Shopping for wheelchair vans can get very confusing especially because of all the different options, conversions and manufacturers. People often will ask me, “What makes your conversion (VMI) better than your competition”. As much as I love to boast about our products and feel as if we make the best wheelchair van conversions on the market, we also understand that our products don’t fit everyone, for many reasons; ramp capacity, price, headroom, etc.
The first thing I always recommend is to do your due diligence. Go online and research the different types of vans that are out there and find people who are talking on blogs and forums about their vans. Go to the NMEDA Web site and watch the great presentations that are on their for helping people purchase mobility products. www.nmeda.org. Go to YouTube and watch videos of the different types of vans that are on the market (type in keywords like “wheelchair van” or “platform lift”).
After you feel that you have armed yourself with a little bit of knowledge, contact a local Mobility Equipment Dealer who will go through a needs analysis with you. The needs analysis will help the dealer pinpoint what products to best show you based on your wants and needs. For example if you are in the market for a wheelchair van for your 8 year old child, there are certain options that wouldn’t work for you. The local Mobility Equipment Dealer can also give you information about the manufacturer who sells each of the products; crash data, conversion authorization information; mobility rebate information, etc. Some questions to keep in mind when talking with the Mobility Equipment Dealer:
1. What are the differences between side-entry conversions and rear-entry conversions?
2. What are the differences between in-floor and fold-out ramps?
3. How do manufacturer’s mobility rebates get reimbursed?
4. What type of financing is available?
5. Can I take a test drive, or get taken on a test drive?