If you or someone close to you has a disability or you know someone who does, you probably know how helpful a wheelchair van can be. It not only provides the mobility to get a disabled person everywhere they need to go, from doctor appointments to the grocery store to visits with family and friends, it also provides a sense of independence.
The only problem with mobility vans is the cost – they can be quite expensive. But there are some things you can do to help make them more affordable. We’ll discuss several ways that will help you get the van you need at a price you can afford.
Buying a Used Vehicle
One of the first things people think of to cut costs is to consider purchasing a used wheelchair van. The problem is that mobility van conversions are not like other used vehicles. They undergo an extensive series of conversions that includes everything from complete disassembly and reassembly of the van that includes a new interior, fuel tank, undercarriage components, electrical components and a lot more.
It’s not just that so many things can wrong – the other issue is that you’re purchasing someone else’s van that was configured for his or her particular disability needs. The van might not meet your particular needs in terms of ramp width, interior height or interior upfit components.
The other thing to consider is that you must be sure the used vehicle was inspected and rehabbed by a reputable dealer. You’ll also need a warranty that not only covers the vehicle but an additional one that covers the conversion as well. This separate warranty provides you with another level of protection.
For example, FR Conversions, has certified mechanics that perform multipoint inspections just like they would do on a new vehicle, and also offer a 3-year, 36,000-mile warranty. But not all conversion van dealers do.
Leasing vs. Buying
Leasing is another option that can lower the cost of a wheelchair van, because you’re only paying for the use of the van as opposed to owning it. Leases don’t require large down payments, and the monthly lease payment is less than traditional vehicle financing.
As with any vehicle lease, there is no equity at the end of the lease term. And then can choose to purchase the vehicle you were leasing or get a new wheelchair van. If you have a van that’s in relatively good condition, you may want to consider updating it. Adding new adaptive equipment and making sure that all components are in top condition could save money too.
There are many charitable organizations that can help cover some of the costs of minivan conversion vehicles. There are many organizations, including MDA, UCP and others. They can also serve as a valuable resource that can help improve the quality of life for individuals with a disability.
In addition, charitable organizations provide information and guidance on fundraising if you choose to go that direction. Just be aware that fundraising may not cover the cost of the entire vehicle, but it can help raise some funds for a down payment to help put you on track to obtaining your wheelchair conversion van.
If you’re a veteran, be sure to check into the benefits that may be available to you from the VA. There are veteran programs that can help reduce some of the out-of-pocket costs needed to purchase a wheelchair van, as well as incentives and rebates from manufacturers for veterans. Eligible veterans may also receive up to $20,000+ under the VA Auto Allowance or Auto Adaptive programs. Contact the Veteran’s Administration to learn about eligibility.