Accessible vans for wheelchairs give disabled individuals the means to get around without a hitch. But unlike conventional vans, special modifications are made that are usually expensive.
That’s why buying used vans makes more sense to many people rather than dishing out thousands of dollars for a brand new model.
The tricky part is navigating the robust market without getting ripped off. We are here to help with six tips on buying used disability vans.
Used Wheelchair Vans Overview
The used van of your dreams is out there, and it’s your job to sort through the personal ads, online listings, and dealerships to find it.
Shopping for one of these specialized vehicles is a bit different than shopping for a regular van. Used wheelchair-accessible vans come equipped with custom modifications such as ramps and lifts that make them more accessible for wheelchair users.
A new van can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $80,000, which is why many turn to the used market. And the good news is, it’s a buyers market.
However, bear in mind that it may not be a cakewalk. Every disability is different, so you’ll want to take your time in choosing one with the right modifications for your unique needs.
Doing your research and learning about red flags is highly important before beginning your search. The selection process also includes steering clear of the hype without getting sucked into a “too good to be true” deal.
We’ll discuss what to look for when browsing listings next!
#1 Avoid the Hype
When approaching the used wheelchair vans market, go forth with skepticism. Oftentimes, a van may be listed as a 1990s model with over 100k miles but costs over $10k due to its ramp or lift.
Sketchy sellers try to exploit shoppers by saying a van is worth more than it is really because of how expensive some modifications, like ramps, are. But be smart about this!
Sure, it has a ramp, but will the van break down after a few months? Will it leak oil all over your garage? In other words, will it be the biggest headache you’ve ever spent $10k on?
Don’t fall for the fallacy, and instead take your time when searching for a van.
#2. Take Your Time
Watch the market for some time to learn the different patterns that come with pricing, features, and popular models. Don’t ever feel like you’re going to miss out on a deal because there is much more supply than demand in this market.
There are multiple sources for used wheelchair accessible vans, including the local classifieds and websites such as AutoTrader.com and eBay.
Besides the internet, it’s also worth checking out a wheelchair-accessible vehicle dealership. Even if you don’t buy from them, trained specialists can help you get familiar with the different types of equipment, makes, models, and prices so you can develop a solid idea of what you want.
#3. Know Wheelchair Vans Used Basics
You might feel overwhelmed by all of the options available, so it’s good to get the basics down pat.
One of the most important features of an accessible van is the entry ramp. There are different types of entries, and some are pricier than others. We explain each type of entry below.
#4. Learn How to Inspect Vans Like a Pro
No matter how alluring an online ad may be, unfortunately, not all ads tell the truth. You’ll want to learn how to inspect used vans carefully before making a decision.
For online listings, pictures are a must, and there should be plenty of clear, detailed images to view. When studying the van, look at the vehicle’s total worth, the accessibility features, and how the used van has depreciated.
Here is a checklist for your preliminary inspection:
Did the van pass your inspection? Great- but you’re not done yet! Now it’s time to have a professional take a look.
Ask an independent certified mechanic to inspect the vehicle with you present. They should look over the brakes, test the engine, suspension, and computer system. The computer system records can show if there are recurrent issues.
#5. Know the Market Value, Set Your Budget, Think Outside the Box
First and foremost, reach out to your insurance provider to see if you qualify for any coverage for a vehicle or any transportation-related expenses. Note that Medicare doesn’t cover disability vehicles.
If insurance is a dead-end, set your budget, taking into account the types of modifications you’ll need the van to have.
When you find a van that you like, use common sense when it comes to the true value. Don’t agree to the asking price right away, as it’s most likely inflated.
If you’re having trouble finding a used mobility van that serves your needs, you could consider buying a minivan and paying for the conversion. Here are two scenarios to consider:
#6. Watch Out For These Details
When shopping for a used wheelchair van, don’t forget to inquire about the warranty. Generally, we only think about this with new products, but sometimes the warranty is still in effect for a used van.
If you decide to buy a used vehicle from a dealership, ask if they offer aftercare service and what to do about equipment replacements. They should be able to guide service help nationwide, including a helpline for emergencies.
Remember that if you buy your van in a dealership far away, then you might be eligible to have it delivered. Bear in mind, though, that delivery might cost extra.
Finally, don’t forget to check out customer testimonials to get the scoop on a dealership. This is the easiest and most valuable source of straight information, and best of all, you can hop right on your smartphone or computer to find reviews on websites like Yelp and Better Business Bureau.
When shopping for a used van to transport your wheelchair, the market is flooded with options, and it can feel overwhelming navigating through all of the ads.
That’s why the best way to start is by doing your research and talking to the right people. Set your budget and get in touch with your insurance to check on coverage. Do a full inspection of the vehicles you are interested in, then ask a mechanic to take a final look.
Good deals on used accessible vans exist. Take your time, learn the market value, and you’ll find the perfect vehicle for your needs!
Resources & References:
- Wheelchair Accessible Van, Wikipedia.
- Three Ways to Make a Wheelchair Accessible Van More Affordable, NMEDA.
- Government Grants for Handicap Vans, Chron.