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Checking the ads

August 24, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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I decided to check out the market for used lift equipped vans. Though mine runs well it is 24 years old and I know it cannot keep going forever.

Online I saw a reasonably priced 1999 Ford full-sized lift equipped van. The photo in the ad looked good, at least on the outside.

A friend went to see if it was worth me taking the trip. He said it looked good, was worth the price, but he did not know much about the lift's quality.

As we rode 60 miles south I wondered if it was going to be a waste of time. But I felt I should look at it. When we arrived, the van was in the driveway. As I got closer, I saw many scratches in the exterior white paint. The light blue carpeting was worn and discolored. I also saw some rust inside the van's doorway.

As I rolled onto the lift to take a ride, I noticed part of its curb was missing and I told the owner that was dangerous. I was nervous because the lift was quite noisy. When the lift stopped, I tried to drive my power chair into the van, but the back casters spun and would not roll inside. We tried again with me going in frontwards. But my front casters spun and I could not roll in. Back on the ground, I noticed there were divots in the lift’s interior plate that kept me from getting over it.

I told the owner I could not consider a van I could not get into. So a bit dejected, I left. My experience with the lift made me wonder whether lifts are checked out before a van is sold. In the future I will ask questions about the lift’s maintenance.

With my limited resources it may be difficult to find a used van with a reliable lift that runs well. Online, one- to two-year-old vans were outlandishly expensive and had everything on them but the kitchen sink.

I had thought a used lift equipped minivan would be more gas efficient. But some are adapted for children and many do not have lifts that are strong enough for me in my power chair. So a full-sized van is more likely to accommodate me. Since wheelchair lifts can be considered obsolete after 10 years, I will have to see which vendors will repair them.

I considered getting a used van and installing a new lift. That way I would know the lift is sound. But new lifts cost $3,000 and up.

Though prices of used lift equipped vans have gone down over the years, it will be difficult to find one in my price range. But friends and facility staff are keeping an eye out for one.

I hope over time to find the van that works for me.

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Kathleen Mears

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Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...