Tag Archives: minivan

Accessible Vehicles And Adaptive Mobility Equipment Q&A

Rear entry vs. side entry. Buying online. Buying used. What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care for answers to some common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Q: Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

A: Certified mobility dealers help consumers buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet their mobility needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“There are so many different products out there, and technology has improved so much. We just want to help people make the right decision,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy [a vehicle] that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return it.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained, make sure the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,”

So it means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.”

Other reasons to seek out a certified mobility equipment dealer include:

They provide a link to qualified service and repair, that it’s crucial to have done on a adapted vehicle serviced.

Some manufacturers of adapted vehicles sell directly to consumers, cutting costs by cutting out the middle man, says Jim Sanders, of VMi New England, based in Bridgewater, MA.

But expert assessment and “try before you buy” remain essentials for prospective buyers, with or without a dealer in the middle.

For example, We, a NMEDA QAP-certified member, send representatives to customers’ homes for assessment and test drives before they buy, and also offer unmatched service/maintenance to just about any modified vehicle including Rollx vans.

Q: Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

A: As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, clients are mostly shopping blind. Typically they have no idea how the vehicle they need will even work fro them, even if they have specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy it online,” “There not trying to assess your needs by e-mail or over the phone. There just trying to sell you something.

Some online dealers even have a questionnaire on its Web site to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you. It’s horrible when people get something that they’re disappointed in.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy [based] on price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online maybe able to save money up front, it wont over the long term.

In addition to consumers missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

Where do you want to sit? If you plan to drive from your wheelchair, then a side-entry conversion is what you’ll need, unless you can transfer to the driver’s seat (rear entry). With a rear-entry conversion, the wheelchair user typically is positioned in the back or between two mid-row captain’s seats, while a side entry offers a wheelchair user multiple seating options in the driver, front passenger and middle sections.

Q: What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

A: Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

Q: What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

A: Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question mobility dealers usually ask a client is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Q: Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

A: The most important difference between a rear- and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with a in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.

Q: What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

A: This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor, so it safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position, mid-ship position, there’s no obstruction to the door, and other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps only are currently only available for side-entry minivan conversions, and there is even a manual (unpowered) option.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than in-floor, and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

Q: I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

A: You have some choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality of mini van conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

For those who prefer to keep their standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and who can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your disease symptoms are worsening is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Q: Why are modified vehicles so darned expensive?

A: A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 — and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.)

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

Q: How can I pay less?

A: Consumers have some options.

Many consumers cut costs by purchasing pre-owned vehicles with new conversions, typically saving around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after you’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Q: How do people manage to pay for it?

A: Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment. But with home values decreasing.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Q&A

Wheelchair
Accessible Vans

Rear entry Vs. Side entry
Buying New Vs. Buying Used
Manual Ramp Vs. Powered Ramp
Honda Vs. Dodge/Chrysler Vs. Toyota Vs. Ford
Certified Mobility Dealer Vs. Car Dealer Vs. Buying online
What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care. Here are some answers to common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

Certified mobility dealers will help you buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet your needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“Technology has improved tremendously over the years so there are numerous products available. Our goal is to help people find the right equipment that best fits their needs,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy a vehicle that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained and that the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,” which means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.

 

Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, you are mostly shopping blind. Typically you will have no idea how the vehicle you need will work for you, even with specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle online, most online sellers are not qualified Mobility Dealers attempting to assess your needs, they’re just car dealers trying to sell you something.”

Some online dealers even have questionnaires on their websites to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you and your family. It’s horrible when people spend so much an a vehicle that will never work for them.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle based on the price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online may be able to save you some money up front, it won’t over the long term.

In addition to you missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

 

What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

 

What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question most mobility dealers will ask you is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Which Make and Model is the best for a handicapped accessible vehicle?

It honestly depends on what you fit into best and what options you prefer.

No two wheelchair accessible vehicles are the same. They vary in size, shape, color, features and design depending on the vehicle’s make and model. The only way to guarantee which is the best vehicle for you is if you come in and try them all out.

