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Old 09-27-2014, 04:46 PM   #1
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Wheelchair van MPG?

I've been interested in converting a 72 passenger diesel pusher bus since I was 16. Reality has placed limitations on my ambitions, however, and 7-8mpg on diesel is way out of my budget. I became interested in converting an extended 15-passenger van, as the 16-18 hwy mpg on gas makes it more affordable to take trips, and more practical as a "daily use" vehicle. These vans have enough floor space for me, but the ceiling is too low. I plan to spend up to a month in the vehicle, and would prefer to be able to stand up in it. I can get ahold of a "Wheelchair van"... The same as a 15-passenger van, but with a high roof, and taller rear doors (in attachment). The price is about the same. Being able to stand up is a big plus, but I'm concerned about the extra fuel consumption from the larger front area. All specs I can find say "16-18" hwy mpg for the regular extended van, but I cannot find info on the high-top version. If the mileage hit is too severe I would rather keep the low top. Can anybody enlighten me where Google has failed?
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Old 09-27-2014, 06:33 PM   #2
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Your typical short bus (look at my avatar) has plenty of head room. Dunno about 16 mpg with a diesel though...
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Old 09-27-2014, 07:44 PM   #3
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I know of a few people that added a hightop to their existing van, most say they lost 2-4 mpg just from the top (running same weight and same route as a daily driver).

and 16-18 is 55 mph and unloaded (driver and passenger). 14 is good for a loaded 15 passenger regular height on the highway.
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:21 PM   #4
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Just a heads up. The trans on that model Dodge isn't their best and they cost a Bzillion Bucks to get rebuilt. Voice of experience--been there done that
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:36 PM   #5
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

In my experience many moons ago with Ford and Dodge vans, 10-12 mpg was the maximum we'd get. Personally I preferred the Dodge 15-passenger version to either of the Ford vans, but we NEVER got anything close to 15 mpg, even when I drove an empty van from Portland to Boise. IHMO 16-18 mpg sounds unattainably optimistic. YMMV, of course...
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Old 10-01-2014, 07:29 PM   #6
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Holy moly. And I get around 12-14 mpg with my half bus! What is going on with those vans?
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Old 10-01-2014, 07:52 PM   #7
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

underpowered gas engine (no torque) and almost as bad of a aerodynamics.

I have a 15 passenger van, normal roof, and 14 is a good day on the highway. I can just squeek by 16 if I am on a flat highway with a strong tailwind. But I get 11 dealing with the headwind on the way back.

I looked at getting an ultralight bunkhouse to tow behind it, but 1) my mileage would be worse and 2) it would cost more than buying a bus.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:01 PM   #8
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I think you could 18 mpg if you drove it off a cliff...with a tailwind...empty. But I'm not sure that would count as hwy mileage.
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Old 10-02-2014, 11:03 PM   #9
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

If you want to get a real 15+ mpg on the hwy, look for a Ford E350 diesel with SRW.
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Old 10-03-2014, 03:37 PM   #10
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Sure, I could get diesel, and get higher MPG, but that doesn't really accomplish much when diesel is more expensive. Maybe 16mpg is optimistic, but that's not a big deal. My search is for a vehicle that offers the most interior room for the lowest fuel costs, and still fits in a regular parking space... And costs less than $3000 used (So unfortunately no Sprinters). Without getting into specifics, I was trying to be as informed as possible in making the trade-off decision between a hightop and lowtop 15-pass van.

I appreciate the head-up on the 2000's dodge van transmission. I haven't found any specific information they are bad, but I have seen a disproportionate number of dodge vans for sale with blown trannys, and got suspicious... I also don't trust automatic transmissions in general (Too bad no large vans have manuals in the US!). Are the late 80's/early 90's dodge van transmissions any better? Assuming most of my driving is 55-60mph highway, does anyone have alternate suggestions for vehicles that fit my criteria? I considered a short-bus, but they seem to get in the range of 6-8mpg... far worse than the high-top vans.
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Old 10-03-2014, 06:27 PM   #11
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I get 10 mpg. I'm over 12k lbs-and towing 2klbs-up thru the hills of Vermont. If you're lighter or flatter, you'd be better than that.
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Old 10-04-2014, 06:03 AM   #12
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasma
Sure, I could get diesel, and get higher MPG, but that doesn't really accomplish much when diesel is more expensive. Maybe 16mpg is optimistic, but that's not a big deal. My search is for a vehicle that offers the most interior room for the lowest fuel costs, and still fits in a regular parking space... And costs less than $3000 used (So unfortunately no Sprinters). Without getting into specifics, I was trying to be as informed as possible in making the trade-off decision between a hightop and lowtop 15-pass van.

