Choosing A Vehicle
Which Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is best for us?
A WAV can be very life enhancing and many of our customers have told us that getting one has been brilliant for them. It is important to make the right choice. Cost has to be considered but a WAV you can’t use is a waste of money. A WAV that helps you get out and about is worth every penny.
Choosing a wheelchair vehicle is much more complicated than choosing an ordinary car. Both the driver and wheelchair passenger need to be considered. The same make and model of car can be converted in more than one way – making it even more confusing.
With over 14 years’ experience supplying WAVs we’d like to give you some points to consider before you buy:
Size of wheelchair
Most important to make sure your wheelchair will fit in the vehicle and go in and out easily.
Length, width and height of wheelchair user seated in the wheelchair should be checked against the cut out in the car, entrance height and interior height. Most vehicles take wheelchairs up to 29inches/74cm wide.
Most vehicles have a lowered floor and ramp arrangement. You may also need a winch to pull the wheelchair user in. Not all second hand WAVs have winches but they can be fitted.
Larger WAVs may have lifts and winches are not needed for electric wheelchairs or scooters.
Most WAVs have the wheelchair in the rear seat position. Some allow the wheelchair up front next to the driver but as these conversions cost a lot to do, the second hand up front vehicles are also more expensive. Fiat Multiplas and Peugeot Partners can have up front travel. The cheapest conversions put the wheelchair passenger behind the rear seats.
Wherever in the car you are, it is important to be able to see out of the windows and to have a low centre of gravity as this combats travel sickness. Traveling on a flat floor rather than a slope also improves the quality of the journey.
Make and model of car
Many different makes are available as wheelchair cars so if you have a particular make you like to drive check to see if any of their models are available as conversions.
Not all wheelchair vehicles are available in automatic but the range is wider than it used to be and hand controls may already be fitted or can be fitted if required.
Wheelchair Car Size
WAVs come in 3 main sizes:
Such as Renault Kangoos, Peugeot Partners, Citroen Berlingos, Nissan NV200s, Volkswagen Caddys
These typically have 2 seats in the front and 1 seat in the rear with space for the wheelchair/ scooter. Some have 5 seats in the rear with 2 folding down to make space for the wheelchair. Some come with 2 fixed rear seats, one each side of the wheelchair but this leaves less space for the wheelchair passenger and can make things a bit cramped in a small vehicle.
Such as Renault Trafics, Vauxhall Vivaros,
These can have 3 – 5 seats and have a lot more space for equipment or luggage
There can be 2 or 3 seats in the front and 1 or 2 seats in the rear
Peugeot Boxers, Renault Masters
This type of vehicle tends to have a lift as there is no need to lower the floor. There are a lot of different layouts available and they are often fitted with tracking so that either wheelchair passengers or seats can fit into the spaces available. They can usually be adapted to carry more than one wheelchair.
WAVs are subject to VAT but most customers are wheelchair users buying the car for their own domestic use so are exempt. Businesses such as taxi firms will be charged VAT at 20%.
If you get the benefit that entitles you to a Motability vehicle you will be entitled to free road tax and can use it on a vehicle you buy. If you are not receiving the PIP or DLA payments then you will have to pay normal road tax.
There are insurers who specialise in covering wheelchair vehicles such as FISH who provide breakdown cover as well.
Alternatively the main insurers will also quote for you if you tell them it is a wheelchair vehicle converted with European type approval. We would be able to supply you with the approximate cost of the conversion, depending on which vehicle it is.
Make sure you are covered with insurance for a replacement WAV – some insurers will try to provide an ordinary courtesy car in the event of an accident and this is not much use to you if you need a WAV.
Paying for your WAV
Many wheelchair users wish to fund their vehicles themselves.
Some may wish to use their DLA or PIP payments to finance their purchase. There are 2 ways of doing this:
Finance companies such as Southern Finance will let you take out a loan to be repaid using your benefits. You can purchase any WAV. You may choose to buy a cheap one and only use a bit of your benefit payments. You will have to insure and maintain your vehicle, but it can work out cheaper than using Motability and you keep the car at the end.
You can choose a car provided by Motability (we usually have 5-10 nearly new WAVs in stock).