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How Do I Winterize My Wheelchair Van?

Preparing your vehicle for the winter season is especially important if you drive an accessible van. Here are the important things to do to winterize your vehicle so it will reliably handle the colder temperatures and keep you safe on the road, straight from the expert mobility technicians at Bussani Mobility:

  • Check the Battery

The batteries in accessible vans have the added duties of powering lifts, ramps, and doors, in addition to the engine. Make sure the battery is fully charged before the cold weather hits so that you always have enough power to securely get to and from your destination.

  • Check Tire Pressure and Treads

Your tires form a critical bond between the vehicle and the road. Make sure you have tires that can handle the snow and that you regularly have the tire pressure checked. Because if the treads are worn down, the van could lose traction and not stop as quickly. Underinflated tires can also cause problems with vehicle stability, cornering, and stopping. This is easy to avoid, just have the tires checked every few months.

  • Replace Old Wipers

The best practice is to replace your vehicle’s wiper blades every six months or when you notice a change in their effectiveness. It’s one of the easiest ways to keep your vehicle safe to operate in the winter.

  • Keep It Clean

Salt on the roadways melts hazardous snow and ice, but it also can corrode various parts of vehicles, including the exhaust and muffler systems and the frame. You can protect your van by keeping it clean and preventing corrosive buildup.

  • Replace and Refill Fluids

Your van’s engine relies on antifreeze to protect it from the harsh environment of freezing temperatures during the winter. It is imperative to have the engine checked to be sure that fresh, high-quality coolant has been added and that all fluids are full. It’s also a great time to check the windshield wiper fluid; a good choice is a fluid that contains both alcohol and antifreeze to resist the cold.

  • Be Careful Where You Park

A vehicle with a lower clearance, like an accessible van, can more easily get hung up on frozen snow drifts and become damaged if driven through hard packed snow. Try to park in a garage or on a cleared flat surface like a driveway so that you can operate the vehicle free of obstruction.

If you’d rather let someone else perform the winterizing check for you, stop by any of the Bussani Mobility locations (Bethpage and Smithtown on Long Island, and Mamaroneck in Westchester County). The certified technicians in our full-service auto shops will take care of routine maintenance on your mobility equipment as well as all of your vehicle’s standard needs. We’re here to help. 

3 Things You Need to Know About Scooter & Wheelchair Lifts

In the U.S., there are about 1.7 million people who use a wheelchair or scooter in order to have mobility in their daily life. And close to 80% of that group says they either use a public transportation network without a lift, or they have access to one but it’s tedious to operate. Another option, and perhaps a better one, is to have a lift installed on your own vehicle.

If you decide to go with the latter route, here are three things you should know before buying a scooter or wheelchair lift.

1. How Does a Scooter or Wheelchair Lift Work?

Each type of lift operates a bit differently. For instance, a platform lift, which is the easiest type to operate, involves driving the scooter or wheelchair onto the platform, securing it in place, and then raising it up and into the vehicle via a motorized system. A platform lift can be operated easily but it consumes a lot of space.

Other types of lifts include crane-style and hitch-style, each one having its own pros and cons. Hitch-style scooter lifts, for instance, involve a more complex installation, with specialized wiring and vehicle capacity requirements, but they easily accommodate the newer power wheelchairs and scooters.

2. Is the Lift Compatible With Your Car?

Not all lifts are compatible with all cars, SUVs or vans. The lift should always be installed by a mobility technician who thoroughly understands the requirements of the lift and how the attachment point connects the lift securely to your vehicle. This way, you can ensure your own safety or the safety of your loved one. 

In addition to lifts, there are other mobility products available, such as transfer seats and various driving aids to assist in personal transportation. A mobility specialist, working with a driver rehabilitation specialist when needed, can help you determine the best fit for your needs and your vehicle.

3. Are Lift Costs Covered by Your Health Insurance Provider?

The team at Bussani Mobility works day in and day out with health insurance providers on behalf of our customers. We’ll help guide you in understanding what your healthcare plan will cover for both the product and the installation fees. Typically, these expenses are covered for people living with a disability, as they are a necessity in order to remain mobile in daily life.