For example: The Honda has a little bit more room inside to maneuver a wheelchair than a Dodge, just as a Toyota has a bit more space than a Honda. A Ford offers more headroom than all of the above. But that all depends on the conversion and manufacturer.

Although color and features matter least to us, some find them just as important as fitting into the vehicle. Each Manufacturer offers their own color schemes, which you can look up on their websites. You can also search for what features you would prefer to have.

When you come into our Mobility Center we will help you find the vehicle that best fits you and your family’s needs. If you love the vehicle but not the color or features we can custom order a vehicle for you. That way we know you are buying a vehicle that best fits you and one that you are 100% happy with.

Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

The most important difference between a rear entry and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with an in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally  because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.


What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor which makes riding in the vehicle safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position or the mid-ship position. There is no obstruction to the doorway so other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps are currently only available as a side-entry minivan conversion, but they offer a manual (un-powered) option as well.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind” and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than an in-floor ramp and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

You have other choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality as the minivan conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

If you prefer to keep your standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your symptoms worsen is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Why are modified vehicles so  expensive?

A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 —  and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.)

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

How can I pay less?

You have  a few options.

You could cut costs by purchasing a pre-owned vehicle with a new conversion, typically saving you around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after they’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Another tactic to help save you money is to ask your Certified Mobility Dealer about any rebates or financial aid options that could benefit you.

How do people manage to pay for it?

Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Q&A

Wheelchair
Accessible Vans

Rear entry Vs. Side entry
Buying New Vs. Buying Used
Manual Ramp Vs. Powered Ramp
Honda Vs. Dodge/Chrysler Vs. Toyota Vs. Ford
Certified Mobility Dealer Vs. Car Dealer Vs. Buying online
What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care. Here are some answers to common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

Certified mobility dealers will help you buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet your needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“Technology has improved tremendously over the years so there are numerous products available. Our goal is to help people find the right equipment that best fits their needs,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy a vehicle that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained and that the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,” which means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.

 

Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, you are mostly shopping blind. Typically you will have no idea how the vehicle you need will work for you, even with specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle online, most online sellers are not qualified Mobility Dealers attempting to assess your needs, they’re just car dealers trying to sell you something.”

Some online dealers even have questionnaires on their websites to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you and your family. It’s horrible when people spend so much an a vehicle that will never work for them.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle based on the price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online may be able to save you some money up front, it won’t over the long term.

In addition to you missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

 

What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

 

What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question most mobility dealers will ask you is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Which Make and Model is the best for a handicapped accessible vehicle?

It honestly depends on what you fit into best and what options you prefer.

No two wheelchair accessible vehicles are the same. They vary in size, shape, color, features and design depending on the vehicle’s make and model. The only way to guarantee which is the best vehicle for you is if you come in and try them all out.

For example: The Honda has a little bit more room inside to maneuver a wheelchair than a Dodge, just as a Toyota has a bit more space than a Honda. A Ford offers more headroom than all of the above. But that all depends on the conversion and manufacturer.

Although color and features matter least to us, some find them just as important as fitting into the vehicle. Each Manufacturer offers their own color schemes, which you can look up on their websites. You can also search for what features you would prefer to have.

When you come into our Mobility Center we will help you find the vehicle that best fits you and your family’s needs. If you love the vehicle but not the color or features we can custom order a vehicle for you. That way we know you are buying a vehicle that best fits you and one that you are 100% happy with.

Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

The most important difference between a rear entry and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with an in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally  because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.


What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor which makes riding in the vehicle safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position or the mid-ship position. There is no obstruction to the doorway so other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps are currently only available as a side-entry minivan conversion, but they offer a manual (un-powered) option as well.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind” and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than an in-floor ramp and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

You have other choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality as the minivan conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

If you prefer to keep your standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your symptoms worsen is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Why are modified vehicles so  expensive?

A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 —  and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.)

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

How can I pay less?

You have  a few options.

You could cut costs by purchasing a pre-owned vehicle with a new conversion, typically saving you around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after they’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Another tactic to help save you money is to ask your Certified Mobility Dealer about any rebates or financial aid options that could benefit you.

How do people manage to pay for it?

Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

Adaptive Driving for Persons with Physical Limitations: Vehicle Selection

When choosing a vehicle for transportation there are several areas to consider. Your doctor, physical therapist or occupation therapist will have input and can help answer any questions, but a certified adaptive driving specialist can assist in making a vehicle selection with completion of the driver rehabilitation program.

Following are some areas to consider:
  • What are your transportation needs? Do you need a car, truck, full-size van or mini-van? Are you able to take public transportation?
  • What are your physical limitations that will effect your ability to access a vehicle or drive?
  • Will you be a driver or passenger?
  • Will you be able to handle the mental and physical stress of driving?
  • What is your ability to transfer into and out of the vehicle?
  • Will you require an assistive seat or lift to get into or out of the vehicle?
  • If you require a lift, what options do you prefer? Side door or rear door entrance/exit; electric; hydraulic; platform swing out or super arm, etc.?
  • Do you require a lowered floor or raised top and doors? What is your height, head to ground when sitting, and the length and width of your wheelchair or scooter?
  • Will you drive from a wheelchair or use a power seat?
  • Will you need special modifications to operate the vehicle?

Sedan, Coupe, SUV, Minivan or Van — Which Is Best for You?

If you’re one of the millions of drivers who rely on wheelchairs for mobility, you know you’ve got quite a few choices to consider when it comes to conversion vehicles. These days, sedans, coupes and SUVs may be converted to accommodate drivers with a wide range of mobility challenges.

wheelchair van 2014 Honda Odyssey Front Seat View with Wheelchair

And then, of course, there are full-size vans and minivans, which are the granddaddies of the conversion segment. Though they continue to be popular choices, they’ve been overlooked by some mobility-challenged drivers who prefer the trendier, more stylish look of certain sedans and crossovers.

Picking the right type of vehicle for your disability and your lifestyle is important. It’s a decision that could have far-reaching effects on your health and your finances, and as such, it shouldn’t depend exclusively on your feelings regarding a vehicle’s image or appearance. For mobility-challenged drivers, function trumps form by a very wide margin.

Here are five questions to consider as you evaluate conversion vehicles.

 How severe are your mobility challenges? The extent of your mobility challenges will play a major role in determining which vehicle type is the best match for your needs. For many disabled drivers who are able to get around without wheelchairs — and some who may rely on wheelchairs, but who have good upper-body strength — sedans, coupes or SUVs may be solid options.

Hand Controls Spinner Knob Massachusetts

Mobility-challenged drivers who aren’t in wheelchairs will appreciate the accessible seat height offered by many sedans and coupes. And the AWD available on many SUVs can make for safer travels in rain and snow. But those in wheelchairs will want to keep in mind that seat height isn’t an issue when you have a van’s ramp to get you into and out of a vehicle. And if you frequently face rough weather, know that there are minivans (like the Toyota Sienna) available that offer (for non lowered floors) AWD.

The main advantage to choosing a sedan, coupe or SUV is financial. “Those solutions are less costly compared to a fully converted wheelchair-accessible van,” says Doug Eaton, president/CEO of Vantage Mobility.

Nick Gutwein, president of Braun, agrees. “It’s a personal decision for the customer, and certainly someone with minor mobility challenges may fare well in a sedan. It’s a decision for the individual, his or her family, and — we’d recommend — a decision made with the help of an expert at a mobility dealer. For individuals who have the necessary mobility to transfer, a specialty seat and scooter/wheelchair stowage lift can be a viable, less expensive option [than a conversion van].”

Wheelchair Pickup Truck

How important are practicality and convenience? Though they may be less visually appealing than other types of conversion vehicles, conversion vans and minivans offer superior practicality and convenience since they typically don’t require drivers to hoist themselves from wheelchairs to seats. This isn’t the case with many sedans, SUVs and coupes.

“Generally speaking, a minivan or van is more practical, particularly for those individuals in wheelchairs,” says Dave Hubbard, executive director and CEO of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

wheelchair van inventory massachusetts

Are you shopping for both current and future needs? Many mobility-challenged drivers suffer from conditions — such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, etc. — that can result in diminishing strength and agility as the years go by. If you’re one of these drivers, it’s important to keep this in mind as you shop for a vehicle. Today, you may have the mobility to easily transfer to a sedan, but that may not be the case two or three years from now.

