People with disabilities have every opportunity to live active lives thanks to the many advances in mobility vehicles. Regaining independence is a life-changing adjustment achieved with getting a conversion van that meets specialized needs. When looking for a mobility vehicle or conversion van for sale, don’t get overwhelmed. Enlist the aid of a professional mobility vehicle dealer.
A mobility vehicle, such as a conversion van, is customized to meet the needs of those with limitations that would otherwise prevent independent driving. Vehicle modifications are made that directly mitigate a person’s specific disability thus allowing them to commute independently without any other required equipment. Before you spend a dime, decide if you want to convert an existing vehicle or buy a ready-to-drive conversion van.
At R&J Mobility Service, a proud NMEDA mobility equipment dealer, we offer full-size van conversions by the industry’s top manufacturers:
In addition, R&J Mobility Service proudly offers our custom full-size van conversions.
Deciding on a Vehicle
When buying a mobility vehicle new or used, you want to make sure it meets all ADA compliance needs and that it also has been deemed reliable before buying. Choosing a vehicle that best serves your needs can be difficult because of many options including the type of van, the different access locations, restraint systems and whether or not you need passenger plus driver mobility conversion.
A local dealer, certified through the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is a great place to start narrowing down what you need while coordinating with any existing medical prescriptions for modifications. The dealer will help you develop a solid budget to get what you want and has conversion vehicles available test drive so you get a better feel of the van before you make any investment.
Some common questions you may want to ask yourself when looking at conversion van options include:
- What kind of gas mileage does it get?
- What types of safety features are available?
- How is the accessibility in each particular vehicle?
- Is it comfortable for the passengers as well as the driver?
- What types of conversion abilities are available and what kind of maintenance will be required?
- Does it fit within your budget?
Many people would love to buy a brand-new van and customize it perfectly to suit everything they need. In many cases, even with grants, financing, and health insurance assistance, this isn’t feasible. Set a priority list and then start to price out the different components comparing it to your absolute necessities for mobility.
Economy Vs Luxury Features
Depending on your budget, there are different features available, some of which are only available on the luxury models. It is important to check out all of the different types of vans, and research what features are available on each van. Of the many standard features found in good cars, there are still options and upgrades you may want to add to your conversion van to meet your individual needs.
When buying a conversion van, you are going to find that most of the models have many of the same base features such as cruise control and air conditioning. They are also equipped with dual airbags, power windows and locks. Another thing most have in common is reasonable storage space used for other equipment, device aids or travel luggage.
Unlike economy vans, certain features may only be available on the luxury conversion van models. Rear vision cameras, upgraded air conditioning systems, and digital rear AC controls are standard features on many luxury models. Other features that may be important for accessibility purposes include custom side steps, spacious interior, insulation packages, and custom designed lighting packages.
Types of Conversion Vans
A conversion van is a full-size cargo van that has gone to a third-party installation company to be redesigned with a variety of modifications. They may be converted for mobility vehicles, with luxuries for road trips or camping, or even to be used as taxis and transport buses. They undergo custom conversions for industrial work, including racking systems and added storage options.
Mercedes Sprinter Conversion Van
If you are looking for a wheelchair accessible van without sacrificing style or performance, the Mercedes Sprinter van series may be just what you are looking for. Models like the Mercedes Sprinter look great while driving down the street and are top of the line when it comes to luxury conversion vans. Wheelchair lifts can easily be added to the side or rear doors of the van depending on preference or need.
Mercedes Sprinter Conversion Advantages
One of the benefits of the Mercedes Sprinter van when considering conversion is the ability to sell it down the road. These vehicles are well-designed with all the great things you would expect from Mercedes and hold their value. With proper maintenance after modification, the Sprinter Conversion van will run for 200,000 miles or more without a ton of trouble.
Mercedes Sprinter Conversion Disadvantages
There are some disadvantages to the Mercedes Sprinter. These vans are huge, measuring almost 23-feet long. The Sprinter has a bad turning radius making maneuvering the van more difficult. Drivers need to be cognizant when pulling into a drive through or performing a U-turn. The Sprinter vans are also big and heavy, making for a bumpy ride on rough roads.
Mercedes Sprinter Van Bottom Line
The luxury status of the Mercedes Sprinter vans put it at the top of the of price ranges when it comes to vehicles. New baseline models start around $43,000 before luxury upgrades mobility modifications. If purchasing a new van is not in the budget, choosing to buy one that is a few years old with low miles is a smart option. The good news is because of the natural interior space of the Sprinter van and its wide access points, this van makes for easier conversion compared to others.
