There are many important factors that you need to know before buying a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Whether you are looking for a new or used handicap van, a wheelchair lift, a vehicle for individual or commercial use, or mobility equipment, here are some of the key items to consider before making a purchase.
- Work with an Experienced and Reputable Dealer: Purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a sizeable investment, so you want to ensure that you are working with a reliable company that both understands the industry and the options available to you, and that will also be around to provide service and support in the future.
How You will be Using your Vehicle: It is important to consider how you will be using your new wheelchair accessible vehicle. For example, who will primarily be driving the vehicle? Depending on whether the wheelchair user will be driving, or whether it will be a caregiver driving, may have an impact on which vehicles are appropriate for your needs. Also, if the wheelchair user will be the primary driver, you will want to consider whether they would prefer to drive while in their wheelchair, or whether they would prefer to transfer from their wheelchair to the vehicle’s seat.
- Wheelchair Compatibility: There are also wheelchair compatibility options to consider. You might prefer a lowered-floor vehicle with a folding ramp, or you may prefer a larger van with a wheelchair lift. It can be helpful to have the dimensions of the wheelchair handy when shopping for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, to make sure that you are only considering those vehicles that are able to accommodate those dimensions. Be sure to ask your dealer about the conversion options available.
- Make a List of “Must-Have” and “Nice-to-Have” Features: As with any vehicle purchase, there are tons of options available so you should spend some time thinking about which of these options are important to your situation. Some options are more functional, such as whether seats within the vehicle can be folded down or even removed. Other functional options to consider are backup cameras, GPS/navigation, and power sliding doors. Other options are more about comfort but are equally important to think about. For example, if you will be spending long amounts of time in the vehicle–and especially if there will be children–you might consider features such as installed TV and DVD player. You might also desire features such as sunroofs, improved sound systems, and leather seats. Whether you choose a new or used handicap van or wheelchair accessible bus will likely impact which features the vehicles comes with, so having a prepared list of features you’d like can help your dealer find the right vehicle for you.
- Ask Questions: This might seem obvious, but it is really important that you ask your wheelchair accessible vehicle dealer questions. You’re considering making a large investment that is meant to improve quality of life and mobility, so don’t be afraid to speak up. Any good dealership will be able to confidently answer any questions you might have, and in fact will be happy to do so–they will want to make sure you find the right vehicle as much as you do.
With so many things to consider, purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle may seem a daunting, formidable task. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Give these items some consideration as you begin your search, do some research to locate a reputable dealer, and be willing to ask questions so that you ensure that you are purchasing the best vehicle to suit your needs.