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Thread: Van?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Community Member SuzE-Q's Avatar
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    Default Van?

    Does anyone have any suggestions on the best type of (reasonably priced, probably not new) vans that could be retrofitted easily enough in order to get a scooter and/or wheelchair in and out of? Or any specifications that I should look particularly for in one? Hopefully not a massive gas guzzler.

    Are they easy to drive? Park?

    Thanks.

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  3. #2
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    I looked into this four years ago, to find that retrofitting can cost more than buying the already modified van. New already modified vans cost about double the price of the van itself. To modify one they have to lower the floor, install reinforcing flooring, ramp, instead hand controls, etc. The cost ends up being about double the cost of the van, and after- market retrofits aren't as dependable.

    Used modified vans are available on eBay, or occasionally in ads in local papers, but of course purchasing any used vehicle that way can be risky, and transporting it to your location expensive.

    There are dealers that handle such vans exclusively. The benefits of buying through them generally means the van has been repaired if necessary and has some limited guarantees attached to it, as well as a resource for service should that be necessary. The cost would be higher than through a private sale. You can find dealers by googling "handicap accessible vans".

    Issues to consider: do you intend to be the driver? Will you want to simply roll in to the driver area, or transfer to the driver seat? You can get vans with the driver seat that swivels around to the area behind the driver seat, so you'd enter the van, transfer, swivel to the front. Or vans with the driver seat removed, clamp installed in the floor, so you'd enter the van, roll up to the driver seat, get clamped in, and drive off.

    Or do you want to sit next to the driver, or behind the driver? The space can be accommodated for either. You'll lose some passenger seating so you want to think about what your needs are for that.

    Then you need to consider whether you want to enter from the side or rear. Rear entry gives you more flexibility: you can park anywhere, then lower the ramp and move in or out. The side entrance requires a double parking space with the side where the ramp is located being open.

    Then the ramp: do you want a manual ramp -- one you raise/lower yourself? These are the most dependable, but of course you have to be able to do the lifting, or always travel with someone. Power ramps are most convenient, but can break down.

    Now, if you're simply looking to transport a manual chair, and you can ride in the passenger seat of a car, any car will do, as they collapse, of course. And small scooters come apart and can fit into any trunk or back seat.

    Most of the big vans are gas hogs, although like smaller cars, the newer ones are more economical.

    I found an already modified Scion, a Toyota brand. They're a boxy car to begin with, designed to seat four. The passenger side opens up like a wing, a manual ramp is pulled down. There is no passenger seat. I roll in (in my manual chair, pivot to turn into the passenger area, chair gets strapped down. Ramp is lifted up, door pulled down. I don't have a scooter. I don't think one would fit in there, as scooters tend to be longer than wheelchairs, and there isn't that much space. I don't have a power chair, but I have used them, and think it would be feasible to drive a power chair into the space.

    My scion get around 30 miles/gallon in summer, 28 in winter.

    I hope this helps. Took me a long time to decide to buy one, and the decision made for me in the end: I couldn't get released from the nursing home until I could guarantee I'd have transportation to/ from the hospital and nursing home. Went to a friend who knew a car dealer, dealer didn't deal with accessible cars, but happen to know someone who had the scion, wanting to sell it. Dealer bought it, serviced it, friend went 200 miles to pick it up for us, carrying the check to buy it, and drove it back, all in the space of four days... we paid $20,000 for it.
    Last edited by Catdancer; 01-09-2017 at 06:52 AM.

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  5. #3

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    I have a minivan with a scooter lift and it has been relatively inexpensive in the mobility world.

    This older Dodge Grand Caravan (21 mpg) has removable seats so all I needed was to take out the last seat and put in a scooter lift.

    example lift: http://www.spinlife.com/Harmar-AL600...roductID=72410

    So...used mini van $6,000-$8000....my model lift $2200...installation $ (I don't know how much) I took it to an installer and the VA paid for it.

    It was quick and easy to install, mostly running wiring to power the lift took a little over an hour.

    ------------------------------------

    Without this scooter I never could have taken my youngster on those long trips to the zoo, or camping, or the county fair.

    best regards
    Brian
    Last edited by RandomThought; 01-09-2017 at 09:02 AM. Reason: correcting example and cost
    *another random thought *

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  7. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandomThought View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I have a minivan with a scooter lift and it has been relatively inexpensive in the mobility world.

    This older Dodge Grand Caravan (21 mpg) has removable seats so all I needed was to take out the last seat and put in a scooter lift.

    example lift: http://www.spinlife.com/Harmar-AL600...roductID=72410

    So...used mini van $6,000-$8000....my model lift $2200...installation $ (I don't know how much) I took it to an installer and the VA paid for it.

    It was quick and easy to install, mostly running wiring to power the lift took a little over an hour.

