Disabled Van

I am not sure you can help me but I got your number through Medicare and their help line. I have Myasthenia Gravis and some other illnesses that have led me to an electric wheelchair. I am grateful to have my wheelchair but limited in what I can do. I have a 1994 Ford Explorer that my husband put a device on to carry the chair but I am not able to do this myself. I was hoping you could help in suggestions on vans that have a drive in side entry and I could use hand controls on the steering wheel to drive. I would love to be able to have some independence, get my medications, groceries and visit my mom who lives in a nursing home. I have had 40+ hospitalizations in the past few years and due to this my credit is not good. Do you know of anywhere I could find a vehicle that would work for me or I can afford? I don’t care if it is new or used, just dependable and one I can use with my electric wheelchair. I appreciate you taking the time to read this. It is hard for me to ask for help because I was a RN/RN Administrator used to helping others instead of others helping me.
Thank you in advance.

Have a great day!

In the menu at the top of this page, click on

  • acual car info -

Scroll down to

  • special needs zone -

Lots of reference links in

  • our favorite resouces -

I have seen mini vans adapted this way, for the driver to stay in their wheel chair.
The side door has a ramp and the driver’s seat is removed. The wheel chair can be locked in place and a normal seat belt used.

Debbie, this is just a public internet discussion board - not really someplace that you want to leave your complete personal contact info. So edit your post and pull out all of your specifics.

My best suggestion to help you out is what ken green said above.

Debbie, please follow cigroller’s advice and remove your personal data ASAP.

My suggestion is to use your yellow pages and look for companies that customize normal vehicles to add the features you want. You can find companies like that in almost every major city.


handicap van conversion

Surely as an RN you must have advised more than one patient about adapting to their newly changed abilities.
Stop a moment and think back to your days as an RN. What would you have advised them ? A direct contact or a network of people who know people ?

My RN wife does this many times often refering them to me for the long list of little things at home like hand rails, ramps, light switch placement, extension pull chains, etc.

Roll-x and Braun Entervan are the two most common van conversion companies out there. Of the two, I’d go with an Entervan, because the Roll-x my folks had when dad was in a powerchair sucked, and the customer service sucked, and they didn’t even manage to get everything that should have been welded, welded, which led to driveability and ride problems that Roll-x refused to acknowledge or even attempt to fix.

There is also a new vehicle out there which was designed from the ground up as a handicapped vehicle. It’s made by AM-General (the guys who made the Humvee for the military) and it sounds like it will cost less new than most van conversions. It’s called the MV-1 - you should look into it.

Keep in mind that your chair will dictate to some degree your van - if, for instance, you’re in a Permobil, you probably don’t want a minivan, because while you can fit in there, it will be a very tight squeeze, and headroom can be an issue, especially if you have the support back with the head rest.

You said to recommend a van that you can afford, but didn’t say what your budget is. These things can cost 40-60 grand new, and tend to be driven a long time before they are gotten rid of which means they can be in pretty rough shape used. Get back to us with your budget and, if possible, your requirements (do you need a transfer seat? Power tiedowns? (i.e. will you be driving it alone and not have anyone to strap your chair down for you?) Hand controls? and I’ll try to stop back and answer further.

I didn’t put any personal info in my comment (at least I didn’t feel that I did). Not sure what needs to be removed. You were advised to me via Medicare and they stated you probably could help me. I can not afford a new van but a used van with a side entry where the wheelchair can be buckled in would be fine. I have one medication that costs me $4500.00 a month and I take 15 others. Myasthenia Gravis isn’t my only problem but the illness that stopped me in my tracks.
As far as being a RN/RN Administrator, I didn’t deal with patients who had the physical problems I have. My specialty was endoscopy and I started several outpatient endoscopy centers. If I had dealt with a place like Shepard Spinal Center, I would definitely help the patient find quality in their daily life including how to get out and be with people or get their groceries or be able to visit their mom (who has dementia and in a nursing home) and a 91 year old father suffering from the lack of having his wife around.
I assumed since Medicare suggested you, you would know how to help me. I could pay $350.00 a month and would need hand controls on the van. My hands are strong but my legs and upper body can be weak. Some days I realize driving would not be possible. I would only drive the car a few miles to get my medications, get groceries and see my mom and help my dad.
You guys know more than I do as far as a disability van goes. I have not pursued this but I now see I need some quality in life and my parents need me as well as getting food and medications. My credit is not good because I have had 35-40+ hospitalizations in the last two years. My husband has a full time job and makes good money but my medication and bills take a lot of this. I receive the highest amount from disability due to working as a RN for many years.
If you can help in any way, I would greatly appreciate it!

Have a great day!

You already know more than you realize. ( Being thrust into a life changing situation can be so frustraring and overwhelming that you just miss the pre-existance of your own resources. )
Being from the medical field you have merely to ask your co-workers and other depatments. ( you may not know the answers but you know some people who know the answers )
I think you just skipped right over a huge connection to information that you just mentioned who can easily add their two cents.

  • Shepard Spinal Center -

Since you know they deal with this sort of thing every day, even though you’re not a patient of theirs, I’ll bet they’ve got great references in your area.

Just like networking here at Car Talk, let them guide to to someone who can refer you to someone who knows.
Just as we are doing, get ideas that lead to ideas that lead to answers.
( Ask someone who knows someone to ask, who knows someone etc. )

My short search of ‘handicap conversion vans’ came up with what appeared to be lots of choices pending zip code info for a dealer search.

good luck in your vehicle search.

( I’ve endured several life changing events as well and, sure enough, missed the sight of some of my own resources until some time passed or others suggested things I should have thought of myself. )

with your budget, you’ll want to get a used converted van. A full sized van will probably be cheaper (because not many want them any more) but will cost you more to drive (figure 10-15 mpg depending on how much accessible stuff was added).

Start hitting up disability organizations. My dad didn’t have MD, but his condition was covered by the MDA umbrella and they helped cover expenses that weren’t covered by insurance. I doubt yours is listed with MDA, but there’s bound to be an organization out there that’s set up to help people with your condition as well.

Do you attend a church? If so, they might be able to provide monetary assistance, or even have a vehicle they’re thinking about retiring that’s setup for handicapped people.

Shadowfax mentioned the MV-1, here’s their website you can get information about it and even build and price should you be interested(starts at almost $40k, though)