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Wheelchair Van Buying Tips

Wheelchair Van, Handicap Accessible Vehicle Buying Tips

Superior Van and Mobility is here to help with your wheelchair van purchase

When it comes to purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle, 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 vehicle, working with a certified mobility consultant at your local dealer is of utmost importance.

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Mobility consultants at Superior Van and Mobility will work with you one-on-one and perform a FREE, confidential evaluation to determine the proper fit and needed functions of various vehicles until the best solution to your exact needs are obtained. In the end, you’ll Superior Van & Mobility knowing your best options; what vehicle addresses your needs and which don’t, and what to expect moving forward in working toward regaining your independence.

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Beware Online Wheelchair Van & Handicap Van Buying Options

As in any industry, there are opportunities and organizations that work to offer alternative options to visiting a local brick-and-mortar dealer. If you are entertaining this option please be cautious, as most of these online only 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 vehicle 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 accessible vehicle that doesn’t fit or address their needs, and in the end also leaves them without proper service options and support in their neighborhood.

It is our goal at Superior Van and Mobility to address any questions or apprehensions you may experience with the utmost compassion and understanding upfront. Our mobility consultants are highly trained, and strive to make your purchase as easy, informative 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 truly 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 mobility consultants at any Superior Van & Mobility location and we’ll be happy to assist.

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

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 numerous wheelchair lifts , scooter lifts, mobility seating types, driving hand-controls and various mobility driving aids. In fact, not everyone may be a candidate for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, a wheelchair lift might be a better fit and a more affordable option. The way we see it, it’s best to know ALL your mobility options going in and any 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 / handicap accessible vehicle, be sure to use a mobility 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 and they are not on commission so there is no pressure.

3.  Choose an Accredited Dealer

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

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.

National mobility equipment dealers association and their Quality Assurance Program logos

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 handicap accessible vehicles. These wheelchair accessible 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 to users, 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 wheelchair accessible vehicles, BraunAbility and Vantage Mobility International (VMI). Both of these manufacturers have been building wheelchair vans from the beginning and stand behind their products. They are the gold standard in wheelchair accessible vehicle conversions and have the largest dealer network for service and support. Each of their vehicles are crash-test and approved or they don’t go to market, unlike many online only retailers who don’t crash-test their wheelchair accessible vans.

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 if you ask? Are there any unsatisfied complaints with the BBB or states Attorney General? Will they be there after the sale or just during the sale? Bottom line, do your homework on both the dealer and the handicap accessible 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. Look for reviews from Google, FEEFO and TrustPilot; each are independent, 3rd party review sites that have stringent policies in collecting reviews.

6.    Consider the Warranty on the Chassis and the Conversion

While not usually on top-of-your-mind until you need it, but 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 vehicle. 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 wheelchair accessible vehicle needed to address your needs and desires.

8.    Decide Between a Rear-Entry or Side-Entry Wheelchair 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 / handicap van, the ramp deploys from the rear hatch, allowing the wheelchair user access to the rear and mid-section 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 wheelchair accessible 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 handicap accessible conversion. With limitations on age, mileage and vehicle type, a user’s unconverted vehicle can usually be sent to the factory to be modified as a cost savings. To find out more about this option and the exact requirements, be sure to ask a mobility consultant at any Superior Van and Mobility location.

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 automotive mobility 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 handicap accessible 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 / handicap van 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 be on your way to regaining your independence!

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