“We encourage our customers to consider both their present circumstance and future condition, as well,” says Jim Sanders president/CEO of VMi New England Mobility Center Bridgewater,MA. “This is an investment in a vehicle, so be honest with what is needed not just now, but two, five, 10 years down the road. Will you have the same strength and energy level? If you travel with a caretaker, will they still have the ability to help you transfer and stow your wheelchair or scooter? These are the critical questions to ask when making this decision.”

Also, keep in mind that while your disability may not be one that naturally worsens with time, it may be exacerbated over the years by the daily ritual of transferring from wheelchair to vehicle. “When you think about someone in a wheelchair transferring in and out of their chair multiple times a day to get in and out of a vehicle, it is taxing on the body,” says Eaton. “With a wheelchair-accessible minivan, they can remain in their chair without having to transfer.”

Sanders offers a similar perspective. “It’s important to recognize that, over time, the wear-and-tear of months, years, maybe decades of transfers can result in very serious injury to the shoulders. That’s why we regularly hear customers say they wish they’d made the switch to an accessible van years ago pass these life experiences on the they younger people. The only energy expended is to press a button, wait for the ramp to lower and then roll up and into your position. It’s just that easy.”

What’s the weather like? It’s important to consider how well-suited your potential new conversion vehicle is for use in your particular climate. Conversion vans have a key advantage over other vehicle types for those who regularly face rough weather, since they don’t require the driver to get out of or stow the wheelchair.

“Think about severe heat, or blistering cold,” says Eaton. “What about rain or snow?” With sedans, coupes and SUVs, “you are exposed to the elements that much longer when you have to get out of your wheelchair to transfer and then get your chair stowed.”

Have you gotten the help of a qualified mobility center? It’s impossible to overstate the importance of working with a qualified mobility center when deciding on a conversion vehicle. A mobility center knows the full range of options available to shoppers and is in a position to tell you which choices suit you best. This kind of knowledgeable guidance is essential if you hope to choose a vehicle that will serve as a useful companion both today and years into the future.

“Similar to a physical or occupational therapist, a mobility center advisor will ask the right questions [and] take the right measurements,” says Gutwein. “Based on what a customer’s condition is and what they want out of their vehicle, they’ll prescribe the best mobility option. It’s an essential step to getting on the road to independence.”

Eaton also believes that a mobility center is an important part of the mix, and encourages shoppers to do their due diligence when selecting a facility. “We always recommend that customers physically visit the mobility equipment center: see their showroom, [have them] demonstrate their products and put faces with names.”

This is important, since not all mobility centers are created equal. Including those that have been certified by NMEDA.

Honda Odyssey | 2011 | Frontal Crash Test

honda odyssey 2012 wheelchair van newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Honda Odyssey | 2011 | Frontal Crash Test

 

 

2013 Honda Odyssey Offers Unmatched Safety Ratings, Class-Leading Fuel Economy Ratings and High-Tech Convenience Features

 

The 2013 Honda Odyssey minivan continues to lead its class in fuel economy and safety ratings, while providing spacious accommodations for up to eight passengers and a refined and engaging driving experience. The Odyssey Touring is rated at a remarkable 28 mpg1, the highest EPA highway fuel economy rating of any eight-passenger minivan. All Odyssey models are an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) TOP SAFETY PICK, and the Odyssey has earned the best possible overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score,2 an accomplishment that no other currently-tested minivan can claim. The 2013 Honda Odyssey went on sale September 6, and pricing begins at $28,5753.

There are five models in the Odyssey range: LX, EX, EX-L, Touring and Touring Elite. Each provides a unique combination of features, value, luxury and in-vehicle entertainment technology. Changes for 2013 include a rearview camera that’s now standard on all Odyssey trims, and the base Odyssey LX now shares a simplified center stack design with the Odyssey EX. The new center stack includes an 8-inch full-color intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) along with a rearview camera,Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®Bluetooth® Audio, USB input, and CD library function.

