People with disabilities might find that it is essential to buy vehicles that are customized to their personal needs. Due to this demand, there are a number of disability-adapted vehicle makers that have popped up in recent years. Braun Corporation, Freedom Motors, Inc., Handicap Conversions, Inc., and VCI Mobility are some of the more familiar names in this industry. These companies are handicap vehicle specialists who sell, rent out, or convert conventional vehicles into customized handicap friendly vehicles (eg. handicap RV).
Choosing the right handicap vehicle for you can prove to be challenging if you do not know what to look for. Initially it is better to compare than to immediately buy or get a rental. Because it is less costly to look at everything that is available to you before deciding on what to do. Let's take a look at some of the things you need to consider when buying your own handicap vehicle.
Selecting a manufacturerAs mentioned earlier, there are a couple of reputable handicap vehicle specialists in the market. What you need to look for first is the manufacturer's history in the industry. Ask yourself the questions: "How long have they been converting vehicles and what type of conversion vans have they handled? Likewise, are they capable of converting a new vehicle into a disability-adapted van?" Some of the manufacturers have the capability of converting the conventional accelerator and brake pedals to hand-held systems. This is advantageous for those who do not have functional legs. Therefore, it is something you may want to consider.
Type of testingAccording to the 2010 Federal Safety Regulations, handicap vans must be submitted to crash testing standards to verify their safety. Considering that the driver or passenger is a handicap, rules for the crash tests are stricter than those of conventional vehicles. Ask your chosen manufacturer what type of tests they conduct. In the same manner, it would be better if they can tell you the engineering or manufacturing standard used during the conversion process. This will certainly give you a peace of mind.
What is their purchase and delivery standard?According to Adaptive Mobility Systems Inc., their conversion process takes approximately 3-4 weeks. If you do not have the luxury of time, maybe you can consider buying a ready to use handicap van, which can be delivered within 5 days after payment, depending on where you reside.
Used against newSince money most of the time is an issue, you also need to consider buying either a new or used handicap vehicle. If the engine is in a good running condition, then buying a used handicap van can prove to be beneficial in the long run. Check the after sale customer service reputation of the manufacturer to see if they offer warranty for used handicap vehicles. Some manufacturers offer three years limited warranty for new vehicles and a shorter period for used one. Likeiwse, ask them how many years, months, or weeks after purchase will the warranty run for a used handicap vehicle.
Consider scooter liftsBasically, a scooter lift is a mechanical device that is utilized for loading and unloading personal mobility devices such as wheelchairs and scooter chairs. This device comes in different designs; the hitch mounted, interior mounted, or those which can be installed on pickup trucks. If you have a vehicle that can be fitted with this device, there is a big difference in the amount you have to shell out.
Look for factory rebateMost manufacturers are equal in the quality of their workmanship. The difference mostly comes in the after purchase service and additional promotions. Contact the manufacturer, often they will give you special discounts because they understand the difficult economic situation prevailing at the moment. Some will even offer free delivery service as a bonus.
Check their inventoryJust like any normal individuals, people with disabilities have different needs. The bigger the inventory selection of the manufacturer, the more options you will have to choose a handicap vehicle that's right for you. You have to take into account your lifestyle and how often you think you will use it. You also have to consider the distance you will be travelling on a regular basis. Normally, used handicap vehicles last for a couple of years. The lifespan of the installed equipment however is considerably shorter. This translates to maintenance costs, which you want to avoid for as long as possible. Common brands carried by most manufacturers include Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, Scion, Volkswagen, and Ford among others.
Size mattersChoosing the right handicap vehicle size for you may translate to savings in the future. Normally you have a choice between minivans and full sizevans. Minivans are smaller, easier to drive, and deliver better fuel mileage. This is also the choice of many baby-boomers who frequently travel alone or with a small family. Some models available in this class include:
- Dodge Grand Caravan
- Chrysler Town & Country
- Chrysler PT Cruiser FWD Touring
- Scion XB
- Volkswagen Routan FWD SE
- Honda Element FWD EX
- Ford Freestar FWD SE
- Honda Odyssey
- Toyota Sienna
Buying a full size van does not necessarily mean you have a big family. This type of handicap vehicle is ideal for big people who have large wheelchairs. It is also a good vehicle for those who love to travel in groups and prefer the four-wheel drive functionality. The full size van allows for greater ground clearance and can serve handicaps with specialized equipment that require plenty of storage space. Demand for the full size van however has dipped due to rising fuel prices and a shift of consumer preference to minivans.
A considerable number of people and demand still allows for the continued production of full size handicap vans. Models found in this category are Chevrolet Express Passenger Van (LS1500, LS2500, and LS3500), GMC Savannah Passenger Van LT (G1500 and G2500), Ford E-150 (XL, XLT, and XLT Premium), and Ford E-350 (SD XL, SD XLT, SD Extended Length XL, and SD Extended Length XLT).
If you follow these guidelines, you will be able to determine and ultimately select the handicap vehicle that is not only right for your needs and lifestyle, but will also give you the best value for your money.