Category Archives: Wheelchair Accessible Van

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

Recovery. Middle aged male military in a wheelchair looking at camera with a smile, during therapy session. Disabled soldier suffering from depression, psychological trauma. PTSD concept

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.

Best Wheelchair Accessible Vans for 2020

For someone living with a physical disability, a wheelchair accessible van can get you well on your way to mobility and independence. But there are many factors to consider when shopping for a wheelchair van, such as features, pricing, driving aids, maintenance, and warranties that can make the process seem overwhelming, especially for a first-time buyer. 
So, let us help. We’ve been doing this for over 40 years, and we know a good accessible vehicle when we see one. The following are the three best wheelchair vans currently on the market. 

  1. Toyota Sienna Side-Entry with Fold-Out & In-Floor Ramp

This is a top-of-the-line wheelchair accessible minivan. It is reliable and versatile with a ramp style to accommodate all preferences. Spacious and sporty, it offers plenty of flexibility and ease of use. With the option of a power fold-out or in-floor ramp, users get less dirt and debris in the interior, and both have optimal maneuverability for larger power chairs. For those who prefer a rear ramp entry, Toyota offers a manual version.
Toyota is a recognized brand in the industry because of the quality vans they produce, and the Toyota Sienna is a great personal transportation solution for many people who use wheelchairs.
 

  1. Honda Odyssey Side-Entry with In-Floor Ramp

The Honda Odyssey is an accessible vehicle that’s stylish and sporty. Honda is a global brand that appeals to its loyal customers, and the Honda Odyssey is the total package with style, space, and function. This van is a favorite because of its performance and clean lines. The all new in-floor ramp system is neat, clean, and out of sight when not in use. 
 

  1. Chrysler Pacifica Side-Entry with Fold-Out & In-Floor Ramp

This wheelchair van offers a best-in-class, extra-wide doorway and ramp, paired with exceptional interior space to accommodate people who use wheelchairs that need extra space or who have larger families. It has superior technological advancements, and its ramp options allow users to access every inch of space. Not only does the Chrysler Pacifica offer two side-entry ramp options, but it also offers two floor height options to accommodate the proper door clearance and line of sight for the wheelchair occupant. In addition, for those who prefer a rear ramp entry, Chrysler offers a manual version.
A reliable wheelchair accessible vehicle can make it easier for anyone using a wheelchair (and their families or caretakers) to stay mobile, and have a greater sense of freedom and well-being. Always consult a mobility expert, and test drive or rent the van you’re considering, to see if it’s right for you before making a purchase. Contact Bussani Mobility or stop in at any of our three New York locations to discuss your driving needs, and we’ll help you find the vehicle that’s just right for you.

What to Know About Trading in a Wheelchair Van

imageYou may be considering trading in your wheelchair van for any one of several reasons. Is it getting older and you’re ready for an upgrade? Is your family growing and you need a bigger vehicle? Did your physical needs change and a new vehicle will fit your needs better? Or do you just have your eye on the latest-and-greatest stylish or functional model?
These are all common reasons that individuals decide to trade in their accessible vehicles. But when it comes time to actually making the switch, is it better to make the trade at a dealership or sell the vehicle yourself? Below we discuss a few of the best benefits to trading in your mobility or non-converted vehicle at a certified dealer.
 

