Tips for 1st Time Wheehair Vehicle Purchases

Posted On: 11/16/2016

The list of reasons one would be looking at purchasing an accessible vehicle are endless. Regardless of why someone is seeking an accessible vehicle the process can be a bit overwhelming. From sticker shock, the variety of options for accessibility and the vehicle options tends to lead to information overload. We have assembled a few tips to help you narrow the field before you head out the look for your new  wheelchair accessible vehicle.

  1. Measurements—there is an accessible vehicle that will work for all shape, sizes, and needs!

    • Bring the mobility device that will be most commonly used, if you are able. If you are unable to bring the mobility device you will want to measure the widest point of the device, this tends to be the wheelbase, to find this measurement measure from the outside of one side of the wheel to the other laying the tape measure on the ground.

    • You will also want to bring the height of the individual while they are using their device, measure from the ground to the top of their head. These two measurements will help you and your mobility dealer ensure that the mobility van works best for you.

  2. Wheelchair Lift or Wheelchair Ramp—both will get one into a vehicle.

    • Wheelchair Lifts tend to be in full size vans and the wheelchair user rides on the platform into the vehicle. This style of conversion can be utilized by a variety of people, but are commonly used for multiple passenger applications, transportation companies, and for wide or heavy wheelchairs. Wheelchair lift vans can come in both rear entry and side entry applications.

    • Wheelchair  ramp vans are most common for private party use and independent users, many  wheelchair conversions allow both the driver and passenger seat to be removed which increases flexibility for families with multiple drivers. Wheelchair ramp vans also come in rear entry or side entry and manual ramps or power ramps  depending on the mobility vehicle you are looking at.

  3. Manual Ramps or Power Ramps —you’ve got the power to choose!

    • Manual  wheelchair conversions can come in rear entry or side entry depending on the vehicle you are looking at.  These conversions are an easier option if there are multiple people operating the conversion. They can take a little longer to load and unload wheelchair users, and they do not work well for most independent wheelchair users.

    • Power  wheelchair conversions tend to run with the touch of a button and allow for quick hands free access. This style of ramp conversion does require a bit more maintenance at a mobility dealer as they do have more electronic components. They do allow for very quick access which can be an added benefit for poor weather conditions.

  4. Rear or Side Entry Ramp Vans

    • Rear entry ramp vans tend to have the widest ramp and interior width as well as the most height available for the wheelchair user. These vehicles work well for families with children or for an individual who wants a simple in and out with no maneuvering of the wheelchair. Rear entry ramp vans are less common for independent users as they do not allow the individual to drive from their wheelchair and transfer seats are a rare option.

    • Side entry ramp vans come in a few widths and heights for door openings, these sizes depend on the mobility and vehicle manufacturer. Side entry ramps allow for the most versatility for independent wheelchair users, families, and companies. With most side entry ramp vans both the driver and passenger seats are removable to allow for a wheelchair user to drive directly from their chair or for households to share driving duties. They also allow for a great deal of flexibility in the number of passengers the vehicle can carry, depending on one's needs.


No matter what kind of driving  accessible equipment you are looking for is here to help you! You can also research and compare over a hundred different  wheelchair accessible van conversions.  Wheelchair conversions are available for most vehicle makes including Ford, Dodge, Chrysler, Honda & Toyota.  You can search  for wheelchair accessible vehicles for sale on our Vans For Sale page.   

Author Information

Katie Cummings
Mobility Blogger

My professional background stems from non-profit marketing and fundraising for a large children’s cancer hospital. Every day I was able to make connections and relationships for kids and their families going through devastating times. From securing small donations to large corporate support, it was all about providing hope that one day doctors and researchers would find a cure. It was truly an honor to be a part of something so important.

Just this past year, I came to work alongside my family for, a website dedicated to offering the latest information and resources for people needing mobility products. This was a dream come true for me as I have always wanted to combine more time with my family while still helping others. Our family has been in the mobility industry for over 35 years with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for people with mobility issues. This is the spirit behind BLVD and what I am most excited about sharing in my blog.

I love meeting new people and have found that volunteering is the best way to learn more about others and myself. Coffee keeps me going as do walks my pup "Kirby" and most of all being with family and friends. I invite you to check out my blog to learn more about how "together we can move through life better!"

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