How to choose the best wheelchair accessible vehicle for you.

How to choose the best wheelchair accessible vehicle | AbleToEnable

Embarking on the journey of finding the ideal wheelchair accessible vehicle is a significant step towards reclaiming your independence and mobility. Whether you’re a seasoned wheelchair user or assisting a loved one in this endeavour, the process may seem overwhelming. But there’s no need to worry; we’re here to explain everything about choosing a vehicle so that you can make an informed decision that suits your unique needs and lifestyle.

Understanding Your Needs

The first and foremost step in choosing the best wheelchair accessible vehicle is understanding your specific mobility requirements. Consider factors such as the type of wheelchair, the dimensions, and your mobility level. Are you an active wheelchair user who prefers driving from your chair, or do you need assistance transferring to a specially designed-seat? Make a list of your priorities and must-haves to streamline the decision-making process.

Types of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles:

Rear-Entry Minivans:

  • Pros: More affordable, easier to find, parking flexibility.
  • Cons: Limited seating options, may require additional space for ramp deployment.

Side-Entry Minivans:

  • Pros: Spacious interiors, various seating configurations, convenient for urban settings.
  • Cons: More expensive, limited parking options.

Full-Size Vans:

  • Pros: Ample space, ideal for larger wheelchairs, multiple seating configurations.
  • Cons: Higher upfront cost, challenging to manoeuvre in tight spaces.

Wheelchair Accessible SUVs:

  • Pros: Stylish design, higher driving position, versatile for different terrains.
  • Cons: Limited interior space compared to vans, costlier.

Adaptive Vehicles:

  • Pros: Vehicles modified for direct wheelchair access or driving from a wheelchair.
  • Cons: Limited availability, higher costs for modifications.

Evaluating Entry and Exit

Consider how you or the user will enter and exit the vehicle. Factors like the wheelchair ramp system, door height, and interior space are crucial. Rear-entry vans are often more practical for parking, while side-entry vehicles offer more options for positioning within parking lots and garages.

Ramp Systems

Fold-Out Ramps:

  • Pros: More cost-effective, suitable for rear-entry vehicles.
  • Cons: May obstruct the rearview when deployed, limited width.

In-Floor Ramps:

  • Pros: Sleek design, less obstruction when stowed.
  • Cons: Higher cost, potential maintenance issues.

Bi-Fold Ramps:

  • Pros: Balances the advantages of fold-out and in-floor ramps.
  • Cons: Moderate cost, may require additional interior space.

Interior Space and Seating Options

Ensure that the interior space accommodates the wheelchair user comfortably. Consider whether the vehicle allows for easy manoeuvrability within, especially if the user plans to drive from a wheelchair. Seating arrangements can vary, from the traditional driver’s seat to transfer seats and wheelchair docking systems.

Safety Features

Prioritise safety when choosing a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Look for features like securement systems, reinforced flooring, and crash-tested modifications. Consult a mobility specialist to ensure the selected vehicle meets safety standards and regulations.

Test Drives and Professional Consultation

Schedule test drives with different models once you’ve narrowed down your options. Evaluate how the vehicle handles, how easily it operates, and whether it meets your needs. Seek the guidance of a mobility specialist or occupational therapist who can provide valuable insights based on your unique requirements. At Able to Enable, we offer free, no-obligation home demonstrations in Yorkshire and the surrounding areas. This way, you can make an informed decision when purchasing one of our used accessible vehicles.

Budget Considerations

Wheelchair accessible vehicles come with varying price tags. Consider not only the initial cost but also potential maintenance expenses, insurance premiums, and resale value. Investigate funding options, grants, and assistance programs that can help alleviate the financial burden. It’s always worth looking for a preowned, used accessible vehicle rather than buying a new one. We have plenty of options at our York branch and constantly have new cars in stock, so keep your eyes peeled for your perfect car.

Maintenance and Servicing

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity and reliability of your wheelchair accessible vehicle—research service providers with experience in adaptive vehicles in your area. Check if the modifications come with warranties and understand the maintenance requirements to keep your vehicle in optimal condition.

Unlock your Independence with Able to Enable

Choosing the best wheelchair accessible vehicle is a personalised journey that requires careful consideration of individual needs, preferences, and lifestyle. By understanding the different types of vehicles, ramp systems, safety features, and budget considerations, you can make an informed decision to allow you freedom and independence on the road. Remember, you’re not just selecting a vehicle; you’re choosing a key to unlock a world of possibilities and newfound mobility.

At Able to Enable, we are committed to finding personalised solutions to bring you the freedom and independence you deserve to experience. With over 25 years of experience helping customers of varying abilities to live life to the fullest, we are sure to have a solution to fulfil your distinct needs.

Visit our branch in York, where we have a selection of used wheelchair accessible vehicles for sale. Although these vehicles are second-hand, there is no compromise on quality, cleanliness, or mobility features. We have an on-site servicing facility with specialist mechanics and accessibility experts, ensuring that each vehicle undergoes thorough inspections and regular maintenance for both the vehicle itself and its adaptations.

We also provide a full range of vehicle adaptations, which we can fit as an approved adaptation installer under the Motability scheme. Our products include rotating car seats, car boot hoists, steering aids, ramps, and transfer solutions. Take the discomfort and stress out of your travels by finding the perfect combination of adaptations with help from our caring team.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about choosing the best car for you. We pride ourselves on our outstanding customer service. Our customers are the most important part of everything we do. We will listen to you to properly understand your unique needs so we can find a bespoke solution for you.

If you want to browse what used WAVs that we currently have available, click here to start your search. Alternatively, you can browse our full range of vehicle adaptations here.