Chevrolet Express Cargo Van
Full-size vans such as the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van are great vehicles namely for exceptional space and towing capabilities. These vans are designed to be modified and are often an empty canvas for a mobility dealer to easily make modification to suit desired features.
Chevrolet Express Cargo Van Advantages
The Chevrolet Express Cargo van base price starts at $31,900, making these vans an economical option for many seeking to do a conversion. The rear wheel drive provides more control in different driving conditions such as snowy and wet conditions. The commercial intention of the van makes it a durable choice for wheelchair transport.
Chevrolet Express Cargo Van Disadvantages
The Chevy Express van first came out back in 1996 without much modification to the design or function since then. Being a cargo van design, they are not meant to have the latest comforts that other passenger vans have. The V8 engine is not friendly at the gas pump either.
Chevrolet Express Cargo Van Bottom Line
These vans are customized easily because the open cargo floor plan is conducive for conversion and adding mobility devices. A well-maintained Chevrolet Express can run for 180,000 to 200,000 miles adding to its lifetime value. In addition to being a workhorse, the side entry doors both open out, which makes it a great option to have a wheelchair lift installed there.
GMC Savana Conversion Van
The GMC Savana Conversion van is one of the most functional passenger vans on the road. The raised roof gives extra space for headroom with plenty of room for cargo storage or other passengers. There are a number of mobility modifications available for this vehicle, such as wheelchair lift, raised doors and automatic powered doors.
GMC Savana Conversion Van Advantages
This van has long appealed to large families, community groups and schools because of its ability to transport a large number of passengers, accommodating up to 15 passengers in unmodified models. A new 4×4 model is available as an upgrade to the Savana’s original rear wheel drive train.
GMC Savana Conversion Van Disadvantages
The V8 engine is a great feature for towing but leaves the GMC at a disadvantage with its mileage at only 11 to 15 miles per gallon. The interior hasn’t changed much since its initial release and can feel dated for passengers seeking a little more comfort and luxury. Depending on the modifications, passengers in the back may have difficulty entering and exiting the van.
GMC Savana Conversion Van Bottom Line
The GMC Savana is a nice balance between a comfortable passenger van with cargo vehicle power and durability. The base price starts at $34,900 making it a reasonable option for someone seeking to purchase a van for wheelchair conversion. Deciding to buy a used van doesn’t have to be a negative thing, you can save money and still get a great deal.
Ford Transit Van
The Ford Transit is one of the most versatile vans on the market with models ranging from small economy passenger vans to larger cargo vehicles. This make them appealing to those seeking to buy a van for a mobility conversion. With three roof heights, three lengths and three different engine options, this van will address the needs of anyone looking for accessibility vans.
Ford Transit Van Advantages
The Ford Transit is a perfect choice for a wheelchair van because of the large level floor, tons of storage space, and availability for side or rear wheelchair lifts. It is designed to be converted as a multi-use van making customization that meets individual disability needs easy. The Ford Transit is a popular choice for those wanting a camper conversion for extended road trips.
Ford Transit Van Disadvantages
Depending on the model, some access modification may be limited. The rear doors of the Ford Transit smaller models become limiting for rear entry ramps and lifts. Smaller models don’t have the same drivetrain as larger models meaning you may sacrifice tow capacity and maneuverability in some driving conditions with smaller Transit choices.
Ford Transit Van Bottom Line
The base price of a new Ford Transit van is $32,000, but buying a van a year or two old can easily be found for under $20,000. The configuration versatility and size variations of the Transit models make it a popular choice for conversion vans. What the Ford Transit does well is giving people multiple options when it comes to buying a conversion van.
Narrowing the Choices of Conversion Vans for Sale
Finding a conversion van for sale that meets all of your needs isn’t always possible. Look at the benefits and disadvantages of the most commonly converted vans and see what modifications are widely used. Check with certified driver rehabilitation specialists to understand the reliability of used vehicle and expected lifespan of mobility and accessibility conversion parts. If you simply can’t find a used conversion van that works for you, determine what the best option is to buy a van and convert it to your specifications.
Where to Find Conversion Vans for Sale
Finding a certified conversion van dealer can help take the headache out of buying a new or used vehicle. Whether you are needing a mobility vehicle, a large passenger vehicle for personal or commercial use, or if you are finally getting the camper van of your dreams, the expertise of a professional can be a great help.
R&J Mobility is a certified mobility dealer with specialists available to walk you through your conversion needs. R&J Mobility serves clients all over the West Coast, including Oregon, Washington, and California. Stop by one of our two Oregon locations, or give us a call at (541) 245-4846 and let us see what we can do for you.