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Converting a van into a motorhome is a fun but challenging process. It is a great alternative to buying a professionally assembled RV, and allows you to fully customize the van to meet your needs. If you have decided to convert a van, the first thing you will need to do is choose the right van for you.
If you have looked into van conversion then you are probably already familiar with the Ram Promaster. The Ram promaster is a very popular choice for van conversion because it is a reliable vehicle with a nice high roof, a solid build and great gas mileage.
It is also used as the base for many professionally assembled RVs, like the Winnebago Travato, the Roadtrek Zion, the Coachmen Nova, the Thor Sequence, and the Pleasure-Way Lexor FL.
The Ram Promaster comes in several different models. The 1500 low roof option weighs 8550 pounds and you have the choice of a 118 inch or 136 inch wheelbase. The interior width is 75.6 inches, the interior height is 66.3 inches, and the interior length is 106.7 inches or 122.8 inches depending on which wheelbase you choose.
The next model is the 1500 high roof option. This also weighs 8550 pounds and it has a wheelbase of 136 inches. The interior width is 75.6 inches, the interior height is 122.8 inches, and the interior width is 77.1 inches.
The 2500 high roof model weighs 8900 pounds and comes with either a 136 inch wheelbase or a 159 inch wheelbase. The interior height is 75.6 inches, the interior width is 77.1 inches, and the interior length is 122.8 inches or 146 inches depending on which wheelbase you go for.
The final model is the 3500 high roof option that weighs 9350 pounds. There are two choices, each with a 159 inch wheelbase, but one is the extended version. They both have an interior height of 75.6 inches and an interior width of 77.1 inches. The standard version has an interior length of 146 inches and the extended version has an interior length of 160.2 inches.
Now that you have a good idea of the dimensions of the Ram Promaster, let’s take a look at the features and specifications that make this vehicle such a great choice for van conversion.
One of the most important selling points of the Ram Promaster van is its width- it is the widest van in its class currently available on the market. As you can see from the information we have provided above, all of the models have an interior width of 77.1 inches.
This is plenty of space to fit a bed in width ways instead of length ways, which gives you more options when it comes to the layout of your van conversion. It also gives you a more spacious living area in the van. You will need to take into consideration the width of any walls that you add into your van conversion, but it gives you a good starting point to work from.
You might think that the width of this vehicle would make it challenging to maneuver in tight spaces, but that is not the case. The Ram Promaster has a surprisingly good turning radius which makes it much easier to carry out U-turns and fit through tight spaces even though the vehicle is large. This will come in handy if you are taking your van to remote locations along windy mountain roads or forest trails.
Another great selling point for the Ram Promaster is the price itself. It is a very affordable option compared to other similar vehicles on the market, which leaves you with more money in the budget for the conversion itself. Even if you are buying one second hand, you are still likely to find one for a good price.
The Ram Promaster has a reputation for being a very reliable vehicle. It has been in production since 1981 and is sold on the European market as the Fiat Ducato. It was first sold in the US in 2014 and very quickly became a popular choice for businesses, personal use and van conversion. If you maintain your vehicle properly then it will last you for many years with very few issues.
The parts and labour for repairs and servicing are very reasonable so it is not difficult to look after this vehicle well. There are plenty of Dodge/Ram dealers and garages across the USA (or Fiat if you are travelling across Europe) and most of them will offer a very good price for a service.
It is also very easy to carry out some of these tasks yourself like changing the oil. You might need to get yourself a few tools, but if you prefer not to stop at a garage and interrupt your journey then it could be a good option for you.
Many people who have a Ram Promaster praise it for the excellent gasoline mileage. Even after conversion, these vehicles boast mileage of up to 20 miles per gallon. This is very impressive for a home on wheels!
If you want to get even more mileage out of your Ram Promaster then make sure you are not carrying around any unnecessary weight and try to travel as light as possible. The heavier the vehicle, the worse the fuel economy will be.
Some people are unhappy that there is no option for a diesel engine in the Ram Promaster as diesel engines tend to be more powerful. However, the engine is very powerful despite running on gasoline and you will save money on fuel as gasoline is cheaper than diesel.
