Category Archives: Mobility Van

Should I Buy a New or Used Wheelchair Van?

Buy a New or Used Wheelchair Van

When considering an accessible vehicle purchase, first-time buyers and seasoned consumers alike face a crucial question: Should I buy a new vehicle or a used one? Here, we outline some considerations to help you make the best-informed decision when choosing between a new and a used wheelchair van.

Purchase Price

First and foremost, there’s a clear difference in price between new and used wheelchair vans, with new vehicles costing a good deal more. You could save $20,000 or more by opting for a pre-owned or a used van. This alone can be the deciding factor for people with limited budgets. 

Also note that, as with vehicles of all types, the value of a new accessible van depreciates significantly during the first year of ownership. So, selecting a newer-model “slightly used” van provides the buyer with an opportunity to save money while still driving a relatively new vehicle, perhaps only a year or two old. Deeper discounts can also be given based on model year, mileage, and other factors.

On the other hand, if you’re well set financially and can afford a brand new vehicle, you can proudly enjoy that “new car feel” (knowing that you’re the only driver), as well as the ability to customize it exactly as you wish and take advantage of the latest mobility technology.   

Reliability

Many potential buyers aim to balance cost with reliability, and they may view newer vehicles as more reliable than used vans. That sounds reasonable, but a trusted local mobility dealer ensures that every vehicle they sell is safe. Among their offerings are “certified pre-owned” vehicles that have been through rigorous inspection and testing for performance and reliability. 

Mobility van warranties are also an important aspect to consider, and you can find out more about them here. In addition, regular service (every six months is suggested) helps to maintain a well-functioning vehicle (both the van itself and the conversion equipment), whether it’s new or used. 

Repairs & Insurance

There are other factors to mull over when deciding between a new and a used van. For instance, used vehicles have a lower purchase price, but new vehicles tend to have fewer out-of-pocket repair costs. You have to decide for yourself how these elements balance out.

Insurance premiums also increase with the “value” of the van, so you can expect a used van to have less expensive insurance. 

It’s important for used-van buyers to do their due diligence. A local mobility specialist will help you secure the most reliable vehicle and conversion equipment for the best relative price.

New or used? We hope we’ve given you a few things to consider as you make your decision. The Bussani Mobility Team is standing by ready to assist you whenever you need or want help. Contact us or stop by one of our locations today for answers to all of your mobility questions.


How Can I Transport My Wheelchair Without a Van?

bussanimobility_wheechair_WO-Van

If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair or scooter, the easiest way to get around is with a wheelchair accessible van. And there are many stylish and functional models on the market today. But if you don’t have your own van, that doesn’t have to hinder your mobility. There are other solutions for transporting your wheelchair or scooter.

The team at Bussani Mobility thrives on helping people find independence through mobility. And we know that sometimes the best answer is to adapt your current vehicle, even if it’s not a van. Here’s what you can do:

1. Wheelchair Trailer
A wheelchair trailer is a possible solution. If you have a power wheelchair, you will have to consider its weight and purchase a trailer that can accommodate it. To avoid any damage to the trailer or wheelchair, you’ll always need to properly tie it down and secure it before transport it. You can either use a portable wheelchair ramp or purchase a trailer with one built in to get the chair in and out. 

2. Hitch Lift
An outside lift will transport any kind of wheelchair or scooter. If you own a small, medium, or large vehicle, you can attach a wheelchair or scooter lift at the rear end of their vehicle. Some hitch lifts can also be installed on vans, trucks, or RVs. 

Depending on your vehicle, you may need to have a hitch attached prior to using this type of lift. When considering a wheelchair or scooter lift, be sure to find one that can manage the weight of your wheelchair or scooter. Heavy-duty lifts have a carrying capacity of up to 400 lbs. But if you don’t have a heavy electric scooter, you may want to consider something more low-profile, like a micro lift. 

