Are you in the market for a used mobility vehicle? There are many choices and questions to consider. To help you, we asked a leading mobility expert to share his top four tips when looking to buy a used wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Each buyer will need to consider how long they will need a wheelchair accessible van. Some may find that they only have a need for a wheelchair van for 1-3 years, whereas others need it long term. It is important to note that new wheelchair vans depreciate the most during the first 18 months of ownership. This devaluation of the vehicle happens regardless of the number of miles driven. Most used mobility vehicles that are two to four years old will cost 50-70% less than a new van. Therefore, buying a used side entry or rear entry wheelchair accessible vehicle can significantly reduce your cost of ownership, especially when you are unsure of the time you need the wheelchair van. Also, if you need financing, most interest rates will be more competitive when you finance over a shorter period, helping to reduce the overall cost of ownership.
If you need financing to purchase a wheelchair van you will want to be aware that many banks and credit unions have limitations on the age and mileage of a vehicle when offering competitive loans. Typically, the vehicle age maximum is 10 years, and the total miles should be under 100,000 to get financing. If you are purchasing a used wheelchair accessible van and will need financing, you should keep the age and miles in consideration. Vehicles over these thresholds will likely need to be purchased with cash. Newer vehicles and those with lower miles will tend to get better financing rates and terms. In some cases, you can expect the same monthly payment on a used mobility vehicle that is only 3 years old with a higher purchase price as a 6 year old van with a lower price. This is possible because the older van will fetch a higher interest rate, raising the payment overall.
All the OEM (Toyota, Dodge, Chrysler, Honda, Chevy) all have a factory 3year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. Most wheelchair accessible conversions will also come with a factory 3 year/36,000 mile warranty that begins on the date of delivery to the customer. Ask your local dealer when the vehicle was converted, either if it was done when it was new or previously owned. The warranty starts with the odometer reading on the date of the delivery for the conversion, so it may not match up with the OEM warranty. Checking to see when it was converted will help you identify if any remaining warranty is left and provides a better picture of what to expect during your ownership.
Used Wheelchair vans can still be very reliable and hold future resale value. Depending on the type of conversion and the known reliability of the manufacturer. Ask your dealer if they have the service records for the conversion on the vehicle you are interested in. You will want to see if the original owners had Preventative Maintenance Inspections(PMI) every six months as recommended by most manufacturers. These PMIs are vital to the reliability of a vehicle, during these inspections technicians will gain access to the ramp drive mechanisms and clear them of any dirt, debris, and road salt. Ask your dealer to show you the ramp motor on the vehicle you intend to buy to ensure it looks clean and well taken care of.
Bonus Mobility Pro Tip: A good time to buy is at the end of the calendar year when most manufacturers offer a larger rebate to move aging inventory.