When it comes time to deciding on a wheelchair accessible vehicle, a lot of thought and consideration needs to go into this decision. For most people, buying a wheelchair van is the second largest purchase they will make besides a home and definitely an important decision overall. A vehicle is something that is driven for anywhere between three and eight years depending on the type and model of vehicle(5). For some, they may know exactly how they want to decide on a vehicle and which vehicle they are going to purchase. However, for 43 percent of individuals buying a vehicle, this is a decision that takes weeks or months of research(4). The Internet plays a dominant role in people’s decisions. In fact, 83 percent turn to the Internet to do their research when it comes time to decide on a vehicle.(4) As well, individuals talk with friends and family members, visit dealerships, look around parking lots, etc to help them make their decision.
The good news is there is a systematic way to help you decide on a vehicle. There are eight areas to evaluate when considering a specific model of vehicle.
How to Decide on a Vehicle Score Card
Some people like to make pro and con lists for deciding on something. Others, like to score or rate different features on a scale of one through 10 to help them decide. In the section that follows, I will go into each area and you can use this matrix to help you decide on a vehicle.
|Vehicle A||Vehicle B||Vehicle C||
|New vs Pre-Owned|
|Quality & Aesthetics|
The first decision to be made is how much do you want to spend on your wheelchair accessible vehicle. This affects everything else on this list. You need to be realistic in what you can afford. A vehicle payment can take up a serious amount of your monthly budget or take a good amount out of your bank account or budget line. As well, you need to consider if your budget includes taxes. This can get a bit complicated if you’re leasing vs financing. When you lease a vehicle, you only pay taxes on the payment. When you finance a vehicle, you add the taxes into the finance amount. However, you also then are going to be financing the taxes. This means paying interest on your taxes throughout the length of the term. Once your budget is decided on, the other areas to consider become a lot easier. If you want to get more information about vehicle budgets, you can check an older post here.
New vs Pre-Owned Vehicles
Once you have decided on your budget, the next area to consider is if you are looking at new or pre-owned wheelchair vans. I have written before on the new vs pre-owned debate and can be found here. In a recent study, 31% of people looked at new cars only, 10% at used cars only and 59 percent at new or used cars(4).
Vehicle performance can be a very important factor depending on how the vehicle is being used. Are you planning on hauling a trailer or boat behind the vehicle? Are you transporting a lot of people at any given time? Do you want a lot of pep in the vehicle or is fuel-efficiency most important to you? These questions will help you in narrowing down the models and help you decide on a vehicle.
The next item to look at are the safety features of the vehicle. Some questions you need to ask yourself are: what safety equipment does the vehicle have? Which safety features are important to me? Safety features to consider are options like traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, etc.
Equipment & Features
When you decide on a wheelchair van, it might be a good idea to make a list of all the important features and equipment you want the vehicle to have. Vehicles have so many different options available. Everything from, Bluetooth connectivity to heated steering wheels are available. The ability for the driver to be connected to the vehicle is becoming more and more important(3). Driving laws in most provinces now require drivers to be using Bluetooth or a hands-free device of some kind while driving.
Quality and Aesthetics
The quality and aesthetics of a vehicle are big factors when you need to decide on a vehicle. Knowing you are going to be using the vehicle for the next three to eight years, ideally you want something you are proud of driving. As well, you want to feel good driving in it and enjoy looking at it. In a study done by Dealer Refresh they found certain colours of vehicles to be more dominant, depending on who was using the vehicle. For example, family vehicles tended to be blue whereas vehicles used for fun tended to be red(4).
In addition to your monthly budget you decided on for the vehicle, other costs need to be known. For example, how much will parts cost me if they need to be replaced and are not covered by warranty? We all know domestic parts are less expensive than imports. What are the expected costs in driving this type of vehicle? And how fuel-efficient is the vehicle?
All wheelchair accessible vehicles come with a fuel efficiency rating. The rating looks at both highway and city driving. One of the questions you need to ask is where will you be doing most of your driving and how important is it to you to have a fuel efficient vehicle? Governments at all levels are encouraging people to make good choices for the environment to help reduce the countries carbon footprint. The type of vehicle you choose to drive will affect this directly. The good news is, auto manufacturers have made significant strides in the fuel efficiency of vehicles and have introduced electric and hybrid models to reduce vehicle emissions.
Choosing the right wheelchair van can be hard work. Using the eight areas above to help decide on a vehicle that will work for you, will help make the decision easier. I would suggest looking at the list and deciding which areas are the most important to you first, and either subjectively or objectively score each vehicle you are considering. The vehicle with the highest score will most likely be the right vehicle to choose.
How about you? When you decide on a vehicle, what areas do you consider?
If you need help in deciding on the right vehicle, fill in the form on the top-right and we can help you find the right vehicle for your needs.