Accessible van advice - repair or replace?

From a member of our community:

I am at a place in my life where we need to replace the rear ramp in my van or replace my 14 yr old van. Shopped yesterday at an awesome business in Lexington KY. We have different options that I’m having problems working through in my mind.
If they can find a later model vehicle with a side ramp (how problematic can loading and unloading can be in public parking lots?) Or if I stay with rear loading someone has to be with me (as in been for 14 yrs) to get my chair in and out & bring it to me.
Or then do I, in buying a different vehicle, remove the driver seat and use my chair to drive in? I keep going over & over this in my mine with no conclusion so I’m reaching out, thank you.

Our needs with my son are different from yours so I won’t comment on the ramps but only on the van. We bought a 2017 Ford Transit Connect a year ago after much looking for an appropriate van for our needs. It has been a great van and would recommend it highly. We have the passenger model but under it all is a small work van. This means plenty of head room for a wheel chair with a person in it and a durable interior that can take the bangs and scrapes that we put it through hauling equipment in and out of it. The sliding rear doors are on both sides which comes in handy once in a while when someone parks in the cross-hatching of the accessible parking spot. I would recommend looking at it. A plus is that the passenger model is being used for rental cars and the cargo model is a very popular work van so if you are looking for a bargain, both have a very buyer friendly used car market. Hope this helps.

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My husband and I just went through the same thought process last year, while trying to decide if a rear or side entry would work best for him. We ended up with a side entry simply because if need be we can modify either the drivers or passenger seat to lock in the wheelchair. The rear entry just wasn’t going to work for our needs. We ended up getting a Toyota Sienna BraunAbility modified van and love it. We have a full backseat to take the grandchildren or friends with us and plenty of room for the scooter and big trunk area which you wouldn’t have with rear loading. Hope this helps.


We bought a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan fro. A Braunability dealer with and in floor ramp. We lo e the ramp and the accessibility it gives us. Dodge however has not been great about several rust issues and covering them under warranty. In researching the different models and brands we have found that both the Honda and the Toyota vans have a much better build quality and longevity. We will not be buying another Chrysler product after all the hassles we’ve had dealing with Chrysler’s customer service. We love the side ramp and with my powerchair parking isn’t an issue. If we can’t find a spot in the handicap parking we go to a less used space in the lot and take up 2 spaces or catch and end space. You will like the power ramp its super easy to use and I can use the van without assistance because of the power ramp where I dont have the strength to operate a manual one

How about a truck,something like this maybe. I’ve seen some in the VA clinic parking lot and they look easy to use, even in a parking

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I had to replace my van at the end of 2017 because the hand control brakes failed and I was told the equipment was too old to fix. I had a side entry ramp and was tired of either waiting for a handicapped spot to open or parking far away so I could hopefully be able to get back in. At the time a company was showing a rear entry Kia Soul and a driver’s seat on a rail that would slide back so that I can transfer to it from my chair. After pricing the different vehicles and thinking about how I use it the Soul was the best choice. I LOVE IT! I can park anywhere and the size is great. It does have only the front seats but it is just my husband and I so that is fine and the best thing is that the whole cost was lower than the Explorer that I was looking at.

Please take into consideration that the public can be rude in that they will park on the striped area next to tte actual handicapped parking space. I have a friend whose son is paraplegic due to a ski accident and he is independently living and working. His van is designed for his chair to lock into place so he can drive using his hands. He has gotten stuck where people have parked in that striped place and he has no way to use the van’s lift to get inside. His only choice was to wait around for the jerk to return and move the car. If it was me I would have called the cops to have it towed. There are many pluses and minuses to each choice; you need to weigh each option and choose what is best for you. I know another problem he has is the enormous cost of replacing his van. Because he works he is not eligible for any financial assistance in securing a new den. He is going to have a huge financial burden in doing so and it won’t be long as his van has over 250,000 miles on it.

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