Purchasing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle?

Adjusting to life with a disability can be a difficult transition, especially when it comes to mobility. It’s not something many people plan for in their lives, so when it comes to transportation it can be an emotional and overwhelming journey.

There are many different types of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) that can be purchased depending on your needs, but before making any decision it’s really important that you do your research so that you know exactly what kind of accessible vehicle is right for you and your lifestyle!

To support you through the process, we’ve put together a guide below, covering all areas you will need to consider when looking for a WAV.

No Pressure Free Home Demonstrations

If you are looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, then it is important that you find the one that is going to meet your needs. The best way to do this is by taking a test drive in your local area with a mobility specialist.

All reputable WAV suppliers offer free home demonstrations at a time to suit you. Not only will this give you an opportunity to try out different models and ask questions about them, but it will also allow you time to get acquainted with the vehicle before committing to a purchase.

Top-Tip: When test driving we recommend using both slow and high-speed roads, to see how the vehicle responds, and don’t forget to make sure any personal carer or friend who drives on your behalf is also available.

In addition, there should not be any pressure from anyone else when deciding which model would be best for you, it’s completely personable. This means everything can be done on your own terms with no obligations attached – which means no surprises!

Think About Where You Would Like To Sit

When it comes to finding the right vehicle, there are plenty of things you’ll want to consider. Whether it’s a car or van, there are a number of different factors that could affect your decision.

  • For example, where would you like to sit?
  • What equipment do you need to transport?
  • How many seats will be required?
  • And how much boot space is available?

These questions aren’t just important when considering the practicalities of everyday driving; they’re also vital if you ever need to park somewhere less than accessible (such as in narrow parking spaces).

Top Tip: If you don’t know your wheelchair user’s dimensions, we recommend measuring them before you start looking at WAVs. This way, you won’t accidentally disqualify otherwise suitable vehicles before you’ve even tried them out. Measure the wheelchair user from the floor to the top of their head in their normal posture – this will help determine what vehicles will automatically be excluded as the entry height or internal height is simply not enough to accommodate them.

Don’t forget to take other measurements too, such as overall length and width which will help build a picture .

A Comfortable Ride Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible van or a minivan, comfort, and vision are two of the important factors to consider. You will want to ensure that the WAV can be driven safely, with ease and confidence. This means:

  • A wide turning radius so that it is easy to get in and out of parking spaces
  • Being able to see what is happening on both sides of the car easily, as well as behind you
  • Seated height with the lowered floor – You want to be able to comfortably see out.

It’s also important to gauge how you can communicate with the driver of the vehicle and other passengers around you, no one wants to feel isolated. Can you speak to the driver? Can you see out of the windows?

Don’t Forget: It’s also important to note the difference in prices; if your preference is to sit up front as a passenger this will cost more than a rear passenger WAV and may mean less additional seating. All of these options come with a different price tag so make sure you consider your budget too!

Everyday Use

Do you have a garage, a private drive, or street parking?

You might not realise how important it is to think about where you are going to park, store and load your WAV when you first purchase one. The last thing anyone wants to do is purchase a vehicle, only to realise it won’t fit where you need it, or that the surroundings won’t allow access through the doors of their vehicle.

The position of your WAV’s wheelchair lift or ramp can be a big factor in accessibility. Ultimately, you want to make sure that you are able to park your WAV in a place where the ramp will extend and lower, so you can use it quickly and easily. If your vehicle is too low, tall or wide in order to fit inside your garage or on a drive, then you may want to consider purchasing a ramp accessory so that you can load and unload from outside your home.


Dealers who specialise in WAV conversions should offer a 3 year warranty on a brand new vehicle conversion and at least 24 months on a used vehicle as standard.

All Motability customers receive a five-year warranty (to match your Contract Hire Agreement) so any repair caused by general wear or mechanical fault is covered*. On top of that, the Motability leasing package entitles you to a free annual safety check.* This includes all of the key conversion components on your vehicle. (Take a look at our new, Motability resource page where you can find more information on the scheme and how it works).

WAV Adaptations

The Ford Connect WAV rear shot of the ramp

There are several ways WAVs can be adapted to support disabled drivers and passengers, If you use a wheelchair, it is worth checking if the vehicle does come with such features as:

  • Electric Winch
  • Electric Step
  • Rear Heater
  • Rear Air Conditioning
  • Folding Wheelchair Stowage
  • Restraint Hooks

You might not need all of these features, but it’s great to know what is available and what could improve the comfort of your journey.

A New Or Approved Used WAV?

It’s up to you whether you purchase a new or second-hand WAV.

Many people choose to use the Motability scheme and trade in their regular car towards an approved WAV. If you are in receipt of the Higher Rate Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Enhanced Rate Personal Independence Payment (PIP) you can surrender the monthly payment to Motability in return for an adapted car or WAV.

If you decide to go down the Motability route you will need to make an upfront payment, also known as an Advance Payment, towards the cost of the vehicle. (Take a look at our Motability page for further information on how the scheme works).

Alternatively, many people prefer to own their vehicle outright using private funding or specialist WAV Finance. Prices vary across models, but you can expect to pay between £16-30k for a brand new WAV, so it’s worth exploring!

To find a great deal and be confident in your new vehicle, its important to do some research!

Look at the manufacturer’s website to see the range of vehicles available for you to choose from; request brochures about each model; ask for recommendations from friends and family, and visit events designed around accessible vehicles.

Don’t forget there are other resources out there, Motability is a government-funded resource that has an archive of supporting content to support you in your journey.

If you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), the team at GowringsVersa Mobility can help. We offer a range of new and approved used vehicles that are fully equipped with all of the features you need to ensure safe and comfortable travel. Our commitment to quality is second to none, so when you buy from us, you won’t just get a wheelchair accessible car – it will be built by experts who know exactly what they’re doing!


No Obligation Demonstration

For a free, no obligation demonstration of one of our range of wheelchair accessible vehicles, please contact our team.


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