Buying a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be quite an investment so you will want to make sure you get it right the first time around so that you don’t have to end up selling the vehicle and trying to purchase something else.
With so many different options of wheelchair accessible vehicles, it can be hard to decide on what is best. If you find yourself in this situation, then look no further.
Here are 5 tips to help you purchase the right wheelchair accessible vehicle for you.
First up, one of the most essential things you need to consider is the size of the vehicle. You have to ensure that there is enough headroom for the wheelchair passenger, otherwise, it can feel cramped and uncomfortable. Additionally, you want a person to be able to access the vehicle easily, with enough space and headroom to get in without hitting their heads. Pay attention to low roof heights as taller wheelchair users will have difficulty getting into the vehicle. The best way around this issue is to consider wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV) that have lowered floors. When the floor is lower in a vehicle this greatly reduces the angle of a ramp which makes access even easier. Alternatively, you can opt for high roof vehicles as these also offer improved wheelchair access. However, the downside of these kinds of vehicles is that they are unlikely to fit in a standard garage.
So there is a lot to consider when working out what size suits you as there are pros and cons to both smaller and larger vehicles. Bigger WAVS will offer more space, but they are harder to park and access to car parks may sometimes be restricted.
How Many Seats Do You Need?
One way to work out what kind of size you need is to know how many seats you want in your WAV. The smaller vehicles can start at just 2 seats plus the wheelchair passenger. The norm tends to be 3 seats plus a wheelchair passenger. Bigger accessible vehicles come with 4 to 6 seats, and you can see some examples of these at Brook Miller Mobility, which offer a vast range of new wheelchair accessible vehicles including the Fiat Qubo, VW Caddy, Vauxhall Vivaro, VW Transporter and many more. Some compact WAVs have 5 seats, but this usually requires the folding of a twin seat to make sure wheelchair access is possible. So, as you can imagine, more seats mean a larger vehicle and this means a higher price. So your budget is something to bear in mind when considering the number of seats.
Plan Your Budget First
Before you get carried away with the plentiful options available to you, it is a good idea to have a budget in mind before you start to shop. Otherwise, you can quickly find yourself paying for extra expenses here and there that you did not account for, and these will add up quickly. Take the time to research the varying prices of each car, and begin to work out an average price for the type of wheelchair accessible vehicle you are interested in. This will also help you to narrow down your options and save you from wasting time on vehicles that are not feasible choices.
Understand The Difference Between Compact And Regular WAVS
You may have heard the term compact WAV being thrown around, and it is put simply, a compact WAV is a smaller wheelchair access vehicle that tends to have 2 to 3 seats plus the wheelchair passenger. It is important that you know what you are purchasing as not all WAVS are created the same.
What Is The Main Purpose Of Your Vehicle?
Another way to help you find the best wheelchair accessible vehicle for you is to understand what is the main purpose of the vehicle? Obviously, the primary use is for transport, but it is worth asking yourself how frequently the vehicle will be used, who else will be riding it and where will it likely be travelling too? These questions are important because they will determine the size, budget and type of vehicle you will need. Purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle is not just a financial investment. It is also a personal investment and one that deserves your time and patience so that you can get it right. The right WAV can give you more independence and the importance of that is not to be underestimated.
Buying New Or Second-Hand?
You have the option to buy a new WAV directly from a converter or, to buy a second-hand WAV. There are pros and cons to both, and we will explore these below.
The main benefit of buying a new WAV is that converters are more likely to be able to adapt the vehicle to fit your needs and requirements.
- Converters will be able to explain to you the different features that can fit a WAV.
- There are multiple converters around, so you can talk to lots of different converters before settling one.
- However, making adaptations can take time as they have to pass an assessment once features have been fitted.
- Buying cars first-hand will mean they are more expensive.
You can purchase second-hand WAVs from local supplies and even some converters.
- Vehicles tend to be cheaper
- You do not have to wait too long for the WAV to be converted
- It might take some time to search for one that fits your needs.
- If you have more specialist/specific needs, it is not always easy to find an appropriate second-hand vehicle.
- The vehicle you use may be less reliable.
If you do choose to buy a second-hand WAV you should consider carrying out an inspection to make sure it is safe, reliable and fit for purpose.
Purchasing the wrong WAV can be more than just useless, it can be frustrating, time-wasting and a pain financially. We understand that buying a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be overwhelming, however, with these top tips and key factors to consider, the process will be more than manageable.