While spring cleaning is a tradition for many, keeping your wheelchair van neat and tidy should be a year-round consideration. As summer draws to a close, it is the perfect time to give your wheels a thorough clean-up to get ready for fall. We have collected some helpful tips to clean and maintain your vehicle and keep it in tip-top condition.
Summer road trips mean stops at convenience stores and fast food restaurants. Make sure you throw out all of those wrappers and check for any renegade bites, empty condiment packages, and used napkins. If you keep a trash receptacle in your wheelchair van, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. If you’re having a hard time removing the “scent memories” of smelly sandwiches and sunscreen from the interior, invest in a car air freshener or have some baking soda on hand.
In addition, make sure to vacuum on a regular basis to catch those crumbs as well as any beach sand, grass, or dirt that may have been tracked in during a summer outing. Don’t forget to vacuum all of the nooks and crannies, including cup holders and, most importantly, the tie-down points or L-Tracks for the wheelchair tie-downs and seat belt receptacles. Failure in doing so can result in the tie-downs not being properly secured, which could result in injury or possible death during an abrupt stop or collision.
For in-floor ramp accessible vans, debris can collect where the in-floor ramp deploys and stows. Make sure to have your local servicing dealer check for things such as rocks, dirt, and sticks, which can cause operational issues if not serviced and cleaned on a regular basis. Additionally, for bi-fold ramp and in-floor ramp accessible vans alike, a good scrub of the ramp surface using a firm bristled brush with a mild soap or detergent and water will keep the top area of your ramp clean and free from contaminants, which may cause the surface to become slippery overtime. Lastly, make sure the ramp surface is thoroughly dry before using the ramp to enter or exit the vehicle.
With a wheelchair van, it is essential to have a perfectly functioning ramp, so take some time and inspect it regularly. Do an occasional test run and make sure everything is operating smoothly. If you encounter any squeaks or rattles, they may be eliminated with a quick wipe down or a simple oiling of the piano hinges where the ramp folds. For in-floor ramp systems, it may require a more thorough service which typically must be performed by a servicing dealer, as many of the moving parts associated with an in-floor ramp design are hard to access without first removing the access panel. Additionally, routinely cleaning your tie-down securement points or “L-Track” a few times a year, making sure that they are debris-free and effectively locking your wheelchair in place, is a must do! Moreover, changing the batteries for all your vehicle’s key-fobs, which can operate both the vehicle and ramp accessories on an annual basis, will save valuable time and avoid stress. Lastly, avoid surprises on a future trip by running a “full systems check” on additional ancillary equipment such as hand controls, transfer-seats, or plug-ins for respirators.
As important as it is to keep the interior of the van clean, make sure the exterior gets equal attention. You can give it a scrub yourself – it’s a fun way to take advantage of the warm summer days – or, if you prefer, take it to a local car wash, where you can ensure that the exterior and interior of your van are spotless. If you haven’t done so recently, you might also want to give the exterior a coat of wax to keep it shiny. Keeping your van clean not only makes for more delightful drives, it also alerts you to any repairs or rusty areas that might need your attention.
Of course, keeping your wheelchair van in perfect working condition under the hood is of the utmost importance. Being aware of the condition of your vehicle and taking the time for inspection and maintenance increases the life of your vehicle and the safety of all of the passengers. Additionally, wheelchair vans have specific moving parts that aren’t found in standard vans that need to work every time. Here are some general maintenance tips to ensure your van is working at its peak performance level.
It only takes ten minutes to perform a check of your van’s battery, and ensuring it’s in proper working order will avoid being stranded on the side of the road or a costly service call. AAA has some helpful information about how and what to check for.
Keep an eye on your tires. Be aware of the manufacturer’s suggested pressure range and check to make sure your tires are properly inflated at all times. While checking the pressure, ensure that the lug nuts are tight and take a close look at your tread. An easy way to accomplish this is with the “penny test.” Simply place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn and should be replaced. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have sufficient tread depth remaining.
Replace your windshield wiper blades once or twice per year. The blades are made of rubber and can wear out even with limited use. If your wipers are not working properly, it may be difficult to see the road or other hazards when it rains or snows. Faulty blades can smear your windshield, potentially creating visibility issues. If your blades are cracked, torn or heavily worn, they might not grip the windshield properly and not fully remove mud, rain, sleet or snow. Blades are easy to replace and can be done quickly at any auto parts supplier. While you’re checking your blades, make sure to check the levels on your windshield wiper fluid as well.
Some additional fluid levels that need your attention are coolant and oil. It’s good to check your oil with every few fill-ups of gas. Make sure you are changing your oil according to manufacturer recommendations. And while you’re under the hood, keep an eye out for debris and dirt that can get into your engine bay and cause potential issues. Wipe down your engine periodically to prevent any problems.
With a wheelchair van, it’s essential to have a perfectly functional ramp, so take some time and regularly check it. Do an occasional test run and make sure it is operating smoothly. If you encounter any squeaks or bumps, they can be eliminated with a quick wipe down or oiling. Clean your securements a few times a year, ensuring that they are debris-free and effectively locking your wheelchair in place. Test out the other conversion features as well, such as the hand controls and the transfer seat, so you won’t encounter any surprises on a future trip.
Of course, regular service visits will ensure that your van is working optimally. We have service centers across the country, staffed with expert technicians who can help you with everything from a quick tune up to alignments and more.
Keeping your wheelchair van squeaky clean and well-maintained will guarantee more miles of quality service, so make sure to add these tasks to your calendar, year-round.