Questions to Ask Before Buying a Wheelchair Van

Contact your local BraunAbility dealer to speak with an expert and get started finding the right wheelchair accessible vehicle for you.

What am I looking for in an accessible vehicle?

It sounds like an easy question, but sometimes asking yourself what you want and need from a vehicle is like asking “what is my purpose in life?”. BraunAbility offers the most accessible vehicle options so we can meet the needs of most people. Tall or short, light or heavy, growing up or growing old – we have a solution for you. All these options can make it difficult to decide. That’s where our Customer Experience Group or your local dealer can help. We can take out options that won’t be right for you based on your needs or budget and simplify your choices until you find the one for you.

How do we get there?

Consider the following on your journey. 

Are my needs best served by a full-sized van? 

Back when BraunAbility was incorporated (then known as The Braun Corporation), full-size vans were all that was available and in some ways, they are a great alternative to the lowered floor minivan. While many customers don’t like the idea of driving a large vehicle, for large families or exceptionally large power chairs, a full-size van equipped with a lift could be the right solution. Learn more about our lifts here

Will you be driving? 

BraunAbility manufactures handicap vans that allow someone in a wheelchair to drive or ride in the front row by securing their chair into the front position. These are what we call side-entry vehicles. Because a side-entry vehicle has a fully lowered vehicle floor, the front seats must be installed on a raised seat base to have optimal visibility out the windshield. These seat bases are equipped with a locking mechanism that can be released and the full seat can be rolled down the ramp to give access to either seating position.

Can you operate a remote or button autonomously? 

If you are unable to operate a handheld remote or to open a vehicle door on your own, you may be interested in the BraunAbility CompanionVan or CompanionVan Plus. These conversion types are available on the Dodge Grand Caravan and feature a partially lowered floor, which means less cost to convert overall. In this style, the front seats are not removable and designed to accommodate caregivers and wheelchair users simultaneously.  

How tall do you sit in your wheelchair? 

BraunAbility makes two different handicap van styles with three distinct door opening heights. For those who sit very tall in their wheelchair, a rear-entry or XT side-entry will be more at a doorway height of 54” and 56” inches respectively. Conversely, an XT would not be an ideal choice for someone who sits mid-to-low height in a wheelchair because seeing over the dash could be a challenge.

How tall do you sit in your wheelchair?

What is your combined weight with your chair? 

You’ll need to know your total weight with your chair included. While you may not need to share this information with your dealer, all BraunAbility ramps and lifts are rated and cleared to withstand 1000lbs of weight. While this seems like a lot, some power wheelchairs can weigh up to 400 lbs on their own, not including additional equipment. 

What is the width of your chair? 

Some BraunAbility vehicles have a side door extension to make for a wider door opening. Entering and exiting is possible for larger wheelchair users and helps avoid brushes with knuckles or forearms. Rear-entry vehicles are obviously the largest opening available to a wheelchair user and may be the only option for extra-wide chairs. 

How much do you have available for a down payment? 

BraunAbility is the first and only accessible vehicle manufacturer to offer vehicle and mobility product financing through major lenders with competitive terms and rates. Through BraunAbility Finance, you may be able to afford more vehicle than you originally anticipated. Learn more about BraunAbility Finance offerings and see if they can help you find the financing you need. 

Are you able to transfer? Will you retain that capability? 

It’s important when choosing an accessible vehicle to not just choose the vehicle that is right for you today, but the one that will meet your needs tomorrow. Many of our customers are either children who will continue to grow or adults with progressive conditions that may weaken their mobility over time. It’s important to anticipate these changes upfront so you can take home a vehicle that is truly the right fit for you for years to come. 

How many people will travel with you? 

Are you traveling alone, with a caregiver, or with friends and family? Accessible vehicles come in a variety of sizes and each can accommodate a varying number of passengers. If you have a small family or drive independently, any BraunAbility Chrysler, Dodge, Toyota, Chevrolet or Honda will work for you. If you have a large family, you will likely need a full-size vehicle with a BraunAbility lift installed. Learn more about our consumer lift options here

What features would you like? 

The fun of any new vehicle is choosing the bells and whistles that not only make driving fun but make for a safer ride. Need a backup camera? We’ve got the latest options with 360-degree views. Need lane assist? We’ve got packages that alert and correct lane departure. Some packages even offer intercom technology that makes talking from the front row to the back row simpler than ever. 

Will you use this vehicle more than twice a month? 

If you answered ‘no,’ you might not be ready for an accessible vehicle. BraunAbility also offers a national fleet of rental vehicles that can be rented for days or weeks at a time. Call your local dealer to learn about vehicle availability and pricing. And if you do decide you want a vehicle to call your own, we can help with that too. 

Will you need or want towing capability? 

Currently, only the BraunAbility Pacifica offers towing capability. This makes this vehicle a unique addition to the fleet and in high demand for avid campers, road trip experts, competitive athletes, and water enthusiasts. No need to sacrifice your active lifestyle; the BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica retains the maximum tow load of 3600 lbs. 

Will you need hand controls? 

If you are a person who uses a mobility assistive device and are planning to drive the vehicle, you will likely need hand controls. Your local BraunAbility dealer will help you find the option that works best for your individual ability and their trained technicians will install them before you take your vehicle home. 

Have more questions?

Check out the list of our most frequently asked questions to learn more.


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