Powertrain

All Odyssey models are powered by an advanced 3.5-liter, 24-valve, SOHC, i-VTEC V-6 engine with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), which provides a balanced combination of performance, fuel efficiency and low emissions. Producing 248 horsepower (hp), it’s the most powerful engine ever for the Odyssey. With 250 lb-ft. of torque at 4800 rpm, the engine offers excellent responsiveness and acceleration, while delivering a class-leading V-6 EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy2rating of 19/28/22 mpg on Odyssey Touring models (18/27/21 mpg on Odyssey LX, EX and EX-L models). A 5-speed automatic transmission is standard on Odyssey LX, EX and EX-L models. Odyssey Touring models feature a 6-speed automatic transmission for enhanced driving refinement.

Body

The Odyssey has a distinctive body design with a signature “lightning bolt” side character line that creates a dynamic appearance, and improves the outward view for third-row passengers through a larger rear window. Interior quietness was a design priority, and the Odyssey’s highly rigid body is constructed of 59-percent high-strength steel to help isolate road noise and to reduce body weight for agile handling and excellent fuel efficiency.

Chassis

For confident driving performance and a comfortable ride, the Odyssey features a long 118.1-inch wheelbase, with a fully independent suspension and standard Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA®) with traction control. MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension combine to give the Odyssey a quiet, composed ride. Variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering assures light steering effort in low-speed maneuvering coupled with secure highway manners.

Interior

The Odyssey’s roomy interior offers a wide range of seating versatility to accommodate child seats, adult passengers and cargo. The passenger volume measures 172.5 cu-ft. (Odyssey LX and EX) and the cargo volume ranges between 38.4 cu-ft. of cargo volume (all seats up) to 148.5 cu-ft., depending on the seating configuration. With the second-row seats removed, a 4×8 sheet of plywood can fit inside the Odyssey’s cargo bay. With the available front console removed, 10-foot-long 2×4 studs can fit inside the vehicle.

The Odyssey’s interior provides three rows of comfortable seating with generous legroom in each row. Up to five Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) positions for child seats (the Odyssey LX has four LATCH positions) allow parents great flexibility in locating car seats.

The driver’s seat is 10-way power adjustable (8-way power adjustable on Odyssey LX) for maximum comfort. A “3-mode” second-row seat design provides the ability to attach up to three child seats across the second row (Odyssey EX and above) by relocating the outboard seats to alternate positions closer to the doors. The one-motion, 60/40 split third-row Magic Seat®, one of the Odyssey’s most versatile features, is easy to operate with one hand.

The Odyssey offers an extensive range of standard comfort and convenience features, including air conditioning with manual front and rear controls, power driver’s seat, power windows with auto-up/down on the driver’s and front-passenger’s windows, tilt and telescopic steering column, and a maintenance minder system. Odyssey EX models and above come standard with power sliding rear doors, center console storage and a conversation mirror. Odyssey EX-L models include leather-trimmed seating surfaces (front and outboard second row), heated front seats, power tailgate, a cool box, and XM Radio® capability. Standard equipment on the Odyssey Touring includes the Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System4, a Rear Entertainment System with a 9-inch display, driver’s seat with two-position memory, 115-volt power outlet, fog lights, parking sensors, and a six-speed automatic transmission. The Odyssey Touring Elite adds an Ultra-Wide Rear Entertainment System (RES), blind-spot information system, and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights.

For 2013, the Odyssey offers more technology than ever before, with a rearview camera, 8-inch, full-color i-MID display and Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® as standard on the entry-level LX model. A Honda Satellite-Linked Navigation System2 with Voice Recognition is available on the Odyssey EX-L and standard on the Odyssey Touring, and it features an 8-inch, high-resolution VGA color display and GPS technology to provide turn-by-turn guidance. The system also includes subscription-free FM Traffic data and a Zagat® restaurant guide.

The Odyssey Touring Elite features a state-of-the-art, factory-integrated Rear Entertainment System that includes an ultra-wide 16.2-inch flip-down LCD screen and a 12-speaker, 650-watt sound system capable of reproducing Dolby® Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. A High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) video input and two wireless headphones for rear passengers are also provided. The Odyssey Touring Elite also includes the Blind Spot Information system (BSI), which helps alert the driver when other vehicles are detected in set zones to the left and right of the Odyssey.

