Wheelchair van

Meldz

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Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Messages
7
Reason
CALS
Diagnosis
09/2019
Country
US
State
CA
City
Solano
We are now at the point where I am going to buy a van.. side note. I thought I was done driving vans when the kids left. Sigh. Any tips I shoould know? Specifics to look for. I've looked online and have seen the rear entry vans, but have never actually seen one in person. I'm in the Sacramento, Ca area if anyone in the area has any pointers. Oh, one more thing.. I've always hated shopping for cars. Ugh!
 

lgelb

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Welcome to our ranks, Meldz.

This thread may give you some pointers. The first key question is rear vs. side entry, then mini vs. full-size van. Those rest on where you have to park, what you need to transport, and where you are going, among other factors.

Steve made a good point in the thread I linked to, that being able to fit the wheelchair and your PALS in, a matter of height and depth as well as width, may require a real-world trial at the dealer or private seller. A dealer might be best to start with so you can compare models and start to see the differences visually.

Best,
Laurie
 

nona

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Messages
282
Reason
PALS
Diagnosis
02/2015
Country
US
State
NH
City
NEW LONDON
I have a rear entry Toyota Sienna and it's a great van BUT I'm only 5' tall and I have a small PWC and it's a tight fit, especially with my head controls. I have to pull my feet all the way in to have enough room to shut the hatch.
 

KarenNWendyn

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I have a side entry Toyota Sienna. I’m 5’11” and have no problem gettping in and out of it with my big wheelchair. However, it lives outside the garage because it is too big to be inside and there is not space to deploy the ramp inside.

For most of the first year I had the van, I could travel and I would have preferred a full-size van for more capacity. However I am no longer able to travel, and now I’m glad I have a minivan because it drives more like a car, is easier for my CALS to park, and is more fuel efficient than a full-size van.

These are all things to consider when selecting a van.
 

KarenNWendyn

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Southern Oregon
Another tip — Talk to your local ALS support group coordinator and clinic care coordinator for the best place to buy a van in your area, especially if you are thinking of buying used. For example, in my area, there’s one great place and one very shady disreputable place. The care coordinators often know these sorts of things.
 

Kristina1

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Joined
Jan 26, 2017
Messages
791
Reason
PALS
Diagnosis
03/2017
Country
US
State
MA
City
Grafton
We have school age kids so we wanted something with more space. We ended up getting a Mercedes Benz Sprinter. It's huge but we love it. It was converted to have just one row of four seats in very back, with the rest open for the wheelchair. My son broke his leg and we are able to tie down his wheelchair and mine both in the space! It has a side entry using a BrawnMobility lift. Our lift is very finicky and they discontinued making this model for that reason. My husband knows all its quirks and can use it fine, but other people have a really hard time trying to use it. Because of the lift we got a great price on the van so it's worth the hassle.
 

Jrzygrl

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X
We had a Dodge Grand Caravan with a Braun XT side entry conversion. It was the only minivan conversion my DH could fit in with his PWC. He was 6'2" with a long torso and had a Permobil F3. Most of the time, he would ride in and position himself in the front passenger side. As things progressed, he preferred to sit in the middle row so that he could recline a little and raise his feet some. The Q-straint system we had allowed him to be secured in several different places. He was never able to drive the van, but the 2 front seats could both be removed if you can.

I strongly recommend waiting until you have your PWC (if you don't already) before purchasing. The manager from the nearby Mobility Works brought several vans with different conversion types to the house for him to try before we found the right fit. We also rented one for a weekend to try it out before purchasing.

We have a 2 car garage and the van fit on one side with room to deploy the ramp on the other side. We also have a ramp against the far wall of the "unused" side of the garage, so he could go from the house to the van without having to go outside. This was a big help because he was always cold.

Most handicapped vans are kind of bulky and not really fun to drive. But like I told someone once, it's not about me, it's about him. Mobility Works also bought back the van after he passed. I probably could have sold it privately for more, but didnt want the hassle.
 

Kristina1

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Messages
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I guess I'm not allowed to edit my post? But I wanted to correct myself, our lift is manufactured by BraunAbility (not BrawnMobility)
 

Innovative

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Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Messages
3
Reason
PALS
Diagnosis
06/2018
Country
US
State
FL
City
Casselberry
I am very grateful for the help I've received from the VA. That said, I have spent months trying to get a ramp for my van. The bad info I received from the VA also cost me an few "extra" thousand dollars. Do not attempt to get the van first. Not even the exact same make and model they recommend. Getting a mini van is the easy part. Go straight to a reputable provider of adapted vans.

Otherwise, you might find the van you chose doesn't have the right "trim package" or when you get the ramp added, your van will need to be sent out of state to get modified. That's what happened to me.

Visit a local provider of adapted vans FIRST, and let them help you deal with the red tape at the VA. They can usually hand you the keys in a completed van in a few days. Don't make the mistake I did. I still have a van without a ramp.
 

nona

Distinguished member
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
282
Reason
PALS
Diagnosis
02/2015
Country
US
State
NH
City
NEW LONDON
I bought my van used from the Arizona Mobility Center. They were easy to work with.
 

vltsra

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Joined
Nov 12, 2015
Messages
391
Reason
CALS
Diagnosis
11/2015
Country
US
State
CA
City
San Diego
We bought a used Toyota Sienna about a month ago. It's a side entry. We bought the van from the Ability Center; I think they may have an office near you as they seem to be around California. It's a little tight for my PALS but works for us, and is easy for me to drive as I am small. It's easy for me to get him in and attach the Q restraints to the chair. I let Ability Center know what I was looking for and when this van came in they called me to let me look at it. It was relatively pricey but we sold my PALS truck so we could buy it. Since my PALS is a slow progresser I wanted something to get him out of the house. We went down to the bay yesterday and he drove his Permobil on the walkway with a big smile on his face. It was worth every cent.
 

beauty4everyone

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Joined
Jul 5, 2018
Messages
220
Reason
PALS
Diagnosis
04/2018
Country
US
State
GA
City
Someplace
We have a third hand 2014 Chrysler Town & Country. SEATS: Driver, front passenger, & one on each side behind front ones - the latter I sit between.

Having Six floor-locks for wheelchair, gives options. Front four let me sit close to front seats. 🚗Two more behind center two, allows POW.CH. to sit more toward middle of van and tilt chair back. Advantage for long trips ⛱.

Floor-Locks not automatic. Less possible repair costs. Wide, hand operated, back door ramp, easy to open & close. 🚙I think it gives more width than side entry I tried. Straight in - straight out. No need to turn around.

Back entry may be more accessible than side, if no larger ground space available.
This size van and layout makes room for taking along a Hoyer Lift. (Said former owner).

We never had one before, but this meets our needs.
Good luck finding what works best for you. May Blessings abound - B 😎
 
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