Rear or Side-Entry Wheelchair Van Conversion Options
Synopsis: Accessible minivans are generally available in two different types of ramp entry options side-entry and rear-entry. In a rear-entry car, the wheelchair occupant enters through the rear hatch. The wheelchair occupant enters through the side-sliding passenger door in a side-entry vehicle. Trying out a side-entry minivan, or any van for that matter, is a good idea to ensure it's the right fit.
- Wheelchair Accessible Van
- A wheelchair-accessible van is a vehicle that has been modified by increasing the internal size of the vehicle and equipping it with a means of wheelchair entry, such as a wheelchair ramp or powered lift. There are two types of entry configurations: side-entry and rear-entry. The entry location impacts wheelchair seating positions, parking options, the ability to accommodate other passengers, and storage availability. Modifications fall into two categories; the first is where the individual in a wheelchair is the driver, and the second is where the individual in a wheelchair is a passenger.
Accessible minivans are available in two types of ramp entry options; side-entry and rear-entry. The difference between the two is how the wheelchair occupant enters the vehicles. In a rear-entry car, the wheelchair occupant enters through the rear hatch. The wheelchair occupant enters through the side-sliding passenger door in a side-entry vehicle. Although the side-entry conversion is more common, we have customers who prefer the rear-entry. Here are some facts about the two options to help you decide which will work best for you.
Rear-Entry Wheelchair Accessible Minivans
The rear-entry minivan has a lowered floor to make the ramp slope less of an angle when entering. To do this, the conversion technician cuts out the minivan's floor from the back by the bumper to the middle bench seat or driver and front passenger seat (depending on where the wheelchair occupant prefers to be secured for transport). A new section is then welded 10" lower to the ground. The conversion is continued, and a fold-out ramp is added to the rear bumper area where the floor was cut out.
PRO's: Why People Prefer Rear-Entry Wheelchair Minivans
The rear-entry ramp entrance is less of a modification, meaning it takes less work and time to convert because less of an area is affected during the conversion process. Since the conversion process is less complicated, a rear-entry's price is slightly less high than a side-entry minivan.
Since accessible minivans have lowered floors, the ground clearance is sacrificed. Since the rear entry does not have lowered sides and has a raised rear bumper, the clearance is better than that of a side-entry vehicle.
To enter a rear-entry vehicle, the wheelchair user drives straight into the vehicle from the back as far as they need to go to be in the desired travel position. No extra turning or maneuvering is required, which is especially beneficial to individuals who cannot bend their legs, require a tilted chair, or have a longer than average chair.
The rear-entry accessible minivan can fit into a normal parking space and does not need the extra space on the side that side-entry vehicles need. A rear-entry vehicle is beneficial to customers who wish to exit and enter their vehicle in a garage or who need to double park for loading and unloading.
Con's: Why Rear-Entry Might Not Work For You
Parallel parking is not an option unless you unload the wheelchair passenger on the road before parking or pull out of the parking spot before loading the wheelchair user. Parking on the end of a street is the only other way to parallel park in a rear-entry and still have access to the ramp.
No Pilot or Co-Pilot Seating for Wheelchairs:
Since the rear-entry floor is only lowered to behind the middle bench seat or driver and passenger seats, the wheelchair occupant can not drive or sit in the passenger seat while in their wheelchair. Only if an individual can transfer into the factory seat can they could use the pilot or co-pilot seating options.
Side-Entry Wheelchair Accessible Minivans
A side-entry minivan is converted by lowering the floor 10" from the rear bench seat all the way forward or sometimes just before the pilot and co-pilot chairs. This allows an easier entrance ramp angle and the capability of driving a wheelchair, powered chair, or scooter into the driver or front passenger seat.
Pro's: Why People Prefer Side-Entry Wheelchair Minivans
Parallel parking is no issue for side-entry ramps, which is helpful for individuals who live in a city or in a neighborhood where parking lots or driveways are unavailable.
Pilot and Co-Pilot Wheelchair Access:
The side-entry allows wheelchair users to drive right into the driver or front passenger positions while still in their chair, which is not an option for rear-entry vans. A side-entry vehicle makes a huge difference for families with parents who used wheelchairs and anyone who wants the freedom to travel alone.
Con's: Why Side-Entry Might Not Work For You
The side-entry ramp conversion needs extra space on the side of the vehicle for the ramp to deploy. Often, this becomes an issue when parking in parking lots, even when there is handicapped parking available. When considering a side-entry, it is important to consider where you travel and park.
Side-entry minivans sometimes are limited in space, especially if your wheelchair is larger than average or if you sit higher in your chair.
Trying out a side-entry minivan, or any van for that matter, is a good idea to ensure it's the right fit.
Resources That Provide Relevant Information
- Free Wheelchair Vans From All Things Possible
- Grant Writing for a Wheelchair Van
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Purchasing a Wheelchair Accessible Van
- Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: The Basics
- Selecting the Right Wheelchair Van
- Wheelchair Accessible Van Rentals for Persons with Disability
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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2010, June 20). Rear or Side-Entry Wheelchair Van Conversion Options. Disabled World. Retrieved September 26, 2023 from www.disabled-world.com/disability/transport/private/van-wheelchair-conversions.php
Disabled World is an independent disability community founded in 2004 to provide disability news and information to people with disabilities, seniors, their family and/or carers. See our homepage for informative reviews, exclusive stories and how-tos. You can connect with us on social media such as X.com and our Facebook page.
Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified professional medical care, nor should they be construed as such. Funding is derived from advertisements or referral programs. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.