Safety

Safety is a key Odyssey attribute, and an extensive list of safety equipment helps give owners peace of mind. The Odyssey’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure is a Honda-exclusive body design that can enhance occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal collisions. Additional standard safety equipment includes: Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®); anti-lock brakes with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist; three-row side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor; driver’s and front passenger’s side airbags with passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); and dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags.

Third-party analysis highlights the Odyssey’s safety credentials. The Odyssey was named a TOP SAFETY PICK (the highest rating possible) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The rating recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting vehicle occupants involved in front, side and rear crashes. The rating also factors in standard electronic stability control as well as rollover performance based on ratings in IIHS tests. The Odyssey earned the highest-possible score of GOOD in all four ratings, including the rigorous roof-strength test. The Odyssey was also one of the first vehicles, and still the only minivan to achieve NHTSA’s best-possible Overall Vehicle Score of 5 Stars, with 5-Star ratings for the frontal crash safety test and both side crash safety tests2 in all evaluated front and rear seating positions and scenarios.

Manufacturing and Awards

Designed, engineered and assembled in the United States5, the 2013 Odyssey is truly an American-made vehicle that represents the expanding capabilities of Honda in North America. Virtually every aspect of the Odyssey was developed, tested and finalized by Honda associates throughout California, Ohio and Alabama. The Odyssey is produced exclusively at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama (HMA) using domestic and globally sourced parts.

Awards and accolades for the Odyssey include the 2012 “MotorWeek” Drivers’ Choice Award for Best Minivan and selection as one of 2012’s 10 Best Family Cars by Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com. Parenting magazine also recognized the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite as one of 2012’s “Smartest Family Cars.” The Odyssey is well known for its exceptional value, and both the 2011 and 2012 models were recognized with Residual Value Awards from Auto Lease Guide (ALG). The Odyssey also captured AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA), which is based on over 75,000 surveys completed by owners of new cars and light trucks in the United States.

Connect with Honda:
Media Newsroom (for journalists): http://www.hondanews.com/channels/honda-automobiles-odyssey
For consumers: http://automobiles.honda.com/odyssey/

Honda wheelchair vans http://hondawheelchairvaninfo.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hondaodyssey
YouTube: www.youtube.com/honda
Flickr: www.flickr.com/hondanews
Twitter: www.twitter.com/honda
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/honda/
On Google+

Based on 2013 EPA mileage estimates. Use for comparison purposes only. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.
Government 5-Star Safety Ratings are part of NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (www.SaferCar.gov). Model tested with standard side airbags (SABs). Vehicles tested under the new program cannot be compared to MY10 and earlier vehicles.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) excluding tax, license, registration, $830 destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
4 Certain functions that rely on a satellite signal will not work correctly in Hawaii and Alaska. These functions include but are not limited to automatic clock updates and time zone adjustments.
5 Honda products are produced using domestic and globally sourced parts.
Third-party trademarks: The Bluetooth word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license. Zagat Survey® is a registered trademark of Zagat Survey, LLC. MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award is a proprietary trademark of MotorWeek. Kelley Blue Book is a registered trademark of Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc.

 

Why does Dodge make wheelchair vans?

Truth be told, Dodge isn’t in the business of making wheelchair vans. It is in the business of making great vehicles that readily lend themselves to wheelchair van conversion. Models like the Caravan sell well regardless of their use in wheelchair van circles. Honda undoubtedly appreciates their popularity in the accessibility market and takes that under consideration when making the vehicles, though.

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan Wheelchair Van Massachusetts

 

Dodge has re-branded itself over the course of the last few years. They’ve gone from building a reputation as a “something for everyone” automaker to a producer of high-performance, high-capacity trucks and passenger cars with a “muscular” edge.

Even with that change in focus, Dodge continues to produce its Caravan and Grand Caravan minivan. It also produces a compelling full-sized van, the Dodge Sprinter. These vehicles are often converted to serve as wheelchair accessible vans.
Why does Dodge Make Wheelchair accessible Vans?

