Dodge Caravan SE 2014 Minivan conversion

Bestfriends14

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Hello,

I know this type of question was somewhat covered in another thread, but we have an opportunity to buy a really decent wheelchair van at a good price. It has low mileage and is only 30k CDN. Does anyone know much about the above van?

We'll be using it to drive from Calgary to Palm Springs over the next however many winters we will be blessed to have. With medical equipment, medicine etc., would this suffice?

I have attached a screen shot of the high level specs on the van, but essential it is 7 passenger, including wheelchair and rear entry.

Thanks all
 

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KarenNWendyn

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swalker

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After doing my research about what van to get, I concluded that a minivan would not be appropriate for cross country travel.

When we travel, we need to take a lot of stuff with us. Converted minivans pose two problems. They don't have enough space and they don't have enough weight capacity to carry all that stuff.

Instead, we bought a full-size van (a "half ton" model 1500 Chevy Express). Even that full-size van, which has much great weight carrying capability than a minivan, is loaded to within 70 pounds of its Gross Vehicle Weight Restriction (GVWR) with just me, the wheelchair, my wife, and a few supplies (as weighed on a truck scale).

My next van will be at least a 3/4 ton and probably a 1 ton full-size van (likely a Sprinter).

For around town travel, a minivan conversion appears to work well. Their primary limitation is that they can have low ground clearance, so can bottom out on speed bumps, etc.

The brand of the conversion is more important than the brand of the van, in my opinion. I would definitely want automatic doors, remote start, and a fully automated lift.

Whatever van you get, be sure to not buy it until you have tried it out with the wheelchair you will use. Not all wheelchairs fit in all vans.

Also, you should consider whether you want side entry or rear entry. There are pros and cons to each. I selected side entry after surveying the parking spots I was likely to use on a regular basis.

Where I live, $30,000 (Canadian dollars) does not seem like a great deal on a 2014 van. A rear entry Grand Caravan SE with 70K is listed for $19,900 (US dollars) at a dealer for example. In a private party transaction, I would expect that to go for more like $12,000 to $15,000 (US dollars).

Finally, I am not a fan of Chrysler products. They tend to cost less, but be less reliable than competing products. Others really like them, though.

Steve
 

Jrzygrl

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We do have a 2014 Grand Caravan. It has a Braun XT conversion with automatic side entry ramp. We've had it for 2 years now. Like Steve says, you have to try it with the PWC your PALS will be using. My. DH is tall and has a Permobil F3 chair. The XT conversion was the only one that would work for him in his chair. We have a Q-strain system where he can position his chair in either the front passenger side or further back so he can stretch out if we're going for a longer trip.

We've driven mostly local, but have made the 7 hour trip to DD's college 2x. It's been OK for both, although there is not an abundance of extra space for stuff. We were able to fit what we needed. The space you'll have is largely dependent on the conversion, I would think.

Long story short, it works for us. I wanted a minivan so it could fit in the garage. We have a 2 car garage, with the ramp into the house against the left wall. With the van parked on the right side, I can deploy the ramp and DH can load in while still in the garage. Big plus in band weather.
 

Bestfriends14

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Thanks everyone. I had looked at previous threads before, but nothing had totally answered my questions. Steve and all thanks for yoir detailed info. Unfortunately here in Canucksville, our cars are significantly more expensive than in the U.S. We'll try to talk her down to 27k and that would be the cheapest van conversion Ive seen to date.

So, here are the specs I've found: 68.9 inch head clearance, 1200 weight capacity and a top of the line bonus package within the vehicle itself (bluetooth etc.).

Since we will be going to and fro from Calgary to Palm Springs in Jan and coming back at the end of April, knowing all the medical equipment needed in the future,would this weight capacity suffice?

Thank you again.
 

lgelb

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Power chairs depending on size ~350 lb
Then you have person weights

Other heaviest equipment could be a Hoyer lift if you bring one.

Ceiling height on entry can be really important since PALS lose the ability to duck their heads, if he's close to the max. You can tilt/recline but the trunk loses strength and the ability to tolerate certain positions.
 

KarenNWendyn

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Given the length of your trips, a full-sized van would be preferable if you can get a good deal on a gently used one.

The pwc takes up quite a bit of space in a minivan just due to the space needed for maneuvering.

Just to give you an example, I have a Toyota Sienna with the ramp deploying from the passenger side. The middle row of seats have been removed to make room for wheelchair maneuvering, and the wheelchair pulls up to the front seat next to the driver.

Any storage would be in the fairly small area behind the rear seats, on the back seat, or on a roof box. Because the conversion makes the van taller, it’s also harder to use a roof box unless you travel with a step ladder.

Our dog will be secured to the back seat via a special harness. If we travel and take a walker or rolling shower chair, it would have to go in the space behind the wheelchair once I’m secured into position next to the driver. It would then have to be taken out every time I need to get out at a rest stop, and then put back in. This entails a lot of juggling, but it can be done for short excursions.

I doubt I could fit a hoyer in there along with everything else. So if I’m taking trips when at the hoyer stage, I anticipate we’ll have to rent a full sized van.
 

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The great thing about buying a six year old used vehicle from a private seller is that much of the depreciation has already been realized. Also, with a private transaction, you can probably sell it for what you paid for it if you find out it does not meet your needs.

If the supply of vans is limited, you think this one will meet your needs, and the price is fair, you could always buy it and try it for awhile. If it does not work out for you, you could probably sell it for about what you pay for it.

Steve
 

Bestfriends14

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Thanks again everyone. To Laurie's point, i believe the rear entrance measurements for the van is 59 inches and the rear entrance ramp is pull down manual, with a weight capacity of 1200 pounds, and weight inside the van of 1200 pounds.

I think as long as it can get us over mountain passes, it should suffice. We looked at a 2013 ford full size wheelchair van and the gas mileage was terrible! 16 mpg on the highway. Yikes! We'll have to go with a minivan with a storage compartment on the roof. The gas is too expensive given that we are going to be traveling 2500 kms one way and then back again.

Thank you for all the info. It has helped me figure out what to expect.
 

lgelb

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So measure him sitting tall in his chair, with adequate foot clearance for the ramp to make sure that 59" is enough. I would definitely test all this before signing on the dotted line.

Steve makes a good point that depreciation slows down contingent on mileage and proof of maintenance.
 

Nikki J

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Agree try it out. My sister had to return a van because she was too tall in her chair

I am thinking if you are doing a lot of up and down mountain driving you may not want to be right at the weight limit? People who actually know about vehicles can say if this is a real concern
 

Bestfriends14

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Thanks all. We did end up purchasing it. It has lots of room i side, with good storage. I believe my husband and his future PWC will fit nicely. I've attached pics of it.
 

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KarenNWendyn

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She’s lovely. And a nice shade of red....
Congratulations.
 

swalker

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It looks great, though, it seems a bit tilted to the side:). And, red is my favorite color!

I think you may be amazed at the sense of freedom a mobility van can provide.

Steve
 

Bestfriends14

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We are happy with our find. Coincidently, she loved our Land Rover and actually might do a trade for some cash off. Now if that happens, that would be a sweet deal.

My husband will no longer have his left leg getting caught on the passenger side entrance because he can no longer lift it. This van came at just the right time.
 
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