Knowing what to look for when purchasing an accessible vehicle can make the experience fun and easy. Consulting with a qualified Mobility Expert who specializes in accessible transportation & vehicle applications is the best place to start: Reputable Mobility Dealers will offer assessment services free of charge as part of their process.
What to Consider?
Ease of use and functionality are the most important aspects to consider when purchasing an accessible vehicle. If it doesn’t work for your specific primary needs, it doesn’t matter what other benefits might be gained.
What Are Your Needs?
- WHO will use the vehicle? Consider things like who will be driving the vehicle (determine if any assistive driving devices or supplementary mobility aids are required to operate the vehicle), the number of seats the vehicle will require to accommodate caregivers or family members ( number of ambulatory & non-ambulatory passengers including the driver), and if it’s designed for your specific travelling needs (Space & weight requirements of WC user(s) – overall width, length, sitting height & weight of occupied wheelchair[s]).
- WHAT will the vehicle be used for? Consider things like vehicle performance, size, and how you will be using the vehicle (i.e. work or play; casual driving, construction sites or off-roading where ground clearance is essential; towing capability & capacity).
- WHERE will the vehicle be used? Consider things like community access & parking needs to ensure your vehicle fits where you need to go (i.e. garage/underground parking, drive-thrus, frequently used parking lots, etc.)
- WHY do you want a vehicle? Consider things such as the freedom to travel, which contributes positively to self-esteem & mental health. Clinical studies show a direct correlation between mental & physical health – so ‘be happy & feel good’ is the motto to live by. You need an accessible vehicle because it enhances your quality of life and helps ensure you can go WHEN you want to go. (i.e. access to work, play, travel, sightseeing, “insert your dream here”).
- Are you eligible for any type of funding or financial assistance? This is something a qualified Mobility Consultant can help identify and access and help with the next question.
- Looking for new or preowned? Again, it’s a great idea to work with a qualified Mobility Expert to learn what the costs associated with your particular needs are. – this will help determine whether you will be purchasing a new or preowned vehicle. If you are considering pre-owned and looking at financing options, it’s a great idea to prequalify, so you know the amount of money you’re able to invest and take immediate action when an opportunity presents itself.
Now that you know what all your needs are, it’s time to find a suitable vehicle. Again, it’s to your advantage to work with a reputable and Qualified Mobility Dealer who has vested interest in your satisfaction and long-term needs. Preferably an accredited NMEDA QAP (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association Quality Assurance Program) member/dealer. You want to ensure whoever is providing the vehicle &/or equipment is experienced & transparent, offering expertise, history reports & safety inspections (where applicable), and ensure parts & service are available, preferably from a local Mobility Dealer with qualified Mobility Technicians.