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Wheelchair Van Buying Tips

Wheelchair Van Buying Tips

Superior Van and Mobility is here to help!

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When it comes to purchasing a wheelchair accessible van or SUV, many buyers are new to the process and can often feel overwhelmed, but at Superior Van and Mobility we are here to help. First thing you should know is that there isn’t any one-vehicle-fits-all solution; everyone’s needs are different. This is why when considering a wheelchair van or handicap accessible SUV, working with a certified mobility consultant at your local dealer is of utmost importance.

Mobility consultants will work with you one-on-one and perform a FREE, confidential evaluation, determining the fit and function of various vehicles until the best solution is obtained. In the end, you’ll leave knowing your best options, what fits and what doesn’t, and what to expect moving forward in regaining your independence.

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Beware Alternative Wheelchair Van Buying Options

As in any industry, there are opportunities and organizations that will offer alternative options to visiting your local mobility dealer. However, please be cautious, as most of these online retailers work off commission and are only concerned with making a sale and not after-the-sale care. The idea of buying a vehicle, especially a wheelchair accessible one online, sight unseen generally doesn’t work out to be the best of ideas, and we caution you on making such a purchase.

Sure, the slight cost savings might be tempting as many of these retailers produce their own line of wheelchair van conversions, but we’ve seen time and time over, these company’s delivering their customers a handicap vehicle that doesn’t fit or address their needs, and in the end also leaves them without proper service options and support.

It is our goal at Superior Van and Mobility to address any questions or apprehensions you may experience with the utmost compassion and understanding. Our mobility consultants are highly-trained, and strive to make your purchase as easy and comfortable as possible. In addition, our sales team does not work on commission so there is no pressure or concern anyone will try to sell you a vehicle that is not right for your needs or budget. We are here to help!

If at any time you have questions or concerns with an experience you’ve had elsewhere, please feel free to reach out to any one of our locations and we’ll be happy to assist.

The following list of considerations is designed to further assist you in your journey, and to help alleviate any concerns you may be having with the process of shopping for a handicap accessible wheelchair van or SUV.

1.    Know Your Options

When it comes to handicap accessible cars, trucks, vans and SUVs, there are now more options than ever! There are literally dozens of wheelchair accessible vehicle conversion variations and numerous chassis manufacturers available, as well as lifts, hand-controls and mobility driving aids. Not everyone may be a candidate for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, a lift might be a better fit and a more affordable option. The way we see it, it’s best to know ALL your options going in and the alternative products available, it could save you a bunch and be what’s best for your current and future situation.

2.    Dealer Expertise

When you are looking to purchase a wheelchair van, be sure to use a dealer with experience like Superior Van and Mobility. By no means be afraid to ask questions! Our mobility consultants are here for you, to offer their expertise and assistive technology experience to help you through the buying process. Our consultants truly are your best resource for answers to all your questions and concerns, regardless how big or small.

3.  Choose an Accredited Dealer

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is a national organization dedicated to advocating for safe and reliable vehicle modifications in the accessible automotive market. Dealers belonging to this organization are the top in their field, and are committed to the quality and safety of their products and services. Routine audits and program compliance is necessary to be part of this prestigious organization. Be sure to look for the logo.

When it comes to service and installation of handicap accessible mobility products, NMEDA offers an additional certification program called (QAP), or Quality Assurance Program. This is the only nationally recognized accreditation program for the adaptive mobility industry. Before getting your handicap accessible van, wheelchair/scooter lift, or driving aid serviced/installed, be sure you choose a dealer that is part of this program.

By choosing an accredited QAP dealer, you are ensuring they have met the stringent qualities and guidelines of the organization, and that they also provide the benefits associated: 24/7 emergency service, and service by trained mobility technicians who have met only the highest of standards.

4.    Quality and Experience

Like most products for sale, the mobility industry is too saturated with substandard, wheelchair accessible vehicles. We urge you to be very careful when considering one of these vehicles. These vehicles are mostly found being sold by companies who only sell their products online, without a nationwide supporting dealer network. These vehicles are often sold sight unseen, many times resulting in buyer’s remorse after the sale and lack of servicing options. When shopping, we recommend looking for a vehicle built by either of the two largest manufacturers of mobility vehicles, BraunAbility and (VMI) Vantage Mobility International. Both of these manufacturers have been building wheelchair vans from the beginning and stand behind their products. They are the gold standard in mobility vans and SUVs and have the largest dealer network for service and support.

