Tag Archives: wheelchair vans

What is A New/Used Wheelchair van?

When shopping for a new or pre-owned wheelchair van at a mobility dealership, you may hear or read the term “New/Used”. Sounds confusing, right? The term New/Used describes an accessible vehicle for sale that has a new conversion added to a pre-owned used minivan. These vehicles tend to have less than 40,000 miles and are only 2-3 years old. The reason they tend to be newer and with very few miles is that conversion manufacturers want quality vans that are going to provide reliable transportation for many years to come. New/Used van conversions can be side entry or rear entry, with most having a fold-out ramp (vs. an in-floor ramp). A VMI Summit on a Dodge Grand Caravan is just one example of a fold-out ramp conversion. Folding wheelchair ramps on a minivan can be powered or manual. Powered ramps are operated with a push-button inside the vehicle, a key fob or both.

Deciding whether to buy a new or used wheelchair van can be a difficult decision. Your choice may depend on how often or how far you plan to travel every year, whether you are the driver (with the use of hand controls) or passenger, and your preferences for a specific conversion, make or color. A lot of people want all of the latest electronic accessories and gadgets that can only be found in a new vehicle — but they also want something in a used vehicle’s price range. New/Used vehicles provide an “almost new” vehicle at significant cost savings – and may have all of the amenities that you’re are looking for.

Side Entry Versus Rear Entry Wheelchair Vans

The question of a Rear Entry wheelchair van versus a Side Entry van often comes up in conversation when a first time buyer enters the accessible van market. There are several things to consider; first, the family or care giver needs to decide on where the wheelchair user is going to sit. If the person in the wheelchair is able to drive and will be independent there are other things to consider, but for now, let us stay with an assisted member of the family.

Door height is an issue. For that we need to know how tall the person sits in their wheelchair.

Scooter or Power chair is next. Size and weight combination will come into play as we move along in the discovery process.

Will the person transfer into a  seat or will they remain in their wheelchair while traveling?

Okay, now we get into seating. The side entry offers both mid-section and front seat options with tie-downs located throughout. In a rear entry van, the mid-section to rear of the vehicle, are the only seating options while remaining in the wheelchair.

There are five passenger seats available for family members in a side entry van versus six available seats in a rear entry. Both are in addition to whoever is in the wheelchair, which gives a total of six people in a side entry and up to seven in a rear entry.

For folks with a long wheelchair or scooter the rear entry is ideal. Over six feet of space is afforded to tie down the wheelchair and no turning to forward face is necessary.

A side entry requires up to eight feet accommodating the lowering of the ramp allowing access into your van. This may prohibit the use of the ramp while inside a garage or if someone parks to close while at the mall or a doctor’s appointment.

The rear entry does not have the blocked in problem, you are always accessing your van from the aisle.

In summation, like anything else, it is best to try before you buy. Our Mobility Center has both styles of wheelchair vans. See which style suits your lifestyle and then consider the purchase of either a new or used mobility equipped van. Always consult with your mobility product specialist for any additional questions you may have.

October Is Car Care Month: Is your vehicle prepared for winter driving?

Is your car ready to handle freezing conditions? Frigid temps can take a toll on your car and make winter driving even more hazardous than usual.
Here are a few tips to adapt to winter roads and preparing your car for the extreme cold.

Check the car’s battery
Cold weather takes a toll on batteries and requires a full charge. A battery is 35 percent weaker at 32 degrees and 60 percent weaker at zero degrees.

A load test by a qualified technician can determine whether a car’s battery is strong enough for winter. Keep in mind that if the car started with a jump start, the problem is not fixed and the battery most likely needs replacing.

Avoid excessive cranking. If the car doesn’t start after 20 seconds of cranking, wait a couple of minutes to let the battery recover.

Tire preparation
Tires should have sufficient tread depth that can handle New England’s winter weather. All-season tires are adequate for most vehicles but to get the greatest traction for both starting and stopping, snow tires are recommended. When considering snow tires, they should be installed on all four wheels

See and be seen
Clear windows, mirrors, and lights with an ice scraper, brush, or a spray de-icer. Driving with a snow-covered windshield, windows, side-view mirrors or lights invites a crash.

Completely clean snow from the roof, hood, and trunk. Windshield wipers and defrosters should be in good working order and washer reservoirs should be filled with no-freeze windshield washer fluid.

Consider specially designed winter wiper blades that prevent snow and ice buildup and improve visibility.

Reduce speeds
Most winter crashes happen from driving too fast for the weather conditions. Remember, everything takes longer on snow-covered roads, including accelerating, stopping, and turning.

Nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement so allow time to maneuver by driving slowly.

All-wheel drive is best
All-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive will help to get a car moving, but bear in mind it does little to improve braking. Don’t become overconfident and drive too fast for winter road conditions.

Anticipate stopping distance
In temperatures at or just above 32 degrees, a thin layer of water can cover the ice and cause slippery conditions, especially at intersections where snow and ice tend to melt first. The distance needed to stop on ice at 32 degrees is twice as long as at zero degrees.

Keep the engine cool
Mix certain cooling system antifreeze with an equal portion of water for maximum protection.