I appreciate the head-up on the 2000's dodge van transmission. I haven't found any specific information they are bad, but I have seen a disproportionate number of dodge vans for sale with blown trannys, and got suspicious... I also don't trust automatic transmissions in general (Too bad no large vans have manuals in the US!). Are the late 80's/early 90's dodge van transmissions any better? Assuming most of my driving is 55-60mph highway, does anyone have alternate suggestions for vehicles that fit my criteria? I considered a short-bus, but they seem to get in the range of 6-8mpg... far worse than the high-top vans.
A short bluebird all american with a 5.9 and the right gearing, even with a 545 in a vehicle that light. Maybe a little longer than a regular parking spot, but short wheelbase so it will drive anywhere you could get a van into.

Some of the older GM 1500 vans with the V-6. The 7 passenger, not 15. If you are going to build it into a camper, you will have to watch the weight and make sure to buy proper weight ratings on the tires! My uncle could get 20 with his, but it was a short fiberglass roof (the TV top, not a stand up top).
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Old 10-04-2014, 10:33 AM   #13
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasma
... when diesel is more expensive.
Yes, I've noticed that when driving through the states.. What's that all about? In Canada it's usually bobbing around 10 cents cheaper than gasoline, though it does occasionally go above a few cents. It really makes a diesel engine a no-brainer.
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Old 10-04-2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plasma
... when diesel is more expensive.
Yes, I've noticed that when driving through the states.. What's that all about? In Canada it's usually bobbing around 10 cents cheaper than gasoline, though it does occasionally go above a few cents. It really makes a diesel engine a no-brainer.
My understanding is that because all large commercial vehicles use diesel, the tax on diesel is much higher as a method of specifically taxing the transport industry without placing an undue tax on average motorists who use the road system less. It makes sense in a twisted way, but you're right. Diesel is cheaper to produce, diesel engines are typically more reliable, and give better fuel efficiency. If it was even close to the same price, I'm sure most would switch to it.
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Old 10-22-2014, 02:55 AM   #15
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I know of a few people that added a hightop to their existing van, most say they lost 2-4 mpg just from the top (running same weight and same route as a daily driver).

and 16-18 is 55 mph and unloaded (driver and passenger). 14 is good for a loaded 15 passenger regular height on the highway.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:38 AM   #16
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

Diesel fuel; it takes approximately 25 percent more crude oil to make a gallon of diesel oil than it does to make a gallon of gasoline.

Fed tax: gasoline=18.4 per gallon, diesel=24.4.
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Old 10-22-2014, 09:43 AM   #17
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

But it only takes about 25% of the processing to make a gallon of diesel compared to gasoline and that is where the real costs are. Both in terms of cost to produce as well as total pollution. And given that a properly tuned diesel engine of the same displacement will produce something like half again the torque (what actually moves a load, not horsepower) they are the obvious choice for transport. And since state & fed elected officials try to make it look like they are supporting their constituents, they opted to hide the bulk of fuel taxes on diesel rather than on the gas that goes in most voters cars. That will very likely all change soon. More & more auto makers are moving towards advanced diesels and hopefully the BS Fed and oil industry scam will level out. For fun, check out the Audi RS 5 TDI concept.

BTW, being more than six decades old, I recall diesel being its' appropriate price for the better part of my life...about half that of gasoline.
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Old 10-24-2014, 11:01 PM   #18
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Re: Wheelchair van MPG?

I have a 2004 hightop ford e350xl wheelchair van with a Triton motor and a 18 foot 1996 Ford e350 lowtop with no seats in it either. Both have 350 engine? The wheelchair van gets 14 mpg and the the lowtop gets 16. I do drive like a little, old lady and rarely go over 59. I really like driving the wheelchair van, it just feels more solid. The lowtop was my husband's and it makes me feel really cramped, the hightop has a lift in it which I don't need (bought for late husband's mobility scooter) and is still a little small for my desire to convert to rv/bugout vehicle. I also have a 2014 20 ft enclosed trailer that I don't want to tow. Plan to keep my 1986 Ford f150 (which gets 17mpg and refuses to die) ,sell the others and get either a short schoolbus or a shuttlebus. I never thought I would find a question I could answer on here right after I joined. Just a word on the 2004 wheelchair van, there are several years where they have a vacuum problem trying to gas them up.
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