Vehicle Wheelchair Lifts Review


If you are thinking about buying a full sized handicap van - the typical conversion will include - raising the roof and floor and having a wheelchair lift, tie downs and roll bar installed. For many individuals the choice to purchase a full sized van has a lot to do with lifestyle and personal needs. Extra room, along with comfort and stability when driving long distances, makes a full sized lift van a good choice; even in a market heavily saturated with mini vans and lowered floor ramp conversions. If looking to buy, consider reviewing the following topics:

When to Buy a Full-Sized Wheelchair lift Van Vs. a Mini Ramp Van?

According to Rideaway.com, an East coast mobility dealership, 90% of all disabled passenger vans sold are minivans. Why? Most likely this has something to do with the fact that the mini's use less gas and are smaller and easier to drive. With minivans the typical conversion equipment includes an access ramp not wheelchair lifts. However, for the 10% of customers who purchased a full sized van, like the Ford E Series, this was the right choice for their needs. As discussed above, each individual in choosing the right handicapped vehicle and equipment first needs to consider lifestyle and needs. A quality NMEDA member dealership can also help with this, typically beginning with a series of questions and assessing factors such as height in chair.

Who Benefits from a Full Sized Handicap Van?

  • A wheelchair driver or passenger who does a lot of long distance driving
  • A wheelchair driver or passenger who has a big family or lots of people to transport
  • Height in chair - If you are a tall person and sit 55" or 56" in your chair, you will need the head clearance of a raised roof conversion in a full sized van
  • If carrying extra weight, especially exceeding 1100 pounds in the back
  • Anyone looking for more interior room and ground clearance
  • Luxury options with 4 wheel drive

Choices in Wheelchair Lift Location - Features and Benefits:

Passenger vans can be equipped with any one of the following wheelchair lifts:

  • Side mounted entry
  • Rear door entry
  • Under vehicle lift (UVL)

Each lift is designed to provide easy accessibility to the wheelchair user. However, there are pros and cons offered by each lift type, so before deciding which one, it is important first to consider: 1) How you will be using the vehicle and 2) Your parking needs.

Side Entry Lifts - These lifts are by far the most popular, especially because they offer the user the most practical use of space. Side entry wheelchair lifts are also beneficial if the user is a driver as the rear seat bench can be retained, as can the front passenger seat.

Under Vehicle Lifts - These lifts mount on the outside of a full-size van and the platform is stowed beneath the vehicle. Benefit? The van maintains an unobstructed doorway with a full window view and greater interior space. Normal passenger seating with a full range of seat adjustment is allowed.

Rear Door Entry Lifts - Viewpoint makes most of these lifts. Rear entry lifts are useful especially in areas where parallel parking is not good


Wheelchair Lifts - Accessibility and Parking Concerns

To access the van, to both enter or depart, 8 feet of clearance is what is typically required. However, since this is not always feasible a minimum of 6 feet space is needed.

Full Sized Van Manufacturers for Wheelchair Lifts

  • Dodge - Caravan and Sprinter
  • Chevrolet - Uplander and Express
  • Ford E-Series
  • GMC

Cost of Van Wheelchair Lifts

The approximate cost of a wheelchair lift, (like a Braun) with tie downs is around $6,800. Factor in the raised roof, floor and roll bar conversion and total cost is estimated at around $15,000.

Buying a Safe Conversion Van

Because most of us are not mechanics, nor do we crash test cars for a living, we must seek information and rely on organizations that do. As stated in Handicap Vans report it is important to buy from quality dealerships. In fact the federal law states that in order for a shop or dealership to do conversion work it must first be registered with NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) as a vehicle modifier. In the case of buying a handicap van, new or used, safety is of # 1 importance. Here's how to shop safe:

  • Work only with NMEDA and ACA member Dealerships.
    Why ADA?
    ADA promotes quality testing/safety programs, and maintains the highest level of training and certification standards in the industry. All members are Quality Assurance Program (QAP) Certified, which is a program developed and managed by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA).
    Why NMEDA?
    NMEDA is a non-profit trade association of mobility equipment dealers, driver rehabilitation specialists, and other professionals. This organization is dedicated to broaden opportunities for people with disabilities to drive or be transported in vehicles modified with mobility equipment. NMEDA members are required to adhere to the safety standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and to follow strict NMEDA guidelines.

Warranty and Service

Roadside Assistance - NMEDA member mobility dealerships are required to include 24-hour roadside assistance to their customers. This is an essential service and one not to be without. Discuss this service with your mobility dealer, and make sure that you and your van will be taken care of, if you breakdown.
Warranty - Read the fine print of your warranty not just the bold claims. Make sure that you understand what is covered and what is not. It is a great idea to compare with other quality dealers beforehand. Take a look online and if you have any confusion or questions call them up!