The answer is complicated.
Unlike an average consumer car, evaluating handicap vans is tricky. The evaluation must be done in-person because there is no mobility equipment version of Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds to guide us. Instead, we rely on tried and true evaluation measurements and then compare the results against the current marketplace.
Because resale or trade-in value varies so heavily, we won’t be performing any estimate magic in this post. Instead, we’re diving into how savvy owners can protect their wheelchair van’s value—whether you’re selling to a mobility dealer like VMI or private party—and tips for who to contact in each step.
Maintaining your wheelchair van’s resale and trade-in value
Maintaining a wheelchair van is very similar to proper maintenance of a normal car, but with a few caveats. The biggest factors are:
- Exterior Condition
- Interior Condition
- Mechanical Condition
- Age and Mileage
Taking care of your van’s exterior only requires standard car care. Doing the following keeps your van looking great:
- Wash and wax the vehicle monthly
- Buff out any small scratches
- Pop out small dings
- Park in the shade, if possible
- Store your van in a garage, if possible
- Use van covers for extended storage periods
- Winterize your van’s exterior
Maintaining your wheelchair van’s interior follows many of the same tasks, which is great because you can tackle both for a cleaning day. Do the following to keep your van’s interior looking excellent:
- Clean out and wash your van’s interior monthly
- Don’t smoke in your van
- If possible, avoid eating messy or greasy foods
- Suture upholstery tears (or use seat covers)
- Use windshield visors when parking in the sun
Making sure your wheelchair accessible van is in excellent mechanical condition is trickier and more expensive than maintenance costs on a normal vehicle. However, those challenges and costs can be offset by taking your van to a mobility dealer. Most mobility solutions dealers, such as VMI, have a team of highly-trained mechanics who specialize in handicap van conversions and maintenance, and they can perform the proper maintenance at cheaper costs than a neighborhood mechanic.
Depending on how heavily you use the van and its handicap lift or ramp, you’ll want to schedule maintenance and a tune-up about every four to six months. It’s particularly important to get a full inspection before winter starts to ensure your sliding door, ramp and kneel systems function optimally.
Otherwise, your van’s mechanical condition depends largely on how you drive. Here are a few driving tips to keep in mind to prolong the life of your van:
- Avoid heavy stopping and starting
- Don’t ride the brakes or clutch
- Stick to paved, well-maintained roads, if possible
- Follow your owner’s manual for proper oil change schedules
- Rotate your tires about twice a year or every 7,500 miles
- Maintain proper fluid levels
If you’re performing maintenance on a regular schedule, then it’s a good idea to also save your receipts to show future buyers that the vehicle has been well maintained.
How much is your wheelchair van worth?
As we mentioned earlier, the value of your wheelchair van depends on the marketplace. To get an idea of what similar wheelchair vans are being sold for, your first stop is either a mobility dealer, like VMI, or the Internet.
If you’re going online first, then we recommend looking at eBay, Craigslist, Disabled Dealer, or simply searching for “used wheelchair van” in Google and comparing the prices that pop up. You can also look for communities who often buy wheelchair vans, such as local Multiple Sclerosis or ALS chapters, and ask how much they purchased a used wheelchair van for.
Afterward, it’s time to visit your local mobility equipment dealer. Any dealer in your area can estimate the value of the wheelchair van, and because their entire business is based around selling wheelchair vans, they are probably your best resource for an accurate evaluation.
As a bonus, the local dealer may also be interested in buying your wheelchair van. Naturally, you’ll get less money through the dealership than selling to a private party, but that is no different than selling a regular used car.
Selling your wheelchair van
Because the handicap van is such a small market, you’re likely going to be in the selling process for months if you’re looking for a private buyer. Some people equate selling a wheelchair van to selling a house; the process can easily take six months. As with any used car, potential buyers will have plenty of questions. Here are the questions you’ll most likely encounter
- What are the van’s door height, width and interior head room?
- How do you use the ramp or lift?
- How do you lock their wheelchair down?
- How often is the van maintained?
- Has it ever been involved in an accident?
- Are there any mechanical issues?
- Am I able to get government financing options with my purchase?
- Is the van still under warranty?
- How many owners has the van had?
Selling a wheelchair van to a private party is often difficult and time-intensive. If you’re simply upgrading a to a new wheelchair van or converting a used car with less than 37,000 miles into a wheelchair van, then you may be able to save yourself time and money by trading in your van to the dealer or conversion company.
If you have any further questions about wheelchair vans or their value, then get in touch with VMI’s customer care advocates and we’ll do our best to help.