The truth is Dodge doesn’t make wheelchair accessible vans – The term “wheelchair accessible vans” refers to any vehicle that can be customized for use by a person utilizing a wheelchair. – They make multiple vehicles that are easily converted into Dodge wheelchair vans by professionals who specialize in these modifications such as VMI or Braun.

 

Dodge continues to produce these popular wheelchair van options because they’ve been well received in the marketplace. Research suggests continued increases in demand for accessible vehicles, which means we’ll probably be seeing Dodge wheelchair vans for years to come.

 

 

Van to Wheelchair Van

In order to make a wheelchair van accessible, after market conversions are usually required. Conversion professionals adjust vehicle height by raising roofs and lowering floors. Adjustments to door height may also be necessary. Turning a “stock” vehicle into a wheelchair accessible van will usually involve installation of a ramp or lift and may include a number of other customizations, as well.

 

 

Dodge Wheelchair Vans

Dodge produces two different models that have tremendous popularity in the world of wheelchair van conversion: The Caravan/Grand Caravan minivan and the Sprinter full-sized van. That makes Dodge one of the few manufacturers that offer both minivan and full-sized options that have achieved high levels of popularity within the wheelchair conversion world.

Chrysler

Chrysler Town & Country is one of the nation’s best-selling and most luxurious minivans. Chrysler Town & Country was the first minivan in the world, and Chrysler has continued to lead the way in minivan styling and technology. This technologically advanced and extremely safe vehicle is our flagship conversion. We are proud to offer this van which will surely become a welcome addition into anyone’s life.

 

Accessible Vehicles And Adaptive Mobility Equipment Q&A

Accessible Vehicles and Adaptive Mobility Equipment Q&A

Rear entry vs. side entry. Buying online. Buying used. What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care for answers to some common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Q: Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

A: Certified mobility dealers help consumers buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet their mobility needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“There are so many different products out there, and technology has improved so much. We just want to help people make the right decision,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy [a vehicle] that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return it.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained, make sure the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,”

So it means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.”

Other reasons to seek out a certified mobility equipment dealer include:

They provide a link to qualified service and repair, that it’s crucial to have done on a adapted vehicle serviced.

Some manufacturers of adapted vehicles sell directly to consumers, cutting costs by cutting out the middle man, says Jim Sanders, of VMi New England, based in Bridgewater, MA.

But expert assessment and “try before you buy” remain essentials for prospective buyers, with or without a dealer in the middle.

For example, We, a NMEDA QAP-certified member, send representatives to customers’ homes for assessment and test drives before they buy, and also offer unmatched service/maintenance to just about any modified vehicle including Rollx vans.

Q: Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

A: As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, clients are mostly shopping blind. Typically they have no idea how the vehicle they need will even work fro them, even if they have specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy it online,” “There not trying to assess your needs by e-mail or over the phone. There just trying to sell you something.

Some online dealers even have a questionnaire on its Web site to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you. It’s horrible when people get something that they’re disappointed in.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy [based] on price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online maybe able to save money up front, it wont over the long term.

In addition to consumers missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

Where do you want to sit? If you plan to drive from your wheelchair, then a side-entry conversion is what you’ll need, unless you can transfer to the driver’s seat (rear entry). With a rear-entry conversion, the wheelchair user typically is positioned in the back or between two mid-row captain’s seats, while a side entry offers a wheelchair user multiple seating options in the driver, front passenger and middle sections.

Q: What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

A: Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

Q: What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

A: Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question mobility dealers usually ask a client is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Q: Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

A: The most important difference between a rear- and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with a in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.

Q: What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

A: This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor, so it safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position, mid-ship position, there’s no obstruction to the door, and other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps only are currently only available for side-entry minivan conversions, and there is even a manual (unpowered) option.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than in-floor, and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

Q: I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

A: You have some choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality of mini van conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

For those who prefer to keep their standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and who can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your disease symptoms are worsening is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Q: Why are modified vehicles so darned expensive?

A: A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 — and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.)

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

Q: How can I pay less?

A: Consumers have some options.

