5 Tips for Buying Your First Wheelchair Accessible Minivan

So you’ve decided to buy a wheelchair accessible minivan-- good choice! By and large the most popular type of wheelchair accessible vehicle, minivans offer great gas mileage, more interior space, and easy in-and-out ramps for wheelchair passengers or drivers. 

While picking a minivan (as opposed to a car or a truck) is a solid first step, there are still a number of things you need to consider when shopping around. For this process, a little know-how and consideration goes a long ways: to help you out, we’ve put together this list of tips for first-time buyers.

 

      Think about who’s using the vehicle, and how. Is the wheelchair user going to be driving, or will a caregiver be driving? All wheelchair minivans are designed to handle wheelchair passengers, but not all are built for adaptive drivers, or drivers in wheelchairs. If the wheelchair user will be driving, they should consider whether they would prefer driving from the wheelchair, or transferring into a built-in driver’s seat. Next, for practical reasons, think about who else will be using the vehicle: figure out what an ideal number of additional seats is, which can usually be determined by thinking about the size of their family and how many other vehicles you might have.

      Consider the dimensions of the wheelchair. Another key consideration will be the size of the wheelchair-- this could easily narrow down your choices and allow you to focus on matters of preference. Average or small individuals will generally have more options than larger or taller individuals.

      Where will you be parking or storing the vehicle? Of course, most people store their vehicle in a garage. This can be a problem with side-entry vehicles, as many are too narrow to accommodate the ramp. Wherever you will be parking or storing the vehicle, think about how easy it will be to make room for the ramp to extend out of the rear or side.

      Think about any additional features you would prefer. Just like any other minivan or vehicle, there are a wide variety of options available. Many vans have power sliding doors, sunroofs, backup cameras, built-in GSP navigational aids, DVD players, and removable seats. Make a checklist of anything that’s a dealbreaker, or things that you would prefer but are not essential.

      Buy from a reputable dealer. Last but not least, make sure you’re buying from a respected dealer. The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) has a great tool for finding NMEDA licensed dealers so you can find one near you. Check to see if the converter is safety compliant. If the converter/manufacturer is not on this list you are taking a big chance!!

      Research reviews. Analyze reviews of dealers online to see what other people are saying. Beware of internet sellers because they may not have the ability to service your vehicle should you have a problem. Lastly, a little common sense always helps— if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

 

We know that buying your first wheelchair accessible minivan can be a difficult process. If you’re looking for a little guidance or need help sorting through the options, give us a call! Our mobility consultants are standing by to assist with any questions you may have and find the perfect minivan for you. Call or email us today!