This combined with the great fuel economy makes this van a great choice. If you want even more power, then reduce the amount of weight you are carrying in your vehicle, though you shouldn’t have any issues getting this van up steep hills and mountain roads on your adventures.
That being said, there is no four wheel drive option for the Ram Promaster. This means that it is not suitable for off-roading – you will need to stick to roads and dirt tracks that are designed to be used by vehicles. This shouldn’t really be a problem, as wide vehicles are difficult to take off-roading and if the terrain is too rough then you could risk damaging items in your van or some of the fixtures of your conversion like the kitchen or the pipework.
A converted van provides a great home base so you can go and explore the rougher terrain on foot. However, if you are a fan of boondocking – which is pulling off the highway to park your van in free locations with very limited facilities- then you might notice the lack of four wheel drive. The front wheel drive on the Ram Promaster is pretty good, especially if you invest in some all-terrain wheels.
If you are converting a van into a motorhome then space is very important. The roof height of the Ram Promaster makes it an excellent choice, especially if you choose a high roof model. If you are average height or less then you will have plenty of space to stand up without hitting your head.
Having a high roof also makes the living space feel less cramped and gives you more options for storage solutions and fixtures and fittings. This makes the van much more livable and comfortable, which is very important for a motorhome.
One important thing to consider when choosing the model you want and the roof height is whether most garages will have a bay door high enough to accommodate your vehicle for a service. If you choose the high roof models then you might need to plan your trip more carefully if you are due a service to ensure that there is a garage nearby that will be able to fit your vehicle.
The shape of the Ram Promaster lends itself very well to conversion, which is one of the reasons it is such a popular choice for this purpose. The walls are quite straight with less contours than other vans, so it is much easier to square off your building space.
There are some pre-drilled holes for mounting things in the back of the van, but the structure of the van makes it easy to add your own holes and choose where to mount things. This means that your van conversion project will be fully customizable and much less hassle than if you choose a different van.
One of the potential downsides of the Ram Promaster is the low clearance. The rear axle is less than 7 inches above the ground which could cause some issues if you are driving on an uneven road, or there are rocks or some debris present.
If you drive through forests or national parks there could be branches on the road. This is less of an issue for people who stick to well established roads with even surfaces, but it depends on how remote your adventure locations are! If this is a concern for you, you have the option to buy a lift kit to bring the rear axle higher off the ground.
Another issue with the Ram Promaster is that it is not as comfortable as some other vehicles. The longer you are driving, the more you will notice the flaw in the seating position. The seat is quite high compared to the height of the steering wheel. Whilst the driving position is adjustable, the distance between the seat and steering wheel always seems a little too far.
There is also a potential problem if you intend to install swivel seats, as there is a 4 inch height difference between the cab of the van and the living space in the back. This means that when you turn your chair around your feet will dangle rather than resting comfortably on the floor. You can get around this issue by installing some kind of step or footrest, or having a movable bench or box that you can rest your feet on.
If you want your journey to be as comfortable as possible then you will need to make sure you get a model with cruise control. This feature does not come as standard with the Ram Promaster which is a bit of a shame.
But then again, when the price is this reasonable then you are going to have to make some compromises. You can choose to add cruise control to your vehicle if buying new, or you could always buy an aftermarket product (though this might be more expensive).
If you are really into listening to music as you drive then you will definitely want to upgrade the sound system. The one that comes as standard with the Ram Promaster is not very good at all.
You might already have a sound system that you installed in a previous vehicle, or perhaps you would plan on upgrading it in any event. There are options to upgrade the sound system when you purchase the vehicle, so it could be worth looking into that.
- The Ram Promaster is the widest van in its class currently available on the market.
- Despite the width of this vehicle, it has a great turning radius which makes it easier to maneuver in tight spaces.
- It is a very affordable option compared to other similar vehicles.
- This vehicle is known for being reliable and dependable if it is well maintained.
- The cost of maintaining and servicing the vehicle is low.
- The fuel economy is very good for a large vehicle.
- The engine of this vehicle is powerful and performs well.
- The vans have excellent roof height which makes them feel more spacious.
- The shape and structure of the vehicle lends itself well to conversion.
- The Promaster does not come in a four wheel drive model so is unsuitable for off-roading.