3. Chair Topper
The roof chair topper is designed to load, transport, and retrieve foldable wheelchairs. This device transports the wheelchair in a box that sits on your vehicle’s roof to save the space inside the vehicle for passengers. 
The chair topper is simple, convenient, and can be used on almost all car models. It automatically lifts and stores the wheelchair in the unit when you are ready to travel, and unloads it when you’ve reached your destination. Unloading and storing can be done in only 30 seconds. The chair topper box is also weatherproof, protecting your wheelchair from the elements.

Although owning a new wheelchair van is ideal, we understand that it’s not feasible for everyone and every situation. That’s why Bussani Mobility works with top brands to offer a variety of mobility solutions for your car, truck, or van. 


How Do Hand Controls Work?

BussaniMobility-HandControls-IntoToHandControlsFor people with limited lower-body mobility, hand controls are often the difference between being cooped up at home and enjoying their  independence. A relatively simple adaptive technology, customized for your needs, can make driving yourself to the grocery store or to a doctor’s appointment or out with friends a reality. 

At Bussani Mobility, we’ve been putting customers in accessible vehicles ─ and sometimes in their dream mobility van or car ─ for more than 40 years now. Here are the questions that we’re asked most often about how hand controls work. We hope this will answer some of your questions, too.

1) How much do hand controls cost?
There are hundreds of options with varying degrees of functionality and pricing, from a $125 spinner knob to a $70,000 electronic digital driving system. The cost of your hand controls will depend on your specific mobility needs and your financial resources.

2) What type of hand controls are most common?
The controls most often used are basic, manual hand controls. They’re the simplest solution for drivability. They’re mounted as an extension of the foot pedals, so a person without the use of their lower extremities can drive using their hands only.

 3) Can anyone drive a car with mobility aids?
Yes, the person with the physical disability can use the mechanical hand controls to operate the pedals, and another person can drive the same vehicle using the original gas and brake pedals. Some models have safety mechanisms to ensure the gas pedal isn’t inadvertently pressed ─ and all passengers are kept safe.

 4) Do I have to own a van to have specialized hand controls added?
The good news is, no. Nearly any vehicle can be fitted with specialized hand controls, not just a minivan or a full-size van. The certified technicians at Bussani Mobility have even installed high-end driving aids on sports cars, including a Mercedes Coupe and a BMW i8 Roadster.

BussaniMobility-HandControls-IntoToHandControls15) How do I know which hand controls are right for my needs?
Your local mobility dealer will set you up with a certified driver rehabilitation specialist to evaluate your needs and decide on the best driving aids and solution for your abilities.

 6) What kind of training do I need to operate my updated vehicle?
Training is needed to properly and safely operate a vehicle using hand controls. You will want to pay special attention to your one-on-one training and only work with authorized mobility trainers and dealers.

 7) Where can I find more information about hand controls?
Go to https://bussanimobility.com/mobility-products/hand-controls/ for a short overview of driving aids. Also,  you may want to visit https://www.mpsdrivingaids.com/ for more info. 

 If you have any questions or concerns about hand controls for your mobility van, car, or truck, give us a call or stop by Bussani Mobility on Long Island or in Westchester. We sell, install, and service the best driving aids on the market today and can help customize your vehicle to fit your specific needs.


Top 5 Questions About Maintaining Your Wheelchair Van

Mobility vans have gotten major upgrades in their technology over the past 15 or so years. Because of those improvements by manufacturers on the parts and materials used to convert a regular van chassis to an accessible van, the vehicles are needing fewer repairs than they used to. But, it’s still so important to take your accessible van into your mobility dealer for regular inspections and maintenance.

At Bussani Mobility, we’ve been selling and serving wheelchair vans in NY for more than 40 years now. Here are the questions we’re asked most often by our customers about how to maintain their wheelchair van. We hope this will answer some of your questions, too.

#1. How often should I get maintenance done on my mobility van?
We recommend every 6 months, especially when you use your van every day. Our customers typically bring in their accessible vans for preventive maintenance on the door and ramp, and for an oil change. They also come in for NY state inspections.

When repairs are needed, the three most common items are: ramp or lift problems (such as the ramp not going in or out), ramp door problems (such as the door not opening or closing correctly), and check engine lights or other dashboard warning lights. Our technicians are specially trained to take care of the mobility equipment, but they also handle the whole range of regular types of automotive maintenance.

