Facts You Need to Know About Wheelchair Van Conversions
If you’ve looked into buying a wheelchair van, then you may have heard about something called wheelchair van conversions. Put simply, a wheelchair van conversion is where you take a van and make structural changes and add on additions to make it capable of transporting a wheelchair user. It’s a great alternative to forking over ,000+ for a brand new wheelchair van. Plus, if you do a conversion, you can further customize your van (or a used one you buy) to meet your particular needs. All customizations must meet what are called the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
When it comes to minivan conversions, there are several ways you can go. Most conversions are side entry ramp systems with a 10” lowered floor. Keep in mind that the average minivan has a floor-to-ceiling height of about 48”. With a minivan conversion, you can have a lowered floor that’ll offer you 58”. Inside the minivan conversion, the lowered floor would extend from the backseat to the firewall, thus allowing driving from one’s wheelchair.
Even though lowered floor-side-entry minivans are very practical, they are hard to set up. As the process involves cutting the main support beams that run front-to-rear of the van, then they insert a new sub-frame and then relocate the fuel tank to the space in between the rear axle and rear bumper. The bad news is, doing this wheelchair van conversion can negatively impact ride quality and sound levels.
Rear-entry conversions on minivans are becoming more popular. It’s easy to see why because with rear-entry conversions, the user can load and unload from just about any parking spot without worry of trying to get between cars. Also, rear-entry conversions don’t require cutting the mini-vans structure. There are drawbacks though.
For instance, the wheelchair user won’t be able to get into the driver position. Plus, the user must “back out” of the minivan
Then there are conversions for full-size vans. The benefits are that the standard floor-to-ceiling height of a full-size wheel chair van is usually more than enough for the wheelchair user. That means a significant reduction in wheelchair van conversions costs. Plus, full-size vans offer increased room for additional passengers and gear. And if the wheelchair user plans on driving, the full-size van will accommodate that.
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