Many consumers cut costs by purchasing pre-owned vehicles with new conversions, typically saving around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after you’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Q: How do people manage to pay for it?

A: Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment. But with home values decreasing.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

2013 Toyota Sienna Information · For Sale

Our New 2013 Toyota Sienna LE Mobility minivan has a New VMI Northstar conversion

Additional Information

6 miles
3.5L V6 EFI DOHC 24V
Fuel Type: Gasoline
MPG City/Hwy: 18 city/25 hwy

Pictures

2013 Toyota Sienna DS292397 Front Left Side View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Front Right Side View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Rear Right Side View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Rear Left Side View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Steering Wheel and Dash Left Side View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Right Side Steering Wheel and Dash View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Indide View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Left Side View - Elias 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Trunk Open Seats Up View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Trunk Open Seats Down View 2013 Toyota Sienna  DS292397 Engine View

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Toyota Sienna With VMI Northstar Conversion Information

The all new Toyota Sienna with a VMI Northstar wheelchair van conversion is vehicular perfection for people living with disability. The Toyota Sienna handicap accessible van with a power in-floor ramp offers the most wheelchair access in a flexible package. And like everything from Toyota, the quality and value are unmatched.

The VMI Northstar handicap van engineers put together the Access360 performance package through years of research and experience that have accumulated into the most versatile mobility van on the market. There is more entry space, more interior height, and better aesthetics. It all adds up to Toyota Sienna wheelchair vans that offers flexibility, ease of use, and safety.

Description
Toyota Sienna with VMI Northstar
  NEW – Access360 design with more space to enter and maneuver inside the mobility van
  NEW – Access360 design allows for more flexibility and ease of use
  Obstruction-free doorway allows easy entry/exit for able-bodied passengers
  Clean, uncluttered handicapped vehicle interior
  Greater safety in the event of a collision
  Less dirt and debris from in-floor ramp into wheelchair accessible vehicle interior
  Wider usable accessible wheelchair ramp surface
  No interference with factory seats or controls
  Full use of front passenger seat
  Obstacle-free front row floor
  Ramp stowed safely under floor in the event of a collision
  9″ more floor length than any other Toyota Sienna conversion on the market today

Specifications
Toyota Sienna with VMI Northstar
NEW – Access360 design with more space to enter and maneuver inside the mobility van
NEW – Access360 design allows for more flexibility and ease of use
Obstruction-free doorway allows easy entry/exit for able-bodied passengers
Clean, uncluttered handicapped vehicle interior
Greater safety in the event of a collision
Less dirt and debris from in-floor ramp into wheelchair accessible vehicle interior
Wider usable accessible wheelchair ramp surface
No interference with factory seats or controls
Full use of front passenger seat
Obstacle-free front row floor
Ramp stowed safely under floor in the event of a collision
9″ more floor length than any other Toyota Sienna conversion on the market today

Standard Features
Toyota Sienna with VMI Northstar only
Ultra-low 8.0° accessible ramp angle
800lb. wheelchair ramp capacity
Sure Deploy backup system allows users to stow or deploy the ramp  even without power
Manual secondary backup system for additional peace of mind

Toyota Sienna with Northstar AND Summit
Full-power ramp and conversion
12.75” drop FLEX Floor maximizes headroom & interior space for wheelchair maneuverability
Patented independent rear suspension designed to preserve the ride quality and performance
E-coated floor for maximum corrosion resistance
NEW, ultra-reliable hydraulic PowerKneel system lowers the minivan to reduce ramp angle
Seamless integration with the electronics prevents damage to vehicle/conversion
Conversion control through Toyota keyfob and interior sliding-door switches
Halo-lit, one-touch interior conversion button
Ramp ON/OFF switch allows users to disable all conversion features
(You can open sliding doors for able-bodied passengers without deploying the ramp)
NEW lightweight, removable front seats are easier to install or remove
NEW quick-release straps allow users to remove front seats in seconds
Non-skid handicapped ramp surface
Fully crash-tested and compliant with all government safety standards
3-year/36,000-mile warranty

Optional Features
Durafloor (rubberized flooring) closely matched to the existing Toyota Sienna interior