What to know when getting a wheelchair accessible vehicle

Purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be a daunting task.  Perhaps this will be your first vehicle that must accommodate a wheelchair or you're ready to purchase a different vehicle and wonder what options would make life easier.

There are a lot of wheelchair accessible vehicle options available on the market today, and navigating through the various types and models could be very intimidating. There are some important things you need to put into perspective in order to determine the best options that suits your needs, lifestyle, and wallet.

When you are trying to choose between various wheelchair accessible vehicles, it is important to choose the best one with the right tools. Whether you wish to stick to your favorite car make and model or try out something different, each option has its own peculiarities and advantages. The following are a few tips to make your selection process easier and worthwhile. 

Think about your mobility vehicle needs.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles aren’t toys you shop for annually. They are a bit pricey so it’s important to think about the future during your decision making. You need to consider how well the vehicle functions. This is where you highlight your preferences against your options. Doing this will help trim down your options in the long run. You need to consider not only your present need but your future needs also.

You need to consider the following; how many people will travel in your WAV? Who will be the driver? The chair user or the caregiver? Do you need extra space due to your height and weight or an oversized wheelchair?  Do you prefer a slide out ramp or a fold out ramp?

Once you successfully answer these questions, you can go for what matches your idea.

Rear entry or side entry? Which one works for you better?

Wheelchair accessible vehicles are usually modified in two ways -  the rear entry or the side entry. Both have their accessibility advantages under different scenarios. It is much easier for wheelchair users to get into pilot or co-pilot seats in a side entry van. Rear entry vans, on the other hand, allow disabled drivers to park in regular spaces and are relatively cheaper. The rear entrance model doesn’t require any sort of maneuvering once you get inside the van.

Ready made WAV or modify what you have?

Purchasing a readymade wheelchair acessible vehicle that has already been modified by a manufacturer certainly has its advantages. It affords you the necessary convenience and you can see the finished product before buying. On the other hand, if your vehicle meets the age and mileage requirements, you can send it to the factory to be converted into a WAV. This could largely depend on your budget.  What options are truly options and what items are must haves?  Be a savvy shopper and compare prices of many manufacturers.

Involve a professional

Your mobility vehicle is a long-term asset.  Consider involving a professional.  A mobility consultant will be able to provide useful information in evaluating recommended vehicles.

The company or manufacturer’s website as well as the internet could also be a source of additional information.  Insist on verified and trusted sources.

Purchase from a reputable dealer. Ensure that your dealer is member of NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) and is also a part of their QAP (Quality Assurance Program). Your dealer also must be able to provide before and after sale services. 

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