We suggest that our customers pay close attention to the reminder lights for OEM service on their van’s dashboard and the date/mileage service return stickers we put in the upper corner of the windshield. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

#2. What type of oil does my van take and what’s the difference between regular oil and synthetic? And what’s the price difference?
Conventional motor oil is a lubricant that is derived directly from crude oil. It has excellent properties that allow it to provide lubrication at high temperatures, as well as maintain its stability over long periods of time.

Synthetic oil actually begins its life as conventional oil and is then modified to improve its protective and lubricant properties. Some blends of synthetic oil are designed specifically to increase the performance and life of high-mileage vehicles; others are meant for high-performance engines or they have the ability to increase your vehicle’s fuel mileage by using special advanced lubricants. Synthetic oil is more expensive than regular oil. We usually recommend sticking with what the manufacturer recommends. Ask your service technician what’s best for your vehicle.

#3. How long will this take?
It varies depending on what’s needed. We always give an honest estimate of the time we expect it to take. Sometimes, we recommend for customers to let us pick-up their van so they don’t have to wait here while the work is being done; instead, they can rest comfortably at home. We’ll either deliver the van back to them or they can arrange for an after-hours pick-up.

#4. How much do you think this will cost?We supply our customers with a quote before any work is performed. Sometimes there is a diagnostic fee in order to determine their problem.

#5. Can you pick-up and drop-off? And do you have a loaner van?
We’ll pick-up and drop-off the van if our customers need that service. If they live a good distance away, we’ll need the van for two days ─ one day to pick-up and start repairs and another day to finish repairs and drop-off. We’re seeing more and more people opting for the pick-up and drop-off service. As for loaners, we don’t currently have accessible loaner vans, but we do have a rental department that offers a discount if your van is in for service.

If you have any questions or concerns about your wheelchair van, give us a call or stop by Bussani Mobility on Long Island or in Westchester, or you can schedule a service appointment any time at

https://bussanimobility.com/service/. We have discounted service coupons there for you, too.


How to Recognize a Wheelchair Mobility Expert from a Traditional Car Salesman

Anyone who has purchased a vehicle from a car dealership knows that the process can be a real hassle – from having to deal with pushy salesmen, to sorting through all of the vehicle options, and then finding the right financing. Add to that the specialized equipment and nuances of a wheelchair accessible van, and now you have a whole new level of potential complications in the car buying process. That is, unless you visit Bussani Mobility for a mobility van in New York.

We’ve been helping people with physical disabilities with their personal transportation needs for over 40 years, so we really know our stuff. Our mobility specialists have the experience and personal compassion to help our customers find what they need to be mobile and independent.
Let’s look at just what it is that separates a mobility expert from a traditional car salesman…

One of the biggest differences is that a mobility expert is certified. To receive certification, a mobility specialist will have been educated and kept up to speed in the latest advancements through mobility conversion manufacturers and industry organizations. Our mobility specialists are all QAP (Quality Assurance Program) certified through NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association).

Why does that matter? While a car salesman might be able to tell you about the motor of the vehicle or its general features, a mobility expert will know everything there is to know about the adaptive equipment, including such things as ramps, lifts, lock-downs, transfer seats, and specialized driving controls.

Another big difference between mobility experts and traditional car salesmen is that a mobility specialist has experience with the various challenges that people with disabilities face in their daily lives. Many have built their whole careers around assisting individuals, families and caregivers who are dealing with a physical disability to help then regain their day-to-day mobility with an adaptive vehicle.

Specific questions that mobility experts know to ask, that a traditional salesman might not, include:

  • What is the nature of your disability?
  • What is the primary purpose of the transportation?
  • Will the person using the wheelchair be driving the vehicle or ride on the front passenger side?
  • How many ambulatory passengers might ride in the vehicle on a regular basis?

