Buying used wheelchair parts or van parts may seem like a no-brainer. Just browse eBay or Craigslist. But if the part collapses or fails, you may end up as damaged as the vehicle.

The National Center on Accessibility (www.ncaonline.org) recommends that you beware of “ADA approved” products and services: “There is no organization or governmental body that has the authority to give ADA approval for any product.” The company may meet ADA guidelines, or be in compliance with ADA standards, but ADA does not approve products. It is up to you to compare products against ADA accessibility guidelines and standards before you buy.

The Center also suggests that you look for products and services that promote person first terminology, i.e. a person with a disability: “Companies that use outdated terminology such as ‘handicapped’ or ‘physically challenged’ may not be developing products and services using the most up-to-date information.”

That said, you can get quality used products, but you may have to search, question, test and even haggle.

  • Don’t be lured by a friendly salesperson into buying the renovated equipment that’s a “real steal.”
  • When dealing with third-party sellers or used equipment, it’s up to you to determine the product that works best for your situation, so “interrogate” the seller (nicely) before purchasing.
  • Ask about any return policy or warranties.
  • Examine it thoroughly. Test it. Ask a medical equipment vendor to check it out. Ask the vendor if it will repair the equipment if needed in the future.
  • Another safe alternative is to contact your local NMEDA dealer for vehicle needs so you can be sure you are getting the right equipment customized for your needs.

You may want to use an online service such as www.escrow.com. It oversees Internet transactions. The buyer sends payment to Escrow. Buyer and seller agree on an inspection end date. Seller sends the part and the buyer inspects it. Escrow holds payment until either the buyer agrees the piece is in good working condition or inspection time has lapsed.

Happy hunting!

This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is an expert in mobility equipment and accessibility!

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