Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Buyer's Guide
Finding the Right WAV For Your Lifestyle
With over 30 years of experience in the design and manufacture of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs), Brotherwood® are recognised as the experts in providing comfortable, inclusive and safe travel for wheelchair users and their families.
We know that choosing the right vehicle for your needs is complex, and our expertise has helped hundreds of Clients, Case Managers, Occupational Therapists, Rehabilitation Professionals and Solicitors, to find the perfect mobility vehicle solution. Our in-depth consultation process ensures that your vehicle will suit you perfectly.
Our transport assessments are carried out by experienced personnel, who are able to make recommendations or suggest adjustments to suit your requirements. Don't worry if you don't know what to look for - our staff are patient and friendly, and on hand to help.
We also offer full-service project management, and can co-ordinate solely with you, or with an existing Case Management service, to provide complete care for your transport needs. Our dedicated team can provide full reporting to ensure your mobility is maintained both now and in the future. We are recognised by and have provided testimonial to the Court of Protection.
We can often help to establish your needs by telephone or email - however a home demonstration is vital to ensure that you find the perfect wheelchair accessible vehicle for your needs.
Before arranging a home demonstration, we'll need to discuss your requirements and ask a few simple questions, that can help us to provide you with the perfect vehicle. Whether you're looking for your first WAV or replacing your current accessible vehicle, our team are on hand to provide helpful advice and pressure-free consultation.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Buyer's Checklist
Follow Our 8-Step Guide to Identify Your Ideal Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle:
It is critical to first assess how much interior space you require from your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle to travel comfortably, with good visibility out of the windows and without feeling cramped. The most important dimensions to measure are:
The seated height of the wheelchair user;
The 'track' (wheel to wheel) width of the wheelchair;
The width of the wheelchair at the armrests;
The height of the wheelchair armrests;
The total length of the wheelchair.
By comparing these measurements to our wheelchair accessible vehicles, carefully checking for adequate entry height and intermal headroom, we ensure that you travel in comfort. We assess both the wheelchair's 'track' (wheel to wheel width) and the armrest width and height as providing ample space for the wheelchair to access easily is critical.
It is also vital to consider the weight of both the wheelchair and wheelchair user, as adequate restraints must be supplied to ensure passenger safety.
An inclusive wheelchair position is more comfortable, gives better outward visibility and enables close proximity to family or carers. We assess the travelling position of the wheelchair to ensure passenger safety and wellbeing.
There are many options for locating the wheelchair user within the accessible vehicle. Depending on your needs you may prefer:
Wheelchair user up front next to the driver
Wheelchair user next to the rear passengers
Wheelchair user behind the rear passengers
A central wheelchair location (between the rear seats) is popular with families and groups for inclusion, conversation or attendance on the move. It also tends to offer the most space, and comfort for the wheelchair user.
Travelling behind the rear seat passengers is less ideal but might be right for you if the vehicle does not need to carry a wheelchair user very often - for example as a taxi or at a care home. A rear wheelchair location might also be adequate if you intend to transfer into the front passenger seat before loading or are using the vehicle to carry a mobility scooter.
Travelling by car in a wheelchair is much more comfortable if the floor is level. Make sure the wheelchair travels with all wheels on a level surface, and that the occupant has enough headroom to sit naturally.
When assessing the best WAV for your needs, the wheelchair user's comfort is a priority. Locating the wheelchair centrally, on a flat, level floor is a key part of our ethos.
Wheelchair users positioned on a sloping floor can experience discomfort, as the incline can disrupt the ergonomics and posture of the wheelchair. Placing the wheelchair too high within the body of the vehicle can also increase the sensation of body roll for the wheelchair user, whilst too far back in the vehicle and the wheelchair user is not only isolated but uncomfortable as bumps and undulations in the road surface are amplified.
Research by the Posture & Mobility Group for the "best practice from the transportation of people seated in wheelchairs" also states:
"A longitudinally central location in which a person is seated as close to the vehicle chassis as possible, i.e. as low in the vehicle as possible, is considered to be the most comfortable position in which to be transported in a vehicle. The field of vision and visibility of the wheelchair occupant, for communication or attendance, are also important considerations when choosing the wheelchair position within a vehicle."
Like any car purchase, we consider which car best suits your lifestyle and how you will use it.
Not only does the vehicle need to offer suitable comfort, inclusion and safety for the wheelchair user, it should also suit the entire family's lifestyle. During the assessment process we'll discuss how you use the vehicle to ensure that it fits your needs.
By taking our time to discuss your needs we'll ensure that it fits in your garage or drive, in any regular parking spaces (at the shops, or for example at school) and that it can easily be loaded and unloaded in all of these places.
We'll also discuss whether you require manual or automatic transmission, ensure that it can it be driven by all necessary family members or carers, and that it has enough space or storage solutions for any additional equipment you need to travel with.
Our helpful staff can even suggest bespoke storage solutions for anything you may travel with; from bags of shopping to dogs we can find a suitable solution.
We offer multiple affordable and flexible funding options for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, and can discuss with you which way works best for your budget. We offer full quotations and can provide full life-cost estimates.
We offer a range of brand new, fully converted Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles for sale, which can be purchased outright.
We also hold a range of used WAVs, which are fully refurbished to a high standard.
The Motability scheme allows you to exchange your Mobility allowance for a new Brotherwood WAV for a 5 year term. Maintenance and insurance is included, an advance payment is required, depending on the vehicle.
Short / Long Term
If you only require a WAV for a short term, we offer weekly or monthly Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle hire. This might be ideal for holidays, special occasions or if you require a bigger WAV for a shorter time.
A WAV is no different to insure than a standard vehicle, however you will need to inform your insurer that it has been converted to transport a wheelchair user, as you will need to cover the vehicle for the full replacement value (car and conversion).
How to Find Insurance for a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle:
You can insure a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle through any of the major insurance companies, but we recommend firms who specialise in Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles. Specialist companies include :
We always recommend you contact at least a couple of insurance companies, as you will find the premium can differ; in some cases quite significantly.
Road Tax Exemption For Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Clients in receipt of the higher rate of the Mobility Component or Disability Living Allowance (DLA), or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) will be entitled to apply for a free road fund licence. You will need to contact the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) at Blackpool 08457 123 456 and request an application for a DLA 404. Please note you have to be declared and registered disabled before the age of 65 to be entitled to this exemption.
VAT Exemption For Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Following a review and a public consultation over the VAT treatment of adapted motor vehicles by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a number of changes were made to the legislation with effect from 1 April 2017. These include the introduction of a limit on the number of vehicles that can be purchased under the relief, with an eligible individual now being able to purchase only one vehicle that meets the qualifying conditions every 3 years.
That means if you as a private individual or charity intend to purchase more than one new Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle in a 3 year span, you may not qualify for VAT relief on each purchase. However some exemptions may apply to this ruling, for example if your vehicle is stolen or destroyed, or if your circumstances change dictating the need for a new vehicle.
More information regarding these changes can be found at the HMRC website:
Your needs may change in the future. For example you may need more seats, or to carry different equipment with you. Also consider:
Before deciding if a vehicle is right for you we will help to assess your future needs, to ensure that the vehicle suits your needs for the next 5 years or more.
Is there a local dealer nearby for servicing?
Do you need to hire a larger vehicle for holidays?
Will the wheelchair user's height increase in the next few years?
Are you planning on getting a new wheelchair - will it fit comfortably and within the approved weight of the restraint system?
Our expert staff are on hand to guide you through all of these considerations and more. Get in touch today to discuss your needs.