Buying your first wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) can be quite an investment,with many different attributes to consider, it is important to understand what you should be looking at when deciding which WAV is best suited to your needs.
If you’re trying to figure out which to purchase, this blog might help you to choose, or at least narrow down which WAV will be perfect for you and your family.
Here are our top five tips to help you purchase the right WAV.
Before even setting out to look for a WAV, it’s probably best to choose a budget or range that you’d be comfortable paying. Wheelchair accessible vehicles are notoriously expensive, mainly due to being converted from regular cars/vans.
It’s very important to take the time to research a couple of WAV’s to help get an idea of the price range.
If you already have a large car, an alternative to buying a new or second hand disability car is to get it converted, using a trusted WAV converter such as Brotherwood.
This way is much cheaper than just buying a new WAV upfront and will set you back a few thousand pounds, with the cost usually being an indicator of the quality of conversion. However not all cars are convertible. If you’re still unsure about your budget, maybe a WAV mobility scheme could help.
A popular question is “how many seats are necessary?”. Many wheelchair accessible vehicles come with three seats and a wheelchair passenger. The third can be pushed down for more room if needed.
Some larger WAVs come with four to six seats, with six transitioning into the vans category. So, if you have a family of four, then just the baseline three seats and wheelchair space will be enough.
For larger families, looking at smaller vans with greater room might be the best bet for you. Just keep in mind that more seats = more cost!
One of the most crucial things to consider when looking at WAVs is the size of the vehicle itself. You have to be careful there’s enough headroom for the wheelchair passenger, if not, their head might be dangerously close to the ceiling.
Also, foot room and space around the user is important to consider, as otherwise they might feel cramped. When looking at WAVs, just check out the dimensions of the interior to see if it would work for you.
Take a look at our page that details the different sized WAVs along with the space, seats, riding position etc
What we mean by this is what will you mostly be using a WAV for. More than likely it will be for transport, but there are more questions to ask. First off, how frequent are the journeys, and for how long?
If you’re only taking a couple of trips to the shops each week, then maybe you can get away with a smaller vehicle as long as it doesn’t become an issue for the wheelchair user. Where it will be travelling to is also something to consider.
If you plan to go offroad, then a larger vehicle will most definitely be better for the user, as typically bumps and long trips with little space can get uncomfortable quickly.
Finally, we have the major debate between buying a new or second-hand WAV. Below, we’ll list some pros and cons to both options, so you can decide for yourself.
+ The converters can directly tell you what will and won’t work, and the different features which can fit in your WAV.
+ Better servicing, if anything goes wrong you’ll most likely have insurance, maintenance/repairs and even breakdown cover for it, unlike second-hand WAVs.
- The whole process can take time, and normally includes demonstrations, the conversion itself, and then any adaptations needed.
- Far more expensive, and any adaptations fitted need to pass an assessment.
Second hand WAVs
+ Cheaper in price - like most cars, their worth declines fairly quickly, and are less costly when buying a second hand one.
+ They typically have lower mileage than non-WAV users, so you could be getting a great deal if you find a second-hand version of the car you’re looking at.
- Some second-hand WAVs might have underlying compatibility issues, and different wheelchair sizes might not fit with the model.
- Not easy to find an appropriate second-hand vehicle that has all you need it to do.
So, the choice is yours! We’ve given you some of our top tips for purchasing your first WAV, and hopefully, they gave you some insight on what to do next.
If you liked this blog, feel free to check out our other WAV blogs here: https://thorntreesgarage.co.uk/blog/