Category Archives: Wheelchair Accessible Van

Service Tips for Accessible Vehicles

Did you know there are specific things you need to do to keep your accessible vehicle running smoothly? What are they and how often should you do them?

We have all the answers, and we’ll take you a tour of Bussani Mobility’s auto shop to learn why regular maintenance is so important. It ensures trouble-free conversion operation of an accessible vehicle, and it can increase the life of the vehicle. We look closely at mobility ramps and doors…talk about electrical and cooling systems…tell you what happens during a multi-point inspection…and talk about warranties and extended warranties, as well as our 24-hour emergency service program.

At Bussani Mobility, we have more staff working in our service department than on our sales team. That’s how important our commitment is to safely maintaining your accessible vehicle. To find out more about servicing your vehicle or to make a service appointment, call 833-998-2172 or visit https://www.bussanimobility.com/car-s….


Take a Virtual Tour of the New Chevy Traverse Accessible SUV!

The long-awaited new Chevrolet Traverse Accessible SUV is here! It’s converted with the BraunAbility Power In-Floor ramp and has tons of space. The two front seats can be removed for those who want to get behind the wheel of this awesome new truck. The tow package will handle up to 3500 pounds.

There’s a lot more to see. Check out the video.

And see it in person at any of Bussani Mobility’s three locations (Bethpage and Smithtown on Long Island, and Mamaroneck in Westchester).


Press On & Savor Life … Inspiration From a Vietnam Veteran

You know how some people always have an encouraging word? And they stay upbeat no matter what happens? Well, if you ever need some inspiration, Dario Diaz (a disabled Navy veteran with an E-4 rank) is the guy to talk to. Here’s his story …

After serving in Vietnam, Diaz returned home and started a plumbing business with his dad in the mid-1970s. Life hummed along for quite a few years, and then in 2001, he was in a car accident. A few weeks later, he started to feel a twitch in his leg, and it turned out that the accident had stretched his spinal cord. A private doctor diagnosed him with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a condition that weakens the nervous system and impacts physical function. He decided to go to the VA (Veterans Affairs) for a second opinion, and the doctor there concurred, marking the diagnosis as “service connected,” which means they attribute the injury to the fact that he was in the military.

Diaz’ condition worsened over the years. Today, he can’t stand without holding onto something, and he uses a scooter to get around.

He was first introduced to the world of accessible vans when he bought one from Bussani Mobility nearly 10 years ago for his mom, who had MS. Eventually, he needed the vehicle for himself as well.

Accessible Van Means Everything
Now, Diaz drives a converted accessible 2017 Toyota Sienna, paid for by the VA. The van has a six-way seat that allows him to easily transfer in and drive from the original seat. And as he says, the vehicle has “a lot of goodies in it.”

Always active in his life, Diaz used to race motorcycles, ride horses, and the like. These days, he goes out with his buddies from the military, most of whom are in their sixties and still going strong.

“If I didn’t have this van, I’d be in trouble,” said Diaz. “My buddies would pick me up and drive me around, but I prefer to do things on my own, like I do and have always done. This van is equivalent to my being able to walk and jump up and down. It means everything to me.”

He went on to explain that, even for a veteran who can’t drive, having an accessible van is so important. It allows their family to get them out of the house, take them to a movie, or out to eat.

And for those family members who may be in their last days, “you want to shower them with as much joy and opportunity as you can,” he said.

Have a Purpose in Life … And See the Good in People
Not only has Diaz found a way to deal with his physical disability, but he has used the happenings in his life to grow personally and find his purpose. Namely, he offers a powerful Christian ministry specifically for men.

About his personal inspiration to start the ministry, he says: “Jesus was a fisherman of men. And I have a ‘heart for men.’ I have an interest to talk to men about the problems all men face. I conquered a lot of things that I used to do, in a Biblical and loving way, so I can talk to men and break through to them. In order to do that, I need my van and my scooter to get me around.

“I’m happier now than when I was moving around before having a disability. And I have a testimony. Everything hinges on the fact that I do have a disability. Thank God that ALS didn’t affect my cognitive ability.”

Diaz described how he approaches the everyday: “I savor life. I savor people, more than before. I go birdwatching with my wife. And I savor all the good that God created. And I don’t judge. If you’re an alcoholic, I love you. You’re being yourself. I’ll say things to encourage you, but I focus on the good. My son says, “My dad always sees the good in people.’”

He had his faith before serving in the military and experiencing that car accident, but he proclaims that he has much more faith now.

Press On
When asked one thing that he most wants to share with others who are living with a disability, Diaz said: “Press on. There are so many things available to help, like a grip bar in a handicapped bathroom or a chair that takes you up the stairs. And if you have a family member that becomes disabled — like grandpa starts falling and needs a scooter — you do the research for them. And press on.”

Sounds like good advice for all of us these days. Thank you, Dario, for being a shining example of all that’s good. Let’s all press on, whatever that may mean in our individual lives.

To find out more about Dario’s Christian ministry for men, contact him directly at dario457@gmail.com.


5 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Wheelchair Van

Most of our blogs focus on helping you get the most from your wheelchair accessible van. This time, we’re tackling the subject from a slightly different angle. We had a chat with Dan Walsh, co-owner at Bussani Mobility, who has spent two decades helping our customers with their mobility needs through our Service Department. He told us the five worst mistakes you can make with your mobility vehicle. Here’s his advice and what to avoid, in his own words…

1) Lending Your Van
I’ve seen many people use their wheelchair accessible vehicle as a moving van, resulting in damage being done to the lift or ramp. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least five different rental companies that provide vans for moving, just off the top of my head. Your vehicle is way too important to be used this way.

2) Not Securing Wheelchair Properly
It’s essential to have a securement system properly set up for your wheelchair in your van. If you don’t do this, you risk your own safety and that of others with you in your vehicle and on the road that you share.

3) Not Insuring Your Investment
Now that you’ve purchased your wheelchair van, don’t you want to protect it? Your mobility dealer should have connections with reliable insurance brokers to help you with this, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your vehicle is properly insured. We recommend having a copy of your bill of sale sent to your insurance company (and request a certified receipt).

4) Accident Damage Not Reported to Mobility Dealer
I tell all of our customers, “If you have an accident, CALL ME FIRST!” Because I know what should and, most importantly, what shouldn’t be repaired after a collision. Bussani Mobility is a NMEDA/QAP-certified dealer, and we offer 24-hour service for both mobility emergencies as well as any unfortunate accidents that sometimes occur. I’ve personally spent hours undoing what an uneducated appraiser has offered as payment on a van because they didn’t know the true value or the protocol for repairs.

5) Letting the Dirt Build Up
Simple as it may seem, if you don’t keep your wheelchair accessible vehicle clean, debris can build up in the door tracks, lift barriers, and motors. This is the cause of a major part of the repairs we handle for our customers. It’s easy to fix – just keep it clean.

Everyone at Bussani Mobility is standing by, ready to assist you whenever you need or want help. Contact us or stop by one of our locations for answers to all of your mobility questions. You can also easily schedule a service appointment online.


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.


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. 

Toyota

  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.

Honda

  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.

Chrysler

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

Trading in Your VehicleYou 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?

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

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