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Friday, January 12, 2018

Accessible Van Shopping

Brendan is growing and is OUTGROWING our side entry Toyota Sienna. I didn't even realize this was a possibility but apparently it has happened to other people as well. He got a larger wheelchair frame 2 years ago and we have been struggling to get him into the van since. It has really begun to bother me. I can hardly reach around his chair to get the tie downs around his chair. It is also very difficult to wheel him in and turn him into position. His tip wheels get stuck on the tie down system and then his feet get stuck on the seat in front of him. We have had this van for nearly 7 years and I was hoping to keep it for at least 10 but we will sell it and put the money towards the new vehicle.

There are so many options. Since we have a large family we can only go with the mini van or full size van. I decided against the full size even though we probably should have that size to fit our family comfortably. I didn't want to drive that huge van around everywhere and worry about roof clearance or parking garages. I hope I don't regret it.


Side Entry Rear Entry (short cut) Rear Entry (long cut) Manual Ramp Electric Ramp

We need the long cut also due to our family size. I am going with the manual ramp this time because it will be quicker to open and we will have less maintance down the road. However I have never had any major issues with our electric ramp. In the cold it can take a few tries to open. I think this is pretty common.

I have learned a lot researching. Right now the leftover 2017 Toyota Sienna's are selling at amazing prices. Search on line and always ask for the e price. It is worth the phone calls and emails. They seriously give you an amazing price. Also get an eprice from all dealerships in your area to help you get the lowest price at the dealership you want. I found purchasing your own vehicle (as long as you get a good deal) and install a rear entry conversion is the most cost effective way to go. Purchasing an already converted vehicle is much less time consuming but it also seems to be the most expensive option. We did the that the first time around when I had no clue about accessible vehicles. We just stopped in at a mobility place and bought one. I won't lie, it has been amazing over the last 6 1/2 years. It has definitely saved my back and neck from NOT lifting his equipment nor him in and out of vehicles. But he is now 15 and it is time to get a different style. One important note: If you purchase a van to convert do not get All Wheel Drive. You can not covert it so only buy Front Wheel Drive. I have also read that some conversions and even some van makes are not wide enough and some chairs don't fit in between the seats. We need this van to last through multiple chair growths. Research is a must! Ask all the questions to make sure you ge the right conversion for your family. Toyota is wider and longer than some vans which helps make the conversion work well for a large family.

Our Plan:

Buy a 2017 leftover Toyota Sienna XLE (they are also offering 0% financing right now) and then ship it off to convert it with a long cut manual rear entry. I am also going with the ez lock system so I just have ot wheel Brendan in and he locks in. No need for tie downs. No more bending over and strapping his chair in 4 locations. The EZ lock system is the most exciting part for me. Since we have a lot of kids we neeed to add a folding bench seat in the rear. We unfold it after we lock Brendan in. That will be the most annoying part but we are very limited on options. I have also read that some conversions are not wide enough and some chairs don't fit in between the seats. We need this van to last through multiple chair growths. Research is a must! Ask all the questions to make sure you ge the right conversion for your family.

Once we have our new van in our hands I will post about the process in detail and all of the companies I went through. I am still figuring out some last minute details.

We will be selling our van ourselves. We asked Toyota about trading it in and they couldn't even come up with a price to give us. We asked for a certain amount and they didn't think they could give us the amount we asked for so we passed. They actually never even offered us a dollar amount. I appreciated their honesty.

Rear entry are harder to find and after researching I found Side entry is more popular and take up over 70% of the market. I always thought rear entry were more popular. Maybe they were 6 years ago.

So hopefully in a month or so we will have our new van. I will take some video's of hooking him into both vans.

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