At Bussani Mobility, we understand that finding the right vehicle takes time, and it is a big investment. That’s why you won’t find any pushy salesmen when you visit us at any of our New York locations. Come in and see us today. Let us help you find the perfect accessible vehicle for you.


Wheelchair Van Financing Options

Purchasing a wheelchair van is an expensive investment that can sometimes be a challenge to afford. Thankfully, there are programs available that can help caregivers and individuals be able to afford and find the right wheelchair van financing that they need. Below are some options that can help make owning a wheelchair accessible van or SUV a reality.

– Special Financing Options: These programs include loans with extended terms, leasing packages, and more. At Bussani Mobility, we have long-standing relationships with banks and other financial institutions that understand the specialized components involved in buying an accessible vehicle.

– Veterans Administration: For qualified veterans, the Veteran’s Administration allocates funds for adaptive equipment.

– State Agencies: Every state has a Vocational Rehabilitation Program. These programs are designed to assist individuals with disabilities to remain or get back into the workforce, and they are state-funded. In some cases, they can help provide funding to make vehicle modifications.

– Mobility Rebate Programs: Mobility manufactures (including BraunAbility) and vehicle manufacturers (such as Chrysler, Ford, GM and Toyota) often offer rebate incentives for the purchase of a new vehicle that requires accessibility modification. Before purchasing a vehicle, be sure to talk to your dealer about rebate options available.

– Grants: There are several organizations that can provide information, support, and resources to individuals with specific disabilities. Reach out to your local chapter to see what information, resources, assistance, or guidance they have to offer.

– Fundraising: Social media has changed everything about how we communicate today. You’ll see people raising funds for their personal needs on sites like GoFundMe – including wheelchair accessible vehicles. The campaigns involve family, friends, neighbors, and the whole community. If you’re comfortable with it, you might even want to reach out to the local news and explain what you’re trying to do and ask if they would be interested in covering your story, helping to get your cause out there.

There are many options available for wheelchair van financing. Some require creative effort on your part. Be sure to talk to your mobility specialist at Bussani Mobility to discuss all of your options, so we can help you find the right wheelchair accessible van or SUV to fit your needs.


Bussani Mobility’s Next Generation Management Team

team

With the recent retirement of founder John Bussani, the 42-year old Bussani Mobility Team has undergone a restructure and installation of a three-man executive team. According to the company’s new Chief Executive Officer Dan Bussani who formerly served as vice president under his father’s leadership, the company was purchased by himself and two partners who have been long-time employees.

Bussani teamed up with Gen. Mgr. Dan Walsh and Accountant Stephen Wilmer to make the purchase. When a larger company made an offer to John Bussani to buy his business, the three came together. According to John Bussani the employees’ offer was accepted in order to keep the “personal customer experience.”

Small Business Feel
“We want to keep the small business feel,” said Dan Bussani. “I think people like to do business with small companies. We don’t want the customer to become just a number. None of us want to get so big that it gets to that point.”

Newly named Chief Operating Officer Dan Walsh sees focus as the key. “Each one of us knows the other person’s goals,” he said. “Our roles are clearly defined now and it helps us to work together efficiently and it also helps the customer.”

“My dad never thought his business would grow to what it is today,” said the younger Bussani. The company now has three locations – two on Long Island and one in Westchester. “We want the business to grow in the area. We know of a couple of locations where we feel we’ll be doing a good job for our community,” he continued.

Expanding
“We want to keep the personal touch,” said the new Chief Financial Officer Stephen Wilmer. “Although we want to expand, we don’t want it to get so big that we lose the individualized service that was always part of the company.”

Part of their expansion includes adding an enhanced service department. “I noticed clients would buy their vehicles from us and were going to dealerships and automotive facilities for service,” said Walsh. “They were either getting taken advantage of or refused. I started bringing in local repair shops. We would do mobility work and they would do automotive. After a while we started doing full service in house for customers who choose to have their work done in one place.”

Dan Bussani, 41, who lives with his wife and two daughters in Seaford grew up in the company. Although he had other jobs while in school, he has been a part of the Bussani team all his life and has worked hand-in-hand with this father as the roles gradually reversed and he took over much of the day-to-day operation as John Bussani neared retirement.

