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Handicap Vans – Wheelchair Accessible Vans and Wheelchair Lift Options For Vehicles
You have recently needed a wheelchair or scooter, and you are wondering “how will my vehicle carry a wheelchair.” Answer: The first thing to consider is if your vehicle will handle the weight of a wheelchair or scooter. There are several types of lifts and mobility devices available, depending on what you drive. Your options for elevators are barrier-mounted elevators, boom-type elevators, platform elevators, or ramps in low-floor minivans.
When considering a hitch lift, you should be aware that each vehicle has a tongue weight limit. Tongue weight is the down force limit that each vehicle will have. The majority of smaller vehicles do not have enough tongue weight capacity for electric chairs or scooters. If you have a smaller car, consider a micro scooter or manual folding chair. Always check with your local mobility dealer or hitch company before purchasing a vehicle. You don’t want to be stuck with a vehicle that doesn’t work for your needs.
There are some vehicles that will be able to use a boom type wheelchair lift. Lifts are attached to the back of minivans or pickup trucks, and some other vehicles. SUVs can have height clearance issues, depending on seat height. There are 3 different versions of the boom lift for the rear of the vehicle. They have a 250 pound motor, a 400 pound motor, and a 400 pound motor with a retractable arm. You also have a docking device that attaches to a wheelchair or scooter, and a hand pendant with an up/down switch and an in/out switch. The lift requires a retractable arm, depending on the dimensions of the vehicle and the mobility device.
There are two types of wheelchair lift platforms. One is made for minivans, and the other for full-size vans. The minivan application is mounted on the back. The user will roll onto the platform, secure the chair, and then use the wrist pendant to store the mobility device. Then it is necessary to walk to the driver’s seat. In full-size vans, the lift can be mounted on the side or rear. One thing to consider before installing this type of lift is headroom. With people sitting in the seat have enough headroom to remove the door, and sit up comfortably inside the vehicle? Otherwise, raised floors, raised roofs, and enlarged doors may be options. Always call your local mobility dealer to make sure the vehicle will fit your needs.
The next option for an accessible vehicle is a lower floor minivan. This is the most expensive application, and the most versatile. Most handicap minivans have a 10-inch lower floor. The reason for the lower floor is headroom. People won’t be able to sit comfortably in a minivan without a lowered floor. There is a choice of side entry and rear entry on the lowered floor minivan. At the side entry, there is a choice of an infloor ramp or a folding ramp. Wheelchair accessible vans generally have power knee systems and removable front seats. The removable front seats offer the option of driving from the power seat, or having someone sit in the power seat in the front passenger position. The knee system reduces the angle of the ramp, making it easier to roll into the vehicle. The most commonly modified minivans are the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Honda Odyssey, and Volkswagen Routan.
We have seen customers come in with new vehicles that cannot be modified. Laws vary from state to state as to whether or not you can return a vehicle. As mobility dealers, we cannot stress enough the importance of calling your local mobility dealer before purchasing a vehicle. We want to make sure your vehicle works for your needs.
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