Before You Adapt Ford Wheelchair Vans


What do you need to do before you adapt a Ford vehicle for use as a wheelchair van?

Before anyone takes a wrench to your Windstar, Freestar or Econoline, you need to:

  1. Assess your planned driving patterns
  2. Evaluate all legal issues involved in the ownership and operation of a modified van
  3. Meet with a qualified driver evaluator
  4. Discuss your plans with an aftermarket mobility equipment dealer
  5. Talk about your plans with your Ford dealer.

Assess your planned driving patterns:

The better you understand your likely driving patterns, the better able you’ll be to decide upon the right modifications. You’ll want to consider multiple factors as you outline your vision for the future use of your Ford wheelchair van. These include:

  • The conditions under which you’ll most often be driving.
  • The number of miles you’ll drive and how frequently you’ll use the vehicle.
  • The number of passengers you’ll regularly transport and any special needs they may have.
  • The size of your wheelchair or power chair.
  • The quantity of cargo you may need to transport in your van.

Evaluate legal issues:

Understanding the law in your area as it relates to wheelchair vans and their drivers is important. In most cases, these requirements won’t pose any significant problems. However, issues can arise for which you’ll need to be prepared. You’ll want to know:

  • Any special requirements for modified wheelchair vans (backup systems, etc.).
  • The inspections your vehicle will undergo and if any potential adaptations could interfere with passing those inspections.
  • The licensing requirements you’ll need to meet and whether you’ll have any problems qualifying as your vehicle’s legal operator.

Insurance is another part of the legal puzzle. Every state has minimum insurance requirements and if you’re financing your Ford wheelchair van purchase, you will need to carry a comprehensive policy until the lien is released. You’ll need to:

Discover the exact legal requirements you’ll need in an insurance policy for your van.
Find an insurance company who can provide you with the coverage you need.
Determine your ability to pay for the required insurance on your Ford wheelchair van.

Meet with a qualified mobility evaluator:

A driver evaluator will perform a full assessment of your limitations, strengths and special needs in order to help you determine the modifications you’ll need to have an ideal driving experience and maximum accessibility. Specifically, evaluators consider:

  • Your muscle strength, stamina, range of motion and reflex quality.
  • Your driving history along with your judgment and decision making skills as they apply to driving.
  • Your ability to operate both standard vehicle controls and adaptive control systems.
  • Your likely future needs with respect to vehicle access and use.
  • Your planned use for the van.

The evaluator will distill the information into a report that will include detailed adaptation recommendations.

Discuss your van with an NMEDA mobility equipment dealer.

After meeting with an evaluator, you’ll know what you need in terms of adaptations. An NMEDA equipment dealer can help you to find the right versions of specific modifications to help you create a finished product that meets your driving and accessibility needs while fitting within your budget.

Meet with your Ford dealer.

Your Ford dealer will have additional information that may help you make wise modification decisions based on company research and customer feedback. The dealer can help you to choose the right base vehicle to meet your wheelchair van needs and will be able to discuss any special rebate or cash allowance programs relating to the purchase or installation of adaptive equipment.

These pre-adaptation steps will help you to modify a vehicle to be the perfect Ford wheelchair van to meet your specific needs.

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