Whether it’s a scooter or wheelchair lift that you need, a new or pre-owned wheelchair accessible vehicle, or an update on driving aids, we’re here to help you find the best mobility solution for you. We understand that mobility equals independence for many people. Call us or visit any of our three locations (Bethpage and Smithtown on Long Island, and Mamaroneck in Westchester County) to learn more.

BussaniMobility-accessible-van

What Is an Accessible Van?

Accessible vehicles have come a long way since they first became available for personal use about 50 years ago. Bussani Mobility knows all about it, because we’ve been involved since the dawn of the modern mobility vehicle. 

We’re here to help you understand that the right mobility equipment can support you to move about your life with more independence and freedom. The features of today’s accessible vehicles bring you style, comfort, and ease ─ and your own way to transport yourself or your loved one with a physical disability to take care of everyday tasks, go to doctor’s appointments, enjoy family events, spend time with friends, or go on vacation. 

Here’s what goes into the making of an accessible van…

Ramps for Easy Entry and Exit

There are a few types of ramps to choose from, and each has its own advantages. The most popular side-entry ramps are positioned on the side of the vehicle, allowing passengers to safely enter and exit the vehicle from the side. Rear-entry ramps give you the ability to park just about anywhere, without requiring extra space on the side for getting in and out of your vehicle. Manual-entry wheelchair ramps (which are not automated) are not used as often as side- or rear-entry ramps, but their main appeal is that they are generally less expensive.

Room for Family and Friends

Accessible vans have higher roofs and larger door openings to allow the needed space for a person to wheel in and out and sit comfortably while remaining in their manual wheelchair, power wheelchair, or scooter. Removable seats also allow you to change the configuration of the van inside, so the person using the wheelchair can sit in the back, the passenger side, or in the driver’s seat. And, there’s plenty of room for your friends and family to join you.

Transfer Seats

Whether you’re driving or riding, an automated transfer seat is another option to help the person using the wheelchair to safely get in and out of the vehicle. They no longer need to rely on someone else to lift them from their wheelchair or scooter into the seat and vice versa. It’s also very helpful for a senior using a walker. This provides another level of independence when needed.

Restraint and Docking Systems

Every reliable accessible vehicle has a good restraint and docking system (also called tie-downs) that keeps the wheelchair from shifting while the van is in motion. Certain designs allow you to secure yourself from your wheelchair on your own.

Driving Aids

If the person using the wheelchair will be the driver, we further customize your vehicle as needed to fulfill your exact needs. Driving aids can include hand controls, foot controls, steering aids, and high-tech driving controls.

Wheelchair and Scooter Lifts

Lifts can also be used to conveniently raise and store your personal mobility device (manual folding chair, wheelchair, power chair, or travel scooter) inside your vehicle at the touch of a button. For a smaller car, a lift can store the mobility device outside at the back or on top of the vehicle.

Little Luxuries

Many accessible vehicles are available with all of the little luxuries found in top-of-the-line standard vehicles, including theater sound packages, deluxe lighting, sound deadening, privacy shades, and more for your comfort.

Larger Size, More Variety

The most popular mobility vehicles today are minivans manufactured by Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, and Dodge. The latest accessible SUV from Ford, the Traverse, is also getting a lot of attention. But sometimes you need a larger vehicle with more interior passenger and cargo space, larger entry points, and all the amenities found in luxury vehicles ─  and that’s when it’s time to go with a full-size accessible van from Ford, Dodge or Mercedes. If none of these options fit the bill, the team at Bussani Mobility can convert any car, van or truck into a mobility vehicle for you, even a sports car if that’s what you want.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying an accessible vehicle. And it’s not only about the vehicle itself. You’ll also be making important decisions about funding, financing, and insurance. The mobility specialists at Bussani Mobility can help you find the right vehicle for your needs and budget. We also provide maintenance services and rental vehicles. If you’re new to the mobility vehicle market, or you’ve been around for a while but you want to know about the latest-and-greatest developments, call, click or stop by to see us. 

