Ford Wheelchair Van Ramps : Which Ramp for Your Needs?

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If you plan to use a Ford vehicle as a wheelchair van, you’ll want to carefully consider the best way for you to get in and out of the vehicle. In most cases, that results in making a choice between the use of a wheelchair lift or a ramp.

The most popular Ford wheelchair van options, the full-sized E-Series vans and the now-defunct Windstar and Freestar minivans, can use either lifts or ramps. Let’s look at which choice might make the most sense as you consider Ford modifications.

Lifts can be a great way to access a wheelchair van. They have flat platforms upon which the wheelchair and its seated user rest as an electric motor or a hydraulic system elevates the to the vehicle’s point of entry. The best lifts, including those made by Braun and Bruno, are incredibly reliable and durable.

Issues to Consider with Wheelchair Lift Access

ford econoline 2006 wheelchair vansLifts do have a few weaknesses, however. For instance, they’re too big for some situations. That’s why the Windstar and Freestar can only use lifts in rear-entry configurations–and only when the lift can be externally mounted. That’s not a problem for the full-sized E-150 and E-350, however. Additionally, lifts are much more expensive than ramps. That combination of forces is the reason why many more people use ramps than use lifts. However, you will encounter many full-sized Ford vans that use lifts. In fact, the ability of the E-Series vehicles to utilize lift options is often a major reason why people choose them as a wheelchair vehicle.

Ramp Entry Is Most Often Your Best Choice

Ramps are the preferred accessibility aids for Ford minivans and are popular with full-sized van users, as well. Ramps can be used with rear-entry wheelchair vans and with the more popular side-entry variations. They’re right at home on E-Series vans and Ford minivans, alike.

ford windstar 2003 wheelchair vanRamps come in an assortment of styles. Some are lightweight, inexpensive and very portable. Others are sturdier manual option, but are quite heavy and difficult for many wheelchair users to manage. Automatic ramps cost more than manual and spring-assisted alternatives, but provide much greater convenience and ease of use. They can be extended or retracted with the push of a control button, making them a perfect choice for wheelchair users who want maximum independence and would prefer not to wrestle with manual alternatives. Those who possess the necessary dexterity and strength to manipulate manual ramps may consider them a superior choice due the potential cost savings.

You Must Consider Your Unique Mobility Needs

Before you decide upon a van or a lift, you should carefully consider your personal needs, whether you plan to utilize the equipment without any passengers or helpers, overall expense and durability. Safety is a key issue, so you should also be certain that the option your’ considering is capable of handling the combined weight of you and your chair. Those who use scooters and other powered mobility aids may oft for a lift if they can’t find suitable ramps to meet their needs.

Keep Life Simple With Automatic Access

We recommend the use of automatic ramps for all Ford. They offer the best overall value for most people. Some full-sized E-Series van buyers may opt for a lift, especially those who use heavier mobility equipment, but in most cases a ramp will be more than capable of meeting one’s needs. That’s why you seem more Ford wheelchair vehicles utilizing ramps (and power ramps, in particular) than any other method of vehicle access.

If you’re considering a Ford wheelchair van, carefully assess your abilities and develop a clear picture of how you’d like to use the vehicle. If you start with a clear idea of your objectives in mind, it shouldn’t be hard to determine which wheelchair ramp or lift will be the best fit for you.

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