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Thread: Van? for power chair

  1. #1
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    Van? for power chair

    I am going from a manual to a power chair (hopefully a Bounder powerchair) this year. My 2-door car won't get it for traveling with a power chair.

    My insurance will modify a vehicle for me. Me and the chair will weigh 600+ pounds and be almost 5 feet tall. I will need a lift or a ramp. I like the ramp idea for reliability. The lift would be easier.

    What suggestions, thoughts or experiences have you had with van travel?

  2. #2
    Lowered floor minivans are infinitely more complex than a standard van with a vertical lift. I have had nothing but trouble with my Braun Honda Odyssey. However, minivans afford you more flexibility with parking in underground garages and are easier to keep clean. I have begun to feel insecure going anywhere in my minivan because there are certain things if they fail, such as the door operator, there is no emergency procedure that you will be able to use, even with assistance to be able to make it home. The car will need to be flat bedded to a garage and good luck getting home from where you are in a power chair.

    It also depends on how tall you are. You have infinitely less flexibility if you are very tall. If you have a home and can park your vehicle inside that is extremely preferable, though requiring a two-car garage. You have a standard cargo van, you will need to raise the header of the garage door to get inside. It also depends upon what you will be doing with the van, traveling, work commuting, loading up the family, etc..

    I don't know anything about a Bounder power chair. Be sure you get that right before you move on to the vehicle choice. And whatever you do, do not under any circumstances, by the vehicle before you have the chair. And when you do look for the vehicle, be damn sure you do it in the power chair you will be using.

    Have you considered a power assisted chair? They will offer you more flexibility in terms of head room, as some minivans can be tight.

    My 2010 Honda Odyssey looks like Ford model T compared to the new minivans I am contemplating getting. The new ones are filled with so much electronic touchscreen crap it only looks like more complexity and things to go wrong.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Domosoyo's Avatar
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    We are looking for a new van (mini) right now too. Moving on from our Rollx 2009 Honda Odyssey. Rollx is not in consideration this time around due to a complete failure we experienced with the rear suspension. Scary experience=no confidence.

    We did notice the battery backup for the ramp on the Braun Ability mods are pretty impossible for a chair user to access. Couldn't get in the Ford Explorer from Braun.

    I believe we are going to go with a VMI modification on a Toyota Sienna or a Chrysler Pacifica. VMI has a Honda Pilot but the driver's chair is fixed and the ramp is manual.

    None of us will find transportation without faults because of these modifications. So get out there and try as many as you can!

  4. #4
    I'm in a manual chair and had been looking to replace my 2000 Town & Country VMI in-floor for a couple of years. I ended up buying a 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Touring S off the local car dealer and had it sent to Braun thru the Braun dealer in Seattle. I chose the Touring S for the better quality leather seats, larger black aluminum wheels and a few other upgrades.

    They delivered it to me last week but had to go back due to the seat height was not adapted for a manual chair user. Once the adapter is installed, it'll be brought up again; trustfully, this week. There is a bout a three inch seat height difference between one built for manual vs. power chairs.

    I looked at all the mini vans and found the Pacifica had the most headroom and largest area behind the drivers seat. Was going to go VMI but they were recently bought out by an investment group and only sell in-floor now. Prices went up, quality. went down imo. No more fold out ramp systems. I eventually went with Braun for their higher quality interior and fold out ramp system looked fairly easy to access for service/repair. The in-floor ramp systems mostly need to have the heavy floor lifted up to work on. The dealer mentioned the screws holding the floor get corroded eventually and just getting them loose can take more time than actually working on the problem or tune-up.

    With a fold-out, the lower part of the ramp can be extended, most trailer sales/repair place can make a longer section for a couple hundred bucks. This'll make the angle of the ramp less but also makes the ramp longer so one would have to be more vigilant ensuring the extra space for the ramp to drop. Speaking with quads who use manual chairs, they prefer the extension for the lower ramp section.