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Best Funding Sources for Wheelchair Vans

The Most Convenient Ways to Acquire Funds for a Wheelchair Van

If you need an accessible van for yourself or someone you know with a disability, you don’t have to worry about trying to cover the costs alone. Our mobility specialists can help you get financial assistance as you’re planning to purchase a wheelchair van.

State Grants

Different states have different grant programs for people with disabilities looking for a mobility vehicle. New York organizations that award disability grants include the New York DDPC, ACCES-VR, the OTDA, as well as others. We’ll help guide you to the right one for your situation.

Veterans Affairs Auto Assistance Program

The Veterans Affairs Auto Assistance Program was created for former military service members. If you qualify for a one-time grant, you could get up to $20,000 for a wheelchair van. This valuable grant covers installation, replacement, and repair costs. To learn more, contact a regional VA medical center.

PASS Program

Those on Social Security Disability Income (SSI) can and should take advantage of the PASS Program. The PASS Program stands for Plan to Achieve Self Success. This organization is designed to provide resources to help individuals reach a predetermined goal. An example might include setting a goal to buy a mobility vehicle for transportation to work or school. Through the program, the car payment would be paid every month.

Special Financing

At Bussani Mobility, we offer financing options for our accessible vehicle fleet. There are options available for people with various levels of credit. Reach out to us to learn more.

The Special Kids Fund

The Special Kids Fund helps families with a disabled child get an accessible van. However, there are very strict requirements. You are eligible if you can prove that: 1) You have no other way to buy a mobility van; 2) You have insurance; 3) You have no driving violations; and 4) You can legally register a mobility van. If you meet these requirements, you can fill out an application at specialkidsfund.org.

Thanks to state programs, government funds, charitable organizations, and special financing options, you can afford a wheelchair van. If you want to finance an accessible minivan, a full-size mobility vehicle, an accessible SUV, or a wheelchair lift, the mobility specialists at Bussani Mobility can help.

Accessible Vehicle

9 Things to Put in Your Accessible Vehicle Emergency Kit

Emergencies can occur at any time, and there is nothing worse than being unprepared in a time of need. Put yourself in a better position now by creating an emergency vehicle kit for your accessible vehicle. Be sure to include these essentials in case of an emergency.

1. Flashlight

If you experience an emergency at night or on a stormy day, you’ll want ample light to guide you through the situation. You can use a flashlight to flag down passing vehicles or locate important materials like a map or spare tire.

2. Toolbox or Multi-Tool

Be sure to include scissors, a screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench. Consider investing in a multi-tool, which will allow you to have access to multiple tools within the one small device. 

3. First Aid Kit

Make sure your first aid kit has bandages, gauze, antibiotic cream, and any essential prescriptions. 

4. Vehicle Escape Tool

Place a vehicle escape hammer and a box cutter (to cut the seat belt) within arm’s reach of your transfer seat or wheelchair.

5. Bottled Water and Snacks

When you’re stuck in an emergency for an undetermined amount of time, it is essential to stay hydrated, so keep a 12-pack of water in your vehicle, just in case. And a few protein bars to munch on as needed.

6. Jumper Cables

Always keep a pair of jumper cables in your vehicle. Consider purchasing a jump starter box, which will allow you to jump your vehicle’s battery if there are no other vehicles nearby.

7. Cold-Weather Gear

If you live in a region where it snows, you’ll want to keep extra blankets, jackets, and gloves on hand to avoid potential hypothermia. Hand warmers are also a great option for your emergency kit.

8. Carjack, Lug Wrench, and Spare Tire

Keep the needed tools on hand with instructions for changing a tire. If you’re not able to change it yourself, perhaps a passenger with you or a good samaritan who passes by can help out.

9. Compass and Map

You cannot always rely on technology to get instant directions. What if your vehicle stops running or your cell phone battery dies? You’ll need a physical, paper map to orient yourself and find help.

