How to Choose a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

When you or a loved one depends on a mobility device to get around, accessibility is crucial.

Whether you’re using a rehab chair, a wheelchair, or a mobility scooter, it’s important that your car is ready to meet all your needs. Beyond that, you want a vehicle that’s reliable, powerful, comfortable, and stylish, but you shouldn’t have to compromise on quality for accessibility.

So, what should you expect when looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle? Here are some tips to help you find the perfect fit.


Pick the Right Style

Before you start looking, you can narrow down your search by looking for the car that’s suited to your needs. If you’re a wheelchair driver, look for a car with a full floor side entry. If you have enough mobility to transfer safely to the driver’s seat, or if somebody else will be doing the driving, you can opt for a rear entry or side entry car.

Keep in mind that different entry systems will suit different preferences. A side-entry ramp means you’ll need some extra room on the side, which can be hard if you’re parked next to other cars. A rear entry van is easier for parking lots or driveways but can make it hard to use on a curbside.


Check the Sizing

Some mobility devices are bigger than others. Make sure that the vehicle has the room you need to maneuver. Here are some measurements you should take:

  • Width of ramp
  • Height/angle of the ramp
  • Total space inside the vehicle

In most cases, you’ll need a minivan or van to accommodate the size of the mobility device. If possible, you should try out the car in person to be sure that it’s the right fit for your needs.


Ask the Right Questions

Finding the right fit depends entirely on the needs of you or your loved one. Not all dealerships are equipped to handle all accessibility needs, so being able to ask the right questions is key.

When you visit a dealership, tell them your requirements and ask them:

  • Do you know what type of car would fit my needs?
  • What kinds of accessible cars do you provide?
  • What are its capabilities?
  • What are your crash ratings?
  • What warranties are provided?
  • Is delivery available?
  • What are your repair or service assistance options?
  • Are you an accredited dealer or party of the NMEDA?
  • What kind of financing options do you offer?


Be Clear About Your Budget

On top of medical expenses, it can be hard to get the money together for an expensive conversion. Depending on what you need, and how much you can offer, there are affordable accessible cars out there for anyone.

If needed, there are even individualized programs through automakers that can help you afford what you need.

As soon as you start your search, you should be clear about your budget. Here are the kinds of accessible cars you can look for, and the expected cost.

New Car, New Conversion

If you’re getting something completely new, you can get a car with some of the most advanced features. You can also be sure that the accessible modifications will work perfectly. Just know that you’ll have to pay top dollar.

Used Car, New Conversion

Another option is to buy a used car with low mileage that has new conversion systems added on. A used van with a brand new modification can save you some money as these vehicles are offered at a range of prices.

Used Car, Used Conversion

Accessible cars have new upgrades and features added all the time. Because they’re improved every few years, you’ll find plenty of used vehicles with used conversion on the market, usually after the owner has sold them to upgrade to a new model.

If you’re staying conscious of your budget, you can seek out a certified used vehicle. Depending on the mileage and age of both the car and the modification, you can find used vehicles to fit any budget.


Search Online and Offline

There are dealerships around the country that can offer handicap-accessible vehicles, but don’t limit yourself to shopping around in-person.

You can find experienced and secure online dealerships that deliver accessible vehicles nationwide. This will offer a wider range of vehicles and prices without having to travel too far.

Try taking a look at some classifieds online. You can find plenty of wheelchair-friendly car owners who are looking to sell their vehicles.


Read Testimonials Before You Buy

The most important information about accessible vehicles on the market comes from those who know them best: previous buyers and owners. Look for reviews on reliable websites that feature customer testimonials.

Not every review has to be positive but keep an eye out for any negative patterns that could turn out to be a red flag. These reviews can help you determine the reliability and functionality of every accessible car you’re looking at.


Finding the Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

When you’re looking for the perfect wheelchair accessible vehicle, don’t settle for anything less than you need. The right car will be reliable, comfortable, and suited perfectly for your individual requirements. When it all comes down to it, the right car can be life-changing.

Don’t be afraid to take the vehicle out for a test drive yourself, your comfort with the car should be your top priority.
Looking for individualized care and attention when buying a mobility device? Our team goes through a detailed analysis of your situation and your needs before you make a purchase. Contact us for a free at-home assessment.