July 31, 2017 at 2:49 PM
Buying a car is a complicated enough process at the best of times. After a house, it is the most expensive purchase that any of us are ever likely to make, and there are a huge number of factors to consider to ensure you make the perfect choice.
If you need a vehicle with wheelchair access, the complications can become even more overwhelming. There is a minefield of considerations to navigate concerning everything from features to accessibility to size. Here, we answer some of the most common questions from buyers of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs).
What types of WAVs are available?
Broadly speaking, WAVs come in three types, small, medium and large.
Small WAVs accommodate approximately four people. They feature a lowered floor, providing extra headroom, and a ramp to provide access. The lowered floor means the angle of access for the ramp is reduced, making it easier to get in and out.
Medium sized vehicles accommodate five to seven people, but are otherwise similar in nature to the small WAV.
Large WAVs can carry a large wheelchair and plenty of equipment. They have either a ramp or a lift for access.
What about wheelchair position?
This is a very important consideration, as it dictates the desired layout of the vehicle. In a passenger WAV, you travel as a passenger in your wheelchair while someone else drives. You might sit at the rear of the vehicle or next to the driver.
In a drive from wheelchair WAV, you dock your wheelchair behind the wheel and drive the vehicle. As you can imagine, this is a complex system that requires extensive modification.
Wheelchair position also depends on whether you choose a rear access or side access vehicle.
What are the access options?
Most commonly, you will access your WAV via a ramp from either the side or rear of the vehicle. This could be manually deployed or automatically at the press of a button. Many also incorporate a winch to help you get in and out.
For ultimate convenience, you can choose a larger WAV with a lift that makes it even simpler to access the vehicle without the need for assistance.
What do I need to consider when buying a WAV?
This is the big question! As we mentioned at the beginning, there are a whole host of factors to consider, and a major factor is whether you will be driving yourself or travelling as a passenger. If it’s the latter, make sure your usual driver is with you when you look at the different options. Let’s run through the questions you need to have in mind:
What sort of access do you need in terms of ramps and lifts?
- How large a vehicle do you need? Think about how much equipment you carry, as well as the number of likely passengers.
- What is your budget?
- What mileage are you likely to be doing?
- What are the running costs? This is particularly important if you will be doing a high mileage.