  1. Trading in a vehicle gives you tax savings. For instance, if there’s an 8% sales tax on a $50,000 vehicle, which you trade in for $20,000, you now pay that 8% sales tax on just $30,000. That’s savings in your pockets that you can’t get when you sell your vehicle yourself.
  2. It’s easier than selling your own van. You don’t have to worry about coordinating times for potential buyers to look at your vehicle. Also, if you’re selling a converted mobility van, the selling difficulty goes up. And then there’s a safety issue. Do you really want strangers going to your home to look at the vehicle?
  3. Be careful of getting a quote solely over the phone. We often hear from people who called a company and were told they could trade in for $20,000. But when they got there, everything changed. It’s important to take your vehicle into a knowledgeable mobility dealer. We put it up on the vehicle lift, identify any potential problems, and then make an appropriate trade-in offer.
  4. You get the latest-and-greatest. Mobility vehicle manufacturers have teams of engineers working on new and better ways to make driving easier for people living with disabilities. When you trade in, you get a vehicle with the most up-to-date advancements and conveniences.
  5. Trade in early. As a vehicle gets older, its value drops. Try to time it so that you trade in your vehicle early enough that it still has good value and you can cash in on the equity it has. The sweet spot is usually 3-5 years old. Once the vehicle hits the 7-year mark, it loses a lot of value. If you’re thinking of trading in, remember that the auto shop at Bussani Mobility is always looking for used vehicles in good shape that we can put into our inventory for people who don’t have the financial means to buy a new wheelchair accessible van.

 
The most common reason that people trade in their mobility van — instead of selling it themselves — is to use it as a downpayment on a new van.
First, we try to align on the value and eligibility of the vehicle for purchase. We evaluate the vehicle well prior to the transaction, so there are no surprises for anyone at the last minute. And if you’re looking for a new vehicle, it’s important to note that Bussani Mobility refurbishes all vans to a roadworthy, warrantable condition so our clients can always drive worry-free.
Some customers like to have a vehicle service contract, to give them the greatest peace of mind.
If you have any questions or concerns about the wheelchair van trade-in process, give us a call or stop by Bussani Mobility on Long Island or in Westchester.

What You Need to Know About Converting Your Van to an Accessible Vehicle

Bussanimobility_custom transfer seat

Living with a physical disability adds extra challenges to everyday life. And one of the biggest is transportation. How will you get from place to place, especially if you or someone you love uses a wheelchair or scooter?

If you already own a full-size van or a minivan, there’s a good chance that it can be converted to be wheelchair accessible. Ramps, lifts, transfer seats, and specialized driving equipment can be added so that the person using the wheelchair can drive or their caregiver can easily transport them. Here are some important things to keep in mind about wheelchair van conversions.

What kinds of vehicles can be converted?

Minivans like the Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, and Chrysler Pacifica can be converted. Full-size vans ─ including the Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, and RAM ProMaster ─ can also be made wheelchair accessible.

The first question is what year, make and model vehicle do you want to convert? There are some limitations on body styles, when manufacturers made changes to certain model years, and they can’t be converted.

Are there certain vehicles that can’t be converted?

If it’s an all-wheel or four-wheel drive, it can’t be converted. Another thing to keep in mind is mileage; there’s a mileage cap of 50,000. And, you have to consider if the vehicle has been in any accidents. A fender bender with $2,000 in damage is ok, but something with $9,000 in damage is probably not. We would have to inspect the vehicle carefully and check the VIN with the mobility conversion manufacturer. Be sure to consult your local mobility dealer about specific models and restrictions.

What types of equipment are installed so the person with a physical disability can use it?

If the person being transported uses a wheelchair, an accessible van is equipped with a power door, power or manual ramp, and power kneel feature that lowers the van for easy entry. They can sit in the front passenger side or in a mid-way position, and the chair is secured with tie-downs. Transfer seats can also be used to easily move a person from their wheelchair, or move someone using a walker, into the passenger seat.

Will the person using the wheelchair be able to drive the vehicle?
If the person using the wheelchair is the driver, they have the option of operating the vehicle from their wheelchair or the factory seat, using a custom transfer seat. If using the wheelchair, a power lockdown is fitted to locate the correct and most comfortable position. Driving equipment ─ like foot controls, hand controls, and electronic digital driving systems ─ are chosen and customized as needed, depending on their abilities.

The same van can be driven by either the person using a wheelchair or their caregivers. For instance, mechanical hand controls can be accessed by one person to operate the vehicle but the other can also drive it in the usual way.

How much will it cost?

