Jason Dion

Critical Planning Steps Before Dodge Wheelchair Van Conversion

Written by Jason Dion. Filed in Dodge Adapting & Conversion Guide

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Before you begin adapting a Dodge Caravan, Grand Caravan or Sprinter for use as a wheelchair van, you need to properly prepare for the process. Let’s address some of the most important foundational concerns.

Legality

You will want to thoroughly investigate any and all legal requirements regarding Dodge wheelchair vans and modifications in your jurisdiction. You don’t want to adapt a vehicle in any way that could interfere with its ability to pass required motor vehicle inspections. You’ll also want to ascertain whether there are any special licensing requirements or tests you’ll need to pass to legally operate the vehicle after its conversion.

Another legal consideration relates to insuring your Dodge wheelchair van. Insurance isn’t just a practical “must have.” It’s also a legal requirement. Find out what it will take to adequately insure your adapted van and be certain that you’ll be able to bear any costs associated with that insurance.

Plans for Use

Every Dodge wheelchair van driver is different and has different patterns of vehicle usage. You’ll want to spend some time outlining the way you plan to use your van. This information will be extremely valuable when you discuss proposed adaptations with a driver evaluator, an equipment dealer and/or the conversion company who will actually perform the modification to your vehicle.

Note the conditions under which you’ll primarily drive, the number of miles you’re likely to accumulate on a regular basis, and what kind of driving in which you’ll usually be engaged. Think about any cargo you may move in your van in addition to your mobility device. Also note the number of passengers you’re likely to have in your vehicle on a regular basis and if any of them have special needs that should be addressed during modification.

The Driving Evaluation

You’ll need to meet with a certified driver evaluator as part of your adaptation preparation. This is a critical element of the process and it provides you with critical information. An evaluator will assess your strengths, limitations and abilities so that he or she may make specific recommendations regarding the modifications that will make your Dodge wheelchair van a perfect fit.

Evaluators consider your muscle strength, reflexes, range of motion, flexibility, coordination, driving background, and a variety of other factors that influence modification choices. Their final report will give you a comprehensive rundown of the adaptations you’ll need.

Your Equipment Dealer

You can take the evaluator’s report to a reputable aftermarket mobility equipment dealer. There you’ll be able to make specific determinations of which adaptations best meet your operating and financial requirements. In some cases, you’ll be able to bring your evaluator into the discussion to help insure the best possible decisions.

Just as you did with the evaluator, you’ll want to share your self-assessment and plans for your Dodge wheelchair van. This will help the dealer in determining which products you’ll need to “build” the perfect wheelchair van for you.

If you’re like most people who decide to purchase a wheelchair van, you’ll want to get things started as soon as you can. The advantages of owning a Dodge wheelchair van are numerous and the idea of having a new vehicle in your driveway is very enticing. However, it’s important to put things together the right way and that requires moving through all of the above-noted steps. This is not a place for shortcuts–the usability, function and safety of your van hang in the balance.

Investigating legal issues, understanding your planned use for the van, working with an evaluator and conferencing with a good equipment dealer are all essential parts of the preparation you must undertake before you adapt a Dodge vehicle.

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About Jason Dion

Jason Dion

Jason was a professional test-driver is his last life and is now a full time Nurse in Seattle, WA and follows the changing landscape of Disability Rights and Advocacy. He is keen to assist in developing useful disability information and advice from his real-life perspective working with people with disabilities. Jason is an automotive guru and covers a broad range of topics, including disability automotive, health conditions and lifestyle advice.

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