When considering a mobility dealer for a purchase, it is key to find a dealer with a track record of performance. Is the dealership reputable? How satisfied are their customers (did you check their reviews on Google or other reputable review sites)? Can they provide you with referrals? Are there any unsatisfied complaints with the BBB or states Attorney General? Will they be there after the sale more than just during?

Bottom line, do your homework on both the dealer and the products you are considering to purchase.

5.    Get References and Read “Verified” Reviews

Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective dealer for any references from professional organizations or customers who would be willing to talk about their purchase, buying experience, and whether they were satisfied with the service they’ve received both during and after the sale. Check out their reviews online, but be sure they are from a reputable source. It is too easy in today’s world to buy or create fake reviews.

6.    Consider the Warranty on the Chassis and the Conversion

While not usually on top-of-your-mind until you need it, when making a purchase such as a wheelchair accessible vehicle, the warranty of the product you choose is very important. Most reputable conversion companies offer warranties on their new conversion components that match the chassis warranty of the vehicle. Most often, this term is a 3 year/36,000-mile warranty. However, there are numerous alternatives to consider if you desire longer coverage and this is definitely something we recommend. to learn more about your options to extend the warranty on your mobility vehicle, check with one of our mobility consultants. 

7.    The Right Fit

We cannot stress the importance of this aspect when purchasing a wheelchair accessible van or SUV. The size of the wheelchair user, the size of the wheelchair itself, and the size of the family/occupants must all be taken into account when selecting the right vehicle on top of many other factors. This is where it becomes extremely important that you are completely transparent about your disability, any limitations and needs, both immediate and future. Just like any disability, there are many variables that come into play which can affect decisions: age, level of dexterity, and countless others. Your answers to these questions will make it possible for a mobility consultant to recommend the correct type, size, and model of accessible vehicle needed to address your needs and desires.

8.    Decide Between a Rear-Entry or Side-Entry Conversion

There are two basic types of wheelchair accessible vehicles, side-entry and rear-entry. In a side-entry vehicle the ramp deploys from the side door, allowing the wheelchair user access to the center and front seating areas of the vehicle. This is by far the most popular type of conversion, and the only choice for a user if he/she is planning to drive. In a rear-entry wheelchair van, the ramp deploys from the rear hatch, allowing the wheelchair user access to the rear and midsection of the vehicle, but not the front. Users in rear-entry conversions are unable to ride in the front driver or passenger seating area. 

As with anything, there are always pros and cons of each option, so be sure to discuss these with your mobility consultant.

9.    Buying a Modified Vehicle vs. Having a Vehicle Modified

Purchasing a pre-modified vehicle from a dealer’s inventory certainly has its benefits. Namely, convenience and the ability to touch, feel and ride in the finished product. However, some users may already have an unconverted vehicle that they own, but now have a need for a wheelchair van conversion. With limitations on age, mileage and vehicle type, a user’s unconverted vehicle can usually be sent to the factory to be modified. To find out more about this option and the exact requirements, be sure to ask a mobility consultant.

10.    Take Your Time

Out team at Superior Van and Mobility are called “consultants” because that is exactly what they are, not salespeople but consultants working with you to find the best solution for your immediate and future needs. They are here to help you or a loved one regain their independence. Ultimately, decisions are up to you, but it’s your mobility consultants job to ensure you know all your options and to recommend a vehicle that is a perfect fit for your needs and budget. Unlike most automotive sales professions, mobility consultants don’t look for a, “quick sale”. The process of purchasing a wheelchair van or SUV is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. The process you will experience with your mobility consultant will most likely lead to developing a long-lasting friendship because of the amount of information you will exchange, and the confidence you both develop through the process. 

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Use the links below search inventory or to reach out to the Superior Van and Mobility location nearest you to get connected with one of our mobility consultants and regain your independence.

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