A step-by-step checklist to ensure you purchase a wheelchair conversion van that fits your every need
Buying a wheelchair accessible van can greatly improve the day-to-day living of someone living with a mobility impairment.
However, wheelchair mini and full-sized vans are a bit more complicated than your typical SUV or everyday vehicle. In addition to being considerably expensive, mobility vehicles need to fit your needs and lifestyle to a tee. Equipment needs vary from person to person. Modifications such as lowered floors are also important factors to take into account.
Being extra sure you are getting exactly what you need requires you to be extra thorough when researching which mobility vehicle to buy.
In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive list of features you should look for and questions you should ask when shopping around.
Wheelchair vans have entry access from either the rear or from the side. Depending on your needs, this will be a key factor in making sure you purchase the right vehicle.
- Rear entry mobility vans. Rear entry vans are best used when the occupant in the wheelchair never plans on driving. By lifting/deploying the rear gate, a ramp or lift will be released and the individual in the wheelchair can enter through the back. This type of wheelchair van has the wheelchair positioned in the area behind the driver’s seat and usually strapped down or carefully restrained somehow to prevent the chair from moving. If you have someone driving you and helping you get around, this is a simpler way to enter and exit the van. It also makes parking easier because you don’t have to worry about clearing curbs.
- Side entry mobility vans. When the occupant in the wheelchair wishes to have the option to drive, side entry is only way to go. If the wheelchair user doesn’t wish to drive, a side entry van will also accommodate them. With the press of a button, a ramp will either deploy and fold-out or eject from the vehicles floor.
When visiting a mobility van dealer, we recommend trying both options to find the one that works best for you.
Space and Comfort
When searching for a new or used mobility vehicle, space and comfort are important factors. It’s never a bad idea to pull out a measuring tape and figure out the dimensions of your wheelchair, plus the overall height with you in it.
Know the answers to the following questions:
- What’s the distance from the ground to my head when seated in my wheelchair? Can I enter/exit the entry point without bumping my head?
- What’s the overall width of my wheelchair? Does this clear the entry point?
- What’s it like to maneuver in my wheelchair while positioned in the van? Do I have any space to turn?
- What’s the weight of me in my wheelchair? Does the ramp support that number?
- I know that the width of my wheelchair will clear the doors, but is there enough space for me to safely enter on my ramp?
It’s vital to find a mobility van that is not only safe for you and your wheelchair, but also comfortable.
Safety should always be a top priority when searching for a new or used mobility vehicle. Ask your prospective dealer the following questions:
- What are the crash test ratings for the front, rear and sides of the vehicle?
- Has the modified van been held to industry standards?
- What about securements and tie downs? Have they been recently tested?
Don’t feel guilty about being extremely thorough when purchasing your mobility van.
Mobility Van Buying Checklist
Purchasing a mobility van is an investment in your overall health and well being. Go through the following checklist to ensure you leave feeling great about your new vehicle and get the van that best fits your needs:
- Has the dealer checked the tightness of the bolts connected to the ramp? (hinge, motor, all rivets)
- Check the ramp deployment switch. Does the ramp properly stow as well?
- Can you easily deploy and stow the ramp in a case of an electrical malfunction?
- Any loose cables or wiring?
- Does your van’s door properly align and close?
- Are all restraints and tie downs in working order?
- Are the ramp pivot pins and bushings working properly?
- Is your jumpseat working properly?
- Is all internal and external lighting working properly?
- Has the battery been tested recently?
- Are all drain holes free of debris?
- Are hinges and locks lubricated?
- Are any switches and remotes not working?
- Any abnormal noises?
America’s Best Mobility Van Dealer
Searching for a new or used mobility conversion van? Classic Vans is the San Francisco Bay Area’s top dealer of new and used wheelchair vans, conversion vans and motorhomes. For over 30 years, we’ve been family owned and operated, specializing in delivering quality van conversions to our beloved customers. Contact us or start browsing now to find the van of your dreams.
Don’t live in California? No problem! Inquire about low-cost nationwide van delivery.