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Wheelchair-Accessible Van Buying Tips

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

When purchasing a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, many buyers are new to the process and can often feel overwhelmed, but at Superior Van & Mobility, we are here to help. 

You should know that there isn’t any one-vehicle-fits-all solution; everyone’s needs are unique. For this reason, 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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Superior Van & Mobility’s mobility consultants will work with you one-on-one. They will perform a confidential evaluation to determine which mobility solution best fits your needs.

You’ll leave Superior Van & Mobility knowing your best options, which vehicle addresses your needs and which does not. Also, what to expect moving forward in regaining your independence.

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Beware of Buying a Wheelchair Van From an ONLINE-ONLY Retailer

Some opportunities exist from organizations that offer alternative options to visiting a local mobility dealer in your area. If you are exploring this option, we urge you to be cautious. There is muchly involved and required to ensure a particular type of wheelchair-accessible vehicle will fit your needs. This idea of buying a wheelchair van online, sight unseen, generally doesn’t address a customer’s complete needs. Therefore, we caution you against making such a purchase.

Slight cost savings might be tempting as many retailers produce their line of wheelchair van conversions. However, we’ve seen time and time over these companies delivering their customers converted vehicles that have never been crash-tested—vehicles made from substandard materials or methods or ones that don’t fit or address their exact needs. Ultimately, their purchase leaves them without proper service options and dealer support in their community, as these companies generally do not have physical service locations.

Our goal at Superior Van & Mobility is to address any questions or apprehensions you may experience with 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. There isn’t any pressure or concern that our team will try to sell you a vehicle that isn’t right for your needs or budget—opposed to online-only retailers whose agents work off commission. We are genuinely here to help!

As you move forward, working to regain your independence, please take a moment to review the following list of buying tips and considerations.  It should also help alleviate any concerns you may have with shopping for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

1. Know Your Options

There are now more options than ever regarding wheelchair-accessible cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs! There are dozens of accessible vehicle conversion variations and numerous chassis manufacturers available. Do you know the differences? What if a mobility van is not exactly what you need? We’ve got you covered!

At Superior Van & Mobility, we’ll recommend options based on an individual’s current and future needs. This is why, besides accessible vehicles, we carry wheelchair lifts, mobility scooter carriers, handicap seating, driving hand-controls, and numerous other mobility driving aids.

Why should you purchase a wheelchair van if a lift better suits your needs and budget? The way we see it, it’s best to know ALL your mobility options 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 purchasing a wheelchair van or handicap-accessible vehicle, use a certified mobility dealer with an experience like Superior Van & 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 are your best resource for answers to all your questions and concerns, regardless of how big or small, and they are not on commission, so there isn’t any pressure.

3. Choose an Accredited Dealer

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is 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. To be part of this prestigious organization, routine audits and program compliance are necessary, so be sure to look for the logo when doing business.

Regarding the 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 equipment serviced or installed, choose a dealer that is part of this program.

By choosing an accredited QAP dealer, you ensure they have met the organization’s stringent qualities and guidelines and provide benefits associated with 24/7 emergency service and service by trained mobility technicians who have completed only the highest standards.

4. Quality and Experience

Like most products for sale, the mobility industry is saturated with substandard wheelchair-accessible vehicles. We urge you to consider one of these obscure handicap-accessible vehicles. These wheelchair vans are mostly found being sold by companies who strictly sell their products online, without a nationwide supporting dealer network. The wheelchair-accessible vans are often sold sight unseen by customers, resulting in buyer’s remorse after the sale and a lack of service options.

When shopping, we recommend looking for a vehicle built by the two most prominent manufacturers of wheelchair-accessible vehicles, BraunAbility and Vantage Mobility International (VMI). These manufacturers have been building wheelchair vans 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 vehicle conversion is crash-tested and approved, unlike many online-only retailers who don’t crash-test their vans after conversion.

When considering a mobility dealer for a purchase, it is vital 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 the state Attorney General’s Office? Will they be there after the sale or just during the sale? Bottom line, do your homework on the dealer and the handicap-accessible vehicles & equipment you are considering purchasing.

5. Get References and Read “Verified” Reviews

Don’t be afraid to ask your prospective dealer for 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 received during and after the sale. 

Check out their reviews online, but be sure they are from a reputable source. It is too easy to buy or create fake reviews in today’s world. Look for reviews from GoogleFEEFO, and TrustPilot; each is an independent, 3rd party review site with stringent policies for collecting reviews. Dealers using most other sources have control over turning off or not showing bad 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 significant. 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 more extended coverage, and this is 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 considered when selecting the right vehicle.

This is where it becomes essential that you are completely transparent about your disability, limitations, and immediate and future needs. Like any disability, many variables come into play that can affect decisions: age, agility, 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 to buy that is 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 for saleside-entry and rear-entry

In a side-entry handicapped vehicle, the ramp deploys from the passenger side, 2nd row, and side door, allowing the wheelchair user access to the vehicle’s center and front seating areas. This is the most popular type of conversion and the only choice for a user if they are 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 cannot ride in the front driver or passenger seating area in rear-entry conversions.

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

9. Buying a Modified Vehicle vs. Having Your 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 but now need a handicap-accessible conversion to remain independent. With age, mileage, and vehicle type limitations, a user’s unconverted vehicle can usually be sent to the factory to be converted as cost savings.

Ask a mobility consultant at any Superior Van & Mobility location to learn more about this option and the exact requirements.

10. Take Your Time

Our team at Superior Van & Mobility are called “consultants” because that is what they are, not salespeople but consultants working with you to find the safest & best automotive mobility solution so you can remain mobile. They are here to help you or a loved one regain their independence!

Ultimately, decisions are up to you, but it’s your mobility consultant’s job to ensure you know all your options and recommend a handicap-accessible vehicle that is a perfect fit for your needs and budget. Our mobility consultants don’t look for a “quick sale.”

Purchasing a new or used wheelchair van or handicap-accessible SUV is an important decision that should not be taken lightly. The method you’ll experience with your mobility consultant will most likely lead to developing a long-lasting friendship. This friendship that develops is why we consider our customers’ families. We like to call it the “Superior Difference”.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Feel free to use the links below to search our current inventory or reach out to the Superior Van & Mobility location nearest you to connect with one of our mobility consultants and be on your way to regaining your independence!

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