What to Look for When Buying a Wheelchair Van

4 year old boy and 35 year old Disabled Men on Wheelchair Lift

According to the Bureau of Transportation, it's estimated that 25.5 million Americans age 5 and older have self-reported travel-limiting disabilities. Out of that group, around 24.6 million of those people are 18 or older.

Having access to a wheelchair accessible van can change people's lives. Reliable transportation you don't have to rent or schedule ahead of time can make it easier to go to doctor's appointments, run errands, attend social events and make it possible to work outside of one's home.

Whether looking for reliable transportation for someone in a wheelchair or are in a wheelchair and need a van of your own, we're here to help. Keep reading to learn our must-look-for features in wheelchair accessible vans. 

What to Look for in Your Wheelchair Accessible Van 

Buying a standard van and a wheelchair accessible van can be similar in some ways, but with some key differences. Things like gas mileage and safety features will always be important, but there are some extras you should be looking for in your handicap van.

Price shouldn't be your only concern when you're shopping for a fully accessible van. When you're out shopping for a wheelchair accessible van for sale, see if it has any of these key features.

Conversion Capabilities 

When you're shopping for a wheelchair accessible van as an independent driver, it's important to ask if foldout ramps and automatic lifts are available from the manufacturer you are considering. 

Some people may choose to go with a conversion van because of how versatile it is. A conversion van with a lowered floor can make it easy to tie down wheelchairs, make equipment adjustments, and be more comfortable for passengers. 

If you're unsure if you want conversion capabilities, take some time to think about how much equipment you need to take with you. If you travel light, a full-vehicle conversion may not matter much to you, but if you need to carry extra equipment like oxygen tanks having the extra space can be helpful.

Back-Up Cameras

Back-up cameras can be a very helpful feature to have in a wheelchair accessible van. 

Some people may be able to drive a van independently but may have trouble backing up and parking a large vehicle. A back-up camera can make it easy to see where you're going without having to constantly adjust your mirrors. 

They can come in handy for people that have to parallel park often. If you plan on driving your van in a busier urban environment, a back-up camera can make parking less stressful when you're on a busy street. 

A back-up camera can also add some much-needed comfort for drivers in wheelchairs. If the driver has a spinal cord injury having to turn around to park can be uncomfortable and put pressure on their back and neck. A back-up camera can take care of the need to twist and can make parking a breeze. 

Accreditation 

If you want to ensure the quality of your vehicle, make sure you only consider buying vans from accredited sellers and manufacturers. 

Ask if the dealership is affiliated with the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). NMEDA is a national organization that's dedicated to advocating for reliable and safe modifications to accessible vehicles. When you work with a NMEDA dealer, you know that you're working with a business that's at the top of their field and are committed to the quality and safety of their products. 

Buyers that are interested in having a little extra assurance and accreditation in their dealers should also see if they're part of an additional NMEDA-offered program called the Quality Assurance Program (QAP). The QAP is the only nationally recognized accreditation program for companies in the adaptive mobility industry. Manufacturers who meet QAP standards are required to meet strict quality standards, and they offer round-the-clock services from highly skilled and trained technicians.

Entry Options

Being able to safely and comfortably enter and exit your van will be important. When you're talking to a handicap van dealer, be sure to ask specific questions about the vehicle's entry options. 

Rear- and side-entry are the two most common entry options in wheelchair accessible vans. The best one for your situation will heavily depend on personal preference and van usage.

Side entry vans can make it much easier for people with disabilities to get in and out of the driver and front passenger side seat. Rear-entry can make it easier for drivers to park into standard parking spaces, and usually won't require the driver to do any awkward maneuvering once they're inside the car.

Rear-entry cars do tend to be a little less expensive than side-entry cars, but that isn't always the case. Be sure to ask your dealer what preferences their customers voice during their buying process to get some additional opinions. 

Vehicle History

This is only applicable if you plan on buying a used wheelchair van, but we feel that it's important enough to mention here.

Searching for a vehicle's history is important when you're buying any vehicle, but it's especially important for anyone that's buying a pre-owned wheelchair accessible van. Vans that have been through recalls or accidents may have some lingering problems. You don't want to buy a wheelchair accessible van that could malfunction or has any problems left over from the previous owner. 

Don't be afraid to ask a BraunAbility dealer to ask for a CARFAX or vehicle history before you buy it. BraunAbility Certified Pre-Owned vehicles all come with a CARFAX report and are available to customers when they look at a pre-owned BraunAbility vehicle.

Find Your Van Today

When you go in with the right mindset, finding a wheelchair accessible van that will suit your needs can be easy. After you take the time to consider your needs, you'll be ready to shop.

If you've taken the time to think about what you need in your van, we're ready to help you find the right one. 

Reach out to us today if you want to find the right vehicle to accommodate your mobility needs.

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