What is a Handicap Van Conversion?

BraunAbility Engineers an Accessible Wheelchair Van Conversion Design on the Most Popular Vehicles

A handicap conversion van (alternatively called a mobility van or wheelchair van) is the name given to a specially engineered adaptation of a vehicle to make it accessible for wheelchair users. While that may sound simple enough, converting a vehicle safely is an intensive, complex process and not all van conversion companies build their products to the same standards of quality and safety.

Keep reading to learn more about the van conversion process and how to ensure you’re placing your trust with a handicap van conversion company with a proven history of quality and safety mobility products.

How a Conversion Van is Made?

Watch the designing and building of a BraunAbility wheelchair accessible vehicle process unfold and gain a new appreciation for how the most trusted brand in mobility ensures superior quality in every vehicle we build.

How is a Handicap Van Conversion Built?

At BraunAbility, every handicap van conversion is built using an assembly line method, both by machine and by hand, designed to ensure duplicable quality for a best-in-class ownership experience for every customer. So how does a traditional vehicle become a BraunAbility accessible vehicle?

  1. The first step of the wheelchair van conversion is to remove the existing seating from the vehicle, as well as the interior panels. Any exposed surfaces leftover are completely covered for protection from scrapes and heat during the handicap conversion van process. 
  2. Once the seats are removed, the vehicle’s floor is lowered and custom interior paneling is installed for a seamless blend between the original vehicle and BraunAbility wheelchair van conversion.
  3. A high-strength ramp is installed, either in the rear or the passenger slide door area. These ramps are available as either a foldout or infloor option on most models of vehicle.
  4. In a side-entry conversion, the rear bench seat is reinstalled, and in most models of conversion vans, the driver and front passenger seats are mounted on raised platforms. Both seats are easily removable by the vehicle owner, allowing for floor plan flexibility from one side to another. In a rear-entry conversion, only the back portion of the vehicle has a lowered floor so the front row seats remain original and are not able to be removed.
  5. To disguise the lowered floor extension on the exterior of the vehicle, custom-molded ground effect panels are added to both the driver and passenger sides, integrating the design.
  6. No matter what handicap van conversion or wheelchair conversion van you select (Chrysler, Dodge, ChevroletToyota or Honda), your best-in-class BraunAbility product is manufactured to uncompromised standards to deliver the best customer experience in the industry.

Can I purchase a minivan at my car dealership and then have it converted?

Absolutely! Be sure to contact a Product Specialist or your BraunAbility dealer first to ensure you purchase a vehicle that we can convert. However, looking at a BraunAbility mobility consultant’s inventory is the best first-step to finding the vehicle conversion that fits best for you. Often, you may find the perfect vehicle already ready to bring home without having to wait the few weeks it takes to have it converted at BraunAbility's manufacturing facility.  

I already own a minivan. Can BraunAbility convert my van?

Possibly, but certain conditions must be met. Only certain makes and models can be converted. Additionally, the vehicle must meet an age range requirement and have less than 50,000 miles on the odometer. Contact a Product Specialist at productspecialist@braunability.com or (800) 488-0359 to determine if your vehicle is eligible for BraunAbility conversion.

Can I simply add a ramp to my existing van?

No. A wheelchair ramp is just one aspect of the major reengineering required to create an accessible van. Teams of skilled technicians work together on a modern assembly line to produce a wheelchair accessible vehicle with a lowered floor, extended doorway height, integrated wiring, a heavy-duty handicap ramp, and reconfigured seating that blends with the original design of the vehicle. Without additional vehicle modifications, a wheelchair user would not be able to comfortably enter and exit the vehicle.

How long does the handicap van conversion process take?

If you decide to send your own vehicle in for conversion or place an order for a vehicle, the wait time to receive your accessible vehicle can vary depending on the current order influx and shipping availability. Your BraunAbility dealer can give you an estimate at the time of order. The average wheelchair van conversion process for a customer-supplied vehicle is six weeks. BraunAbility dealers maintain a stock of wheelchair accessible vehicles converted and ready for immediate delivery in their showrooms and in their lots. You will have a choice of vehicle and ramp styles to try out, allowing you to determine which vehicle meets your needs.  

Can I buy a wheelchair vehicle lift and install it myself?

BraunAbility products are only available through our 200+ certified mobility dealers, which are located across the United States and Canada. Like our wheelchair accessible vehicles and other seating products, wheelchair lifts are sold through the mobility dealer and installed by certified technicians. If you have a wheelchair vehicle lift installed or serviced by an outside source rather than a BraunAbility certified technician, you risk voiding the warranty of the lift.

BraunAbility Is the #1 Rated Brand in the Mobility Industry

In a 2016 survey of mobility service technicians, BraunAbility was voted Most Trusted Brand in Mobility and the brand they were most likely to recommend to friends and family. Why? Because service technicians know wheelchair conversion vans from the inside out, and they see firsthand that not all handicap van conversions are built with a priority on quality and safety. When it comes to reliability, you deserve the best. 

Straight Talk About Van Conversions

Our Straight Talk video series takes an honest, under-the-hood look at what sets BraunAbility products apart from other wheelchair van conversions.

An Introduction to Wheelchair Accessible Vans

Quality features mean the difference between a great accessible driving experience and a stressful one. Making an informed decision on your purchase is one of the most important and responsible things you could do. 


Wheelchair Van Braking Systems

You won't get an in-depth look at our braking systems in a dealership showroom. So here, see first-hand how BraunAbility’s brake lines are routed, suspended and secured compared to other mobility brands.


Wheelchair Van Exhaust Systems

Compare BraunAbility’s fully stainless steel, tier-one supplied exhaust system to other mobility manufacturing brands, and you’ll see how far we go to secure and reinforce our exhaust system.


Wheelchair Van Fuel Systems

It goes without saying, there is no room for compromise when it comes to your fuel system. See the measures BraunAbility takes to design, build, and secure a fuel system that goes the distance.


Wheelchair Van Sliding Doors

An accessible van doesn’t live up to its name if you don’t have a reliable way to get in and out of it! The design of BraunAbility’s sliding door system is another example of how we go the extra mile to ensure the greatest reliability and usability.


Wheelchair Van Suspension

Accessible vans need to be designed to manage a heavier weight capacity, especially the suspension system. We make sure our suspension not only handles extra weight, but makes the ride as comfortable as possible.


Wheelchair Van Wiring

BraunAbility designs an integrated electrical system that is not only reliable, but also easy to service, saving you time, money, and frustration.


Wheelchair Van Undercarriage Construction

The way in which an accessible vehicle manufacturer chooses to join the new lowered floor to the main vehicle frame during the handicap conversion process is a strong indicator of quality in the handicap van conversion. 


Conversion Van: Making the Right  Choice

Your mobility freedom is precious, and it's important to work with a company that believes this, too. Stop into your local dealer to ask questions and to see these wheelchair conversion vans in person. 


Ready to learn more about the different types of wheelchair van conversions?


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