Adaptations generally fall into three categories:
It is strongly recommended that you work out what type of adaptation you may need before you make your final choice of car, as not all adaptations are suitable for every type of car. Speak to your Motability Specialist about which cars are most likely to work for you with your chosen adaptations.
Driving adaptations can make a huge difference to your motoring experience. They may enable a person to drive where it would otherwise not be possible, and can help with speed control, steering and signalling. They vary from simple attachments, to replacing all existing controls with a system individually designed for you.
In most cases the original controls can still be used with the adaptations in place, so nominated drivers can still use the car.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that most driving controls require an automatic gearbox. Some of our most popular adaptations within this category are described below.
Help with speed control
If you find using standard pedals for braking or acceleration difficult, you may be better off using a hand control such as a push/pull device. This popular adaptation allows you to control the speed of the car with your hands by pushing or pulling a lever to accelerate or brake. There are various hand controls available from most manufacturers, but the basic function is the same across most models. If you think a push/pull device may be right for you, we recommend that you also consider an automatic vehicle.
Help with speed control
If you have limited mobility in your legs or find push/pull hand controls take too much effort, an electronic accelerator may help, and there are a few different types available.
Trigger accelerator - With a trigger accelerator you pull with your finger to accelerate, and push away to brake
Over ring accelerator - The over ring accelerator is fitted in front of the steering wheel. You push it down toward the steering wheel to accelerate
Under ring accelerator - The under ring accelerator is fitted behind the steering wheel. You pull it towards the steering wheel to accelerate
Ghost ring accelerator - The ghost ring accelerator is fitted behind the steering wheel. You control the speed by using your fingers in side to side movements
All electronic accelerators come with a hand operated brake. There are a number of electronic accelerators; to find out which would be most suitable for you, speak to your Motability Specialist.
Help with speed control
If you have limited mobility in your right leg, and cannot use the standard accelerator comfortably, you may benefit from having a left foot accelerator fitted. This will allow you to control the speed with your left foot, while the original accelerator is safely out of the way. There are a few types of left foot accelerators.
Floor-mounted accelerator - A floor-mounted accelerator is fitted to the left of the brake so that you are able to use your left foot to accelerate. A pedal guard is fitted over the original pedal whilst the new accelerator pedal is being used.
Twin-flip accelerator - A twin-flip accelerator is a second pedal fitted to the left of the brake pedal, enabling you to use your left foot to accelerate. The original pedal folds away. In most cases, this can still be used if your nominated driver does not require adaptations.
If you have never driven with a left foot accelerator, it is important to speak to your Motability Specialist for advice.
Help with speed control
If you have difficulty reaching the pedals when driving, you could opt to have the pedals extended. Modifying the pedals of your car could bring them closer to your driving seat, allowing you to drive more comfortably while controlling the car with ease.
Help with steering
If you have difficulty holding or turning a standard steering wheel, there are a number of simple solutions that may well help you. For example, a steering wheel ball can be fitted to allow you to have more control when steering the car.
If you have hand controls fitted, a steering ball is often essential, as it enables you to steer the car with one hand, while operating hand controls with the other. Many can be easily attached and removed.
Help with a variety of functions
Remote control devices help make it easier to operate some of your standard car controls, such as the indicators, windscreen wipers and headlights, using a single control panel mounted on the steering wheel. They can also incorporate a steering wheel call so steering and operating basic car functions can be done with one hand.
The best way to lift your wheelchair or scooter into your car is with a stowage system, such as a boot hoist or rooftop stowage unit. Both options work at the touch of a button, taking the weight of the wheelchair or scooter, helping you guide the product into either your car boot, or your rooftop stowage unit.
This is a hoist which stores your wheelchair or scooter in your car boot. Tie-downs are included as part of the hoist package to help secure your scooter or wheelchair into the boot of your car.
Your wheelchair or scooter will affect the type of boot hoist you need and the space required, so you should take your product to the dealership so they can make sure that the cars you are considering will fit the hoist type you need, as well as your scooter or wheelchair. Adding a boot hoist to a car could be an alternative to a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV).
4-way hoists are ideal if you need to transport a scooter or a larger wheelchair. They help move the product up and into the boot at the touch of a button, although you will also need to guide the product by hand and then secure your product using tie-downs. In many cases, your product will only fit with one or more rear seats folded down. You may also need to dismantle your scooter.
2-way hoists are for lighter wheelchairs. They operate with an up and down action only, so you will need to push the wheelchair into the boot by hand, then secure the product using tie-downs. Although generally for use with smaller products, the rear seats may still need to be part or fully folded flat, so again this is an important consideration when deciding which hoist is best for you.
Due to the complex nature of boot hoists, it is important that you speak with your Motability Specialist to discuss how they work.
A car rooftop stowage unit could be a solution if you transport a manual wheelchair, and need to use your boot to store other items. They can usually be installed on either the passenger or driver side.
The rooftop stowage unit allows you to store a folded wheelchair, in a box, on the roof of your car. An electric hoist lifts the folded wheelchair from the ground and then manoeuvres it into the rooftop box.
Consider the places where you normally park your car as rooftop stowage systems may mean that you are no longer able to park in underground car parks where there are height restrictions.
When considering how to access your car as a wheelchair user, a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle is not the only option and there are a number of adaptations that can be installed on a standard car. Our Motability Specialists will be happy to arrange a no-obligation demonstration and will advise which cars will be suitable.
A transfer plate is fitted to the side of the car seat and provides a smooth surface between the wheelchair and the car seat to help you with the transfer. Once you are in the vehicle and are comfortable, the transfer plate can simply be folded out of the way.
Transfer plates can either be manual or electric, however the electric version cost more.
To use a transfer plate, it is essential that you consider your upper body strength, as you'll need to be able to transfer yourself out of your wheelchair, onto the transfer plate and back again.
If you are a wheelchair user, another option for accessing the car is via an electric person hoist, which physically lifts you into the car.
The hoist includes a permanent mount fitted into the car and three sections which clip together to form the frame. A specially designed canvas sling is put in position with very little movement required from the wheelchair user. Heavy duty hooks in the sling are then slipped onto the hoist and the hoist is raised electronically. Once you are seated in the car, the frame sections of the hoist can be removed and stowed in the boot, but the sling remains in place, making it easier to reverse the process at the end of the journey.
For some people this may be an alternative solution to getting a fully converted Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle. You may find your travelling experience more comfortable as you will be seated on the original car seat alongside the driver, rather than in your wheelchair. However, you’ll need to check with an Motability Specialist that the car you are interested in is suitable for this type of hoist.
Our Motability Specialists will be happy to arrange a no-obligation demonstration of the adaptations and will advise on which cars are compatible.
A permanent swivel seat turns, and in some cases moves in and out of the car, then lowers or tips, to make getting in and out of the seat easier. Manual and powered versions are available. Remember, you may need help putting your wheelchair in the boot if you are not able to do it yourself.
Wheelchair swivel seats are also available. They are made up of two parts and allow your wheelchair base to connect to a specially designed car seat. Wheelchair swivel seats cannot be operated independently, as you will need someone to help put the wheelchair base into position and store it once you are in the car.
Swivel seats can only be fitted in some cars. Please speak to one of our Motability Specialists that specialise in swivel seat installations, who will happily advise on vehicle choices.