The MSRP for a fully powered conversion is typically in the mid-$20,000 to $30,000. However, commercial conversions (vehicles used as accessible taxis) can be adapted for personal use more in the $14,000-$18,000 range.

As far as customization goes, it’s a broad spectrum. For instance, a simple spinner knob might run you $125, but a voice command and joy stick steering console can be $50,000-$60,000. That’s why it’s so important to talk to a mobility dealer.

Something else to keep in mind: You can finance the vehicle and conversion in one loan if you purchase the entire package. If not, you will have two loans, and the conversion loan will be at a higher rate because it is unsecured. Our mobility specialists will help you with all the details.

How long will it take?

It’s generally a two-month process to ship and convert a vehicle. The other option is to purchase a vehicle that has already been made ready for wheelchair use. In that case, buying from the Bussani Mobility inventory of new or pre-owned accessible vehicles, it could be a little as two weeks until you’re in the driver’s seat.

Can any auto shop do this for me?

No. We strongly recommend that you only go in person (not online) to an authorized mobility dealer that has certified technicians who are fully trained to work with mobility equipment. Your safety is the most important consideration.

Our best advice is for you to head over to your local mobility dealer. At Bussani Mobility, you can look at and test out the vehicles and the driving equipment, and get the honest advice of people who know this technology inside and out. We’re happy to put our 40-plus years of experience to work for you, to make sure you get just what you need to get you mobile and enjoy your independence.

Minivan or Full-Size Wheelchair Van: Which is Best?

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van
Making the decision between purchasing a minivan or a full-sized van to meet your need for wheelchair accessible transportation comes down to a matter of personal choice. Each type of vehicle comes with its own benefits, but the decision ultimately should be based on your specific needs and wants. We’ve compiled a list of what each has to offer, to help make your decision easier.
Minivans
Minivans are the most popular accessible vehicle option. They have an impeccable safety record that is hard to beat. Additionally, they have achieved a perfect NHTSA crash test record. Aside from the safety features they offer, minivans are also cost-efficient and get good gas mileage, which further increases your potential savings.
Although minivans are safe and more affordable, they do have one drawback. They have a smaller interior than a full-sized van, and so there is less space to move around inside and to store items. But remember that even minivan conversions these days have enough space for power wheelchairs.
Full-Sized Vans
Full-sized vans offer the space necessary to transport passengers with any type of wheelchair and still have plenty of extra space for ambulatory passengers. There is also ample room for wheelchair storage, accessories, luggage, and more.
Another big advantage of a full-sized van is that they can hold double post lifts, which are capable of lifting the largest, heaviest wheelchairs on the market.
Also, full-sized vans have an extra six inches of headroom inside, allowing for optimal comfort.
Some people can feel intimidated by driving a full-sized van because it is significantly larger than a minivan, and they may have a harder time maneuvering into small spaces. But, with a little practice, you get used to handling the vehicle.
Either type of wheelchair van is going to provide you with the freedom to be independent. At Bussani Mobility, we have a wide selection of both minivans and full-sized vans, and even SUVs, so that you can find the right one for your needs. We hope you’ll stop by any of our three locations to talk with one of our mobility specialists or check out our vehicles online.

