Minivan Conversions | Full Size Conversion Van | Handicapped Vans
Information on Minivans Conversions, Handicapped Vans, and Wheelchair Accessible Adaptive Equipment
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Minivan Conversions - What they are, different types, makers, what to look for in choosing one
Full Size Conversion Van - What they are, different types, makers, what to look for in choosing one
Wheelchair Related Topics
Driving Related Topics
Wheelchair Transport Options - Different ways you can safely transport your wheelchair besides a minivan conversion or handicapped full size conversion van
Wheelchair Trailer Towing - What a trailer is, what is required from the towing vehicle, what is required to operate
Hitch Lifts - What a hitch lift is, what is required from the carrying vehicle, what is required to operate
Handicapped Lifts - What a handicapped lift is, what is required from the carrying vehicle, what is required to operate
Wheelchair Lift Calculations - How to safely determine if you can install a lift on your car and carry your wheelchair around
Vehicle Modifications Related to Driving
Vehicle Modifications - All others
Air bags - What is required to disable an airbag when modifying a car for someone with a disability
General Car Related Information
First of all, I should define what I think an accessible wheelchair vehicle is. An accessible wheelchair conversion van is one:
that you can enter/exit independently or with assistance.
that can transport your wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility device if you happen to have one
that allows you to be safely transported - do you fit in the van, can you be safely secured, can your wheelchair be safely restrained?
that allows you to independently drive if that is your goal
One thing to note about the above definition is that consumers and counselors often get focused on the independent driving part. They often think in terms of getting hand controls and sometimes forget the other requirements such as safely transporting your wheelchair or entering/exiting the conversion van. The consumer really needs to think about all aspects of an accessible wheelchair conversion van. It does no good to invest in all the time and money to get a restricted driver's license and get trained on hand controls only to then run up against the fact that you have no way to transport your 300lb wheelchair.
The process of finding a conversion van or vehicles with a handicapped lift can unfortunately be long, frustrating, and confusing. When you start pounding the pavement and visiting different dealerships, you'll hear a lot of different things from a lot of different people. There is no one exactly perfect way to go about getting your a conversion van or vehicles with a handicapped lift. The process is not black or white, right or wrong. The ideas and information presented here are based on what I've seen that has allowed consumers to obtain an appropriate wheelchair van solution. There is no one path to take if for no other reason than the funding source will have a lot to do with how you go about it. If you are working with an outside funding agency such as your state's Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) or Veteran's Administration (VA), then just dealing with those agencies can be a chore in itself. They will often have procedures set in place that require evaluations and justifications for providing an accessible wheelchair van and adaptive equipment. Because the VR and VA are tax payer funded agencies, they will also have procedural requirements governing purchases of wheelchair vans to prevent fraud. My advice to you in your search for an accessible wheelchair van or vehicle would be to:
Never give up even though the process is long. You really need to be committed to getting a a conversion van or vehicles with a handicapped lift but more important you need to be more committed to whatever end goal the conversion van or vehicles with a handicapped lift can provide: freedom, job, independence, fun, better health.
You'll never know until you ask. Make sure you fully understand everything that is entitled to you by law. For instance, if you are a VR client, make sure you know everything that the state agency is required to do in order to assist you with achieving a successful employment outcome which may include a vehicle purchase. If you do not know your entitlements, educate yourself or use agencies such as CAP (Client Assistance Program) to assist you in knowing your rights.
It can't hurt to ask. Let them tell you no. You shouldn't be the first one who says no. But again, make sure you know what you are entitled to. The easiest thing for an agency to do is say no. Saying yes requires time, energy, manpower, paperwork, commitments, and money. Saying no is simple and requires very little follow up action. It's important to state though that agencies sometimes say no to consumers for very good reasons. There are consumers that sometimes frankly want to do things that are unsafe. But the agency must then explain to you why they are not providing the solution you have asked for.
Make sure you fully understand what someone is telling you. Have them repeat themselves if necessary. Educate yourself as much as possible. Try all conversion vans or vehicles with a handicapped lift solutions. Wheelchair vans, adaptive equipment, and wheelchair transport options are constantly changing.
There really are no dumb questions.
Remember who you're talking to and what motivates them or in other words salesmen make money by selling. The good ones who are the majority will consider your needs first but there are a minority as in every occupation who will sell something first and worry about meeting your needs second.
You have to consider what it is that your conversion van or vehicle with handicapped lifts is going to do for you. Obviously your car is going to get you from point A to point B, but how will it do that? So you need to answer some questions. You may not be able to answer all of these questions or you may want to do certain things that in reality you won’t be able to. That’s were the expertise of a driving evaluator or NMEDA vendor comes into play. For instance, you may want drop floor minivan conversions but you can’t afford it at this time or you may sit too tall in your wheelchair to safely ride in one.
This is by no means a complete list of questions that you'll need to answer in your quest for an accessible conversion van. If you aren't familiar with some of the terms or answers, then please look for more information in our specific solution sections such as Handicapped Van - Full Size Conversion Van, Wheelchair Van - Minivan Conversions, and Wheelchair Transport Options. Depending on your situation, you should also talk with a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist about a Driving Evaluation and a NMEDA vendor.
NorCal Full Size Conversion Van
Bigger interior room for taller clients who are riding in their wheelchair.
Higher cargo carrying capacity.
Can support handicapped lifts and heavier clients with heavier wheelchairs.
Rides higher off the ground which may be more important depending on your driveway and roads.
Poor fuel economy.
Lowered floor conversion with lift can be the most expensive option.
May not fit in your garage if you have a raised roof.
Stigma of being a "handicapped van".
Side Entry minivan conversions
Get in and out of the vehicle quickly in your wheelchair.
Transfer and stow your wheelchair inside.
Good fuel economy.
Less cargo carrying capacity.
Rides lower to the ground
Minivan with Bruno Curbsider handicapped lift
Aren’t limited to solutions involving just a van or minivan.
Can sometimes work with an existing vehicle that you already own.
Generally overall cheaper solution.
Person has to be able to transfer to the vehicle's seat or ambulate short distances.
Transfer occurs outside the vehicle exposed to the elements.
Wheelchair is sometimes transported outside the vehicle exposed to the elements.
Obviously it would not surprise me at all if the prices you end up paying vary from the approximate prices below. Wheelchair vans especially are subject to a wide range in pricing, especially driven by the underlying vehicle make and model. A Chrysler Town & Country LX minivan conversion is going to be much less expensive than a Chrysler Town & Country Touring minivan conversion with all of the bells and whistles. Used vans are less expensive than new vans, no surprise there.
Wheelchair Van - Accessible Minivan Conversions: $48,000 New for the complete package. If you have an existing vehicle that you want converted (See why we do not recommend this), the conversion itself will be approximately $23,000
Hand Controls: $800 for basic push-pull hand controls to $1,200 - $2,500 for Menox hand controls
Steering wheel spinner knob: $150
Brake/Accelerator Pedal Guards: $350
EZ Lock type wheelchair securement: $1,600
6-way transfer seat: $2,000
Cargo area lift: $3,000
Hitch mounted lift: $2,800
Wheelchair Trailer: $3,500
Handicapped Lifts: $6,000
Raised Roof: $2,500
Automatic door openers:$1,600
Reduced effort brakes: $3,000
Reduced effort steering: $4,000
Electric gear shifter: $3,000
Electric parking brake: $1,500
3-axis transfer seat: $6,000
Hi-tech gas/brake: $35,000
Hi-tech gas/brake and steering: $70,000
It comes down to this:
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