July 30, 2020 at 9:44 am #15988Dee HagenParticipant
My husband just received his Permobil e-chair. We are still using a lighter, foldable e-chair when we go places, but the portable chair isn’t as comfortable for him. Ultimately, we’ll need to find a way to take the bigger chair with us. We’re interested in finding out the kinds of solutions other’s have come up with for getting a full-size chair around. We’re thinking we’ll have to purchase a mobility vehicle but maybe there are other options we haven’t thought about. If you do have a mobility vehicle; What type is it? Did you buy it new, used or convert it, why? Any other tips and suggestions are welcome.
July 30, 2020 at 12:02 pm #15992Dagmar MunnKeymaster
Hi Dee – – Eight years ago, we purchased a Toyota “Sienna” van, and had it converted into a mobility van. It has a side-fold-out ramp and either front seat can be removed to allow a power chair to roll and lock-in.
Right now, I still use a rollator (that gets stowed in the rear) and we use the ramp for my mobility scooter. But – – the van is ready-to-go if and when I transition to a power chair.
The purchasing process went like this: we worked with our local BraunAbility center. https://www.braunability.com/us/en.html
They assisted in our purchase of the Toyota van (from the local dealership), then BraunAbility did the conversion (seats came out, ramp installed, center console removed, new dashboard controls), and we picked up the final product. BraunAbility does the annual maintenance on the ramp, the local Toyota dealer does the annual maintenance on the van.
We’ve been pleased with our van, never had problems, and have driven it on several cross-country trips.
July 30, 2020 at 2:29 pm #15997OwenParticipant
We bought a used Dodge Caravan that had been converted already by Braun. It has the middle row removed, anchors in the floor for the chair, an automatic sliding door, and an automatic ramp that folds out. All in all a very simple, but practical and functional solution. We don’t have a lift, but a ramp seems much easier to me. I’m not sure what other solutions would be available given that power chairs typically weigh 300-400 lbs. You might be able to attach a small trailer or platform off the tow hitch of your existing car (if you have one), but that has its own challenges.
New or slightly used accessible vans run $40k-$50k+ we found, so we ended up buying an older model with low mileage through a private sale from the widow of a former ALS patient (our local ALS chapter connected us).
July 31, 2020 at 6:43 pm #15999Andy StrawParticipant
When we were researching to purchase our wheelchair minivan three years ago, two of the top manufacturers were BraunAbility https://www.braunability.com/us/en/mobility-products/wheelchair-accessible-vehicles.html and VMI https://www.vantagemobility.com/mobility-products/wheelchair-vans/
Two dealer networks who have dealers in many locations, and a large inventory draw from, within the US include United Access https://www.unitedaccess.com/inventory/used-vehicles/ and Mobility Works https://www.mobilityworks.com/wheelchair-vans-for-sale/type/Used/
In 2017 we purchased a used 2014 Toyota Sienna with VMI Northstar conversion (side entry, in floor ramp) from our local United Access dealer. We have been very happy with it. We found that in the older minivans (before about 2016) the Toyota and Honda vans were more spacious, including higher entry height, and more space front to back, both of which were very helpful for us. But I also know many people have been happy with Dodge Caravan conversions, which tend to be less expensive.
You definitely want to test any vehicle yourself using your wheelchair to make sure you fit easily.
We also bought Q’Straint tie-downs: https://www.amazon.com/QStraint-QRT-STANDARD-Track-PN/dp/B005BI7VP8/ which we like very much.
August 3, 2020 at 4:46 pm #16023GeorgeParticipant
Few months ago purchased a new Dodge Pacifica with Braun conversion. Permobil wheelchair which locks in automatically to a device like a fifth wheel hitch. The Pacifica is roomy but with the Braun conversion, is noisy when driving, heavy and rides rough. Would not recommend for long trips. The local dealer is excellent – Superior Van & Mobility in Little Rock.
August 4, 2020 at 4:39 pm #16035Dee HagenParticipant
Thanks for the tips on what to look for. Especially about buying an older version because of the extra space. My husband is tall and therefore his Permobil chair is taller than most. There is a Braun dealer near us as well as another, regional dealer. I think we’ll be looking to purchase a used vehicle but I guess we’ll keep our options open as we start our search.
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