Getting a WAV
It is important to think carefully about what you need from a WAV and to do your research to find out what is available. The right vehicle can help you be more independent, but the wrong WAV could be worse than useless.
You can get information from the organisations listed here. The converters will also be able to tell you what features are available in their product range. It's a good idea to speak to more than one and ask them to show you suitable vehicles.
You can buy a new WAV directly from a converter (see our Mobility address list). Usually this will involve several stages including one or more demonstrations, an assessment, conversion and the fitting of adaptations. Of course you should be prepared for this to take some time.
Some converters, and some other suppliers, sell secondhand WAVs. You can also get secondhand WAVs from the sources listed here. This will be cheaper and you will not have to wait for the vehicle to be converted, but you may not be able to find one that meets your needs straight away.
There are also companies that offer a rental service (here). You can get a WAV on a short or a long term rental agreement. This may suit you if you are only going to be using a wheelchair temporarily, or you need a vehicle to cover while another WAV is being serviced. If you have very specialised needs it is unlikely that you will be able to hire a suitable vehicle.
You must try out any WAV you are thinking about buying - it's also a good idea to try more than one, from more than one converter. Converters expect this, and they will be happy to bring a vehicle to your home for a demonstration. You are under no obligation to buy.
It will take some time for you to try it out properly. You need to try everything you will need to be able to do yourself, and also get anyone that will regularly use the vehicle to do likewise. Take your time to try it out properly and make sure you will be comfortable. Think of places where you will be going often, and try a trip there.
Sales staff will be happy to let you try out anything you need to, and will provide you with any additional information you ask for.
Some demonstrators are very helpful, and like to do things for you, but it's important that you understand how everything works and know you can do it. Insist that they let you operate the ramp, tie-downs and restraints yourself.
Try the tie-downs yourself
If you need a heavily adapted vehicle, it may not be possible to try out all the features as these will be made to measure for you and the converters may not have them on their demonstration vehicles. You should at least be able to view a similar vehicle to try out the off the peg equipment and assess it for comfort.
Choosing your supplier
Almost all suppliers offer simple passenger WAVs where the passenger travels in the back. Fewer suppliers offer up-front WAVs, drive-from-wheelchair WAVs and internal transfer systems.
Similarly, only a few converters offer complex adaptations like hand controls. Some companies specialising in adapted controls buy converted vehicles from other suppliers and adapt them for you.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Different suppliers offer different levels of service. All of them should:
- bring a WAV to you so you can have a demonstration, without putting you under any obligation to buy
- deliver the vehicle to you if necessary and make sure you can use all the equipment
- extend to you all the usual (and statutory) consumer rights.
However, they may not all provide other services to the same extent. Ask whether they can carry out a full assessment and what guarantees or maintenance plans they offer. WAVCA members commit to a customer service code.
It is the supplier's responsibility to provide you with a safe and legal vehicle (see Regulations and standards), but you need to make sure they are taking active steps to meet this responsibility. Ask them for an assessment of your needs and ask about all the documentation listed above.
Different suppliers have different quality standards. We cant advise which suppliers produce the highest quality vehicles. Use your demonstration to look at the vehicle. Check that components are robust, firmly attached and nicely finished, check that equipment is easy to operate and listen for road noise, squeaks or rattles when driving along.
If you need specialist equipment (eg hand controls), you should choose a supplier that is able to fit these themselves. Often this will be a specialist adaptation company, rather than a WAV converter. See our Mobility address list for more details.
Converters and suppliers
For full details of UK WAV converters and the vehicles and services they provide, see our Mobility address list.
You can buy adapted vehicles and equipment secondhand from some converters, and from the sources listed below. If you have specialist needs, you may not be able to find a suitable secondhand vehicle.
Anything you buy secondhand may be affected by safety and reliability issues. The seller may have had an inspection carried out and/or offer a warranty. If not, you may want to think about carrying out your own inspection.
Classified advertisements - the following websites carry listings for WAVs. Also see Disability Now.
Disability Equipment Register
Secondhand dealers - the following companies sell secondhand WAVs. Please note that we have not evaluated them for reliability or service.
The Accessible Motor Company
Tel: 01865 300361
Tel: 0800 298 9290
Tel: 01622 793079
Tel: 01824 707773
Tel: 0844 800 9421
Southern Mobility Vehicles
Tel: 01243 586444 (Sussex)
Tel: 01883 624041 (Surrey)
Wheelchair Accessible Motor Company
Tel: 01384 370530
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Tel: 01325 389900
The companies listed here provide WAVs on short or long term rental. Please note that we have not evaluated them for reliability or service. You can also hire WAVs from many of the converters listed in our Mobility address list.
Adapted Car Hire
Tel: 0845 68 62 007
Adapted Vehicle Hire Ltd
Tel: 0845 257 1670
The Barbara Bus Fund
A charity which owns two vehicles - at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and in the Gwynedd area.
Tel: 020 8416 0733
DIG Car Hire Scheme
A charity run by volunteers.
Tel: 01224 311905
Hertfordshire Action on Disability
The Welwyn Garden City Mobility Centre - service available nationwide.
Tel: 01707 375159
Just Hire Mobility
Tel: 0800 389 9754
Mobility Vehicle Hire
Tel: 0845 293 2799
Tel: 01524 598598
Wheelchair Car Hire
Tel: 0800 298 9290
Tel: 01483 233640