Imported and Second Hand Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Yay or Nay?

second hand accessible vehicles being sold

We explore the pros and cons of buying imported or second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Buying and modifying a wheelchair accessible vehicle is a costly exercise. If you’re looking at imported and/or second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles to reduce your financial outlay, it’s worth doing thorough research before you buy.

Buying an imported wheelchair accessible vehicle

In most cases, a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) is a vehicle that’s been structurally modified. But nowadays you can also buy imported ready-made wheelchair accessible vehicles. These are vehicles that have been fully designed and manufactured to be accessible, not standard cars that have undergone conversion later.

Imported wheelchair accessible vehicles, often from Japan, are generally better priced than locally converted vehicles. This is because you’re paying for a ready-made vehicle rather than outlaying for a base vehicle then adding on your conversions as separate costs.

Of course, even if you buy an imported vehicle you may still need further modifications to meet your specific needs. These costs should be factored into your decision. Along with the upsides, there are other possible downsides too…

woman hires wheelchair accessible vehicle rental in Australia
Top 2 points to be aware of when buying an imported WAV

You’ll need to gather a range of information while researching your potential imported disability converted vehicle. Two key factors to tick off your checklist are:

1 Make sure all disability conversions comply with Australian Standards and get a certificate to verify your car’s compliance
2 Ensure the importer is experienced with WAVs so they can advise and guide you properly

Most wheelchair accessible vehicles are imported into Australia under the Specialist and Enthusiast Vehicle Scheme (SEVS). This scheme covers car clubs and sports cars as well as wheelchair accessible vehicles.

This means that you and your importer must make sure that disability-specific safety requirements are met. For example, wheelchair restraints must be classified as safe to transport humans, not just cargo.

women in wheelchair exits disability converted vehicle

Australian Standards and design rules

If you’re interested in buying an imported car, both the car and its modifications must be fully compliant with all Australian Standards. Otherwise, you may not be able to register or drive it.

To ensure your imported vehicle meets all Australian Standards, choose a vehicle importer that’s a Registered Automotive Workshop (RAW) under the Registered Automotive Workshop Scheme (RAWS). Also make sure your importer has experience working with wheelchair accessible vehicles.

An importer listed with RAWS can ensure your imported vehicle meets Australian Design Rules’ (ADRs) compliance and safety procedures. They could issue a certificate stating your car’s ADR compliance.

You and your importer should also work closely with your OT to get the best vehicle for your needs. Read about getting an occupational therapist functional assessment as a first step.

Disability Converted Vehicle Hire

Pros and cons of second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles

Second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles are another way to reduce the costs associated with buying a  disability converted car.

However, the vehicle will have been set up to meet the previous user’s needs so you’ll need to carefully check it also meets all your personal requirements. This is especially difficult if you’re buying from overseas, giving you no avenue to test drive before buying.

When checking  in person whether its modifications suit your unique needs, the best person to assist you with this is an occupational therapist (OT). Second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles could very well need further modifications to tailor them to you. You and your occupational therapist should discuss options with a vehicle converter and take into account any additional costs.

Second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles may not last as long as new vehicles either, and you’ll need to weigh up the value you’ll get for the savings you’ll make. Factors like age and mileage of the base vehicle can affect the longevity of the car. Be sure to check these with your OT.

And be sure to ask for a logbook so you can check how well it’s been maintained.

Certification for second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles

As with any second hand vehicle, you need to obtain a roadworthy certificate before you buy. Also make sure previous modifications are properly installed and meet Australian Standards. All modifications should be assessed by a vehicle certifier registered in your state or territory. You should be issued with a certificate of compliance as well as engineering certification.

Without these certificates you may not be able to legally register your vehicle for road use.

Insurance for second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles

New and second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles are both big investments that need to be well protected. The lengthy process of getting your WAV suited to your needs is another reason why you won’t want to be without it for any length of time. Luckily you can get specialist disability car insurance for converted cars and wavs with Blue Badge Insurance.

Your plan covers vehicle repair and replacement if your car is damaged or stolen. It also covers your listed assistive technology that you travel with. Contact us today to find out about getting up to 25% discounted disability car insurance as a disability parking permit holder.

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