Today, there are more choices than ever when it comes to the types
of vehicles being converted into wheelchair accessible transportation. Because of this, buyers now more than ever are able to fulfill their personal desires through vast amenities, size options, and vehicle functionality. The days where minivans were all one could choose have past; buyers can now select from various pickup trucks and SUVs. However, it’s also because of this new opportunity things can get a little overwhelming and cause many buyers to lose sight of their basic, situational needs.
This is where it becomes important to make sure you work with a mobility consultant; someone well versed in various vehicle types, to ensure your personal needs are not overlooked, or sacrificed for a personal want. A mobility consultant will help you stay focused by assessing your exact needs, budget, and personal desires. Together they will use this information to ultimately recommend the type of vehicle to best suit your CURRENT and FUTURE situation.
So, where should you start ?
First, start with the most important step, and that is to get in touch with a mobility consultant for an assessment. Here is where you will not only be addressing your wants, but your needs. You will be measured, if necessary, to help in assessing your current situation. Future needs will also be assessed. I cannot stress enough the importance of this step!
After your assessment, you and your mobility consultant will have discussed your best options. These recommendations will be based, first and foremost, on your personal needs and necessary fit. You may receive a recommendation involving several vehicle types, or you may get only one. Keep in mind, your functionality, comfort and safety should always come first. Be sure you look past any wants that may struggle to accommodate your personal needs. With mobility vehicles, it’s a bad idea to shop for a vehicle based solely on looks and wants. It is important that you DO NOT struggle to fit, or operate a vehicle, no matter how your think you look driving!
Next, do your research –
Your mobility consultant will be able to provide to you information to evaluate any vehicles recommended. You may also find additional information on the company’s website, manufacturer’s website, or Internet (be careful that you utilize reliable sources). As you can imagine, there is a lot of bad, or incorrect information out there as well. Also, be wary of any company who tends to only sell their products over the internet. There have been many stories that didn’t end well. Most of which resulting from a buyer unable to try the vehicle before they buy, or a vehicle requiring service with no service facility nearby. Which takes me to my next point…
Review a dealer’s total offering and look, or request testimonials –
Be sure when you are ready to purchase, you do so from a reputable dealer, and one that is a member of NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) and is part of their QAP (Quality Assurance Program). Learn more about QAP and NMEDA here.
Look for a dealer that provides great service, both before and after the sale. Remember, a good dealer will be sure they address your immediate and future needs with your purchase, and provide a compassionate, understanding and caring environment.
Check out their service department and ask questions. How long have their technicians worked on mobility vans? Do they use factory parts? Do they offer 24/7 emergency service in their service area? (Nothing could be worse than getting stranded with a mechanical failure at 2 AM on the side of the road with no one to help, or the knowledge to assess and repair your problem).
These are all great questions to ask, and ask as many as you can think of until you feel comfortable, and by all means, review any company testimonials. If you cannot find any online, ask your dealer for some. Most, if not all, should have plenty of customer testimonials to provide and they will help you evaluate the past experience of other buyers.
Lastly, protect your vehicle against costly repairs –
While this is an option and 100% voluntary, be sure you assess your needs and options with your mobility consultant in protecting your vehicle mechanically from any costly, future complications and expenses that may arise.
With wheelchair accessible vehicles, buyers generally keep them longer than most, and it is inherently more important that the vehicle performs properly every time it is needed. However, mechanical failures can arise, and some can be costly due to the nature of the mechanics involved in design. Before you sign and take delivery of your vehicle, be sure you fully understand any service plans your dealer may offer to protect your vehicle against costly mechanical failures that may arise outside the manufactures warranty period (if any). To help in determining if a protection plan is for you, a dealer should be able to provide to you a list of various repair types and the costs incurred without protection.