Keep these nine essential items in your accessible vehicle emergency kit so that you can be prepared and safe no matter what happens on the road. And remember that Bussani Mobility provides our customers with a 24/7 emergency service by calling 866-524-8267. Even if our auto shops are closed, we’ll get help to you when you need it out on the road. Travel safe!

Accessible Vehicles

7 Things You Need to Know About Warranties on Accessible Vehicles

When you purchase any kind of vehicle, it’s important to make sure that you have good warranty protection, which can also be called an extended service contract. At Bussani Mobility, we believe this is especially true for accessible vehicles. Here’s what you should know when you’re looking for accessible vehicle warranties.

1. What Does a Warranty Do?

Warranties protect you from unexpected expenses if your vehicle needs replacement parts or other major repairs. There are different levels of coverage available. It’s easy to purchase a warranty through your mobility dealer, and they’ll make sure that you get the best warranty to meet your needs.

2. Do I Need More Than a Standard Warranty?

The standard warranties cover the vehicle but usually not the mobility components of the vehicle. We typically recommend that you consider purchasing a mobility warranty.

3. What Do Mobility Warranties Cover?

This type of vehicle service contract is a good idea for a wheelchair van because it covers the original vehicle equipment as well as all of the mobility components. It will also help you with roadside assistance and rental vehicles while your vehicle is being repaired to make sure you get back on the road as soon as possible. 

Although some of these options are also offered by some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) warranties, they don’t include the mobility conversion. With a standard warranty, for instance, the rental coverage of a standard warranty typically won’t cover an accessible vehicle rental.

As is the case with standard warranties, mobility warranties have limits, generally three years and 36,000 miles.

4. Why Should I Get a Mobility Dealer Warranty?

One benefit of a mobility warranty is the peace of mind. Knowing that your conversion vehicle’s most important components are covered by your warranty is reassuring. 

By having one in place that helps cover repair work, replacement parts, and the cost of labor, you won’t have to worry about having to pay bills for unforeseen repairs all on your own.

Mobility warranties are also relatively easy to finance, as most of them can be paid through a payment plan.

5. Which Vehicles are Eligible?

Most manufacturers offer warranties on new models. Generally speaking, manufacturers consider a vehicle to be new if it has less than 50,000 miles and it is less than four years old. Before purchasing a warranty, always check the accompanying terms and conditions.

6. Do Warranties Expire?

Yes, the warranty on your conversion vehicle will expire. There is usually a limit on vehicle age or number of miles that dictates when a warranty expires. For instance, you may add a warranty that covers 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Be aware that you can buy a mobility warranty at the end of the standard OEM warranty, but the price will be higher as the vehicle gets older and closer to the factory warranty expiration date.

7. What to Do When a Warranty Expires

If your vehicle warranty expires, you still have other options. Since an accessible vehicle has many moving parts and added components, it is a good idea to invest in an extended warranty.

A mobility specialist at Bussani Mobility will happily provide additional information on warranties, to help you decide what’s best for you and your vehicle. Feel free to contact our team for answers to all of your accessible vehicle questions.


What You Need to Know Before Meeting with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist

Rehabilitation Specialist

Many individuals have injuries or medical conditions that can reduce their ability to operate an automobile. A Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) is a trained professional who specializes in determining alternative driving options for people of all ability levels. A CDRS can help a person drive safely and have the freedom to move about in life as they please. 

There are a few things you should know before meeting with a certified driver rehabilitation specialist.

What Does a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist Do?

A CDRS is a professional who plans, develops, coordinates, and implements driving services for individuals with disabilities. He or she will typically have a college degree and will always have a document or badge confirming his or her certification. Driver rehabilitation has one fundamental goal: driver independence. A CDRS works with clients to determine what adaptations must be made to the vehicle in order to produce the greatest amount of mobility.

Step One: Addressing Individual Needs

Each client presents a unique set of goals, preferences, and abilities. Some people may utilize a CDRS if they need special hearing or vision technology. Others may have to become familiar with other types of adaptive equipment. Still others may benefit from general coaching as a result of aging, mental illness, or a brain injury. A driver rehabilitation specialist is thoroughly trained to assist with dozens of conditions and injuries.

