With wheelchair conversion vans, both wheelchair passengers and drivers can reap the benefits of accessible transportation. These wheelchair accessible vehicles (or handicap vans) make it easier and more convenient to get around the greater Rochester area.
Tim’s Trim has over 38 years of experience in performing quality van conversions that add value with high-quality aftermarket parts, specialty devices, and mobility products. A variety of features can make the converted van more comfortable and convenient for regular use. Our partners include leading manufacturers, and we are committed to making it easier to commute throughout the city and surrounding areas. This service is invaluable for people living with disabilities as well as their caretakers.
We also understand that informed clients make better decisions. To address the concerns of our customer base, we assembled a list of the most common questions people have, wondering if a van conversion is the right solution.
What is a Wheelchair Conversion Van?
A wheelchair conversion van is a vehicle that has gone through a specific type of modification process. This term refers to either a full-size van or a minivan that has been modified to allow access for wheelchair passengers. This may include structural modifications to the vehicle’s exterior, interior, and control areas.
We modify wheelchair conversion vans in several ways. One of the most important aspects of the conversion is the areas that will allow wheelchair accessibility. For example, the van might have a hydraulic folding lift installed at the rear section of the van. Alternatively, we could install it at the side door. It is important to know that the hydraulic folding lift option is only available for full-size wheelchair vans.
Full-size converted vans include vehicles like the Ford Transit and the Ram Promaster. However, minivan conversions are also popular. Here are three top examples of minivans that can be converted for wheelchair access:
The final converted van will enable passengers who use wheelchairs to have regular access to reliable transportation. However, additional options are available as well, and these can enhance the user’s experience significantly. The selection process depends mostly on the individual customer’s needs.
For example, wheelchair riders will enjoy simply having access to a converted vehicle, but a wheelchair driver will require another set of modifications to make this area of the vehicle fully accessible. This can include hand controls and other special mobility equipment.
Transportation and Driving Conversions
Conversions for wheelchair passengers include a variety of features for the entrance and exit area, but it also includes accessories that assist during transport.
The Q-Straint is a four-point tie-down for the lap and shoulder area. This device is essential in stabilizing wheelchair passengers during transit. There is another option called the EZ Lock, and this is an electric tie-down that functions in the same manner.
Driving is possible for individuals in wheelchairs when the van has gone through the appropriate modifications. This can include a variety of specialty devices that enable the driver to fully access the vehicle. The driver needs to have complete safety and confidence in the accessibility of all the vehicle controls.
It’s important to accommodate individual needs during the conversion process, so always work with a company capable of adapting the wheelchair accessible van according to the unique needs of each individual customer. Tim’s Trim can customize each wheelchair conversion van to a certain extent in order to meet the needs of the individual driver.
Examples of optional items may include the following:
- Hand controls
- Touch pads
- Driver transfer seat base
- Electric tie down
- Steering wheel spinner knob
- Special equipment for operating a motor vehicle
Types of Minivan Conversions
Converting a minivan successfully requires the finished product to provide safety, comfort, and convenience. The types of conversions have differences that may seem relatively minor at first glance. However, these details can have a big influence in the experience of passengers.
Here are some of the most significant modifications that customers can expect to see:
Lowered floor (also called dropped floor)
The 10” to 14” full-drop floor extends from the front firewall to the front of the third-row seat or the center of the drop floor. This area is dropped only from the area between the first row and the front portion of the third row of seats.
These include the full or half-cut design. The half-cut option consists of a manual door and a ramp. It is possible to obtain this result while having full power as well. The manual option reduces the cost of the modification relative to the electric option, so make sure to consider this trade-off. The purpose for the van conversion is also important when considering what type of van you need. Long-term use with large volumes of passengers may justify the extra costs involved with full power ramps and doors on the rear entry area, for example.
The side-entry design can accommodate a power folding ramp. The in-floor ramp is a popular feature because it adds functionality to the van. Manual ramps are a more legacy version, but they are still available for customers. The full drop floors include the removable front seats, which are connected to casters. The four-point tie down is located at the front or second row on the passenger side. This is an additional convenience, but the center drop floors are only available at the second row.
More Space / Carrying Capacity
The rear-entry position on the full-cut vehicle can transport up to two wheelchair occupants. However, this capacity is defined by the size of each wheelchair. Extra large chairs might limit the carrying capacity. These spaces are available because of the smaller jump seats positioned at the second row.
Factory Seat Remount, Trade-Offs
Customers should know about the difference between these options because it affects the total capacity of the vehicle. There can be some confusion about this point. For instance, the factory remount seats at the second row can limit the capacity of the vehicle to transport two full-size wheelchairs.
However, this only affects the carrying capacity because of the factory remount design itself, which narrows the space available at the second row. There are some vehicle models that present an optional fold-up seat at the second row for the factory remount seats. However, this option comes at the expense of the seating in the second row, which will be unusable while the two wheelchair spaces are in use.
To get additional information about the available options, it’s best to contact a qualified NMEDA QAP vehicle modification company. Speak with a professional about the specific needs and uses for the desired vehicle before buying. This is the time to review your personal needs and preferences before deciding on a specific wheelchair conversion van style.
How is a Wheelchair Conversion Van Built?
Many local vehicle modification companies offer services for customers who want a custom build for a full-size wheelchair conversion van. This process can include a variety of options. For example, the fully automatic hydraulic lift is strong enough to provide stable support for the wheelchair user during entry and egress. The driver area modification process allows a person in a wheelchair to operate the mobility van securely and comfortably with hand controls.