What You Need to Know About Learning How to Drive with a Physical Disability

wheelchair accessible van
If you were recently injured and you’re wanting to increase your independence and mobility by driving a wheelchair accessible van, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to tell you that, like many who came before you, you can do it!
Special adaptive modifications and driver rehabilitation sessions are available, making it possible for many people living with a physical disability to get back on the road. Here’s what you need to know to start down your new path to freedom.
Pass the Driving Assessment
You may be required to complete a course of driver training with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) and pass a driving assessment to determine that you are able to safely drive. You can expect the CDRS to perform a clinical evaluation of your physical functioning, including a visual, perceptual, and cognitive screening. They will also assess your wheelchair and seating. Depending on your performance in the assessment, a prescription for vehicle modifications may be written. You can also expect an assessment evaluating the current fitting and operation of the best accessible vehicle for you.
Get a Modified Vehicle
An accessible vehicle is modified to accommodate the special needs of the individual who will drive it. All adjustments made to the vehicle must be in compliance with all federal and environmental laws. Additionally, all modifications should be made by an authorized dealer, such as Bussani Mobility. These modifications include hand controls or foot controls, ramps, lifts, carriers for wheelchairs or scooters, and any other features that are necessary for the vehicle to be operated safely. We work hand-in-hand with your driver rehabilitation specialist to make sure you get exactly what you need.
Where  to Start
Do you have questions about mobility vehicles and what it will take for you to drive again? Call us or stop by any of our Bussani Mobility locations on Long Island or in Westchester to talk with a mobility specialist. We’re here to help you through the entire process, and get you back on the road.

How to Find Funding for a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

New York BraunAbility MXV SUV
Anyone who has purchased or has considered purchasing a wheelchair accessible vehicle knows they can cost more than a standard vehicle. Whether you’re looking for a New York BraunAbility MXV SUV or a wheelchair van, it’s important to know what financing options are available to you. Here we’ll discuss five financing options to help you get mobile.
OEM Rebate Programs
Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs, will often offer rebate assistance to entice buyers to make a purchase. Looking for rebates from the manufacturer is a good resource, especially if you’re looking for ways to cut costs on your new mobility vehicle. Some rebates can be as much as $1,000. These rebates can provide shoppers with the economic boost necessary to get back on the road.
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, and many more.
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.
Veterans Administration
Veterans and other qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces may be eligible for assistance with purchasing an adaptive vehicle or adaptive equipment through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Special Financing
Additionally, dealerships offer competitive rates and financing options for New York BraunAbilty MXV or mobility van purchases. These options often make purchasing a vehicle more affordable and will likely be a faster process that finding funding through an organization.
At Bussani Mobility, we want to help you get mobile quickly and at an affordable price. We have financing options available, or can help you find the resources you need to get financial assistance from a third-party organization. Call or stop by and we’ll help you sort it all out.
 

An Introduction to Wheelchair Van Ramps

wheelchair van ny
When looking for the right ramp for your wheelchair van NY, there are a few types to choose from—side-entry, rear-entry, or manual-entry. Each style has their own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should take into consideration before making a final selection. Read on to learn about each.
Side-Entry Wheelchair Ramps
As the name implies, side-entry ramps are positioned on the side of the vehicle, allowing passengers to safely enter and exit the vehicle from the side. Side-entry ramps make it easy to maneuver inside the vehicle while saving valuable cargo or passenger space in the rear of the vehicle. Side-entry ramps allow individuals to sit in the front seat as either the passenger or the driver.
Rear-Entry Wheelchair Ramps
The biggest advantage of having a rear-entry ramp is the ability to park just about anywhere, without requiring extra space for getting in and out of your vehicle. Because most mobility vehicles are slightly elevated, rear-entry vehicles offer plenty of ground clearance. Additionally, for those on a budget, a rear-entry ramp is generally less expensive to convert than other ramp styles.
Manual-Entry Wheelchair Ramps
Manual-entry wheelchair ramps are not as popular as the side or rear-entry ramps, but they are still a great option. As the name implies, manual-entry ramps are not automated. Although, they are generally less expensive and easier to maintain than other types of ramps. Manual-entry ramps are ideal for individuals who always travel with a companion, as they require assistance to raise and lower.
Knowing your options and doing your research when searching for a wheelchair van NY, or if you are looking to convert your vehicle,  will help you make the best choice for your circumstances and budget. At Bussani Mobility, we have a wide selection of vehicles with different ramps and conversion kits that allow you to find the right vehicle to accommodate your needs.

