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How to Modify a Wheelchair Accessible Van

How to Modify a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Whether you need mobility assistance or to extend your autonomy, a van conversion can provide the right solution. This article will give you insight on how to go about the process, including cost, side-entry versus rear-entry van conversion, and recommendations. 

Conversion of a minivan

A wheelchair-accessible minivan is built using different modifications than the traditional van. If you are planning to look for wheelchair accessible vans for sale, why not try those converted vans. Most conversions involve lowering the floor and adding extra floor-to-ceiling clearance. This allows a wheelchair passenger to remain seated while riding in the minivan. These modifications include the In-Floor XI, based on the Chevrolet Traverse. Other conversions require a side-entry ramp, such as the Chrysler Pacifica.

The conversion of a wheelchair-accessible minivan does not void the manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, most minivan conversions meet FMVSS requirements or Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. But not all companies follow the standards, and some may try to get around them by not adhering to them.

Cost of conversion

The cost of a wheelchair-accessible van conversion varies based on the size of the van, the wheelchair, and the lift installed. The most significant transformation involves lowering the van’s floor so that the wheelchair can be safely slid into the vehicle. A van ramp may be installed at the front passenger door or in the trunk. Most users prefer side entry as it facilitates parallel parking. This type of conversion is beneficial for passengers as well as drivers in wheelchairs.

Once the vehicle has been purchased, the conversion process starts. First, the floor of the van needs to be removed. Once the floor is removed, the roof needs to be raised to accommodate a ramp or lift. Several factors will determine the cost of a wheelchair van conversion. A wheelchair-accessible van will cost significantly more than a conventional van. However, the conversion process will speed up purchasing a van with a standard wheelchair lift or ramp.

Side-entry versus rear-entry conversions

When considering a wheelchair-accessible van conversion, side-entry versus rear-entry is a vital decision. While the latter is more common, side-entry access offers several advantages. These benefits include increased flexibility, increased self-reliance, and more accessible parking. In addition, side-entry conversions provide greater customization and are much cheaper than rear-entry vans.

Whether you choose a side-entry or rear-entry wheelchair van depends on your needs and budget. Side-entry vans are typically more affordable, but rear-entry vans may be more convenient in some circumstances. Rear-entry vans are also easier to park, especially in high-traffic areas. For convenience, rear-entry vans usually have power transfer seats for easier access to the driver’s seat.

Recommendations from Van Modifiers

Unlike any other vehicle or home modification, handicap accessibility can be a daunting task. All their products meet or exceed the highest industry standards and are backed by a national dealer network certified by the National Mobility Equipment Dealer Association.

They remove the second-row seats and replace them with an integrated mechanism that allows the rear passenger door to slide out when modifying an Explorer. This mechanism functions similarly to the sliding door on a minivan. They also rework the floor to make room for a wheelchair ramp and fits a kneeling function to lower the ramp angle. While the vehicle’s suspension is unchanged, the resulting modifications give the wheelchair ramp the same ride and handling as the unmodified Explorer.

If you’re looking to make your current vehicle wheelchair accessible, you’ve come to the right place. There are companies that have state-of-the-art conversion facilities. Their conversion process includes separating interior components and modifying the floor and roof. Then, they do a 200-point inspection and road test to ensure your van is ready for use as a wheelchair van.

Fortunately, a minivan can be an excellent option for modifying a wheelchair van. Unlike a conventional van, a minivan has plenty of convenient features that make it easy to change. On the West Coast, certified van dealerships have a wide range of minivans available for conversion. 

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