Disability Consumer's Guide
Buyer's Guide for Wheelchairs and Handicap Vans
With all the latest advances in the industry, you have many options when it comes to the type of van, ramp conversion, and wheelchair you use. In fact, the options can be overwhelming, especially when you consider how the three must fit well together and fit your unique needs.
We've developed this checklist to help guide you through buying a handicap van and wheelchair.
Long-Standing Member of NMEDA Ensures Quality and Safety
Better Life Mobility Center is a long standing member of National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA, an internationally known organization committed to ensuring quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of safe and reliable mobility equipment in vehicles for drivers and passengers with disabilities.
Mobility Vehicle Dealer Checklist
Make sure your dealer:
- Is an authorized dealer who is licensed and bonded to sell handicap vehicles.
- Has a used car dealer's license and/or a broker's license. The used car dealer's license is restricted and any complaints can be filed with the DMV.
- Has factory-trained and certified technicians.
- Is recommended by friends, family, online reviews, or people at the doctor's office
- Has been recognized for excellence in customer service by regional institutions and has good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the national Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.
- Has arrangements with dealerships or a clear plan for service and repair, so you're not stuck between your mobility company and the dealership when you need help.
Choosing a Handicap Van or Vehicle
- Choose a model. Toyota, Volkswagon, Honda, Dodge, and Chrysler all make wheelchair accessible van chassis. Making this type of vehicle takes sophisticated engineering. Take a look at the reviews on Consumer Reports, Edmunds, or Carfax.
- Try before you buy. Not sure what you'll like best? Try renting first. Better Life Mobility will reimburse rental fees if you end up purchasing the vehicle.
- Decide where to buy. Decide whether you'll buy directly from the dealer and get it converted at your local licensed adaptive equipment dealer, or buy a van from a mobility manufacturer, secondary modifier, a factory direct seller, or online. What's the difference?
- Mobility manufacturer: Vantage Mobility International converts converts Chrysler Town and Country mobility van, Dodge Grand Caravan accessible mini-van, Honda Odyssey wheelchair van, and Toyota Sienna ramp van. BraunAbility converts Chrysler Town and Country mobility van, Dodge Grand Caravan accessible minivan, Honda Odyssey wheelchair van, and Toyota Sienna ramp van.
- Dealer direct + conversion: Not all vans chassis can be converted, or converted safely, so ask Better Life Mobility before you buy your vehicle direct.
- Dealer direct + “chop shop” conversion: You may save money with a fabricator, but you won't be sure that all the products work smoothly together or live up to vehicle safety standards. Not recommended.
- RECOMMENDED: Secondary modifier: Modifiers convert the vehicle before it is purchased, so it stands up to factory crash testing. Braun and VMI are examples of modifiers. Better Life Mobility sells only vans by secondary modifiers.
- Online: You can shop online, but before you buy, be sure to try them out: all people and wheelchairs have different needs and requirements. Also make sure you have a local service arrangement for your van; we'll ensure you do if you buy through Better Life.
- Factory direct seller: They convert the vehicle after purchasing it, so it does not have the same testing or quality controls. Not recommended.
- Feel good about your dealer: Whichever dealer you choose, be sure you feel good about your relationship. You'll need to return many times over the life of the van for preventative maintenance, repairs, and upgrades.
Choosing a Wheelchair
- Be sure you're properly seated. If your wheelchair doesn't fit you, you may develop back pains or sores. Better Life Mobility's RESNA certified seating specialist has been trained and certified in how to properly seat a person. Ask about back height, seating angle, weight, and cushion brand.
- Borrow a chair for a few days. Not sure which wheelchair is right for you? Ask for a demo wheelchair or a loaner.
- Remember you'll need service and repair. Make sure your mobility center offers service by technicians who are trained and certified in the wheelchair brand you prefer. Also ask that they have parts on hand, so you don't have to wait long for repairs.
- Be sure the wheelchair you choose has not been discontinued by the manufacturer. Wheelchair manufacturers include Invacare, Colours, Permobil, Pride, and others.
From start to finish, Better Life Mobility will help you select, try out, and buy the right wheelchair and handicap van for you. Contact us today with your questions.