What’s Involved in the Driver Rehabilitation Process?

A driver rehabilitation specialist begins with a comprehensive assessment. He or she evaluates necessary skills involving cognitive, visual, and physical aspects. If an individual meets the criteria to move forward, the next step is a driving assessment. The driving experience includes any needed adaptive equipment. For new drivers of an accessible vehicle, a course in driver education is included.

Driving plays a critical role in independence. With the proper guidance, individuals with limited mobility can enjoy the freedom of operating a vehicle. A certified driver rehabilitation specialist can assess and coach individuals in such cases. Consider the above points before meeting a CDRS, then schedule an appointment with the Bussani Mobility team to continue on your road to independence.


5 Ways to Stay Connected to Family & Friends

Family & Friends

Note from the editor: Usually we focus on topics related to mobility in our Behind the Wheel blog. But today, we’re touching on something else that has affected us all.

It’s a new year, but not a lot has changed so far. We’re all still dealing with the uncertainty of an ongoing global pandemic with varying degrees of lockdowns and quarantines, as well as political unrest both here in America and across the globe. As a result, many people have found themselves struggling for months on end to stay connected with those they love. 

And yet, we know that social bonds are critical to our happiness and well-being. Our daily interactions with others can improve mental health, boost mood, and elevate our overall quality of life. So as 2021 begins, consider these ways to take small steps to stay connected to family and friends. Some of this might sound obvious, but sometimes we all need a gentle reminder or a reassuring nudge to find our inspiration.

Phone Call

Hearing the voice of a loved one can strengthen or renew a social bond. Text messages pass on information and ideas, but there’s something about a phone call that’s so much more personal, and that amplifies connectedness. Catch up on gossip, hobbies, and future plans. Not only can a phone call strengthen a relationship, but verbalizing your own thoughts and feelings often produces mental and emotional relief and benefits.

Video Call

When time and circumstances allow, a video call can take connectedness one step further than a phone call can. Any number of people can join a video call. Similar to in-person visits, this medium allows loved ones to show nuances and mannerisms that simply cannot be expressed in a text or voice communication. Video calls require a good internet connection and a video service; Zoom is the most preferred choice these days.

Family Web Page

You can build a family web page to keep up-to-date on family events, milestones, and conversations. Or use a social media platform (such as Facebook) to form an exclusive group for your family. Group members can share videos, photos, or type messages to the family. Once a group is created, you can (virtually) invite a tech-savvy member to help manage the page.

Group Text

A simple alternative to a web page, a group text allows for written conversations among participants. If your cellular plan comes with unlimited texts, a group text can be carried with you, even when there’s no internet available. For those who prefer to use the computer (and internet), a group chat can be established on several platforms, including Google and Facebook. Whichever method you choose, a group chat allows for quick messaging to help keep the family connected.

Write a Letter

Although it’s almost extinct in these tech-driven days, a handwritten letter adds a personal touch that technology just cannot replicate. Letters are often prized by recipients, and it’s not uncommon for people to store them away with other treasures. Set aside some time and energy to write a heartfelt letter to somebody who has been on your mind. A kind or motivational note can strengthen almost any bond. In addition, many individuals find the very act of writing to be therapeutic. 

Worldwide, people can counteract isolation and loneliness by staying connected socially. Keeping in touch with family and friends is possible through several media, including those listed above. Choose a method that works for you, and reclaim those social bonds. You’ll be glad you did.

At Bussani Mobility, we’re all about independence and helping to improve the quality of your life. Our customers often become our friends and we want to provide information that builds a sense of community where we can improve accessibility for all, together. If you’d like to see more helpful resources, visit our Blog and our Helpful Links pages. 

Also keep in mind that we’re communicating with our customers virtually, as well, when that’s their preference. We’re happy to have a Zoom call with you, and we’ll give you a virtual vehicle tour. Just give us a call whenever you’re ready.


