It can be quite overwhelming purchasing a vehicle that’s wheelchair accessible.
Especially if you’re buying for the first time. Your options would seem either too expensive or don’t fit the description of what you’re looking for.
No need to get frustrated because there are ways to make the process much easier for you.
In this article, you’ll get to know exactly what to look for when buying a wheelchair-accessible van as well as the most reliable dealerships available to you.
6 things to look for when buying a wheelchair van
There are primary things you should consider when picking out a wheelchair van such as your budget, the size of the family, etc.
Nevertheless, you should also lookout for the following to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth out of your purchase.
- Safety first
Safety is the number one factor to consider when buying a wheelchair van.
Of course, safety should also be considered no matter the vehicle, but a wheelchair van deserves special attention.
Riding in the back seat of a van can be quite challenging for anyone let alone someone in a wheelchair.
So it’s important to ensure all the necessary health precautions are adhered to by the dealer when customizing your vehicle.
Seat belts and every other strap must be installed into the vehicle for maximum safety of the back seat wheelchair user.
This is especially necessary if you live in a location with lots of turns, bumpy roads, and other things that might cause you to maneuver your vehicle a lot.
Every ounce of security and health standards must be met and even exceeded by the dealer.
- Entry point
In a wheelchair van, there are two main points of entry for the wheelchair. There is the rear entry and the side entry.
As the names imply, the rear entry is an entrance that opens up from behind the van while the side entry opens up from the side of the car’s body.
Your choice of wheelchair entry point should depend on who will be operating the vehicle.
For example, side entry will be ideal for wheelchair drivers because they most often deploy from the driver’s side of the vehicle making it easier to access the driver’s side and take control of the steering wheel.
Admittedly, the side entry is often discouraged because it can be difficult to access in a tight parking space.
The rear entry, however, only gives passenger access to the wheelchair user and there’s no way they can access the driver’s side from the inside.
This restricts them to be solely passengers of the vehicle.
From the rear entry, the passenger can access the middle and the rear of the vehicle.
While the side entry offers access to the middle and front parts. Opinions for the best options must be sorted out from the dealer.
- The perfect fit
Getting the right fit is crucial to ensure the wheelchair van is comfortable enough for not only the wheelchair user but other passengers.
There are two things to take into account in getting the perfect fit for the wheelchair van; the size of the wheelchair and the size of the family.
When measuring for the wheelchair, the key measurements to pay attention to are;
- The width of the wheelchair
- Size of both tires on either size
- The height of the wheelchair and the wheelchair user
- The combined weight of the wheelchair and the user of the wheelchair
Getting the right measurements will ensure that everything from the roof of the van, the size of the door, maneuverability within the vehicle, etc will be optimum for the wheelchair owner.
Your choice of vehicle can range anywhere from a minivan and a bigger van depending on the driver’s choice and how frequently the wheelchair user might have to share the vehicle with other passengers.
Before you’re on board with any dealership, you should request testimonials from past customers.
If possible, getting the contact information and contacting any past customer about their buying experience with the dealership can also come in handy.
This can give you a hint of what to expect when working with that particular dealership.
And you can easily decide on whether they’re the right one for you or not.
Make sure to get enough references as possible to get a different perspective from other wheelchair van users that have worked with the dealership in the past.
- Modification process
A crucial question to ask yourself is how much the modification process will cost.
Before you can fully commit to getting the van customized, it’s vital to know that you have other options.
Getting an already customized van (usually an already used van) could be much more affordable.
While customizing your van yourself might be cost-effective, you may find yourself spending more getting some extra modifications done in the vehicle.
In most cases, these modifications can consist of hand controls, increasing the height of the roof, getting a much studier ramp, handrails, etc.
A great dealer can inform you of the best options for your wheelchair van needs.
If the dealer doesn’t allow you to customize your vehicle you should reconsider purchasing from them and you might need to look elsewhere.
This brings us to our next big consideration before buying a wheelchair van.
- An experienced wheelchair van dealer
Another significant factor to lookout for is the dealership you’ll be purchasing from.
A wheelchair van isn’t one size fits all. And if this is your first time buying a wheelchair van, it’s safe to say you’re not an expert in the field, and you need guidance.
This is where the value of an experienced wheelchair dealer will be most appreciated.
Unfortunately, there are many phony companies and dealerships out there.
Some can even offer you modifications that you don’t need just to make extra money off you while others can be outright scammers.
Your best shot at getting a beneficial deal would be to go to an accredited wheelchair van dealer.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMED) is an organization dedicated to promoting safe, reliable, and quality modifications in the accessible vehicle market.
They even provide you with technicians who have achieved the highest level of education and training in the accessible vehicle field.
Getting in touch with the association or any one of their approved dealerships can put you in contact with an expert in wheelchair vans.
This exponentially increases your chances of getting an optimum performance vehicle.
Best wheelchair van dealers
To ensure you’re picking the best of the best wheelchair vans, you’ll need to select only the best dealers out there.
Depending on what’s a priority to you i.e wheelchair van warranty, great features, budget, etc, there is a wheelchair van dealer that satisfies your specific requirements for your vehicle.
Some of the most popular wheelchair van dealers are:
- Vantage mobility international
Rollx sells both new and used wheelchair vans in five models.
They are; GMC Savana, Dodge Grand caravan, Chrysler Pacifica, ford transit, ram Promaster.
The rollx vehicles have different useful features. You can find a parking assistant, keyless entry, and other features in their vehicles.
Rollx is dedicated to helping veterans who need a wheelchair and they’re also proud supporters of the National Veteran Wheelchair Games.
Rollx offers home deliveries nationwide and also helps out with repairs in the instance your vehicle develops a fault.
This brand is an accredited and trusted brand with great warranty options as well as budget-friendly.
Braunability was chosen as one of the best wheelchair-accessible vehicle dealerships of 2021.
They offer fair prices, a wide range of customization options as well as various selection of vehicles to choose from.
That’s not all, Braunability delivers nationwide.
On their website, you can fill out a survey on what your needs for a wheelchair vehicle are and they can give you suggestions that fit into that description.
Their service website interface is customer-friendly, even offering a page to build your van.
You can select whatever you need and create your van with options including everything from the van’s make to specific customization.
- Vantage mobility international
Vantage mobility international offers four different kinds of van models; Dodge grand caravan, Honda Pilot, Toyota Sienna, and Chrysler Pacifica.
These vehicles are available in both side entry options and rear entry options.
Vantage mobility international offers resources and benefits for veterans and has a special page dedicated to helping veterans understand how these benefits can enrich them.
Vantage mobility international is acclaimed for the many features available in their vehicles.
For example, voice commands, blind spot mirrors, parking assistants, power ramps, etc.
If after checking their vehicle options you find a car you like, you also get to test drive the car to see if it’s an ideal fit for you.
Every location a person using a wheelchair visits may not be accessible to them, however, a wheelchair van removes that obstruction with regards to driving.
Getting a vehicle that’s specifically modified for a wheelchair user can help wheelchair users stay mobile.
If the pricing is too expensive for you to handle, there are grants available in many states within the United States.
A wheelchair van is definitely worth the cost for that freedom and fewer restrictions for the user.