• Posted by aimee on February 26, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    We just bought a Toyota Sienna and are about to start the process of getting it converted.  My daughter has CAP funding so once we get it approved they should cover it!  We are planning on rear entry since we have 2 other little ones.  My husband thinks that a manual ramp would be a safer bet long term because we won’t have to worry about electronics or other parts failing… I think if we have the option we should do powered ramp because it’s less work to load and unload.  Thoughts?

    deann-r replied 3 years, 2 months ago 5 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • dennis-turner

    February 26, 2021 at 11:13 pm

    I am a 250 lbs male with an approximately 450 lb chair. We have a converted Dodge Caravan with side entry and manual ramp with electric sliding doors. My wife says the manual ramp is easy to unfold and fold; she does it with one hand. We did make a loop through the bottom slat of the ramp so she doesn’t accidentally scrape her hand on pavement when lifting it. We get it checked every 6 months as part of maintenance.

    We chose manual because we live in New England and heard power lifts sometimes malfunction in freezing weather. We also have a friend who supervises group homes that have vehicles with the power lifts and he told us they malfunction frequently.

    We chose side entry because with rear entry in most parking lots you are often exiting the vehicle into traffic areas. In addition, if you are parking on a street, it’s unlikely you’ll have sufficient space behind you to exit.

  • lupa-f

    February 27, 2021 at 2:25 am

    I have a folding power side ramp. Even if the electronics break, you can still manually use it. The only issue with the folding ramps is they bounce around a fair bit and are pretty noisy inside. I think you can manually use an in floor ramp but it’s a bit more involved where you have to crank it out.

    As for the side versus rear ramps, I’d try to go look at them in person. The rear ramps to me seem to use up a lot of the storage space that you might want to have. The side ramps still have the full back bench and rear storage area. The only real advantage the rear ramp vans seem to have is the option to park in regular parking spots and whether that’s important I guess depends on the area you live and how parking is in the area.

  • deann-r

    February 27, 2021 at 9:09 am

    We went from a full size van with side entry electric lift to a rear entry mini van with a manual fold out. Love it, no regrets. We don’t have to worry about the mechanics failing, and it’s so simple anyone can use it without instruction. It’s too heavy for me to operate on my own, but since I’m not driving someone’s always there anyway. I’d look into EZlock for the chair. We didn’t but it might be easier to secure the chair. Rear entry is great for parking. Plus I don’t have to turn around. Good luck with your decision. I’m sure whatever you choose will be right for your family.

  • mike-huddleston

    February 27, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    Hey Aimee – Good topic.  As others have provided valuable insights, I’ll just add a couple of others from my experience or perspective. I have a Toyota Sienna with in fully automatic in floor system by VMI.  Side entry.  The side entry doesn’t seem to be an option for you with two other children as you lose the middle row seating with side entry.  But I drive from my wheelchair, so was necessary in my case. I do use the EZ Lock, and although expensive, it is a huge time savor for me rather than doing the 4 tie-lockdowns every time I’m in and out of the van.

    Your husband is right in that there is a risk of failure with the power ramp, but there should be overrides provided should that happen.  My van was bought new in 2015 and there have only been a few times a year when it has not worked.  The override for mine is also automatic (Sure Deploy System) and works well. Not sure what other manufacturers provide.

    A couple of other items to consider. Forgive the question, but will your daughter be able to drive at some point in the future?  If so, how long will that be?  In other words, if just a few years, you may want to consider the side entry to keep that option available.  There will still be the back seat for your other children or other passengers. She could lock in position behind one of the front seats. If more than 7 or 8 years away, this decision can be deferred for a future vehicle purchase.

    Also, the rear entry has some pluses in parking – you don’t need to find a spot with a wheelchair access area between parking spaces.  The side entry power ramps extend out so you need at least 6 feet between vehicles.  But Dennis’ point about curbside (parallel) parking is true.

    And finally, power vs. manual, power is beneficial in that you can open the ramp door and extend the ramp remotely, so if it’s raining, you can open it and then make a mad dash for the van and your daughter can just zoom right in.  The rear door lifts up like it currently does, so there is some protection for the ramp and wheelchair user either way.

    Hope some of this helps. Good luck with your decision.  🙂

  • aimee

    March 1, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks so much everyone for the input!  We went to the conversion company today and after seeing/trying the manual ramp I feel much better.  I didn’t realize that it was built in regardless.  I was picturing something that I would have to take out of the van and unfold every time.  It all makes more sense now!

    • deann-r

      March 2, 2021 at 10:12 am

      I’m so glad you had the chance to check out some options. It’s definitely an overwhelming process. Good luck with it. We’d love to hear how it goes, so feel free to post updates letting us know what you think.

Log in to reply.