There’s quite a lot to keep in mind when purchasing a van, whether for personal use or commercial use.
You have to consider the make of the truck, it’s purpose, your budget, and so much more. An added layer of concern is when you’re looking into purchasing a disability van or wheelchair van.
Ideally, if you’re looking to buy a durable van at an affordable price, your first thought would be to buy a fairly used van.
However, for the cheapest trucks at rock bottom price, you should opt out of going to a dealership all together and purchase from a private seller instead.
Buying from a private seller essentially means buying from an individual and not a dealership or business that sells cars with the aim to make a profit.
In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about buying a handicap van or wheelchair van from a private seller including the process of purchasing and reliable platforms to purchase from.
Benefits of buying a used wheelchair van from the owner
Buying a used handicap van can be touch and go in many cases. You can either get a quality service vehicle or get one with inherited faults.
That’s why where you choose to buy matters. Although many people argue that it’s a far better option to buy a used handicap truck from a reputable dealership, that doesn’t mean that buying from a private seller isn’t a great option too.
In fact, you stand to gain a lot when you choose to buy from a private seller.
The cheap prices of vans sold by private sellers is probably the most significant advantage out there. Unlike in dealerships where they aim to make as much profit as possible, a private seller will most likely be content with making minimal profit or no profit at all.
Plus most dealerships have a number of used wheelchair vans up for sale, meaning there’s the regular price of maintenance to make it presentable to customers. All these added costs plus the profit tend to hike up the price of the truck.
By buying from a private seller, you probably won’t experience the increase in the price.
The process of buying from a private seller is easier and arguably faster than buying from a dealership. You get to set up the meeting at your convenience, you usually also get to pick a location to meet up.
Added to the fact that there’s little to no extra paperwork unlike the mountain of documents a dealership might make you sign, the process is not as tedious.
In most cases, all you need to do is show up, inspect the vehicle, pay the requested price and the car is all yours.
In many states, there is a significant tax decrease when you’re buying from a private seller. Even though the tax reduction is dependent on which state you’re in, it’s undisputed that you’ll still save more money with a private seller.
Better bargaining power
Dealerships have gained notoriety for having savvy, smooth talking car salespeople who are very good at bargaining.
Meaning, it might be difficult to beat the price of the truck down to what you’re comfortable with. You might eventually end up getting the wheelchair van at a price that favours the dealer or going home empty handed.
This isn’t the case with private sellers, due to their lack of experience with selling cars, they might be more flexible with how much they’re willing to let the vehicle go.
Plus, most of them just want to get the truck off their hands and this leaves you the buyer with the better bargaining power.
Previously built-in equipment
Many dealerships tend to offer service equipment as an extra service. However, this is not the case when you buy directly from the owner.
The owner of the wheelchair truck can offer you the vehicle with pre existing equipment and customization. And if they’re in good condition, this will further decrease your overall cost of getting a functional and efficient wheelchair van.
What are the brand’s/ models available?
If you’re looking to buy a wheelchair accessible van, you might already have a mental checklist of what you’re looking for in your vehicle.
Luckily for you, you might most likely find one that ticks all of these boxes and also falls within your budget. Plus with a private seller, you can get what you’re looking for at an even lower price.
But even with so many brands and models out there, there are still some that stand out as the most popular wheelchair accessible vans you can buy fairly used. They are:
- Dodge Grand Caravan
- Ford transit
- Toyota Sienna
- Chrysler Pacifica
- Mazda Mazda-5
- Honda odyssey.
What are the specs most often favored?
Buying a used wheelchair accessible van means you’re buying a vehicle that’s definitely not in perfect condition unlike when buying a car brand new.
Still, it’s possible to get a car in great shape. There are some specifications that you must check out to find out the condition of the truck.
These specifications are based on what more experienced drivers look out for when buying their used vehicles especially from a private seller.
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The engine is one of the most important components of the car. It’s almost singularly responsible for the movement and primary functions of the car.
That’s why it’s one of the first parts of the car that should be examined. If you don’t know what exactly you should be looking for, then get a professional to accompany you. Also request for the opportunity to take the car out for a test drive as well.
Fuel tank capacity
Fuel tank capacity is especially important if you’re purchasing a van that will be traveling long distances. Most Individuals that are purchasing their used vehicles for commercial purposes require one that will be fuel efficient and durable.
For safety reasons of course, the brakes are the next aspect of the vehicle that should be inspected when buying your van.
Watch out for any strange noises and stiffness when you’re stepping down on the breaks. This might be an indication that the brakes might be damaged.
Seat belts and airbags
Much like in the case of brakes, seat belts are also inspected for safety reasons. You also want to be certain your airbag will deploy if you need it to. Hence, the airbag is another crucial feature to look out for.
Being a wheelchair van, it needs to have the right amount of cab space for the handicapped individual to be comfortable either as a passenger of the vehicle or the driver. More space is also required to accommodate the wheelchair.
While the above are the most common features to seek out, other secondary accessories you can observe are the types of seats, bluetooth speakers, exhaust, and tires.
Why are these specs often favoured more than the rest?
Every car owner has a preference and what they prioritize when picking out a van. An individual’s decision to favour one particular specification over another can be for any of the following reasons;
Durability is what many car buyers look for in a van. Many people are even willing to pay extra for a durable car than they are for a newer model. After all, a truck that can last for a long time while still fulfilling its purpose is worth every cent.
