Nothing can lift a person’s spirits more than taking delivery of a new vehicle. That enthusiasm may soon be dampened if people do not do their research before purchasing the car. Buying a wheelchair accessible vehicle has its very own challenges.
1) Make sure you test drive the vehicle. Many companies will bring the vehicle to your home to test drive at no charge.
2) Ask whether the company has signed up to DMUK’s Look for the Label initiative. If not, ask to see the crash testing certificate ECWVTA.M1.SH
3) Ask whether the fuel lines and brake lines have been modified and whether the car can be serviced at any dealer.
4) Ask about the fuel-tank capacity and reading – the last thing anyone wants is to run out of fuel. Ask whether the fuel tank gauge works properly and whether the tank has the same capacity as the original car.
5) Check the location of the exhaust. Like the original car, the exhaust should exit from the rear of the vehicle. Some converted cars have exhausts that come out of the side which can be an inconvenience as fumes blow on to the pavement.
6) Check the sight lines. Make sure the wheelchair user can see out of the car. If they can’t see out, travelling will be unpleasant and they are more likely to get travel sick.
7) Try the ramp. The ramp should be light and easy to use. Make sure this is part of the demonstration and that you try using the ramp yourself.
8) Check the ride. Some WAVs are incredibly uncomfortable for the wheelchair user. Make sure the wheelchair user has plenty of time to experience the ride. Try the vehicle over some speed bumps and uneven roads.
9) Flexible pricing. There’s no such thing as one price fits all. Companies should be flexible and be able to offer you different ways of paying for your vehicle. We call it ‘personal pricing’.
10) Testimonials. Look at the company’s website for testimonials and check whether they are from ‘real people’.
And lastly, an eleventh tip. Don’t accept long delivery times – you shouldn’t have to wait more than a couple of months for your new car.
Constables Mobility, which is based in Golden Cross, East Sussex, builds rear-access, wheelchair-accessible vehicles which are life changing for customers all over the UK. Visit www.constablesmobility.com