheelchair-accessible van, here are some things to take into consideration:

  • Inform yourself about all the options

Nowadays, there are more options than ever when we talk about assistive technology for vehicles.

You will find dozens of wheelchair-accessible vehicles, including vans.

Further, you can find ramps for vans, lifts, and driving aids that have the same purpose—to ease the drive for a handicapped person.

Sometimes a ramp might be a better solution, if you, for example, have the costs in mind.

Getting a chair-accessible van costs a couple of thousand dollars, while a ramp costs ten times less.

  • Work with accredited dealers only

Make sure that you choose an accredited dealer.

This means that some dealers work in organizations that are committed to the quality and safety of handicapped or disabled persons.

On the other side, there are companies that specialize in van conversions.

This means that you can get your own van converted to an accessible van.

This way you can keep your vehicle while adjusting it for specific needs at the same time.

  • Don’t hurry

Surely this is not a decision that is easy to make.

Dealers will surely put some pressure on you, but take your time to decide which option is the best option for you at the moment.

Use our helpful article ‘DIY Wheelchair Van Conversion Kit’ to transform your vehicle into a wheelchair-accessible van easily!

How Can You Save Some Money on Your Wheelchair Van?

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We are aware of the fact that getting chair transportation is worth every penny.

This is a gold investment, as you won’t be any more dependent on your chair.

You will get the option to get around and enjoy new experiences.

However, even though it might look like you would have to spend a significant amount of money on it, things are, luckily, different.

New conversion vans are a bit pricey option, but surely worth it.

However, used vans with a new conversion are a cheaper solution that can save you a lot of money.

The third option is to get yourself or your loved one a used van with a used conversion.

This is surely the cheapest option.

Maybe you don’t know, but you will find many used vans with used conversions.

Further, this is an option that is already tested, which might give you a sense of security.

Don’t limit your search to online or local dealerships.

You just never know.

A solid chance might come up right around the corner, but maybe you would have to look a bit further.

If you are on a low budget, you should consider this option, as you can search in both places according to price range.

Some of the handicapped vehicles include a kneeling system.

A kneeling system means that your vehicle will lower to the ground as much as possible, reducing the slope of the ramp.

Even though this might be needed in some situations, many caregivers avoid using the kneeling system, which is, by the way, expensive.

Get involved in a secret mission. Investigate and read the customers’ reviews to get as much information as possible.

You can find out many useful things from testimonials.

Wheelchair Ramps for Vans

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As you can see, finding the right van takes some effort.

You have to find a balance between quality, comfort, and price.

This is a demanding task.

We already mentioned in the paragraphs above that you can customize your own van.

You have a variety of options, but ramps for vans are one of the most popular solutions.

Check: How Can I Get a Wheelchair for Free?

Which Types of Ramps for Vans Are on the Market?

Power Ramps

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Power ramps function via a press of a button.

This is an already automated process, as you basically don’t have to invest anymore effort.

After you press the button, a ramp will open the door to your van, deploy itself, and lower the vehicle.

You don’t have any assistance here, as no one has to raise or lower the ramp manually.

It actually gives you more independence.

Manual Ramps

If you are searching for the most cost-effective solution, this is definitely the one.

You can get a manual ramp both for the side and rear entry vans.

This solution is for those who travel a lot and always have a companion.

The deployment is not a tough task, but as the name suggests – it is manual, so you might need help.

In-floor Ramps

Just like you can conclude, these ramps are set underneath the floor of the van.

This gives more maneuverability to the users.

In-floor ramps are famous for safety features.

Some of the other benefits are more cargo storage, an obstacle-free doorway, and a quiet ride.

Fold Out Ramps

This ramp is maybe something you and your van need the most.

Fold-out ramps give you strength and durability and these are a great option for low budgets.

The ramp sits on the floor, pressed against the door, and extends outward, folding everything in a motion.

If you are using a minivan, then go for a rolling ramp, as this is the best solution for this type of transportation.

In-floor or Fold-out Ramp?

These two kinds of ramps are the most common when it comes to driving handicapped vehicles.

Each has advantages and flaws, so we will try to help you make the right choice with our simple advice.

The in-floor ramp is easy to store under your van’s floor when you are using it.

This means that this type of ramp doesn’t obstruct entry to the van.

The fold-out ramp should be folded when you are not using it, just as the name suggests.

Because of this, the fold-out ramp might be a barrier to entry for the rest of the passengers.

Here are some questions that will clear out the image of the perfect ramp for the wheelchair-accessible van.

  1. Do you live in a rainy or snowy climate?
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If your answer is yes, then you should be aware that your ramp would collect snow on it, when you are not using the ramp.

A fold-out ramp is not the happy solution here. The in-floor ramp is a cleaner solution for snowy weather conditions.

  1. What happens with the front passenger seat?

With an in-floor ramp, you will have full use of the front passenger seat.

On the other side, a fold-out ramp forms some type of barrier, so the seat’s use is limited.

In-floor ramps are better if you travel a lot, while the fold-out ramp is an acceptable solution when you do not use it for long road trips.

  1. Do you drive your van in environments where there are tall curbs and/or steep gradients?

This type of environment surely poses a challenge in front of you.

If your answer is yes, then go for the fold-out ramp, as it a more suitable for these conditions.

Another way to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible is to use a wheelchair lift for a van.

What is the Difference Between a Wheelchair Van and Using a Chair Lift for a Van?

Wheelchair-accessible van:

  • Is a van, mini-van, converted, SUV, or structurally altered type of vehicle,
  • It has interior access for the best lightweight travel wheelchair or a power chair,
  • Takes some modifications such as lowering the floor, raising a roof, re-wiring, etc,
  • It is possible to drive in a wheelchair seat in some types of vans.

Wheelchair vehicle lift for van:

  • A lift is mounted on the outside of the vehicle,
  • Has a transportation platform for mobility devices,
  • Doesn’t require additional adjustments,
  • Takes minimal effort.

If you want to hit the road whenever you want without leaving your portable chair behind, then you should think of converting your van to a chair-accessible one.

Even if you don’t own a van but want to travel somewhere with your friends or family, you can rent a chair van.

Turning your van into a wheelchair van is not tough, but is a bit expensive task.

We tried to suggest some solutions for low budgets also.

However, we hope that our advice will help you in turning your vehicle into a wheelchair-accessible van.

About Author

Dayna C
Dayna has an incredible passion for helping others and a background as an in-home caregiver for the elderly. She left the field temporarily three years ago to stay at home with her twins, but found that she really missed working with senior citizens. She launched LoAids as a way to help not just her own loved ones and former clients, but ALL seniors live life to the fullest in their golden years.  Follow her on LINKEDIN and TWITTER. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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