3 Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Driving Tips

Winter is already here in the Northeast. And the cold, wet weather means that drivers should take extra precautions. Here are a few tips for safe winter driving.

1) Get a Tune-up Now

No one wants to have a breakdown on the road in the middle of winter. So take the time now to get a tune-up. You’ll feel better knowing that an expert technician checked all of your vehicle’s vital components. Fluids – including antifreeze, oil, and washer fluid – should be clean and full. A well-functioning heater is a must. Brake pads should have ample thickness. Cold weather can condense the air in your tires (and most blowouts are the result of underinflated tires), so the tire pressure is checked. Tire tread is also important for gaining traction on slick surfaces, and tires must be replaced if the tread is too low. Ramps and doors are also checked to make sure they are operating smoothly.

2) Be Prepared

Take a little time to prepare your vehicle so that you can respond to any unforeseen circumstances (like bad weather or other drivers making poor decisions) with confidence. Keep the gas tank at or above halfway – this eliminates the need for emergency pit stops in unfavorable weather. Ensure the spare tire is usable and properly inflated, and you have all the needed tools to change a tire. Tuck away emergency supplies in an easily accessible area, including a blanket, water, flashlight, gloves, snacks, cash, cellphone charger, and a First-Aid kit.

3) Drive with Extra Caution

Maintenance and preparation are good first steps, and then there’s the need to drive with added caution. Most importantly, we can all use the reminder to accelerate and stop more slowly in the snow and ice. Also leave extra space in inclement weather between your vehicle and others. And if the weather is too bad, just don’t go out until it clears.

It’s worth taking the time to check if your wheelchair accessible vehicle needs any maintenance or repairs before heading out into winter driving conditions. The team of certified technicians at Bussani Mobility is here to help. We want to make sure that you stay safe and secure on the roads in any type of weather.


How to Qualify for Financial Support for a Wheelchair Accessible Van as a Disabled Veteran

Bussani-Mobility-how-to-qualify-accessible-vehicle-disabled-veteran

Veterans have given so much in service to us all. And many have paid a high personal cost, often continuing to grapple with physical and emotional challenges resulting from their time in service. All too often, financial hardships accompany other issues, such as a disability. But help is available, and for instance, veterans with disabilities can qualify to receive funding for wheelchair accessible vehicles. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Defining Disability

Each organization defines disability somewhat differently. While some offer broader definitions, Veterans Affairs (VA) is quite specific in what qualifies as a disability. For the purpose of accessible vehicles, Veterans Affairs describes disability as the loss of one or both feet, one or both hands, or significantly reduced vision in both eyes. You can check with your relevant organization for a list of qualifications.

Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers vehicle grants to veterans. Accessible vehicles may be funded, in part or entirely, by such grants. For those wounded in connection to their service, a grant may cover up to $21,000 of the cost of an accessible van or conversion equipment. Veterans who have non-service-related disabilities may receive funds toward devices assisting with vehicle entry.

Wounded Warrior Project

The VA-certified Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) acts as a liaison between veterans and assistance programs. Consultants help veterans with the application process and provide information regarding wait times, fund availability, and other useful facts. WWP representatives educate veterans so they can make the best decisions for their individual needs.

More Financial Assistance

Several charitable organizations offer financial assistance for veterans seeking an accessible vehicle. For instance, the Semper Fi Fund helps with a wide array of adaptive equipment that can improve the quality of life for service members with disabilities. Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH) exists exclusively to provide adaptive solutions for veterans who are wounded, ill, or injured. Operation Family Fund offers a wide array of benefits, including vehicles and/or adaptive equipment.

Veterans needing assistance can reach out to these organizations to receive help. For accessible vans, many grants are available, whether directly through the VA or through an independent charity. Such grants, and their accompanying services, allow veterans to regain their mobility as easily and affordably as possible. 

At Bussani Mobility, we understand the physical challenges that many veterans face and we know all about the funding resources that are available to help them find greater independence and mobility. We also accept VA funding for vehicle purchases. Stop in at one of our locations or call us today for more information about how we can help you or your loved one.