If you’re thinking about purchasing your first wheelchair-accessible van, you are probably equal-parts excited and overwhelmed. It can be very exciting to consider the new mobile lifestyle a handicap-accessible van will afford you, but it can also be a little daunting to consider all of the options available to you. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy the process and make the best decision.
Take Your Time Researching the Options
Thanks to the Internet, you can do the bulk of your research before ever leaving your home. This is the part of the process where you should really take your time and do your due-diligence. Visit the websites of as many wheelchair-accessible van manufacturers as possible. Consider which vans appeal to you most. And be sure to rely not only on manufacturer websites, but also customer reviews and stories.
Assess Your Budget
Before you ever visit a dealership, it’s important to know what you can afford. If you plan to finance, take a look at what kind of loan and rebates are available through each manufacturer.
For example, are you a veteran who was injured in the line of duty? If so, you may be eligible for service-connected benefits through the Auto Allowance Grant or the Automobile Adaptive Equipment Program.
Decide What You Want and Need
As you are researching all of the manufacturers and options, create an ongoing list of the features that are most important to you. Is style at the top of your list? Maybe you absolutely must have a slide-out ramp rather than a fold-out ramp. Or perhaps you are really concerned about extra headroom. Once you have a solid idea of your must-have features, you can narrow down the list of potential vans and shop with confidence.
During this phase, it’s important to consider not only your current needs, but also your future needs. Buying a handicap-accessible van is a long-term solution, so it’s critical to think about the future as you make your decision. Where do you see yourself in a year, two years, 10 years? Maybe you’re planning to move out of state in two years. Maybe your kids will be going off to college in the fall. Maybe you have grandchildren on the way or a job change on the horizon. Consider all of this as you make your decision.
Trust Your Gut When Visiting Dealers
Your own intuition and gut-feeling is one of the most important and reliable tools in your arsenal. All the research in the world means nothing if your gut tells you a particular van or manufacturer is not a good fit. Trust that feeling. When you visit the dealerships, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel good while you’re there? Do you feel taken care of? Do you feel like they truly care about you and want to help you make the best decision possible? These things may be even more important than price or features.
Purchasing a wheelchair-accessible van can be an exciting adventure that opens up a new world of mobility. Use these tips to make the process as productive and enjoyable as possible.