Handicap Access Vans: 6 Things to Know Before You Invest

wheelchair user

Did you know that there are 61 million adults living with a disability in the United States? That means that 1 in 4 adults in the country lives with some type of disability. 

Disabled Americans are a large part of the population. They might be a friend or a family member, or you might be a person living with a disability. 

People with disabilities have needs for adaptations that many of us might not even think about or might take for granted. One of these needs might be handicap access vans.  Buying a wheelchair van is a huge investment, and being informed beforehand can prevent a lot of unnecessary stress.

Continue reading to learn about the things you should know before buying a handicap van. 

1. Types of Wheelchair Van Conversions

Before making a decision to buy a wheelchair van there are important things to consider. Knowing what conversions are made to your van or what conversions can be made is crucial to making the right choice. 

A type of conversion for a van is the type of ramp it can be adapted with. Infloor ramps are secured under the floor of the minivan, which creates more room inside the van.

Foldout ramps are stored on the floor of the van and extend out when used. These ramps come with taller side rails. Both styles of ramp also have slots in the ramp floor to let debris from the wheelchair wheels fall through and keep the cabin of your vehicle clean.  

Manual ramps are great for those on a budget and wheelchair users who drive with an attendant to help them with the ramp. Automatic ramps are a necessary design for wheelchair users driving on their own.  

Some vans come with kneeling systems, which means that the car will lower closer to the ground. This is a great option for manual wheelchair owners to help ease entering and exiting their cars. 

2. Wheelchair Van Entry Types

When looking for handicap accessible vans, it's important to figure out which type of entry would best suit the disabled individual. Side-entry allows wheelchairs to enter and exit from the back right door and is the most commonly used entry type. These vans are easiest to use when picking up or dropping off passengers, such as to work/school or to a doctor appointment.

Rear-entry vans usually use foldout ramps in the back of the car. This type of entry doesn't require as much of the floor to be reworked so often are most affordable and works best for wheelchair users who aren't driving. 

3. The Right Accessible Driving Equipment 

Aside from ramps and the type of entry, it's important to know what other driving equipment will need to be adapted for the wheelchair vans the driver or passenger will need. Vans can be adapted with hand controls for those wheelchair users who have less foot control.

Swivel seats also can be installed with some wheelchair-accessible cars. These seats, using a remote or app, can be moved from the inside of the car and lowered to make transferring from wheelchair to car easier for the disabled individual. 

4. Research Where to Buy Your Handicap Access Vans

It is important to do a lot of research on the place you decide to buy your van. Most importantly, make sure the dealership is accredited. If they work with the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association and are also part of the Quality Assurance Program, then rest assured you are in great hands! 

It is also a good idea to read about the experiences of other customers to make sure you are making the right decision by choosing this dealership. Their website should include customer reviews, but you can also find these elsewhere online

5. Make Sure to Budget

Investing in a van with handicap access is an important step in improving your life or the life of someone you know that is in a wheelchair. Creating a budget for the type of van you want with the proper adjustments and conversions needed will save you time in choosing the right fit. 

The first step is to make a list of everything you need your van to do to best serve you. This way, you're able to figure out the different pricing options.

Speaking with your dealership about financing might be an appropriate option. Weighing the pros and cons of a new van versus a used one is another thing that should be considered. 

6. Ask Questions 

Like with any other new purchase, making sure to ask all the questions you have and asking for clarification is very important. Making a list to take to the dealership or when you talk to them over the phone is always suggested. 

Some things that you should be asking the dealer you visit for your handicap accessible van are about warranties offered with the car and the types of services provided for the car after purchase. 

It is also important to ask for demonstrations on proper ways to secure your wheelchair to your new wheelchair van. Another common question is about the number of wheelchairs the van can carry. If that is a concern for you, don't forget to ask!

What to Know Before Buying a Wheelchair Van

There is a lot you need to know before buying handicap access vans. The research might seem overwhelming, but this list of things to know before investing in a wheelchair van will make the process so much easier! 

Make sure to refer back to this blog before starting the journey of looking for a new handicap accessible van. And feel free to contact us with any questions about any of our other mobility products!

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