What To Know Before Purchasing A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle


Get on the Road to Independence

What you need to know before you buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle

The wheelchair accessible vehicle is imperative to the physically disabled community. These vehicles are the means for an independent life. There is no one-size-fits-all option as the buyer has unique mobility needs and with many features to consider buyers can feel overwhelmed. 

Consult the Experts

Consult with a QAP-accredited NMEDA dealer. These are experts on modified passenger vehicles who provide in-depth knowledge of the different types of equipment available,  recommend the best vehicles for the equipment you need, and help you find a local Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) for an evaluation. This is a great first step if it is the first time purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle. 

Evaluate Your Needs

If the driver of the vehicle is handicapped set up an appointment with a CDRS to evaluate vehicle necessities. CDRS assess motor skills, strength, coordination, perception and cognitive skills.

Know Your Options

Unlike the able-body vehicle market, accessible vans come in: new-new, used-new and, used-used. Vehicle price will largely be based on use and entry type.

New-new is a new vehicle with a new conversion. These vehicles tend to hold their value best but will also be the most expensive option. 
Used-New are vehicles previously owned or used with less than 50,000 miles and the conversion itself is brand new. This is a good option for those who want to high tech features of a new conversion at a lower cost than buying an entirely new vehicle.
Used-Used both the van itself and its accessible features have been used. You may have to do a bit of digging to find the make, model, and features you need but this will by far be the cheapest category.

Decide Entry Type

There are two ways vehicles are converted to allow for wheelchair entry: side entry and rear entry.

Side entry is the most popular entry method for wheelchair users and the manufacturers that convert vehicles. This is because side entry often utilizes existing doors with extended height to accommodate a wheelchair user. Side entry also provides ease of use for ramps within handicap parking spaces and offer a safe curbside exit away from traffic.
Rear entry ramps replace a vehicle’s trunk space and rear seating configuration with a ramp to accommodate entry into the vehicle for the wheelchair user.  Conversion cost is usually less with a rear entry vehicle, but the resale value is less as the wheelchair cannot drive or ride in the passenger seat. Parallel parking can also be difficult with a rear entry ramp, as the clearance needed behind the vehicle can be difficult to find.

Financing & Funding

Much of the decision on what van to purchase falls upon what is affordable. Financing may seem like it isn't an option if you have less than perfect credit. Mobility Trust understands life happens and credit can suffer.  We will work hard to turn a weak application into an approval. With extended terms, flexible monthly payments, and an easy to use online payment portal you can get on the road to independence with ease. 

For additional funding sources check out the links below for grants and conversion rebates.

Here is a link to grants offered by state Here is a link to conversion rebates

Additional Support

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is a national organization dedicated to advocating for safe and reliable modifications in the accessible vehicle market. To locate dealers with the Quality Assurance Program certification visit their site www.nmeda.org   

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