Hit the Road With These Wheelchair Accessible Rental Vehicle Tips

Whether you’re rolling through life in a wheelchair permanently or just use one from time to time, you don’t want to be stuck at home because you can’t get your chair into an automobile. When the travel-mood hits, take advantage of the following tips for getting a wheelchair accessible rental van.

Schedule in Advance

Some rental agencies require at least three business days of advance notice to get a car with the accommodations you’re looking for. These adaptive driving features may include hand controls, spinner knobs, pedal extenders, and left foot accelerators. The services are pretty good, but they do tend to come with a waiting period (sometimes just long enough for the agency to move the vehicle to your location). If you haven’t given yourself a few days, it’s still worth calling around. Some agencies may have a car ready within several hours.

Ask About Specific Accessibility Features

Do you need a ramp for your chair? Are you looking for hand-operated accelerators and brakes? How many passengers do you need features for? A rental agency may assume they have what you need, so make sure you are clear on the subject. You want to be sure you end up with a vehicle that is comfortable for the driver and all passengers.

While you’re discussing those features, ask for important details. For example, if a vehicle has a lower floor for wheelchairs, it may also have a lowered suspension. If you plan to do any off-roading, this could be a problem. You’ll be glad for all the tips you can get before your journey, so you can avoid paying for damages that result from rough-riding.

Check the Ramp, Lift, and Restraint Systems

While you’re giving the car a once-over, playing with smartphone integration and moving seats back and forth, don’t forget to operate the ramp and/or lift. Make sure you know how they work and that they are appropriate for your situation. Go through the same steps for passengers who plan to use the restraint systems during your travels.

Don’t Neglect the Basics

No matter who you are or what makes you unique, there are some details you should always take into consideration when renting a car. The best rental cars are those that are comfortable during your entire ride. Make sure you like the seats. Run the heater or air conditioning. Open and close all of the windows; lock and unlock the doors, etc.

Don’t forget to ask about fuel efficiency and the history of the vehicle. You’ll be refilling the gas tank every time it empties, so make sure you can afford to get yourself home! If the vehicle has been in an accident, find out what the damages were and ask about the repairs and replacement parts. Protect yourself from becoming liable for any damages that happened before your adventure.

Of course, you should consider storage space. What will you and your passengers take along with you during your travels? Will everything fit into the trunk? Can you safely stow items between seats? As you consider the size of the vehicle you reserve, keep each passenger’s packing habits in mind.

The right rental vehicle can enhance your enjoyment of just about any journey. Run through these tips to be sure you’re satisfied with the automobile you’ve chosen to carry you from one adventure spot to the next.





  • Teresa Plenge says:

    Cory this is a fabulous checklist. I can’t think of a thing you left out. I do some solo travel by flying to certain destinations then renting an accessible van. I used a van rental company that you also used and liked. I am not putting their name here because some may see this as a negative, although I did not see it that way. I considered it great service. While I had checked the things you mentioned when I first picked up the van, that van later got a flat tire due to vandalism in a shopping center. Within 20 minutes from calling the rental company they were there with a completely different van. In my haste I forgot to do the checklist. Lucky for me the owner/employee was still there when I discovered that there was a problem with both the passenger and driver seat belt restraint systems. While we were not able to complete “fix” the problem we worked out a satisfactory solution. They of course encouraged me to bring that van in for a replacement the next day (it was after 6 and this man helped me on his way home). I was fine with the solution and kept this van until the end of my trip. I would hate to think what would have happened if I was late in discovering this problem. I will always remember your checklist.

  • Mary Snow says:

    Thanks for sharing buddy,

    Keep inspiring and keep shining the light.


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