We expect Bradley to eventually be in a power wheel chair. He is 11 and still walking. From the looks of his Thigh/Pelvis MRI, Dr. Wong is surprised he is still walking. So where does one begin to find a wheel chair acessible vehicle. I don't know if we have any companies in our area or not-St. Louis might be the closest.

With the gas prices and trips to Cincinnati every 6 months, I wish we could find something with better gas mileage. Our Jeep Grand Cherokee only gets 16.5 mpg. I have heard that some van's get 20 or more mpg. We may get a small car for now and wait until Bradley is actually in a power chair to get a wheel chair accessible vehicle. But I would like to start thinking about this and looking around so we are prepared when the time comes.

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I know Ford will help you with finding one. So go to your nearest Dealer and ask them, they should help. For that matter all dealers should know and help you with this.
Thanks Tanya. I was wondering if any of our local dealers would help us. That is good to know.

What day is your son's birthday in March. Bradley will be 12 on March 27th.
Thanks for sharing your experiences with me. We are thinking about savng the Jeep for my daughter who will be taking Driver's Ed. this coming school year. Scary thought, huh? We just paid it off a few months ago and we had planned to wait on purchasing a vehicle but these gas prices are causing me to think more and more about getting something more economical. I hear the gas prices may jump to $5 by the 4th in our area. Seems a drastic jump but nothing would surprise me.
Thanks for the links.
I agree with patty of the ezlock system because we don't have it, but I want to change to it. I think they install something on the bottom of your sons wheelchair and he just rolls in and the wheels lock all by themselves. We have the manual tie down system and it is a pain in the butt. You have to tie down the front two wheel and then the two back wheels and when you have two chairs to do it to, you get wore out. Ezlock is the way to go. And think about getting the high rise top too, because these boys grow so fast, and when they get taller, you have to either tilt their chairs to get them in the van or have a extended roof. Good luck.
There is so much to think about. For a long time, I didn't even want to think about it. I don't think I could handle looking to the future where Bradley's DMD was concerned; I mean as far as looking at equipment and all. But now the time has come and I have to be prepared for what is ahead. The EZ Lock system sounds good. I looked at the link for that and it sounds like an excellent thing to have.
We have a Dodge Grand Caravan from FMI out of Michigan. Ours is a rear entry van. it has worked great for us. It gets 17-18mpg. We loved the extra seating. Ours seats 7, including Justin in his powerchair. Our lift folds down automatically, but can be used manually shoud there be a problem. Side entry lifts werent good for us because where we live, and the hospitals we use, we could never find parking for them!! we financed our van through my husbands old work credit union. Since it was a modified vehicle for a disabled person, we were able to finance it for 10yrs, lowering our payments, and we didnt have to pay our state sales tax on it. Oh and the ez lock system is a MUST!! We didnt have one at first, but the manual ties are a pain, so we went back and had it added. I love it!

Might want to look at the Honda Odessy van. Pretty good gas mileage. Also think about whether you want a rear entry/exit or side entry/exit in the van. I've seen both, when we built our new addition the garage was designed to handle either; the thing is, if your out and cannot find a handicapped parking place, then side exits won't work well. when the time comes we'll be looking at a rear entry/exit modification.

Mike Piacentino, father of Jonathan
I agree! Check out the Honda Odessy. I looked into this vehicle a while back and they can fully equip. it for wheelchair accessability. It is a very nice van and great on gas mileage. The Honda dealership was very helpful in providing me the details and information on this vehicle and how it is modified for wheelchair accessibility.
Yep! I agree - very expensive. But we can dream huh? I drive a Honda Accord now and it is great. Never breaks down and gets good gas mileage.
Hi Lisa,
After waiting 14-weeks, we finally got our new Honda Odyssey rear-entry minivan today. We traded in our Ford E250 full size van for the Honda Odyssey. We are happy to report that we are thrilled with the minivan. On our way home, we stopped at a restaurant and didn't even care that all the handicap spots were taken because we were able to park in a regular size spot. I no longer have to get into the van to put our 4-year old son's seat belt on and then climb over him to tie down the wheelchair. The lift we had was mechanical and it would sometime give us problems especially in the winter (where my son would be freezing cold in the van and the lift would also freeze and not work). I won't even talk about the gas prices for the full-size van . . .

Our new minivan has the EZ Lock as well as a manual ramp that folds down. It is so light anyone can do it and this way no electronics, so nothing to break. The rear entry gives us more room for other passengers and will seat 5 people plus a wheelchair. I would recommend a rear-entry for transition into p/t-f/t wheelchair because you can still help your son into the seat just behind the driver/passenger without having to climb into the van (as in the side-entry van). Then you can bring the scooter/w-c into the back with them either sitting in it or just parking it.

Thanks everyone for all your input. I will probably refer back to this thread in addition to the ones at the forum. It sounds like the EZ Lock system is a must and the rear entry is most beneficial.

Do you all feel it would be best for me to wait until Bradley is in a power wheel chair before purchasing a van for the purpose of the power wheel chair.....or is it possible to get a van ahead of time and make necessary modifications? I imagine it would cheaper to get it all done at one time with the purchase of the van.

I don't know how soon we will be able to afford it but I'm thinking a lot about a fuel efficient car for the time being and maybe trading that in when we get ready for a van. At this point, we can a van more fuel efficient than the jeep which only gets 16.5mpg. Knowing my luck, we will get a small car and Bradley will suddenly need a power wheelchair. I keep thinking about how Dr. Wong stated she was amazed that Bradley was still walking with the looks of the muscles on his MRI. It makes me wonder if it could be anytime now.
Which would be recommended...get the van already accessible or have it made accessible when the time is needed? Currently we have a suburban and I've thought of going ahead and trying to sell (like that will happen with these gas prices lol). Justin is not using anything presently so I was curious if anyone had information on the best route.

I am in the process of looking for a new handicapped van to replace our aging one. My son will be 19 years old, and we need to transport him to the college he will be attending. I was wondering if the people who purchased the Honda are still happy to own it? Our Braun representative had all negative things to say about the Honda conversion, yet, I think the Honda is an excellent van. Toyota does a conversion, but it's difficult to find a new one under $50,000. I found several good "deals" on Odysseys (Honda) and Sequoias (Toyota). Unfortunately, the conversion dealers will not accept those vans to convert. They want "specially prepared" ones. By the way, our current van is a 2002 Chrysler Town & Country, converted by VMI, infloor. The automatic component has not worked for years on the van (costly to keep fixing). The transmission "blew" at 60,00 miles while we were driving down the highway,the engine light is currently on, and we need new brakes and a new muffler.

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