- There is no option for a diesel engine in the Ram Promaster.
- The height of the vehicle might not be suitable for all garages.
- The clearance is low which could cause issues when driving in rocky areas.
- The seating position is not the most comfortable for long journeys.
- The cab is higher than the living area which could cause an issue if you are installing swivel chairs.
- Cruise control does not come as a standard option.
- The sound system is not very good.
Other Vans To Consider
Before you decide on the Ram Promaster for your van conversion project, you should compare it to a few other vans to make sure you are choosing the right vehicle that will best suit your needs. Two other vans that are popular for van conversion are the Mercedes Sprinter and the Ford Transit.
The Mercedes Sprinter is the most expensive van out of the three, and is often considered as a status symbol amongst the van life community. If you choose the four wheel drive option then this will have a significant impact on the price, as does choosing the larger model.
The Mercedes Sprinter comes in a few different sizes and boasts superior length compared to other vans on the market. If you are looking for a van with plenty of space, perhaps for family trips, then this could be the right choice for you.
Whilst you can expect to pay more for this van, you get the benefit of the luxurious touches and state of the art technology that comes with owning a Mercedes vehicle. It will be a very comfortable ride. However, you will have to pay more to maintain the vehicle.
Mercedes parts will be more expensive than Ram or Ford parts, and getting the vehicle serviced at a Mercedes garage will cost significantly more. The labour rates will also be higher. This is something to consider when you are thinking about your budget, as you need to ensure that you can afford to maintain the vehicle properly as well as being able to afford to purchase it in the first place.
One of the benefits of choosing the Mercedes Sprinter for a van conversion is that you have the option to choose a diesel engine, which some people prefer. It comes down to personal choice as to whether a diesel or a gas engine is better. Diesel engines tend to be more powerful, but gasoline is cheaper.
The high roof of the Ford Transit makes it a very popular choice for van conversion. It has the most headroom out of any of the vans in its class, which is especially important if you are quite tall. At 77 inches high, the roof is even taller than that of the Ram Promaster.
Maintaining a Ford van is quite cheap. Most garages will stock Ford parts at a reasonable price, so you have a better choice of garages than if you purchased the Mercedes Sprinter. There are also a large number of Ford garages all over the USA.
If you are interested in off-roading, you have the option to purchase the four wheel drive version of the Ford Transit. You do not have this option with the Promaster.
The main downside of the Ford Transit is that it is not as wide as the Promaster. In the Promaster you can easily sleep sideways, but in the ford Transit you would have to put the beds lengthways in the van which takes up more space and gives you less options for the layout.
What Is The Difference Between A Self Conversion And A Conversion Kit?
When it comes to van conversion you have two main options – self conversion or a conversion kit.
Self conversion is when you start from scratch and plan and execute the whole project yourself (with help from any labourers that you pay for). This is a very popular option as it gives you total freedom when it comes to layout, design, color schemes, storage options and the appliances that you fit into your living space.
Full customization is very important to some people, especially if the van is going to be their main home rather than just for weekend trips. The Ram Promaster is much easier to self convert than many other types of van.
The downside to self conversion is that it takes a lot of time and very careful planning. It can be quite daunting if you have never done it before, and there are lots of opportunities for things to go wrong.
You might come up against a lot of challenges that you are not equipped to deal with, which means getting help from others or paying a professional to help you. This makes it quite difficult to come up with an accurate budget before you start the project as DIY can be quite unpredictable.
Another downside to self conversion is that if you don’t have enough knowledge about safety, engineering, mechanics and the various regulations around motorhomes, you could end up with a vehicle that is dangerous to drive or dangerous to live in. Even if it is not particularly dangerous, you could end up not being able to get insurance for your van conversion if it does not meet certain requirements.
The other option you have is to buy a conversion kit. These are specifically designed to fit a particular make and model of van, such as the Ram Promaster, and make the process of conversion much more straightforward.
All you have to do is install pre-designed fixtures and fittings into the van that are created to be the correct dimensions to fit into the space in a certain way. You are guaranteed to get a functional living space in a short amount of time with minimal effort. Everything is pre-made and designed, so there will be no snags or unexpected issues during the conversion process.