The engine is often inspected to check it’s condition. Horsepower is also considered when purchasing a van. Especially because many wheelchair vans tend to handle medical equipment and other devices that have a tendency to be heavy.
Everybody will aspire to get the highest level of comfort they can afford. That’s why everything from the seats, air conditioning, stereo, etc, is oftentimes inspected before purchase.
Safety should always come first when picking a wheelchair accessible vehicle. The seat belts, airbags and everything else regarding the safety of the driver, passengers and equipment should be a priority. This is another reason why test driving is important.
Best steps to follow when buying directly from the owner
Admittedly, there are many risks involved when purchasing from a private seller. You run the risk of getting scammed or purchasing a sub par van. But, by taking the right steps, you can get a great deal out of a high quality truck.
Here are crucial steps to take when purchasing a used truck from a private seller or the owner:
Research cars for sale
Of course, you probably already have an idea of what you’re looking for in a handicap van; safety restraints, a ramp etc. This can act as a guide when you’re buying and help you filter the ads you see online.
Unlike dealerships where you can walk in or browse their catalogue, a private seller is different. And you need to do your homework before even making enquiries.
You can do this by looking online at websites designated to selling used wheelchair accessible vans or used vans in general. Alternatively, you can also look through your local newspapers or Facebook pages to get information on sellers around you.
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When you’ve narrowed down the list of sellers selling anyone of your preferred wheelchair accessible trucks, you can start contacting them. Many private sellers drop their emails or phone numbers and these are easy ways you can contact them.
Your discussion with the potential seller shouldn’t only be about setting up a possible meeting spot.
You should ask some specific questions about the van you’re about to purchase prior to even inspecting it. Questions like the following relating to the vehicle’s history should be discussed:
- Has the van ever been involved in any form of accident/collision?
- If so, where did the van receive repairs?
- Is the truck fully paid for?
- What are the reasons for selling the van?
- Are there any inbuilt equipment present in the van?
- If so, are they in good condition?
- Are you the car’s original owner?
- Are the the first owner or you purchased it as fairly used also?
- What is the mileage of the van?
- Have you previously reset the mileage?
It’s also essential that you ask for the vehicle’s history report. Some sellers will offer you one while others might ask you to purchase it yourself.
Review the vehicle’s history report
This is a crucial part of the buying process. You should look through the document diligently, especially if it was provided for you by the seller.
If there are any signs that the document has been compromised or the features of the van don’t correspond with what the seller told you, it might be in your best interest to look elsewhere.
The document is essential for fact checking things relating to the van. Some important things to look for are; reported accidents, owner of the vehicle etc.
You can get a vehicle report from companies like AutoCheck.
Test drive the van immediately
At this juncture, you have already met with the seller in a public place and you’re in the process of assessing the van. You should examine the truck meticulously, especially the exterior of the van.
It’s a good idea to also listen to the revving of the engine when you turn on the ignition. That’s why it can help to arrive early so you can listen for the car as it is pulling up.
When you’re satisfied with the condition of the van, you can inspect the interior. Check for strange smells such as the smell of mold, and the entire state of the interior part of the van.
If you were promised well functioning handicap equipment, now’s your chance to inspect them and actually ensure they’re working fine.
After all the necessary inspection, you can take the car out for a test drive. Check to see if the steering feels right and if the brake is working efficiently.
Some other questions to have in mind include; are the seats comfortable? Are the headlights functional?
If the van checks all the boxes and you’re satisfied with its condition, you can start the negotiation process. That’s why research is required to give you an Idea of the selling price of that particular model and brand of vehicle.
It must be noted that if the seller is selling the van with built in equipment, then there might be a hike in price. Ask the seller how much they’re willing to sell the van, and then seek a fair price.
Most car owners might be sentimentally attached to their van, but they’re still most likely to give it to you for a fair price.
Get a professional pre purchase inspection
If you’re not an automobile expert, you should never rely on your own inspection alone. You should call in a professional to thoroughly inspect the truck before you finalize the purchase.
You might even find out that there were faults in the car you overlooked or didn’t even notice. Plus an experienced mechanic can give you an insight on possible problems you might face with that particular car brand.
Pay and complete the paperwork
While a much easier process than a dealership, buying from a seller can also come with its own list of inconveniences.
For example, the van might not be fully paid off by the original owner yet and this might make the entire process complicated.
Some sellers might ask for the payment in cash. However, you must make sure you follow the necessary protocols such as doing it in a safe environment and getting a receipt for the sale.
Others might be ok with receiving a check.
If you plan on using a loan to purchase the truck, you can direct your lender to either provide you with a check or make the necessary transfer to the seller.
Then after payment has been made, you need to deal with the paperwork. Necessary paperwork includes the van’s title, bill of sale, etc.
Reliable platforms to purchase from
There are many great places where you can get in contact with a private seller and purchase a used wheelchair accessible van, both offline and online.
Some examples are:
- Facebook marketplace
- Local newspapers
- Through a mutual friend
These places have great deals waiting for serious buyers. Just endeavour to do in depth research and carry out the necessary precautions.
Buying from the owner might seem like risky business but if done right, you might get yourself a quality wheelchair van at a great deal. As long as you carry out the necessary steps indicated above, you stand a good chance of .
However, it is crucial to note that your best chance is still having a trained eye beside you as you go through on your quest. Do what you can to secure the services of a professional mechanic – even if for an hour – to guide you on your journey.
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