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The Ins and Outs of Wheelchair Ramp Vans

Wheelchair vans typically use one of two primary systems that enable the wheelchair user to enter and exit an accessible van. The wheelchair lift is a motorized platform that raises and lowers an occupied wheelchair from the ground to the level of the van floor, where the wheelchair user rolls into and out of the vehicle. Wheelchair ramp vans are equipped with a ramp that leads from the door to the ground. So which is the better option for you?

Happy senior with his van

The motorized lift is often preferred by those in manual wheelchairs, because people with disabilities often lack the upper-body strength to maneuver the incline of a ramp themselves, and pushing an occupied wheelchair chair up a ramp can be a struggle for a caregiver over time. Yes, going down the ramp is much easier than going up. A full-size van is better suited than a minivan for wheelchair users who sit extremely tall in their chairs, and full-size handicap vans are always equipped with a lift. Since most people are of average height, wheelchair vans with a ramp are far more prevalent in the marketplace.

Wheelchair van ramps can fold into the cabin of the vehicle or telescope out from a compartment installed beneath the sliding door. You have other choices, too:

Side Entry Ramp

Side Entry Ramp

At the risk of stating the obvious, the side entry ramp deploys from the side of the van rather than the back. The side entry ramp is deployed after the power-operated door on the side of the van slides open. Ramps can be automatically activated or manually opened and closed. For maximum safety, a power ramp should have a manual override in case of a power failure. All AMS side entry ramps are automated, with a manual override, and operation by remote control or controls inside and outside the door.

A side ramp can present a problem if you park in a two-car garage or in a non-handicap-accessible parking space, because you won't have enough room to deploy the ramp properly. That said, they work beautifully in handicap parking spaces and won't require you to open the ramp into oncoming traffic.

Rear Entry Ramp

Rear Entry Ramp

Usually less costly than a side ramp conversion, the rear entry ramp wheelchair van deploys from the back of the van and is typically better suited for the wheelchair user who prefers to sit in the middle or back of the vehicle. Manual operation is the standard for rear entry ramps, which accounts for the lower cost, but automated rear entry ramps are available. Long-channel rear entry ramps can accommodate two wheelchair users in a minivan. Rear entry ramps can be hazardous in some parking situations if you have to deploy the ramp into a lane of traffic.

Portable Ramp

A lightweight, portable ramp offers flexibility in that you can use it for vehicle access as well as access to homes and buildings without handicap access. A portable ramp includes the same safety features (non-slip surface, side guards) as a permanently installed ramp, and these ramps typically fold up for easy portability.

Channel/Track Ramps

Instead of one wide ramp, economical channel or track ramps have two ramps with slip-proof channels, with each one wide enough to accommodate one wheel of a wheelchair. Also portable, track ramps can be adjusted to accommodate wheelchairs of any width simply by spreading them further apart.

What to Look For in a Wheelchair Ramp

Wheelchair accessible ramp designs vary, but there are a few things to look for in a ramp that affect your safety and ease of use. As always, price is a factor. That said, some of these features are, or should be, non-negotiable.

Non-Slip Surface

Also called an anti-slip surface or non-skid surface, a non-slip surface can be painted on or applied, like a rubberized coating. The need for a non-slip surface is indisputable, and most wheelchair van ramps are treated in some way to prevent slips and skids.

Sufficient Width

Wheelchairs come in different widths, and so do accessible van ramps. Make sure the ramp on your chosen van is more than wide enough to accommodate your wheelchair.

Side Guard/Lip

Side guards (or lips) on either side of the ramp help prevent your wheelchair from falling over the edge of the ramp during entry or exit.

Maximum Weight

Wheelchair ramps have weight limits, and they vary, though most ramps can handle several hundred pounds. Always ask. Take both your weight plus the weight of the wheelchair into consideration.

Degree of Incline

A lower incline or slope means an easier climb up the ramp. The ADA recommends a 2:12 slope, which means every 2" of vertical rise requires one foot of ramp (9.5 degrees of incline).

Manual/Motorized

Ramp Controls

An onboard ramp can be manually operated or automated to deploy and retract at the push of a button. An automated ramp adds to the price of the conversion; if you choose an automated ramp, make sure it has manual back-up. If, for some reason, the vehicle loses power, you'll still be able to enter and exit.

