Choosing A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle: Essential Things To Know


Choosing the right wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) is crucial for ensuring comfort, safety, and independence. Whether for personal use or for a loved one, a WAV should meet specific needs and preferences. This guide will help you navigate the key considerations when selecting a WAV, from vehicle size to accessibility features.

Vehicle Size and Space

The size of the vehicle is a fundamental consideration. Smaller vehicles are easier to manoeuvre and park, making them ideal for city driving. However, larger vehicles offer more space, which can be essential for comfort and additional passengers. If you frequently travel with family or carers, a larger vehicle may be more suitable, providing ample room for everyone.

When evaluating space, ensure there’s enough room for the wheelchair user to move comfortably. Consider the headroom and space for other passengers. A spacious interior can make journeys more pleasant and less restrictive. Ensure there is enough space for luggage or other necessities, especially if you plan on taking longer trips. Comfort and convenience should be top priorities.

Accessibility Features

Accessibility is at the heart of any WAV. Look for vehicles with easy-to-use ramps or lifts. These features should be robust and reliable to ensure safe entry and exit. Check if the ramp angle is manageable and if the lift mechanism operates smoothly. Test the ease of use and reliability of these features before making a final decision.

Additionally, ensure the vehicle has secure wheelchair tie-downs and seat belts. These are vital for safety during travel. Test the accessibility features in person to make sure they meet your needs and are user-friendly. Consider automated features that can simplify the process, such as remote-controlled doors and ramps, which can significantly enhance the overall user experience.

Types of Conversions

WAV conversions can vary significantly. Rear-entry conversions are the most common, providing straightforward access and more interior space. Evaluate different conversion types to see which suits your needs best. Rear-entry WAVs are typically more cost-effective and easier to park, making them a popular choice.

Side-entry conversions are less common but may offer advantages in specific situations. Understanding the benefits and limitations of each type will help you make an informed decision. Remember, the type of conversion impacts both the functionality and the overall cost of the vehicle. Choose a conversion that best aligns with your lifestyle and usage patterns.

New vs. Used Vehicles

While new wheelchair accessible might seem more expensive, they offer the latest technology and warranty benefits. New vehicles are also eligible for the Motability scheme, providing financial support for those who qualify. This scheme makes new WAVs a viable option for many, offering peace of mind and financial flexibility.

Used vehicles, although more affordable, are not an option under the Motability scheme. They may lack the latest features and could require more maintenance. Consider the long-term costs and benefits when deciding between new and used WAVs. The initial savings on a used vehicle may be offset by higher maintenance costs and shorter lifespan, making new vehicles a more practical choice for many.

Financing Options

Financing a WAV can be daunting, but there are several options available. The Motability scheme is a fantastic resource, allowing eligible individuals to lease a new WAV with their allowance. This scheme often covers insurance, maintenance, and breakdown assistance, making it a comprehensive solution for many.

For those not eligible for Motability, consider personal loans or specialised finance plans. Many WAV dealerships offer tailored financing solutions. Compare different options to find a plan that fits your budget and financial situation. Look for low-interest rates and flexible payment plans to ensure your chosen financing option is sustainable in the long term.

Test Driving and Inspection

Always test drive a WAV before making a purchase. This allows you to experience the vehicle’s handling, comfort, and accessibility features firsthand. Pay attention to how easy it is to enter and exit the vehicle and how the wheelchair user feels during the ride. A test drive can reveal potential issues that aren’t apparent at first glance.

Inspect the vehicle thoroughly, checking for any signs of wear and tear if considering a used model. Ensure all accessibility features function correctly. A comprehensive test drive and inspection are essential steps in making an informed decision. Don’t hesitate to bring along a knowledgeable friend or family member to provide a second opinion and help you spot any potential concerns.

After-Sales Support and Maintenance

Reliable after-sales support is crucial for maintaining your WAV. Choose a dealer known for excellent customer service and support. They should offer regular maintenance, repairs, and a reliable warranty. Good after-sales support ensures that any issues can be promptly addressed, keeping your vehicle in top condition.

Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity and safety of your vehicle. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the maintenance schedule and costs involved. Good after-sales support can save you time, money, and hassle in the long run.


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