February 12, 2017

The ActionMobile

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Our family financed this used Chrysler Town & Country shortly after we discovered we were pregnant with Alexander.  It replaced our mid-size sedan that we loved but was now impractical.

Long trips were already an adventure with just the older two boys so we knew the addition of a third would definitely require more space and options for trips.  Of course now we have other requirements.

Alexander will hopefully be receiving his first powered wheelchair later this year. He’ll need it to navigate around our house and at school, which starts in August, 2017.

Right now, Alexander is small enough for us to transfer him to and from his wheelchairs.  When he gets his powered wheelchair, we will need to transfer him to/and from the chair and then load the his heavy (up to 500lbs) powered chair onto a hitch shelf.  The van will need to be modified with a hitch mount so that we can place a carrier there.

Next Fundraising Goal

Option 1: Conversion

There are many companies that provide accessibility conversions for vans like ours.  In fact, the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country (both share the same body) are two of the most popular vans for conversion.  The costs range from $10,000 – $20,000, depending on the type of conversion and brand of equipment used.  Rear-entry conversions are cheaper, but sacrifice more valuable space.  Side-entry systems will allow us to keep our third row of seating for Owen and Ethan while maintaining space behind the third row for Alexander’s additional equipment.

The primary issue with converting our current van is that it already has 60,000 miles.  While not necessarily a significant amount, most expect their wheelchair vans to last them a good deal longer than the typical automobile.  We also spend a considerable amount of time on the road these days.  From Morgantown, WV for Gastro and Ortho to Columbus, OH for the SMA clinic.  Each of Alexander’s numerous specialist like to see him every 3-6 months, which means a rapid rate of mileage accumulation.

Sinking an additional $20,000 into this van may not be the best choice and has us considering alternatives.

Read more: Understanding How Much Wheelchair Van Conversions Cost

Option 2: Trade and Purchase New

Some of the same companies that offer conversion services also sell brand new accessibility vans.  They purchase brand new vans from the factory and install their equipment.  Purchasing a new van will maximize the lifetime of the van, but comes at a considerable cost.  Brand new accessible vans can range from $50,000-$70,000 and sometimes even more!  That is a significant amount of money, as much as we paid for our house in fact.  Most offer 10 year financing programs, which helps people get them when they are needed.  They usually come at a higher than normal interest rate, however.