Buying a used wheelchair van can be a cost-effective way to get the transportation you need for significantly less than the expense of buying a brand new vehicle. Yet before making a purchase, you have a multitude of factors to consider and evaluate that extend far beyond the purchase price.
As with any vehicle, the van's overall condition and mechanical integrity are essential to your safety. Make sure you have a qualified mechanic look over the van and make an assessment on the vehicle’s reliability.
In addition to evaluating the engine, tires, brakes, systems, etc., you must carefully consider the specific access and mobility components each van offers.
As you begin looking at different models, you will find a wide variety of conversion packages, seating configurations, ramps and lift styles, and controls. You will need to take time to carefully research your options and requirements, based on your specific needs.
For example, consider the type of mobility chair you use and how it will impact your access and maneuverability in the van. Do you plan to drive the wheelchair accessible van or just be a passenger? If you drive, how will you enter the van and navigate to the driver’s seat?
Look into the type of hand controls for braking and steering -- and whether they accommodate your individual mobility requirements.
Wheelchair van conversions can include everything from side-entry ramp systems with lowered floors to rear-entry conversions for a minivan. You will also see vans with raised roofs, special safety tie-down mechanisms, and manual or powered ramps and lifts.
The size of the vehicle is also an important consideration. Think about how much room you need for the chair or scooter, driver, and passengers. Will a minivan serve your needs, or will you need a full-sized model?
Once you decide on the size and find the features you need in a used wheelchair van, make sure the conversions have been done in full compliance with safety standards.
Ask if the conversion equipment has been crash-test certified. Finally, make sure you test drive the van before you buy and learn as much as you can about servicing requirements for the vehicle.
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