If you’re the caregiver for an individual who uses a
wheelchair, owning a wheelchair accessible van is
helpful and can be more affordable with these tips.
As the caregiver for a family member, you can choose a
wheelchair van based on the needs of the person in your
care. Wheelchair vans come with rear entry access or
side entry access, and one can sometimes work better
than the other in certain situations.
The family caregiver, as the driver of the van, can
consider both styles. Side entry access means the van’s
ramp deploys from one of the side-door openings. The
wheelchair user can sit in the middle of the cabin just
behind the front seats or in the front-passenger
position when the adapted minivan has a removable front
seat. The removable seat lets you to carry up to two
wheelchair users at the same time. Jump seats can be
added for extra seating for non-wheelchair users.
If the person uses an extra-large or extra-tall power
chair, rear entry access may be the best choice. The
rear door-opening width and height are larger, and the
ramp is wider, too. The rear entry conversion usually
features a manually operated ramp, but a power ramp can
be added for an extra charge.
Having a wheelchair van is a unique selling
point for many self-employed caregivers and caregiving
companies. Whether it’s taking a patient to a doctor’s
appointment or providing the patient with a change of
scenery, a wheelchair accessible vehicle can make a big
Your patients will have different mobility devices,
including power chairs and mobility scooters, so your
best choice is a minivan adapted for rear entry access.
A rear entry van also has seating if a patient’s family
member or two comes along.
A long-channel rear entry conversion can handle up to
two passengers in wheelchairs at the same time. If
you’re a self-employed caregiver or caregiving company,
you’ll have a well-equipped vehicle that can be a
rolling advertisement for your business.
General Shopping Tips
Tip #1: Shop around.
wheelchair van dealerships online and nearby to see what
they have in your price range. There are also mobility
classifieds online, where individuals list only
wheelchair-accessible vehicles for sale.
Tip #2: Determine your budget.
Budget is almost always a top concern for family and
Today’s handicap accessible van market has three clear
price levels that represent the three base
- A New Van with a Brand-New Conversion. Shoppers usually pay
the highest prices for a brand-new minivan equipped with
a brand-new conversion.
- A Used Van with a Brand-New Conversion. Some conversion
companies buy used minivans with newer model years and
low mileage, which they convert for wheelchair use. That
means you can save money when you buy a used van with a
brand-new conversion. You’ll find high-quality
conversions in a wide range of prices.
- A Used Van with a Used Conversion. Last, and almost always
least—though only in cost—are used minivans with used
accessible conversions. Online and local
dealerships usually have a number of used/used
accessible vehicles on hand, because their owners trade
them in or sell them to upgrade to a newer model van.
You can find some great deals when you buy used/used.
If you’re on a budget, look for certified-used
wheelchair vans with reasonable prices, and don’t forget
Tip #3: Understand kneeling systems.
Many vans with
wheelchair accessibility have a kneeling system. The
vehicle “kneels” closer to the ground to lessen the
incline. That makes entry and exit easier for the
independent, manual wheelchair user. These systems can
be pricey, unreliable, and unnecessary for caregivers.
Tip #4: Be Prepared with Questions for the Mobility
Mobility consultants, online or local,
should give you this information, but if not, you should
be aware of the following information before you buy:
- What warranties do you offer? Warranties vary based on the
base vehicle and conversion manufacturer. Brand-new
minivans are always equipped with brand-new conversions,
and you should have warranties on both. Used wheelchair
vans for sale may have either a new or used conversion.
A new conversion should come with a satisfactory
warranty, and, if there’s time remaining on the base
vehicle’s original warranty, you’ll have that, too.
- Do you deliver? If you buy from a local dealer, pick-up may be
your only choice. For caregivers who buy a handicap
accessible van online, delivery options are a must. Ask
about the company’s different delivery choices and
- What services do you provide after the sale? Every customer
should receive a detailed demonstration of the adapted
van and all its features at delivery or pick-up.
Nationwide conversion service is important, because you
might be in a remote location when service is needed.
Ask about a toll-free, 24-hour Conversion Emergency Help
Line, so you’re protected nationwide. Some dealers have
a Buy Back Program, which is a stress-free way to sell
your wheelchair van.
Tip #5: Read Company Reviews and Testimonials Before You
The most reliable online and local wheelchair van
dealerships appear on review sites like Yelp and Google
Local. Company web sites should feature customer
When you shop for a wheelchair van, keep these tips in
mind to make sure you get the best van for your needs at
the best possible price.
Susan Hawkins is a writer for AMS Vans, Inc.—America’s
Mobility Superstore—a leading online and local
wheelchair van dealership that sells some of the
market’s most affordable, new and used wheelchair vans
and other accessible transportation, with nationwide and
worldwide delivery. Email