If you are looking to buy a wheelchair van, learning about wheelchair van conversions may opportunistic. Put simply, these types of conversions involve taking a standard van and making structural changes to make it capable of transporting a wheelchair user.
Conversions are an affordable alternative compared to the cost of purchasing a new wheelchair accessible van. Plus, with conversions, you can further customize your van (or a used one you buy) to meet your particular needs.
It is important to note that all customizations must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
Minivan Conversions: Side Entry Access
When it comes to minivan conversions, there are several ways you can go. Most conversions are side entry ramp systems with a 10" lowered floor.
The average minivan has a floor-to-ceiling height of about 48" so the lowered floor will offer 58" of height. The lowered floor would extend from the backseat to the firewall and enables the wheelchair user the necessary space to drive to vehicle.
Even though lowered floor-side-entry minivans are practical, they are hard to set up. The process involves cutting the main support beams that run front-to-rear of the van and then inserting a new sub-frame.
Then the fuel tank must be relocated to the space in between the rear axle and rear bumper. This type of conversion can negatively impact ride quality and sound levels.
Minivan Conversions: Rear-Entry Access
Rear-entry conversions on minivans are becoming more popular. With rear-entry conversions, load and unloading is more convenient. Also, rear-entry conversions don’t require cutting the mini-vans structure.
As with side entry models, there are some drawbacks. Wheelchair users won’t have adequate room to maneuver into the driver’s position. Plus, they must always be “backed out” of the minivan.
Full-Size Van Conversions
The standard floor-to-ceiling height of a full-size wheelchair van is usually more than enough for the wheelchair user. That means a significant reduction in cost for wheelchair van conversions.
Full-size vans also offer more space and comfort for passengers and their travel gear, as well as easily accommodate wheelchair users who drive.
This information was provided by Mike Jezek of the Wheel Chair Van Buyers Guide.
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Wheelchair Tiedowns for Vans
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Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van
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