The reason that some people avoid conversion kits is because there is little to no room for creativity and customization. They also look much more basic and unappealing than self converted vans as they are simple and functional rather than built to be aesthetically pleasing or expressive.
Whether you decide to self convert your Ram Promaster or buy a conversion kit will depend on how confident you are with DIY and building projects, what contacts and connections you have to help you with your project, and how much time and energy you have to dedicate to the project.
If you want to look into buying a conversion kit, then Wayfarer Vans is an excellent choice of supplier that has conversion kits for many of the most popular types of vans such as Ram Promasters and Ford Transits.
Is It Better To Convert A Van Yourself Or Buy A Professionally Assembled RV?
Converting a standard van into a motorhome can be challenging, so you might be wondering why people choose to do this when there is a wide range of professionally assembled RVs on the market.
One of the main reasons is cost. Whilst van conversion takes a lot of time and effort, if you have the patience to plan out your project properly then it will usually work out a lot cheaper than buying a ready made, built for purpose motorhome. You can source the materials yourself and look for the best deals, compare quotes from different labourers or even take on some of the handiwork yourself.
Another reason that people choose to convert their own van is the amount of choice and freedom you get when it comes to the design. You can choose the shape and size of the van, and then design the layout to suit your individual needs. If you plan on doing work while you are on the road then you can build in a fold-out desk for your laptop.
If you take your dog with you on your travels you can install a dog crate underneath your bed. If you love cooking then you can dedicate a bit more space to the kitchen area so you can make a first class feast while you are on the road. The possibilities are endless if you have the imagination and the determination to make it work!
Can You Buy A Second Hand Van For Conversion?
Converting a van can be an expensive project, so you might be tempted to save yourself some money by buying a second hand van. This might be a good decision to make if you have a small budget, but you need to be careful. A lot of second hand vans have been badly maintained and driven hard, so you might end up spending more money in the long run.
Always check the mileage and inspect the van carefully for signs of damage or wear and tear. Take the van for a test drive before you buy it to make sure it is running properly. If you have any friends that are hancy with mechanics and know a bit about engines, it is worth bringing them along so they have a look under the hood for you and check that the engine looks healthy.
If this is your first van conversion project or you are new to van life, consider bringing someone more experienced along with you to look at second hand vehicles. They will have a better idea of what to look out for and what to avoid.
If you are buying a second hand model then be sure to check if it has cruise control, as this is not a standard feature of the Ram Promaster. Some people may not have paid extra for it, which means you will have to get an aftermarket cruise control product. You should also check whether they bought the upgraded sound system, as the standard one is not very good and you will want to consider installing your own.
Tips For Buying A Van
Whether you are buying a new van or looking for a second hand model, there are some things you should keep in mind to make sure you get the best deal.
The first thing you will need to do is set your budget. Think about the upfront costs of purchasing the vehicle as well as the ongoing costs of maintaining the vehicle and insuring it. There is no point buying an expensive van that you can’t afford to service!
You should also carefully plan out your budget for converting the van including materials and any labour costs for jobs that you cannot do yourself. Always allow for some setbacks and unexpected costs in your budget, as DIY projects can be unpredictable at times.
Once you have set your budget- stick to it! Don’t let any showroom sales representatives bully you into spending more money than you can afford. A good tip for this is to never reveal your top budget, as they will always try to push you to spend a bit more.
Once you have decided on your budget you are ready to start looking at vans. Make sure you do plenty of research on the models that you are considering before you go to view them. Otherwise, you could get tricked into purchasing a van that does not meet your requirements.
Familiarize yourself with the dimensions and the features of the different products you are considering. It can be worthwhile to make a list of the most important features that you cannot compromise on, and then the features which are desirable but not essential. This can help you to narrow down your choice.
Once you have chosen the make and model van that you want, you need to try and get it for the best price. This means that you will need to have a look online and compare different prices and deals, and see what deals you can negotiate in the showroom.
Remember that you are in a strong position as the buyer, as the sales representatives have targets to hit and a large portion of their income often relies on commission.
Discover How To Use The Power of Authority Marketing To Make You Money While You Travel!
No Experience, Existing Product Or Technical Skills Are Required
DO YOU BELIEVE ADVENTURES ARE WORTH CHASING?