Forty-eight-year-old Dan Walsh has been on the team for 13 years. He lives in Seaford with his wife and two daughters. After learning about business by working in the restaurant and plumbing businesses and his family’s auto body company Walsh learned from Dan Bussani about the plan to expand the service department in the Bethpage location. “At the time they were only working on converting vehicles,” said Walsh. “I came in to take a look and I fell in love with it — the people, the atmosphere and the customers.”
“Accountability is the word we’re using continuously,” said Dan Bussani. “We’re accountable to each other and especially to the customer.”

Stephen Wilmer, 37, has been with the Bussani team for nine years. A month after graduating from college he filled a need. The company had just lost its bookkeeper and the Bussanis realizing their need was for more than a bookkeeper offered Wilmer the position. He handles the financial needs of the company as well as working with the regulatory aspects of the New York state Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of taxation. “You have to do everything right,” he said. Wilmer lives in Lindenhurst with his wife and his two daughters.

“I am confident that the new leadership will continue to service the disabled community with the same care and compassion that has been the hallmark of the Bussani ‘family’, “ said John Bussani.
This article appeared in Able News – Volume 26 – Number 7 – January 2017


John Bussani Retires From Mobility Business

John BussaniOne of the local pioneers of the mobility industry, John Bussani, has passed the torch to the next generation. John, who founded Bussani Mobility 42 years ago, recently announced his retirement.

Bussani remembers riding on a train in the dark with the sounds of war blaring all around, as his mother held him below the window to protect him. At five years of age, he and his mother were fleeing Yugoslavia to join his father who had defected to Italy to make a better life for them.
He had his first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, at age 11, from the ship that brought his family to America. They settled in Hoboken, N.J. and then moved to Freeport, N.Y.

Bussani served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. While hospitalized with a broken arm in Germany, he watched as disabled soldiers returned from the war, and he wondered how he could help.

After the war, he worked as a draftsman and then started repairing automobile transmissions. While having dinner with friends one night, he was introduced to a polio survivor. They discussed what types of vehicle modifications would be needed for people with disabilities. He learned about a man in New Jersey who was installing hand controls in cars. He met with Alan Ruprecht of Drive Master, who showed him how to do the installations — and that was the beginning of a journey that spanned over four decades and touched thousands of people.

Bussani traveled around Long Island working out of the trunk of his car to give independence to people who were unable to use their feet and legs to drive. The word spread and people started asking Bussani for help with their vehicles. Eventually, he bought a building in Baldwin, N.Y., where he did modifications, then moved the growing business to Freeport and later Bethpage, which is now the headquarters for Bussani Mobility. The company continued to grow and now has locations in Smithtown in Suffolk County and in Mamaroneck in Westchester County.

Over the years, Bussani became well known in his field. He lectured at occupational therapy classes at SUNY Farmingdale, Touro College, and Stony Brook University. He opened his facility to students on a regular basis and actively participated in NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association), the Adaptive Driving Alliance and other leading industry organizations. In particular, he became an advocate of higher safety standards in vehicle modifications.

The mobility industry continued to develop as manufacturers like BraunAbility began mass-producing wheelchair accessible vehicles and advanced technologies became available. Bussani Mobility expanded accordingly, keeping quality workmanship and integrity in the forefront of daily operations.

Busani Party XMAS 2015-66-HROne thing that has not changed at Bussani Mobility according to Bussani which is his original vision — to help people living with physical disabilities get mobile and to enjoy full and complete lives.
John’s son Dan has been involved in the business his entire life. “I even remember driving my toy car around the parking lot as a child while Dad was changing peoples’ lives for the good,” said Dan Bussani. Dan has now taken over the business as Co-Owner and CEO. Long-time employee Dan Walsh is also a Co-Owner and COO. Stephen Wilmer completes the team as the third Co-Owner and CFO.

John Bussani was an only child. He was married to Barbara for nearly 40 years when she passed 10 years ago. He has two sons – Daniel and John Christopher (J.C.) who is an engineer. John is spending time enjoying his grandchildren.