The Benefits of Owning a Wheelchair Van

Even though wheelchair-accessible minivans can offer greater independence, many wheelchair users are afraid to switch from their car to a mobility vehicle. For some, a car is more fun and the idea of driving a minivan is not all that appealing. Cars also offer a bit of a challenge and are generally less expensive than wheelchair vans, so there is often hesitation to make the change.

Unfortunately, wheelchair users and their caretakers usually have to deal with the hassles of transfers and chair loading when they use a car to get around. This can cause back or shoulder pain for those having to make the transfer and after a while, this can be quite physically taxing.

For those dealing with these daily struggles or those who want to prevent them, switching to a wheelchair-accessible van becomes an easy choice. Take a look at the following benefits and see why you might want to buy a wheelchair van.

Reduced Pain and Fatigue
When a car is the main vehicle used to transport someone in a wheelchair, pain and fatigue can be a serious problem caused by frequent seat transfers. It’s hard to get close enough to a car to make a smooth transfer and if the height of the car seat doesn’t match that of the wheelchair, it can put a lot of stress on the shoulders, back and neck. What could result is joint and muscle pain and eventually arthritis and tendinitis. If getting into your vehicle is too much work or too painful, you might give up doing the things you love to do after a while.

Fortunately, a wheelchair-accessible van can give you your freedom back so you can do all of your favorite things. Because a wheelchair van uses a ramp for entry, there are no transfers from outside of the vehicle and you don’t have to separately load your chair. Once inside the vehicle, the transfer from your wheelchair to the driver or passenger position is much easier since you can pull right up to the seat. Plus, some wheelchair vans even let you drive or sit in the front from your wheelchair, completely removing any need to transfer.

Greater Freedom and Independence
While many people may argue driving a minivan isn’t the “coolest” thing you can do, sometimes other things are more important than image. A mobility van may not always be sporty, fun or stylish, but it offers maximum freedom and independence. Actually getting where you need to go without too much assistance or a physical struggle is more important than how you are able to do it.

Helpful Financing Options
A converted van will most likely cost several thousand dollars more than a standard car, as the conversion price plus higher fuel and insurance costs increase your total spend. While this might deter many people from making the switch to a van, it’s important to consider what you get for the price – greater health, happiness and overall well-being.

Even though a wheelchair-accessible van may seem out of reach, there are programs available that can help you pay for a mobility vehicle. Government programs like Worker’s Compensation, Medicaid Waivers, Vocational Rehabilitation and those with the VA may all be able to help with funding. There are also charities or nonprofits that may be able to help provide fund raising opportunities and some banks or Independent Living Centers offer extended loans or lower interest rates. Used vehicles are an option as well, as many dealers sell old rental vans after a year of use.

People will always have a reason to avoid buying a mobility van, but it might be worth serious consideration. Think about your quality of life and whether easier mobility may improve it. If so, it might be time to make the change.

Everyday Mobility Aids

Having a disability can make getting around and doing everyday activities difficult. Simple things like taking a shower, going to the store or even moving around your house can be a challenge for someone with limited mobility.

Getting a wheelchair or scooter is usually the first step, but there are several other mobility aids that either work in tandem or in addition to those to help you do the things you need to do. Once you have a wheelchair or scooter, there are upgrades you can make to your home to increase wheelchair accessibility there, but those don’t necessarily give you additional mobility. If you are looking to gain better mobility both inside and outside of your house, try any of the mobility equipment options below.

Transfer Board or Slider
While going out is often a major challenge, sometimes getting around within your house may be even more difficult. Getting onto a bed from a wheelchair, for example, requires strength, time and often another person. Luckily, there are transfer boards or sliders available to help facilitate the process. Wheelchair users place one end of the board under them on their wheelchair seat and slide across to the other end, which is set on their destination.

Bath Lifts
Bath lifts help those with limited leg mobility get into the bathtub. They attach to the tub and act as a seat for the wheelchair user to transfer to when they are ready to bathe. Once the user is sitting on the lift, it swings around and lowers within the tub. When the user is ready to get out, the seat can raise back up and out, preventing dangerous slipping. Other, simpler bath accessories include bath chairs, which act more as transfer seats that extend past the tub so the wheelchair user can safely slide across and under a shower head without using too much strength.

While living with a disability may make performing certain tasks more difficult, mobility equipment is available to help ease these challenges. Check online or with a mobility equipment dealer to find out where you can get these mobility aids.

Mobility Vehicles
If you use a wheelchair and don’t have a mobility vehicle, going anywhere can be a challenge. These are more expensive than many other types of mobility equipment, but there are plenty of options — and you may even be eligible for financial assistance. If you can’t afford to purchase a vehicle of your own, many dealers also offer rentals for much less.

Steering Aids
Whether you buy a mobility vehicle or simply transfer from your wheelchair to a car seat, you may need the ability to drive. There are different steering aids available to help you do so, depending on your abilities, including:

  • Steering Attachments: Extensions, such as knobs, gloves or balls, attach to the steering wheel to make it easy for those with limited arm function to turn the wheel with one hand or arm.
  • Foot Controls: Attachments on the ground give those with limited use of their hands the ability to steer and control the vehicle with their feet.
  • Loosened Steering: Drivers without adequate upper body strength can turn the wheel without requiring much effort with a simple steering modification.
  • Automatic Controls: A driver with limited leg mobility can steer, accelerate and brake with their hands using one piece of equipment that can be mounted in the driver’s area.