wheelchair van & urban driving

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Kristina1

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We recently purchased a wheelchair van. It is a 2011 Mercedes Benz Sprinter in good condition. When we are driving on the freeway or smooth suburban streets it's great. But when we drive in the city or any roads that are uneven or have small cracks/bumps I get tossed around like a rag doll in my wheelchair. The wheelchair itself is not moving, just my body. I am belted in so it is not a safety issue but it is extremely uncomfortable.

Is this just the nature of driving in such a bus-like vehicle, or is there anything my husband can do to make it more comfortable for me when we are driving in the city?
 

Firefighter58

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You could have a dealer check the suspension for wear, and possibly the shock absorbers. How many miles on the vehicle?
Al
 

Kristina1

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I forget how many miles, I know my husband chose it partly because it had low mileage on it for its age but I forget the number.
 

KateEmerson

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I don't know if your wheelchair is similar in design to my husband's Permobile M300 but the first time we went for a ride we had to turn around and go home because he was close to getting whiplash on our back roads. He was being thrown around like a rag doll also even though he was 6'4" and over 200 lbs. In our case, I realized it was primarily due to the elevation feature. We had to lower the WC as low as it would go, then attach tie downs to the metal arm attachments and ratchet them as tight as possible to prevent the upper part of the WC from moving. Kate
 

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azgirl

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it helps me keep in place by reclining chair to keep my head from getting tossed around! And go slow over speed bumps, and avoid hard breaking.

or pretend your on roller coaster!
 

lgelb

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Definitely, you want to lower the chair in travel, for stability. Like you don't extend a ladder until the lower part is dialed in.

Kristina, since it's you and not the chair that's moving, I would suggest a chest/hip strap like a Universal Elastic Strap (disclaimer: used to work for the mfr), which is often used in vehicle travel. Not knowing what you usually wear for outerwear, a wheelchair poncho or blanket might also give you some cushioning. And as others have said, play with tilt and recline and the foot rests to create small angles again for kind of a larger center of gravity.
 

chally

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I am in a dodge caravan rear entry strapped down buckled in and still get tossed around.

Every slight movement in the steering wheel acted like a whip cracked.

Cals never realized it till she rode back here now she drive slower and no sudden stops or wheels jerking,better now but still rough ride.

Also I get car sickness so wear “ sea bands” on my wrist ( acupressure ) and this helps..

Totally rolllercoaster ride. Recliner helps especially with trillogy on.

Good luck

Chally
 

KimT

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Kristina, You are so very small. Can you put padding around you and recline? I also like Laurie's suggestions.
 

Kristina1

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thanks for the suggestions. chair is already low and reclined. ill look into strap like laurie mentioned.
 

Jamesgol

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Hi Kristina,

Shock absorbers dampen the movement of the suspension and prevent the vehicle from bouncing up and down on it's springs. A vehicle with worn shocks can bounce in an exaggerated way, making the the ride uncomfortable and dangerous.

It is equally important to have the correct shock absorbers. Since this a used vehicle, I would check that. Shocks must be matched to the weight of the vehicle plus any cargo you plan to carry. Shocks that are too stiff can provide a rough ride; shocks that are not stiff enough can be dangerous.

Tires are the next thing to look at. Tires with a hard rubber tread will provide a rough ride, whereas tires with a soft rubber tread provide a softer ride. A single tire is composed of several different types of rubber. Manufacturers usually put soft rubber on the surface and harder rubber deeper down; they want a new owner to experience a good ride when they first get them. As the tire wears, the soft rubber disappears and hard rubber replaces it. Hard rubber gets better mileage. How worn are you tires?

Tire sidewall is another thing that affects performance. The stiffer the sidewall, the poorer the ride. A stiff sidewall might be good for carrying freight, but they can make for a lousy ride. Be sure your tires are designed to carry passengers not freight.

James
 

JimInVA

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In our van, the wheelchair locks into place on the floor. Additionally, I had a seatbelt around Darcey's lap. But if I hit the brakes too hard, while the wheelchair didn't move due to being locked into the floor chairlock, it did spring forward enough that she could potentially hit her head on the dash. To remedy that, I anchor the top half of the wheelchair to the floor with anchor straps connected to steel eyes on the upper part of the chair. I only use one such anchor.


As Darcey lost more and more muscle, we began to use a chest strap to help keep her upright and from falling to the side during turns. But I don't recall there ever being a "rattling" in her chair. And as Jamesgol suggests, try to determine if the shaking is coming from the van or coming from the chair.


Good luck!


Jim
 

frankb

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had a similar problem, but to a lesser degree than yours. proper inflation in all tires.
 

Nuts

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The best trading for your drivers might be to have them ride in the chair while someone else drives. It got to the point for us that I didn’t let anyone else drive my husband.

Routes need to be selected based on road conditions, not speed.

Also, have the actuators on the chair checked.

I’m sorry you are experiencing this. The weaker Matt got the harder riding in the van was on him .
 
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