Buying new, second-hand, or hiring a WAV?
Think carefully about what you need from your wheelchair accessible vehicle.
- Do your research to find out what's available.
- The right vehicle can help you be more independent.
The wrong WAV could be worse than useless and an expensive mistake.
Buying a new WAV
You can buy a new WAV directly from a WAV converter, who will adapt a vehicle with the assistive technology you require.
- The process can take time - involving demonstrations, an assessment, the conversion itself and the fitting of adaptations.
- The converter will be able to tell you what features are available in their product range.
Speak to more than one converter and ask them to show you suitable vehicles.
Buying a second-hand WAV
Some converters and some other suppliers sell second-hand WAVs which means:
- they're usually cheaper
- you won't have to wait for the vehicle to be converted
- you may have to search for a while to find one that meets your needs
- if you have specialist needs, you may not be able to find a suitable second-hand vehicle
Anything you buy second-hand may be affected by safety and reliability issues.
The seller may have had an inspection carried out and/or offer a warranty. If not, you may want to think about carrying out your own inspection.
Hiring a WAV
There are also companies that offer a WAV rental service:
- You can get a WAV on a short- or a long-term rental agreement.
- This may suit you if you're only going to be using a wheelchair temporarily, or you need a replacement vehicle while another WAV is being serviced.
- If you have very specialised needs, it's unlikely that you'll be able to hire a suitable vehicle.
It's essential that you try out any WAV that you're thinking about buying. It's also a good idea to try more than one, ideally from more than one converter. Converters can bring a vehicle to your home for a demonstration. You are under no obligation to buy.
- It will take some time for you to test a vehicle.
- Make sure you can do everything that you'll need to be able to do yourself. Get anyone who'll regularly use the vehicle to try it out, too.
- Take your time to go over it properly and make sure you'll be comfortable.
- Think of places which you often travel to and drive to some of them.
The converter's sales staff will let you try out anything you need.
It's important that you understand how everything works and check you can do it yourself. Insist that they let you operate the ramp, tie-downs and restraints on your own.
If you need a heavily adapted or specially customised vehicle, it may not be possible to try some features. However, ask to try and view a similar vehicle to test the off-the-peg equipment and assess it for comfort.
Type of WAVS
Simple passenger WAVs are where the passenger travels in the back.
Other types of WAVs include:
Things to think about
Different suppliers offer different levels of service and:
- bring a WAV to you so you can have a demonstration, without putting you under any obligation to buy
- deliver the vehicle to you if necessary and make sure you can use all the equipment
- extend to you all the usual (and statutory) consumer rights
Suppliers may not all provide other services to the same extent. Ask whether they can carry out a full assessment and what guarantees or maintenance plans they offer.
Members of the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Converters' Association (WAVCA) commit to a customer service code.
It's the supplier's responsibility to provide you with a safe and legal vehicle, but you need to make sure they're taking active steps to meet this responsibility. Ask them for an assessment of your needs and that they can provide all the documentation you'll need.
Different suppliers have different quality standards. Use your demonstration as an opportunity to judge the vehicle:
- Are the components robust, firmly attached and nicely finished?
- Is the equipment easy to operate?
- Are there squeaks, rattles or road noise when driving along?
If you need specialised equipment, such as specialised adaptations, choose a supplier that is able to fit these as well. Often this will be a specialist adaptation company, rather than just simply a WAV converter.