Photo Left to Right: Dan Walsh, Dan Bussani,
Stephen Wilmer, and John Bussani

The Industry Says…

John is a true pioneer in the mobility industry. Those of us with mobility needs have had our lives transformed by his vision, determination and creativity. He has given me, and many others, a means to regain lost independence and lifechanging freedom. Thank you for everything John…enjoy your retirement.
-Tony Amorello, customer & friend

John’s development of his business and his hand in the nurturing of the vehicle modification industry, setting the standards to what it has become nationally, has advanced the lives of individuals with disabilities throughout our country making people mobile and, most importantly, independent. Where would we be without John’s vision and hard work? Thank you John Bussani.
-Robert Pipia, Nassau County district court Judge customer & friend

John and the Drive-Master family go back at least 48 years when my dad Alan Ruprecht and John met. John started buying his hand controls. We have had a wonderful friendship since then, and will continue. To fish and call the nurse for libations. Congratulations on your retirement, you have certainly built a lasting legacy. Lv Ya man, Peter.”
-Peter Ruprecht president, Drive-Master Co., Inc.

When I was a green horn in the industry 14 years ago, I tucked myself under John’s wing and said ‘teach me.’ He was so willing to help, a great mentor, and we’ve been friends ever since.
-Greg Kiser, vice president of consumer sales, BraunAbility

John Bussani represents the very best in the accessiblemobility industry from his warm and welcoming personality to the products and services he delivers to his customers. It has been an honor for me to do business with JB.
-Brendan Healy, Eastern Regional sales manager, Q’Straint

This article appeared in Able Newspaper – Volume 26 – Number 5 – November 2016


WWII Vet Receives Accessible Van on 92nd Birthday

Sidney GermanskiSidney GermanskiAfter learning of a local Mamaroneck Veteran’s struggle with daily transportation, State Farm coordinated with Bussani Mobility Team to secure a van and worked with Star Body Collision to have it equipped to meet his needs. The 2007 Dodge Caravan is a wheelchair conversion with fold-out ramp and wheelchair tie-downs.

92-year old Sidney Germanski is legally blind, paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. He depends on his wife and the local Veteran’s Affairs office for his daily transportation needs. “It has been a daily struggle and hardship to get me where I need to be,” commented Mr. Germanski. “This new van will change my and my wife’s life significantly, and we are so grateful.”

Sidney GermanskiMonday’s vehicle donation ceremony happened to be Mr. Germanski’s birthday. “I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present,” he said.  Mr. Germanski plans to use the new vehicle to travel to the White House where he will be presented with a Medal of Honor for his military service. “One of the most important days of my life,” he said.

Photos courtesy of Risa Hoag.


Elegant Chrysler Pacific Coming Soon

car-driverA new mobility minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica, has officially been unveiled. The vehicle is so elegant that Car and Driver calls it “one of the best-looking van bodies ever plopped atop four wheels.” BraunAbility has designed conversions for people living with physical disabilities. Features vary somewhat, but here’s a look at what you can expect when you get behind the wheel.

The Pacifica offers power side-entry with in-floor ramp and interchangeable front seats. There is slightly more space than in its Town & Country counterpart. The interior styling is reminiscent of a Chrysler 300 sedan, and the luxurious two-tone leather and wood accents will make both driver and passengers feel pampered. In addition to style, the Pacifica boasts better handling and noise control.

The minivan also comes with great technology, with UConnect, a second-row entertainment system filled with games and perfect for long car rides. Chrysler is also working to make a hands-free door option not just for the rear tailgate, but for the sliding doors on either side available as well. Now caregivers and wheelchair users can operate the door/ramp/kneel system entirely by passing a foot (or footrest) beneath the frame of the van. And for anyone wanting to extend that new car look as long as possible, the Pacifica comes with a Stow n Vac, making quick clean-ups convenient and easy. A panoramic sunroof and rear park assist with stop technology are the cherries on top of the cake.

Bussani Mobility will start taking advance orders for the Chrysler Pacifica this month.