    ------------------------------------

    Without this scooter I never could have taken my youngster on those long trips to the zoo, or camping, or the county fair.

    best regards
    Brian
    Yeah, that would work great so long as you don't need to stay in the chair! Hadn't seen that before. I unfortunately can't move out of my chair, and the lift won't give you the headroom to stay in the chair.
    ...I am not a doctor nor medical professional, and don't pretend to be one, here... :o

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  9. #5
    Distinguished Community Member Sunshine's Avatar
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    These are very helpful posts. Thank you Cat andRandom for taking the time to think of and type out the information,

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  11. #6

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    I agree with Cat Dancer...

    The set up I use only lifts/lowers and transports a mobility scooter or power chair... one doesn't get to ride the lift or remain seated.

    (I tried to post this additional comment a half hour ago and couldn't access the forum. I thought I had broken it but apparently someone duct taped the community back together)
    *another random thought *

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  13. #7
    Distinguished Community Member Jeanie Z's Avatar
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    :) I have a 17 year old Chrysler Town & Country van with a Braun Entervan lift. I got it used from a member of my MS group. The driver's seat goes back. It was on the passenger side so it turns the wrong way when I had it changed. My van has 126,000 miles on it.

    Leather seats are a must. I can't turn on a cloth one. I need a space with the stripes on the passenger side to have enough room for the ramp and my scooter to exit. I have a remote on the keys to open the door and lower the ramp and close it. You can also put the ignition key in the passenger door lock and it will close the ramp. There is a switch below the radio to lower the ramp from the driver's seat.

    There is another switch by the ramp on the panel toward the back. There is another switch labeled manual there in case the ramp stops working.

    If I cannot find a handicap space with stripes, I park further out and park at an angle taking two spaces so I can get in and out. When the snowbirds are here there are hardly ever spaces available.

    I would suggest trying to find used ramp van 10 or less years old. My van does not have the electronic connections the newer ones have. They only have to hook a newer one to the computer and it diagnoses any problem.

    On mine they have to call the factory when I have a problem. Right now the door will only close when the engine is running and using the switch on the dash.

    This means i have to park by the ramp and open the passenger door, get off the scooter and use the dash switch, then shut off the ignition then get back on the scooter. The mobility place charges $90 an hour to service it.

    My van looks like new since it is parked in the carport all the time. It runs good and hopefully I can get the ramp closing right soon. I can stand up and take steps holding on to the seats to the driver's seat and back.

    I have a good mechanic and if I can keep the ramp working I hope to have this van as long as I live. Before I had a lift in the back of a van and had to hold on to the side of the van to get to the back and open the hatch. That was hard and when the lift swung out I had to be careful not to get bumped or I wound up on the ground. I had to have help to get up even then. Jeanie :)

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  15. #8
    Distinguished Community Member SuzE-Q's Avatar
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    Awesome info, thanks!

    Yes, I'd be the driver, but can sit in the regular driver's seat. Can't use a manual w/chair.

    Your car sounds pretty impressive, Cat! But, I'm thinking of a van for other reasons too, so a car wouldn't meet my other needs. If it's just pulling out a back ramp to embark/disembark, I could probably do that if it reduces potential problems. Is the person ON the scooter going up or down the ramp then? Seems like you'd need a long ramp otherwise it'd be too steep an incline.

    I was thinking of a travel scooter possibly, they seem easier and lighter to move around and could easily be taken on trips on airplanes too.

    I've had a regular scooter in the past, but it took too long and parts were too heavy to easily take apart/put together, it would make it a disincentive to use if I had to go through all that rigamarole just to get it in or out of a vehicle.

    Some excellent avenues and ideas to begin my search, thanks!

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  17. #9
    Distinguished Community Member SuzE-Q's Avatar
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    RT - yes, that would work well! Seems like a simple idea. Thanks!

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  19. #10
    Distinguished Community Member Jeanie Z's Avatar
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    :) When I had the lift in the back I was still walking with a cane. I continued downhill until 2000 when I began LDN. In the early 90's I started needing a scooter.

    In the mid 90's I was on Betaseron 5 years and Avonex for over a year. Neither helped. The LDN slowed my progression and I quit having new symptoms all the time. I would suggest you go for a easier to use system in case you go downhill.

    I love the side ramp. I would feel uncomfortable having to go out the back into the traffic lane. I use a small 50 lb scooter in the house and drive it out to the driver's side and lock it to the carport post and get in the van. I have a big Rally scooter in the van. This is my 3rd Rally. One died and another was stolen. My son got me this one on Ebay for $300 and drove 2 hours to get it for me.

    I have a long cord and charge it in the van. It is nice and has a basket in the front which makes it easy to carry a few things. Good luck. Jeanie :)

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