3 Things You Should Know About Mobility Van Rentals

mobility van
There are so many reasons why you might want to rent a mobility van. Maybe you’re dreaming about heading out for a road-trip type of vacation (you know, see America!)…or your mobility vehicle is being repaired…or you’re in the market for a new accessible vehicle but you aren’t yet sure which one is right for you so you want to try-before-you-buy. Whatever the reason, here are a few things to consider before renting.
Full-Sized Vans and Minivans
The most common mobility rental is the minivan. Wheelchair vans with a lowered floor conversion include an automatic or manual wheelchair ramp, along with other features to assist you with your mobility challenges.

Another popular option is a full-sized van, which is especially good for those traveling with families, large groups of people, or medical equipment and additional cargo.
Rentals Can Be Delivered
You bet, front-door delivery and pick-up service is available for your rented wheelchair accessible vehicle. Some dealers will even deliver to airports. Ask for what you need.
Try It Out Before You Buy It
Before you purchase an accessible vehicle, you want to know that the vehicle is going to work for your day-to-day needs. Renting is a good way to get more intimately familiar with which ramp styles, vehicle types, driving controls, and door height will work best for your specific needs. This works especially well if the caretaker is doing the driving. But, some of the rental vehicles are also fitted with hand controls, so the person living with the disability can also do the driving.
Book Ahead
Rental inventories for mobility vans can book up fast, particularly during the summer and winter holiday seasons. So, plan and book ahead of time, whenever possible. Also, keep in mind that you may be able to get a special, discounted rate if you book during the week instead of on weekends.
If you’re ready to rent, Bussani Mobility can help. We’re a top mobility dealer in New York, and we’ve been selling, servicing and renting mobility vehicles for over 40 years. We’ll help you find the right van for your needs. If you want to know more, you can watch a video here: https://bussanimobility.com/wheelchair-van-rentals/.
 

10 Things to Know About Purchasing an Accessible Vehicle: Part 2

mobility van in new york
When purchasing an accessible vehicle, there are many decisions and accommodations to be made to ensure that the vehicle will meet your specific needs. In part 1 of this blog, we talked about how to find a reputable dealer and how to get the conversation started. Continuing on from that article, here are 5 more things to keep in mind when shopping for a mobility van in New York:
6) Getting the Right Fit
There are a variety of vehicle sizes and types to choose from. You will want to consider: whether the person using the wheelchair will be driving or be a passenger,  the dimensions of the wheelchair, garage/parking space available, size of your family, and your personal style. For those who need more room, a full-size van might work better than a minivan. If styling is your top priority, consider an SUV.
7) Rear-Entry vs. Side-Entry
Mobility vehicles are available with either a rear-entry or side-entry modification. Depending on your parking situation (home driveway, city street, parking garage), one may be more practical and safer than the other. Additionally, where you prefer to sit will determine what type of entry will work best.
8) Modified Vehicle vs. Having a Vehicle Modified
Purchasing a vehicle that has already been modified has its advantages — being able to see the finished product and not having to wait for your vehicle to be modified — and it is the most common way to buy an accessible vehicle. On the other hand, when a vehicle meets the age and mileage requirements, it can be sent to the factory for basic modifications to be made. If you need further customization, your local dealer will take care of that for you.
9) Warranty Included
Mobility dealerships that have been around for a while and have earned a reputation for being customer-friendly will often offer a warranty that you can depend on. For most, that is a three-year/30,000-mile warranty. Some BraunAbility vehicles come with an extended warranty on certified pre-owned vehicles that include a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty.
10) Take Your Time
Don’t be tempted to rush into purchasing the first mobility vehicle you find. Take your time. Sure, do some research online first, but then go to your local dealer to talk to a mobility specialist in person and find the vehicle that is just right for your needs, and that you will enjoy for years to come.
At Bussani Mobility, we can help you get mobile and keep you safe out there on the road. If you are looking for a new or used mobility vehicle in New York, check out our wide selection. We also have a full-service auto shop to assist with all of your vehicle’s maintenance throughout every season.