    Pacifica didn't have any changes for 2019 and don't plan for any in 2020 so went with the 2018. Here's fingers crossed it'll last as long as the 2000 did. Sure will be glad to be rid of the in-floor conversion.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Domosoyo's Avatar
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    Good points Patrick and I forgot about all that VMI baggage and we did want a fold-out so can't rule out Braun after all.
    My daughter saw a black out Pacifica and thought it looked edgy...S Appearance package with black paint and blacked out chrome and wheels. She felt low and small in the Sienna and thought it was too much car. However, the OP, KevinH, may want to check that out if he is a taller guy using a powerchair.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by KevinH View Post
    I am going from a manual to a power chair (hopefully a Bounder powerchair) this year. My 2-door car won't get it for traveling with a power chair.

    My insurance will modify a vehicle for me. Me and the chair will weigh 600+ pounds and be almost 5 feet tall. I will need a lift or a ramp. I like the ramp idea for reliability. The lift would be easier.

    What suggestions, thoughts or experiences have you had with van travel?
    Check out the used market. Depreciation on adapted vans is very steep...$1000s of dollar just by driving off the lot. You can often find good values in low mileage adapted vans on eBay, www.disableddealer.com, www.blvd.com, or even Craig's List, as well as at local adaptive van dealers (who have trade-ins often available). Many of these vans were purchased for someone who then died soon after, and the family is trying to unload it for a significantly reduced price compared to new.

    (KLD)
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

  7. #7
    Don't limit your choices to a minivan. Consider a full size van. There is just enough room to turn in a minvan. But unless your coordination is flawless, you're going to be hitting the walls and seats as you turn. The full size has plenty of room to turn even with my dog, luggage, and cooler.

  8. #8
    Junior Member
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    It seems like I will be close to 5 feet tall in the power chair. Almost undoubtedly I will go with used. I bought one new car in my life way back when I first got injured. Not likely to buy another.

    Most likely I will get a van from a person/private party off ebay. I will wait until I get my power chair before getting the van.

    I would like a smaller van for driving & parking reasons. I could pretend a big van is an RV--that would be cool. Tt would be a huge pain to find parking, room for a lift, and go into parking garages.

    Do para's drive from the w/c much? If from a car seat, how do they get their legs around the motor cover?

  9. #9
    Parking can be a pain in a full size van. But it's not as bad as it seems as long as you're not in a densely populated metropolis like NYC or San Francisco. You'd be fine in most parts of LA because it's so spread out that even if all the HP parking is taken, parking lots are usually large and have empty spaces along the back to park across two spots (like an RV would have to do). I've had a full size van for over a year now. Never been stuck without parking. Although I do have to park in the back of the lot once in a while.

    Parking is actually easier and safer in a van than a car when parallel parking. With a car you have to get in/out form the driver side, which means you are in the street. With a van you get in/out from the passenger side, which means you are on the sidewalk. I'm not sure if the in-floor ramps would work in that case. Because a tall sidewalk may be in the way of deploying the ramp.

    Another thing to consider is portability. A conversion in a minivan is part of the vehicle. If you have to replace your minivan you also have to replace the kneeling part of your conversion, which is most of the cost. Not so with a full size van. You can take it out and put it into a different van. Hence, you can find better deals on used full size vans.

    I bought my full size van with 63K miles for $5k. I spent $4K to rebuild the transmission and tune it up. Runs like new now. Other costs that are optional include new upholstery, AC, and rebuilding the suspension and exhaust (increases mileage so it pays for itself) and paint. When all is done, I'll have spent $20K - $22K. But it will be customized and restored into new condition. All the minivans I saw that were anywhere close to like new condition cost at least $35K. Not worth finding a minivan on the cheap and restoring it because they don't last.

    All types of vehicles have their pros and cons. Just know what they are and how they apply to your situation.
    Last edited by August West; 06-11-2019 at 02:33 PM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by August West View Post

    Not worth finding a minivan on the cheap and restoring it because they don't last.

    .

    Thats not true.

    A restored mini van will las as long as a restored full size.

    The problem would be finding someone that does good work and actually knows what there doing.

    Never mind a facility equipped with everything needed to do a restoration.

    Jim
    Jim, MA, MMET
    Bridgewater, MA

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