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Handicap Accessible and Wheelchair Van Suspension Parts

Great Vans, Little Support...
Conversion Vans and mini vans have always been popular vehicles. Conersions were originally used by Rock Bands and campers but over the years have developed into everyday drivers for people with big families or physically disabled loved ones. These vans can be adapted to be easily accessible for people who require wheel chairs or have special needs, but when carrying such precious cargo you want to make sure that your van is safe for your passengers. Conversion Van accommodations can add a lot of weight to a vehicle and since dropped floors are often added during a conversion you will have increased chances of swaying and bottoming out. In order to fix this problem you can add forms of load support making the vehicle safer for all of its occupants.

Before a Conversion Van can be sold there are certain safety guidelines issued by the Federal Government as well as Vehicle Manufacturers that must be followed. These guidelines regulate detachable seatbelts, removable or swivel seats, raised roof structure and enlarged windows. Though many converted vans do add modified suspensions like multi-leaf springs to accommodate extra weight and lowered floors, not all conversion companies consider the suspension and it can lead to safety issues.

On average a manual wheel chair weighs between 30-56lbs and an Power Wheel Chair weighs between 140-350lbs. Adding a ramp can add between 11-58lbs depending on make and model and a Chair lift can add between 98-408lbs depending on if it is manual or motorized. With these necessary additions you are putting 139-816lbs on to your van and that is before adding Handicap accessible seats, raised roofs, storage mounts for chairs, stretchers or oxygen tanks and people. Since popular Full Sized Conversion Vans such as Ford E-Series, Chevy Express or GMC Savana get on average 3000lbs per side of rear spring capacity and common Minivan Conversions like Honda Odyssey, Chevy Astro Van, Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country average around 1400lbs per side you will come very close to overloading the van by time all is said and done.

There are simple solutions to weight issues that should be considered when building or purchasing a Conversion Van. Adding airbags can increase your load leveling capacity between 1000-5000lbs. When using airbags an onboard control system can be added to easily adjust the air pressure inside the cab with a press of a button. Timbren kits can be used to add 3000-6000lbs of leveling capacity and will require no maintenance or adjustments which make these a great option for drivers or vehicle owners with physical constraints. There are also Hellwig Helper Springs that can give you 500-3500lbs of extra load capacity and are easy to install and use and often an affordable option. Adding any of these load support kits will reduce sag and sway, prevent bottoming out and protect your vehicle suspension, all of which will improve the safety of the vehicle and passengers.

Dodge Caravan
One popular vehicle used in such applications is the Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan. Like most wheelchair vans, there are a number of different suspension upgrades that can be used. Many of our customers like using helper springs for dodge caravans because they are easy to install and bolt right on top. However, these will only give up to 1,000 lbs. of support. If you think more support is needed then we would go with something like the DVRRT Timbren Kit that provides 1,600 lbs. of support. Last but not least, there are always caravan air bags. An air bag kit will give you the most adjustability and control over how much suspension support your vehicle is getting. Below is a table to find the correct suspension products for your year and model Caravan.

Dodge Caravan
Year Part # Capacity
1984-1990 DVR050 1,400 lbs.
1991-1995 DVR05091 2,000 lbs.
1996-2007 DVR05096 2,000 lbs.
2009-2012 DVRRT 1,600 lbs.
Air Bag Kits
Year Part # Capacity
1984-2000 59520 2,000 lbs.
2001-2003 59560 2,000 lbs.
2005-2006 59547 2,000 lbs.
2008-2012 4169 1,000 lbs.
Hellwig Helper Springs
Year Part # Capacity
1984-2006 550 550 lbs.
1984-2006 1250 1,000 lbs.

Astro Van
Chevy Astro Vans are also commonly used for this type of application. Being that astro van leaf springs don't provide a great deal of support, a preferred choice of suspension upgrade for this van would be the Firestone Air Bags. These air bags will give you the most support, providing up to 5,000lbs of level load capacity. If you were looking for something that was a little less maintenance a Timbren would be the next best option giving you 2,000lbs of load support. With a Timbren kit you will get a quick and easy installation with absolutely no upkeep. If you don't need that much load support a Hellwig Helper Spring may be a good fit. These will bolt right on top of your spring giving you up to 800lbs of support and they automatically adjust to your load. Below is a chart with the most popular options.

Chevy Astro
Year Part # Capacity
1986-1995 GMRASTR 2,000 lbs.
1996-2005 GMRASTB 2,000 lbs.
Air Bag Kits
Year Part # Capacity
1985-1995 59504 2,000 lbs.
1999-2005 2361 5,000 lbs.
1995-2005 59521 2,000 lbs.
Hellwig Helper Springs
Year Part # Capacity
1986-2005 550 550 lbs.
1986-2005 815 800 lbs.

Express 1500 Van
Chevy Express Vans are great for converting into a handicap assessable vehicle. They have plenty of space, which makes it easy to add the necessary accommodations. These conversions make the Express heavy in the rear and many owners opt for chevy van airbags to give them up to 5000lbs of additional load support. Another option would be a Timbren kit with its easy install and low maintenance these kits will give you up to 6000lbs of load leveling capacity. Also a Hellwig Helper spring is always a great option and will add up to 3500lbs of support to this van. Below is a chart with different choices in load support for this van and shows how much load capacity you will gain with each.

Chevy Express 1500
Year Part # Capacity
1996-2002 GMRG25C 6,000 lbs.
2003-2012 GMRG25C 6,000 lbs.
Air Bag Kits
Year Part # Capacity
1996-2002 2163 2,000 lbs.
2003-2009 2423 5,000 lbs.
Hellwig Helper Springs
Year Part # Capacity
1972-1996 1801 1,000 lbs.
1972-2007 991 2,000 lbs.
1972-2007 2510 2,500 lbs.
1972-2007 9511 3,500 lbs.

E150 Van
The Ford E150 is another popular choice for this type of application. In order to add more load support to this vehicle to help support all of the necessary accommodations you will need to purchase E150 Helper Springs, these will give you up to 3500lbs of support. If you were looking for something capable of handling even more weight E150 Air Bags are also available. Air Bags are fully adjustable and allow you to have different levels of support for each side of the vehicle. These will give you up to 5000lbs of load leveling capacity. Want something simpler? Timbrens would be the way to go. A Timbren kit will give you 3000lbs of support on this vehicle and will not require any adjustments. Below you will find a guide to help you make the right choice in load support for your Ford E150.

Ford E150
Year Part # Capacity
1970-1986 FER150 3,000 lbs.
1987-2012 FER15087 3,000 lbs.
Air Bag Kits
Year Part # Capacity
1975-2007 2171 3,000 lbs.
1996-2012 59526 2,000 lbs.
2008-2012 2488 5,000 lbs.
Hellwig Helper Springs
Year Part # Capacity
1975-2012 991 2,000 lbs.
1975-2012 2510 2,500 lbs.
1975-2012 3510 3,500 lbs.

Preventative Maintenance
When shopping for a Conversion Van it is not only important to consider all of the necessary accommodations but also to make sure the vehicle is safe for you and everyone inside. Converted Vans can have a lot of extra weight and should take advantage of load support to ensure safety. With each type of Conversion Van you will have different options for your suspension with varying levels of support.

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