Protecting Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV)
By: Philippa Harrington, On: 13 January 2020
Wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAV) are a big investment to make, so it is likely that you will want to keep your vehicle feeling brand new and squeaky clean for as long as possible. We’ve compiled a list of tips and considerations that will help you maintain the quality and efficiency of your WAV, long after that fresh ‘new car smell’ inevitably fades.
Maintenance is an important part of keeping any vehicle safe, secure and worth your investment, helping prevent breakdowns in the future and any other unexpected repairs. These pointers are here to guide you through some of the most effective ways to look after your WAV and protect your investment.
WAVs are the same as any vehicle on the roads and must be MOT tested on time and serviced every year. MOT tests can be easily carried out by a professional garage and are usually inexpensive to book. MOT tests will alert the vehicle owner to any repairs that need to be made in order to keep the vehicle safe, and the garage will be able to carry out the repairs or point you in the direction of someone else that can.
As well as a regular MOT, WAV owners can keep their vehicle in the best condition by carrying out their own regular tests on the brakes, water, oil and tyre pressure – making arrangements to fix anything that doesn’t seem right. This keeps wear and tear to an absolute minimum, ensuring any potential problems are solved quickly and efficiently. For those WAV owners that are not physically able to check their own vehicles, it is still your responsibility to make sure your insured drivers carry this out themselves.
Care for tyres
The adaptations made to WAVs can make them quite a bit heavier than many standard cars. With this in mind, WAVs can place a lot of extra pressure onto tyres, especially the tyres below where the wheelchair usually is, making them more likely to encounter problems. The best way to look after your tyres is to make sure you rotate them every time the oil is changed. Those who live in colder climates will have to service their tyres more often due to the effects of the road conditions.
Test ramps and lifts
For most, ramps are a vital part of a WAV, and possibly a feature that you utilise on a daily basis. Therefore, it is crucial that when maintaining your vehicle that you make sure the ramp is kept in top working condition and isn’t at risk of becoming out of use. It’s usually necessary for the lift or ramp to be oiled regularly in order to keep its functionality. Whether a manually operated or electric lift, have someone check the ramp or lift for wear and tear, faults and damage, as well as dirt build-up which can affect the internal mechanisms.
Look out for abnormal transmission
It can be common for the transmission on WAVs to wear easier than other vehicles, this is due to the additional weight of a wheelchair. Stay aware of any changes to the transmission or signs of problems, such as abnormal levels of acceleration, vibrations or leaks.
Check wheelchair restraints
Just as seatbelts play a crucial role in general car safety, restraints or tie-downs are equally important for keeping wheelchairs secure in WAVs too. The restraints work to ensure the wheelchair is tied down, secured throughout the journey and not a safety hazard. For accurate WAV maintenance, do a regular check of the restraints and look for any wear and tear. Restraints or tie-downs with signs of damage should be replaced, and dirt-build up should be cleaned before it causes faults.
Be prepared with paperwork
It is important for the paperwork for your WAV to be kept in a safe location within the vehicle, and for those in the vehicle to know where to find it. Not only is it great to be able to easily find your documentation when it comes to MOTs and servicing, but it also helps you stay better prepared for any unexpected circumstances that you might need them. You should also keep emergency numbers for breakdowns, insurance, and repairs inside your vehicle, helping you find them quickly in times of need.
Although wear and tear will always inevitably set in, these tips will keep your WAV looking and feeling as great as it did when you first bought it.