Wheelchair van specialists at Classic Vans provide quick tips for helping you find the right vehicle for your mobility needs
In recent years, the demand for wheelchair and handicap accessible vehicles has seen a large increase. A greater inventory and larger selection of vehicles with many different styles and options is readily available. However, with so many factors to consider, the decision can be overwhelming. All of the major automobile makers offer specialty vehicles. Full sized to minivans, side entry or rear entry, ramps and lifts or hand controls and tie downs, the customizations are endless to suit your specific needs.
Here are some of the steps and factors to consider when shopping for your mobility vehicle.
What are my Requirements? What do I need?
Consulting your health care provider is the first place to start when determining what your specific vehicle needs will be. The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (866-672-9466), toll free in US or Canada, is another great resource. They can help you locate a qualified evaluator in your area that has experience in helping find the right equipment you or your loved one will need.
There are several ways to go about finding a car dealer with the proper inventory for your needs.
- Contacting local dealers in your area can help point you in the right direction to finding who is selling mobility vans
- The internet is a great resource for finding handicap and mobility car dealers. If the vehicle you are wanting is not in the area, many dealers have special programs to help get you the car you want to your location
- Again, contacting your health care provider or larger physical therapy offices in your area will sometimes yield specific referrals
- Your vehicle must meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Requirements. National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an excellent resource to check out to ensure the vehicle you’re looking at is up to standards. NMEDA is dedicated to the professionalism and safety of reliable mobility equipment for drivers and passengers with disabilities.
- When looking at a used or new wheelchair van, never hesitate to ask as many questions as possible. Doing some research beforehand can help prevent you from ending up with a vehicle that is not right for you.
- Test! Test everything the vehicle has to offer – hand controls, lifts, rear or side entry ramps, everything. Make sure the interior space is suitable to your needs and if you plan on driving, the steering wheel access is comfortable. Take the vehicle out for a test drive. Take careful note if the van feels as if it is rocking, making noises or has other troubling sounds.
- Check to make sure that the van’s electrical system is heavy duty enough for the equipment you will be requiring. If you require a lift system, the chassis must be built to maintain that amount of weight.
- Carefully examine the interior for any loose panels, rusting or faulty welding.
- Always examine the warranty to make sure conversions have not voided the document.
- Many states offer disability van grants or loans. For example, California offers an AT Loan Guarantee Program. The Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and California Assistive Technology Exchange (CATE) administer guaranteed loans for people with disabilities who need transportation. Go online and see what financing is available to you and your loved ones.
Life is good when living in freedom. For yourself or someone you know with a disability, freedom of accessibility, travel and easy mobility can be greatly nurtured with the proper vehicle. The process of finding the car to fit your needs can be stressful, so let us help ease the search with one of our highly knowledgeable experts or by browsing our inventory of full-size wheelchair vans.