PSA: Wheelchair Van Buyers BEWARE!
When shopping for a pre owned wheelchair accessible vehicle, the process can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you’re a first time wheelchair van buyer. There’s a lot to learn, as well as many options and choices to consider when searching. Of course, the last thing anyone wants when buying a pre owned vehicle is to be deceived. This is even more important when it comes to a wheelchair accessible vehicle because a hidden problem can leave a wheelchair user totally stranded, or worse.
These days, thanks to the internet, there are many ways to shop for a pre owned vehicle, and that includes wheelchair vans. From Craigslist to Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Ebay Motors, and others, the list of websites is extensive.
Remember to always ask for the following:
VIN - Be sure to always ask for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) if it is not present in the online ad you are looking at. The VIN is important because it will allow you to check the history of the vehicle.
Carfax or Autocheck Report - Always obtain either a Carfax* report or Autocheck* report for the vehicle you are looking at. These reports show if the vehicle was ever in a reported accident, or if it had any other reported issues in the past, including visits to dealerships, branded title (Salvage or Rebuilt title), and more. It is imperative that a buyer checks the report for the vehicle to verify there are no known issues in the vehicle’s history. * Carfax and Autocheck are the industry leaders in vehicle history reports. While getting a vehicle history report is a crucial step in the process of buying a pre owned vehicle, these reports sometimes do not cover every issue, for example if a car accident wasn’t ever reported to the police or insurance company.
Copy of the vehicle’s Title - It is important to try and get a copy of the vehicle’s title to look at. Once you have it, verify that the vehicle’s information matches the advertisement. If the issue date on the title is recent, there’s a good chance that the person selling it is simply trying to flip the vehicle. This is a process where someone buys a cheap vehicle, makes minimal improvements to it, and then tries to sell, or “flip”, the vehicle as fast as possible. Unfortunately, this practice is common amongst private sellers, and even some unscrupulous dealers in the wheelchair van market.
Below, we have included an example of a shady Craigslist ad. If you look at it, you will notice that the ad doesn’t include the VIN. This is a red flag, as a VIN is vital to learning more information about the vehicle. If the VIN isn’t present in the ad, be sure to get the VIN from the seller. If the seller is reluctant to give you the VIN, that is a major red flag, and you’ll probably want to walk away from that vehicle and seller.
The AutoCheck report included below was obtained after asking the seller for the VIN on the vehicle listed in the Craigslist ad above. As you can see, the AutoCheck reveals that the vehicle has been involved in three (3) accidents. That is something the seller failed to mention in their for sale ad, yet it is information that is crucial to assessing the value of the vehicle.