The number of seats can affect the specific materials to be installed into the flooring. Options may include the CDX plywood floor, but the number of seats could also make sheet steel the best option instead. Ask the mobility consultant about the pros and cons of each material option for the flooring.
The manufacturer will recommend the installation of fully automatic wheelchair lifts at the rear or the side of the vehicle. These recommendations also specify that passenger tie-downs should be installed. These can either be electric or manual tie-downs.
Drivers may require specific mobility equipment that conforms with the driver’s vehicle modification report. You can obtain these specifications by referring to the literature provided by the driver’s training rehabilitation center. Buyers should also be aware that no structural modification is possible on most full-size wheelchair vans.
Wheelchair conversion van customers need to remain fully aware of the range of possibilities. It is also just as important to be open and willing to communicate with the company providing the modification services. Prepare a checklist in advance for a more effective discussion of specific requirements.
There are three large companies responsible for the vast majority of full-size van conversions. However, if a customer wants to convert a minivan for wheelchair use, it is usually a smaller company that will provide this service.
These companies use production processes that are similar to the large conversion companies. They place the vehicles on an assembly line, and then they strip the interior area of the minivan. The original factory floor is then cut out, and a professional welder will replace it with a new drop floor. Once this process is completed, the interior components are reinstalled with any new trim pieces that were added.
Customers seeking any conversion for a minivan or full-sized van must be ready to perform due diligence on the company performing the work. This means that it is not advisable to assume that every company offering the service is also conforming to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, or FMVSS. Most of the companies offering this service do recognize and apply the FMVSS rules, but there are plenty of companies who do not. Always perform basic research about any company before agreeing to have this conversion done.
Features and Benefits
Customers should be aware that each chassis manufacturer can offer specific vehicle options. These options can help people to make an informed decision about whether to purchase a vehicle made by Ford, Dodge or Chrysler. Each manufacturer might target a different market depending on a specific type of conversion. A customer who needs additional storage space will have different priorities than a customer looking to maximize the amount of space around the passenger area.
Van conversions require the ability to clearly communicate about specific needs and requirements according to the vehicle’s intended purpose. Consider the amount of space you need to transport equipment on a regular basis. This might constrain the type of conversion being done in the area where you’ll store the equipment during transit. This can also become an issue when it comes to wheelchair conversion vans designed for large families. These are also the customers most likely to benefit from a full-size van with a hydraulic lift.
Minivans are still the most popular type of vehicle, so make sure to carefully weigh the available options. Select features with your most important priorities in mind. Interior space is always good to have, and full-size vans designed for large families will certainly accommodate this need. However, the mobility minivans are more popular even though there is less available space.
The trade-off between size and cost is often a factor. The minivan is also easy to maneuver in tight spaces, and passengers will have an easier time getting out of the vehicle in the event of a power failure. The manual door controls can allow passengers to push out the folding ramp, and this option provides an additional level of security. Front passenger seating might also be an important consideration, but this depends on the specific needs of the client.
Are wheelchair vans safe?
Most minivans are manufactured in a way that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FMVSS, or Federal Motor Vehicle Standards. Conversion manufacturers are fully aware that meeting these standards elevates the value of the product in the mind of consumers and the general public.
However, there are different methods that companies can use to claim compliance with these standards. For example, self-certification is one option. The company might use a path of compliance identical to the one used by other companies. But not all companies are complying with FMVSS, so following the standards of another company isn’t the most reliable method.
Customers should expect to exercise due diligence, and always find out what method is used by the company before agreeing to the purchase.
What brands do you carry?
There are many brands that pass through our facility, but this will often depend on the specific situation. For example, we will often agree to take trade-in vehicles, and this will diversify our inventory just for that reason. For newer minivans, we tend to favor the BraunAbility line of products. We also deal in used minivans, but this depends on the type of trade-in vehicles we have at that time. For full-size van conversions, we can do them on brands like the Ford Transit, Ram Promasters, and Sprinters.
Does the conversion process void the manufacturer’s warranty?
The Braun Corporation works closely with the vehicle manufacturer so as not to violate or invalidate existing factory warranties. In cases where the Braun Corporation is responsible for a failure of a part, the company offers a three-year or 36,000 mile warranty, covering both parts and labor. This offer will be valid at any Braun Ability dealership at all locations throughout the continental United States.
Is there a warranty on a converted wheelchair van?
Yes. The warranty offered through Braun Ability is good for three years or 36,000 miles. Any Braun dealer location throughout the country can service this warranty, inclusive of parts and labor.
Is the wheelchair conversion tax deductible?
Tax deductions might be available in some cases, but customers should always ask a qualified accountant. Rules of tax deduction can vary in different areas of the country. In the state of New York, the conversion is NOT taxable (therefore, no deduction). However, other regions might recognize the tax deduction, and customers in these areas will be able to qualify for it. Speak with a qualified accountant before the conversion if this is a major issue.
Tim’s Trim Offers Quality Wheelchair Van Conversion
Tim’s Trim has years of experience in serving the needs of customers. Browse through our product offerings and speak to our mobility consultants about the van conversion options. We understand that each client has a unique set of priorities. Anyone interested in getting additional information about a wheelchair van conversion can contact one of our team members.
We have a long history of performing successful vehicle conversions. Selecting the right product is an important concern for our clients. We are always ready to answer any questions about the vehicle conversion process. Contact Tim’s Trim to start on the road to a better quality of life today: (585) 429-6270.