If you’ve been looking for a car and found yourself here, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a range of wheelchair accessible vehicles for sale in Sydney and around Australia - some more practical and reliable than others. The decision to purchase a disability car to improve mobility and freedom is a big one, and there are a lot of factors to take into consideration.
This article is all about why buying an imported wheelchair accessible vehicle will be the most affordable and practical choice for your needs. Our advice comes from many years of servicing the wheelchair vehicle industry, but more importantly, from talking to people just like you who want the best solution they can find for an affordable price.
We know how important disability vehicles are - they change lives, and that’s a fact. But a lesser known fact is that imported wheelchair cars have been changing lives in a more affordable way than vehicles that are modified here in Australia.
So enough small talk, let’s have a look at why we recommend imported Japanese disability vehicles to our clients over vehicles modified in Australia.
Custom Built wheelchair cars versus Modified Cars - what’s the difference?
This is definitely a question we are asked a lot, so we’ll try to go into as much detail as possible.
Because we have a relatively small domestic market here in Australia (as well as the fact that we don’t even produce cars for the world market anymore) means that your first option is to purchase a regular vehicle here in Australia and pay to have it modified to suit your needs.
Toyota wheelchair accessible cars that are built in Japan and imported here to Australia are purpose-built in the factory, created from scratch to meet the needs of people with a disability. As you may know, Toyota is one of the world’s leaders in car manufacturing and have an excellent reputation for quality.
We often use a kitchen analogy to explain the difference between a modified car and a purpose-built wheelchair vehicle.
If you were to purchase a second-hand kitchen, it’s highly likely that you’d need to make some adjustments to cabinet size, bench lengths, and placement of important parts (like where the microwave will fit) in order for it to work in your home, as your kitchen. Unless you are a cabinet maker, this could get quite tricky quite fast, and we all know what that means - it would also get quite expensive quite fast, too!
If, on the other hand, you purchased a customised kitchen based on the measurements of your space, and your personal needs. This kitchen would be purpose built in the factory and sent to you ready to be installed in your home, and it would fit perfectly without the need for additional adjustment or expense. No unexpected bits that don’t quite fit, no doors that open the wrong way or benchtops that have to be cut in half.
With that analogy in mind, read ahead to find out the real difference between a modified wheelchair car and a purpose-built one, and decide for yourself….
Option One: Modifying an existing vehicle
We’ll be upfront from the word go - the modification option has it’s issues for two reasons.
The first reason is that it messes with the integrity of the original vehicle, and the second is the fact that you’re paying twice for something - first the car itself, and then to have someone modify it. Modification involves basically pulling many elements of the car apart, making adjustments, sometimes re-building new parts, and putting it back together. Not only does this mess with the original stability of the car, but you end up paying a fortune, which brings us to our second point: the cost of modifying a wheelchair car can start to add up very quickly.
Let’s say you have purchased a used car for $15,000 here in Australia, and you require modification to fit a sloper in the rear. That would involve removing parts of the rear of the car, possibly also internal parts, and custom-fitting a sloper that will operate properly. This kind of modification can cost as much as $45, 000. By the time you get your driveable wheelchair car, you could be looking at $60,000 - maybe more. And to make it even worse, modifications can be so tricky and complicated that you could wait as long as twelve months to get your car.
These disability converted vehicles do their job, so we’re not trying to undermine the fact that a modified car will change your life. The only thing that will change right along with it is your spare change, because there’ll be a lot less of it!
You’re not alone if you prefer to spend your money more wisely, which is why we’ve written this article. So let’s have a look at your second choice more closely...
Option Two: An imported Toyota wheelchair accessible car
As we mentioned earlier, disability vehicles built in Japan are built specifically to meet the needs of people with a disability while they’re on the assembly line. From the drawing board to the road, these wheelchair cars are designed to make life easier, and from our own experience helping people find the right car for over XX years, we have to say that they don’t skip a beat when it comes to price, reliability, and functionality.
Not every person’s needs are the same when it comes to wheelchair vehicles, and that’s why not every imported car is the same.
Because they are designed and built for people with a disability, there is no need for later modification, which means that the structure and integrity of the vehicle will never have to be compromised for the car to work for your needs. Plus you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that Toyota don’t do anything by halves - whether it’s a regular car or a disability car - quality is part and parcel of every manufacture.
You may be thinking this is all well and good, but how am I supposed to afford a custom-built wheelchair vehicle?
And the answer to that question is the reason we love sharing this information - a Toyota wheelchair car that’s been purpose-built in Japan and imported to Australia will SAVE you money. Not kidding.
What’s the catch? There’s always a catch, but this is a tiny one. You can only purchase them as quality used vehicles (we told you it was tiny). Many of us drive used vehicles anyway, and a lot of people purchase and modify used vehicles to be wheelchair accessible. So for most of us, this isn’t a catch at all. We know that a low km, well looked after car can deliver just as much as a brand new one - used disability cars are no different.
But if you’re after a brand new car and don’t want to settle for anything less, your only option is to purchase a new car and have it modified. That’s fine if that’s what you want to do, and we wish you well.
On the other hand, if you’re out to get quality, reliability, and functionality at a price that means you can still go on that holiday you’ve been saving for, the an imported wheelchair car is the perfect solution for you.
We can’t answer that question for you, but if your decision comes down to convenience, quality, and price (let’s face it - it does for most of us), then you will not be disappointed with a Japanese imported disability vehicle.
But we aren’t expecting you to simply take our word for it, and we recommend you do a little digging for yourself before you make a decision. After all - it’s a big decision! You need to feel comfortable that you’re doing what’s right for you.
We’d suggest going to have a chat with a local manufacturer to find out about the cost and timeframe associated with modifying an existing vehicle. And on the flip side, feel free to give us a call and chat about the different options we can offer you by way of an imported wheelchair car. They are two very different solutions to a concern that you deserve to have met with your full confidence, and whatever choice is right for you should be on your own terms.
If you’ve already got a wheelchair accessible car, how did you go about getting it? If you’ve got any tips or advice to share with us, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.