Now that you know more about this essential part of handicap van conversions, go ahead and “ramp up” your search for enhanced mobility!

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

2016 Used 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Wheelchair Van

USED Dodge Grand Caravan SXT
NEW AMS Legend Conversion

$35,495 $37,190


  • Stock #: 330821T
  • Mileage: 24,130 Miles
  • Ramp/Lift: Side Entry Bi-Fold Pwr
  • Features: 3YR/36K Conv Wrty, Parking Sensors, Driver Pwr. Seat Base
2013 Used 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Wheelchair Van

USED Dodge Grand Caravan SXT
NEW AMS Legend Conversion

$29,995 $31,690


  • Stock #: 788309T
  • Mileage: 95,939 Miles
  • Ramp/Lift: Side Entry Bi-Fold Pwr
  • Features: 3YR/36K Conv Wrty
2016 Used 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Wheelchair Van

USED Dodge Grand Caravan SXT
NEW AMS Legend Conversion

$35,690 $36,690


  • Stock #: 181492T
  • Mileage: 41,688 Miles
  • Ramp/Lift: Side Entry Bi-Fold Pwr
  • Features: 3YR/36K Conv Wrty

Vehicle Exterior


Exterior Appearance Inspection

  • Panel alignment/fit
  • Headlamp, taillamp/lens condition
  • Windshield/glass condition
  • Paint chips and scratches
  • Body damage/dents/dings
  • Trim and moldings

Vehicle Identification

  • In place and matching
  • Inspect certification label (federal requirement)
  • Check VIN label to paperwork
  • Check for non-completed recalls

Exterior Lights Function Properly and Illuminate as Designed

  • Headlights hi/low (including aim)
  • Parking lights/fog lights
  • License plate lights
  • Side marker lights
  • Tail lights / backup lights
  • Turn signal and cornering lights
  • Brake and high-mount stoplights
  • Emergency Flashers

Keys

  • Vehicle has 2 master key with remote entry (if applicable) and 2 valet key, flat key
  • Programmed to immobilizer

Door Lock System

  • Door opens/closes smoothly using interior and exterior door handles
  • Doors cannot be opened when lock button is in lock position
  • 2-turn unlock feature functions properly
  • Remote entry system operates properly
  • Theft-deterrent system functions properly
  • Child safety locks
  • Wireless door lock operation

Vehicle Interior


Interior Appearance Inspection

  • Seats: front/rear
  • Steering wheel/airbags
  • Armrests/door handles
  • Lower door and sill plates
  • Gearshift selection handle
  • Radio/AC control markings
  • Headliners/sun visors

Seat Belts

  • Extend/retract smoothly
  • Free of twists, cuts or signs of wear
  • Buckles lock securely

Seat Operation

  • Lumbar support operation
  • Memory control operates properly*
  • Headrest functions properly
  • Heaters function properly*
  • Seat cushion angle and height adjustment
  • Seatback angle adjustment

Power Windows / Locks

  • Function Properly

Trunk/Fuel Lid Release

  • Functions Properly (interior)

Glove Compartment

  • Contains portfolio, owner's manual, supplement

Steering Wheel

  • Tilt/telescopic functionability
  • Horn functions properly
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Steering wheel locks
  • Warning chime (key in -- door open)

Windshield Wiper

  • Functions in hi/low/intermittent
  • Wiper blades clean properly
  • Rain sensing wipers*

Dashboard Lights Illuminate as Designed

  • Turn signal: left/right
  • High beam indicator
  • Emergency flashers
  • Instrument panel control knob
  • Waring lights: oil pressure, brake, fuel, charge, seatbelt, open door, engine check, rear light failure, ABS, SRS
  • Check operation of guages

Rear Defogger

  • Functions properly

Air Conditioner / Heater

  • Climate control system functions properly for both heating and cooling

Interior Lights

  • Dome/map/vanity mirror/courtesy lamps/foot function properly

Audio/Navigation System

  • Power/volume switch functions properly
  • Preset station indicator
  • Cassette/CD function (scan, seek, rewind, fast forward) operates properly
  • Navigation system operates properly*
  • Speakers sound clear
  • CD cartridge (if applicable)

