There’s no reason why anyone reliant on a wheelchair can’t drive! Mobility is essential for even a moderate standard of living. For those whose ability to get around is restricted, there are a number of options for independent or assisted vehicular transport. Wheelchair accessible vans can be modified in several ways, depending on whether the person with a disability wants to drive or be a passenger. The state of the art in minivan conversions for handicap access has come a long way, and conversion manufacturers continue to innovate as lifestyles for people in wheelchairs become increasingly active. Here are a few handicapped van buying tips to assist you in purchasing the ideal accessible vehicle you require at a price you can afford.
Handicapped Van Buying Tip #1
Determine who will drive the vehicle–the individual using the wheelchair or a caregiver. Hand controls allow paraplegic individuals to drive, while chair lifts and other seating options enable a person in a wheelchair to move into the driver’s seat easily and safely.
Handicapped Van Buying Tip #2
Know your access options for a wheelchair user who won’t be driving. There are two locations on a minivan where the conversion manufacturer can install a powered lift or ramp for wheelchair access–side entry through the backseat-passenger door of the minivan or rear entry through the back of the vehicle. Some research will help you decide whether a lift, ramp, side entry, or rear entry will serve you best.
Handicapped Van Buying Tip #3
For the family with a limited budget, a ramp or wheelchair lift can be added to your personal van for the easiest and most cost-effective means of accessible transportation. If you don’t have a van and would like an already-converted handicap accessible van, people with disabilities may obtain funding and grants for wheelchair accessible vans, along with extended loan terms, Medicare assistance and more.
Handicapped Van Buying Tip #4
Consider buying a used vehicle to save money. You have a couple of options available to you: 1) Buy a used minivan and get a new, professional conversion. (If you go this route, identify the conversion company that manufactures your preferred conversion style first. Some conversion companies limit the brands and models of minivans they modify, so you need to make sure the minivan and the conversion are compatible. If you purchase the minivan first, look for conversion companies that specialize in that make and model.) 2) Buy a pre-owned, pre-modified minivan. Local dealers and, especially, online wheelchair van dealers have extensive inventories of accessible vehicles, so you won’t have a problem finding an already-modified minivan to meet your requirements. When considering a pre-modified handicap van, make sure the vehicle is certified used, which means it undergoes a detailed inspection (both the van and the conversion) before the vehicle is listed for sale.
Handicapped Van Buying Tip #5
When you’ve identified your ideal van, call the Better Business Bureau to see if they’ve received negative reports or complaints about the company. Especially with big-ticket items, it pays to be an educated consumer.