If you need wheelchair transportation you will have to effectively communicate your specific needs to someone who understands. There are companies that have experienced staff specializing in vans that are equipped for wheelchairs.
Remember, you will need more head room and the floor will need to be lowered if you need to remain seated in your wheelchair during travel. Wheelchair locks, ramps, and hand controls are just a few of the things to consider if you need to purchase a road ready vehicle.
Check for a local equipment dealer near you. There is nothing like visiting with a local dealer of handicap vans to help you decide what you will need. Comparison shopping is always a good idea. Will medicare or insurance help cover the costs of a specially equipped van? There are many things to consider.
Wheelchair users need transportation to go shopping, to the doctor, out with friends, to work, church, etc.
New Versus Used
Is new better than used? Standard vehicles are not setup to be wheelchair ready nor do they meet DOT guidelines, unless modifications have been made by someone in the business. If the user will be in the chair to operate or ride as a passenger, then you will need to make sure there are proper locks to keep the chair in place and the passenger safely seat belted in.
A new conversion van will be specific to your needs. The lifespan of a used van that has been converted is usually 10 years. Also, if you purchase a van that is more than a few years old, most conversion companies do not carry the necessary parts to convert an older van. Sometimes the conversion parts wear out sooner. When talking to the conversion shop, be sure to ask them to break down the pricing so you understand what you are actually getting.
When shopping for wheelchair transportation, do like you would when you are looking for a used car. Find out if the vehicle is still under warranty, have a quality mechanic inspect it, get a carfax or similar report based on the VIN # and title.
As you compare new and used prices for wheelchair transportation, you may also want to consider the benefits of a full size van versus mini van. One major difference is that most full size vans have a wheelchair lift and mini vans use a wheelchair ramp.
Full Size Van Versus Mini Van
A full size van has more room for the individual themselves, the wheelchair, passengers, cargo, and is more powerful for heavier loads.
The mini van has its advantages for wheelchair transportation also. Most mini vans are front wheel drive, easier to maneuver, have a lower cost of conversion than the full size van, and are more popular making it easier to get the conversions you want.
Raise The Roof Or Lower The Floor
Everyone has their own personal preference. It also depends upon the vehicle size, wheelchair size and user size. Almost everyone who will drive their vehicle from their wheelchair will need the floor lowered. The wheels of the chair add 6-10 inches of height. By lowering the floor the wheelchair driver is able to see out of the vehicle properly.
Raising the roof makes an easier entry for the wheelchair user and passengers.
Remote control activation allows the user to activate access features from a distance. The access device usually takes 30-60 seconds to activate. For comfort and safety this is a nice addition. You may live in a cold climate or be in an unsafe area and this can help eliminate the wait outdoors.
Remote start allows the user to start the vehicle from indoors and allow for a more comfortable ride and the equipment to warm up and work properly. If you live in a cold climate this eliminates the added work to go outside and enter the van to start it before you are ready to.
Side entry ramps allow the wheelchair user to enter from the passenger side sliding door without compromising cargo or seat space in the back.
Rear entry vehicles allow for the wheelchair user to enter from the back in a straight path, however, cargo space is decreased.
Fold out ramps are stowed inside the vehicle from the side and are recommended for the user who will not need assistance to operate the vehicle. This ramp folds up by the side door, and still allows the passengers and driver to see out of the windows. It is not visible from the outside when folded.
In floor ramps deploy from the inside for wheelchairs and scooters so that they do not take up space inside and are invisible to passengers and from the outside.
This is not recommended for users who need assistance to operate their wheelchair transportation choice alone. Because they are electronic, they could malfunction, thus making it harder to exit the vehicle.
Turnout Automotive Seating
It is just how it sounds. The seat pivots over the door frame allowing the passenger to back up and sit down. It then swivels/slides back inside your chosen wheelchair transportation vehicle for easier access. It comes in power and manual versions for the driver and passenger.
The turnout seat works with sedans, minivans, full size vans, sport utility vehicles, crossover vehicles, pickups and wagons.
Some auto makers have the right solutions or options for your transportation needs. For more information contact a local mobility dealer near you.
Turning Automotive Seating
The TAS swivel seat by BRUNO makes getting in and out of your car easier for you or your loved one. This seat decreases the need for bending and twisting to get in or out. It is operated with a simple hand held remote, including the ability to raise and lower.
The Turny Automotive Seat
The Turny automotive seat is designed for taller vehicles. It turns manually, but raises and lowers automatically, allowing the user to stop the seat at the proper transfer height. Powered rotation is available with the Turny Orbit.
The Carony System
The carony system works with the Bruno Turny or Turnout. It transforms an automotive seat to a wheelchair seat allowing your loved one to ride securely and safely using the vehicle seat belt. The user simply glides from the vehicle onto the wheeled base, remaining seated the entire time. No more lifting for the caregiver.
The Lift Up Seat
This seat was specifically designed for the Toyota Sienna. The seat rotates out and lowers toward the ground eliminating the need to climb and twist to get up into the vehicle.