Sunroof

  • Tilt/slide operates properly

Clock/Cigarette Lighters/Ashtray/Cupholders

  • Function properly

Outside/Inside Rearview Mirrors

  • Power controls function properly

Luggage Compartment


Luggage Compartment

  • Spare tire size, sidewall condition, tread depth and air pressure
  • Spare tire and attaching hardware, cover, jack, jack tools and wheel lock (if applicable) are present, properly installed and secure
  • Manual fuel lid release operates

Under The Hood


Engine Hood Release

  • Interior release operates properly

The Following Fluid Levels Meet Industry Standard

  • Engine oil replaced and proper level
  • Automatic transmission fluid level
  • Brake fluid level
  • Power steering fluid level
  • Engine coolant fluid level
  • Washer fluid level

Engine Mechanical

  • Excessive fuel pump noise
  • Cooling system (radiator, overflow tank, hoses, coolant level)
  • Water pump (noise/leaks)
  • Air filter (replace as necessary)
  • Inspect oil for contaminants
  • Engine noise (knocks, rattles)
  • Transmission noise (whines, clunks)
  • Belts (wear or damage)
  • Check engine diagnostics

Battery

  • No damage or leakage and proper group size/amp rating
  • Tests to standards

Engine Fans

  • Function properly

Under the Vehicle

Tires (Minimum tread depth 5/32")

  • FL: _______/32"
  • RL: _______/32"
  • FR: _______/32"
  • RR: _______/32"
  • Sidewall condition
  • Proper size, type and match
  • Tire pressure

Wheels

  • Condition/size/fit
  • Check wheel lug-nut torque

Brake Inspection (Minimum 6mm of pad material required)

  • FL: _______mm
  • RL: _______mm
  • FR: _______mm
  • RR: _______mm
  • Rotors show no signs of excessive wear, warpage or heat damage
  • Calipers, lines, and hoses show no sign of excessive wear or leakage
  • Parking brake assemblies, cables, and attaching hardware show no sign of excessive wear or damage

Chassis Inspection (No sign of damage or excessive wear)

  • Frame rails and floor pan
  • Subframe
  • Engine mounts and oil pan for leaks
  • Brake lines and couplings
  • Transmission case/pan for leaks
  • Drive shaft boots and CV joints
  • Fuel lines, fuel tank, hoses and protectors
  • Steering rack, linkage, bushings, control arms and dust boots
  • Differential assembly, drive shaft and related components
  • Exhaust system (including leakage)
  • Transmission mounts
  • Tie rods, ball joints, idler arm
  • Catalytic converter
  • Struts/shocks for operation/leaks

Under Vehicle Fluid Levels

  • Differential lubricant level -- check for contaminants

Road Test (Vehicle Operation)


Engine

  • Start-up
  • Idles normally
  • While driving, engine performs normally
  • Starter system operates normally
  • Shift Lock

Brakes

  • Brake and parking brake function normally
  • Brake and clutch pedal height, free play and travel meet specs.

Indicator Lights

  • No warning lights illuminate during road test

Transmission

  • T/M shifts properly (both power/normal mode)
  • TRAC/VSC and ECT control functions and indicator lights function properly

Steering/Suspension

  • Steering operation is normal
  • Off-center psecifications meet standards
  • Handling, straight-line operations

Cruise Control

  • Functions properly

Noise or Vibration

  • None present

Squeaks or Rattles

  • None present

* -- If Applicable

Service Guarantee

AMS Vans promises to deliver the best wheelchair accessible van available on the market today..... simply put if you are not fully satisfied with your wheelchair accessible van upon delivery---you can refuse it at no cost to you.

With nearly two decades of experience; manufacturing, selling, and delivering over 12,000 vans nationwide, our dedicated team of certified technicians will not allow your van to leave our Atlanta facility until its right!

Please contact one of our experienced Mobility Specialists today and ask about our three step quality control process.

AMS Vans looks forward to serving your family by providing you with a van that is worthy of our own.

Contact AMS Vans



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