Pros and Cons of Owning an Accessible Van

I feel as though having a disability is a constant balancing act of freedom and cost.

My van is my ticket to freedom

Owning an accessible van can be a ticket to freedom for many with mobility challenges like spinal muscular atrophy, or for someone like myself who uses a 300+ pound electric wheelchair that unfortunately doesn’t fold up and fit in an Uber very easily. Accessible vehicles offer a level of independence that’s hard to match. The ability to travel at your leisure without relying on public transportation is a significant benefit. However, this freedom comes at a steep price, both in terms of initial investment and ongoing costs.

Let's start with the pros. Accessible vans are often equipped with features like ramps or lifts, which can accommodate wheelchairs or scooters or, like in my case, enough room for 3 wheelchairs! Side entry vans, which I personally prefer, allow for direct access to the driver or passenger seat, making them highly convenient. In a busy city environment, where parking is at a premium, the side entry van has been a game-changer for me, offering the ability to get in and out of the vehicle with greater ease compared to rear entry models.

However, side-entry vans are not without their challenges. Finding an appropriately sized and marked parking space that hasn’t been taken over by someone “just dropping someone off” isn’t always easy. Yet, despite these frustrations, the ability to find a spot that works for a side-entry van more frequently seems to outweigh the rear-entry vans.

Astronomical purchase and maintenance costs

The cons, on the other hand, are substantial, extremely high costs. The financial barrier to owning an accessible van is a heavy one. The purchase price, even for a used vehicle, can be outrageous due to the specialized equipment and modifications required. And let’s talk about maintenance. Just this week, I took my van in for repairs, and the cost was one that we needed to save months for, to say the least.

Due to the mechanics needing specialized knowledge to handle the intricate systems, I also am not able to take my accessible vehicle to just any mechanic. We drove over an hour away to fix our ramp. If anything electronic goes wrong in our vehicle, we have to take it over four hours away.

In more times than not the repairs can take weeks. This time in particular, I was without my vehicle for four weeks, an extreme inconvenience to my independence and routine.

Lack of independence during repairs

The maintenance of an accessible van is not just about the financial burden. It’s also about the downtime when your vehicle to literal independence is at the mercy of “parts arriving” The value of an accessible van is not just in the metal and mechanics, it’s in the freedom it provides.

The world of owning your own accessible vehicle is filled with contrasts. The liberty they offer is equivalent to an able-bodied person, not having a vehicle. What would they do? However that freedom is costly. The initial purchase, the steep maintenance fees, and the ongoing struggle for proper parking can dampen the joy of ownership.

In my experience, despite the drawbacks, the pros do outweigh the cons. I have been blessed with owning a few different accessible vehicles in my life and I couldn’t imagine life without it

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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