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Motability | What Types Of Car Adaptations Are Available?

Read our detailed guide on Motability Car Adaptations to find out which modifications are available for your car through the Motability Scheme.

Mar 04, 2020

Motability | What Types Of Car Adaptations Are Available?

The world we live in today is one full of innovative technological advancements. Cars come with clever driving assistance systems that make getting from A to B easier than ever before, so sometimes it’s not always necessary for Motability customers to further modify their car. For example, the majority of new cars come with keyless starts which allow you to begin your adventure with a push of a button. Voice Activation technology is another smart tool that helps assist with day-to-day driving.

But for when these features aren’t enough, rest assured knowing there are multiple variations of car adaptations available through the Motability Scheme, so you can modify your car exactly how you need it to be. Motability adaptations have been designed to help take the stress out of everyday travelling for over 40,000 customers on the Motability Scheme. As you can imagine, there's a huge variety of car adaptations available all created with personal requirements and preferences in mind.

Motability Car Adaptations are split into three main categories: Driving Adaptations, Stowage Solutions and Access Adaptations.

Driving Adaptations

Driving Adaptations are solutions designed to improve driving comfort, safety and experience. These sorts of adaptations are normally positioned around steering with Hand Controls, Remote Controls and Accelerator/Pedal Modifications.

Different types of Driving Adaptations include:

1. Steering Aids 

Steering aids are perfect if you have difficulty using your hands, for example, difficulty holding or turning the wheel. Not only can Steering Aids make a huge improvement in driving, but they are also simple enough to be used normally by drivers that don't require help, ensuring the vehicle can be shared without any inconvenience. 

A common, and often essential, steering adaptation is the Steering Ball. This is definitely recommended if you require the use of hand controls. The detachable Steering Ball is easily attached to the front of the wheel and is roughly the same size and shape of a regular doorknob. The ball can turn 360 degrees allowing the wheel to be turned in both directions using a one-handed movement while the hand remains in the same position for comfort as the ball is simply pulled left and right. This adaptation frees up the other hand for different driving needs. Simple, yet effective.

2. Hand Controls

Braking and accelerating using standard vehicle pedals can sometimes prove difficult. A solution to this problem is the addition of Hand Controls. It's an alternative way of controlling the speed of your car without having to use your legs.

One of the most popular devices used to aid this is something called a ‘Push-Pull Device’ and it's as simple as pulling or pushing onto a lever to accelerate or brake. Once installed, the device that you hold onto is often at the right-hand side of the wheel for easy access and comfortable driving. Different variations of this device are available depending on the manufacturer of the car as well as the level of assistance needed.

They range from basic mechanical models to models that are fitted with air compression technology or electrics. It all comes down to your personal experience and preference combined with your requirements. After all, you want to make driving as easy as possible with maximum comfort at all times.

3. Electronic Accelerators 

An alternative to the Push/Pull Device is a number of Electronic Accelerators. Again, these are suitable for people with restricted mobility in their legs as they offer drivers a more comfortable way of controlling speed through hand movement. These devices don't require as much effort as the Push/Pull Device due to being electronically operated:

Trigger Accelerator - A small device at the side of the wheel that can be pulled by your finger to accelerate, and pushed to brake.

Over Ring Accelerator - A smaller raised ring fitted onto the face of the wheel that can be pushed down to accelerate.

Under Ring Accelerator - A ring the same size as the steering wheel is fitted behind it. It can be pulled towards yourself to accelerate.

Ghost Ring Accelerator - Has the same placement as the under-ring accelerator, however rather than being pulled towards you to accelerate, the ring is moved from side to side.

4. Remote Control Devices 

Designed mainly for people with restricted upper body movement and possibly people with only one hand, Remote-Control Devices create an easy way to control the car’s standard functions all from a single panel. The detachable device can be mounted onto the front of the steering wheel for easy use and can control things such as the indicators, window wipers, and headlights.

This device can also incorporate the Steering Ball to make steering and controlling functions of the car operational with one hand. There are a range of different wireless keypads available. Generally, they have two main designs:

Lollipop Grip - Allows the driver to grip the handle and operate using their thumb.

Steering Ball Grip - Allows the driver to grasp the wheel with their hand and operate the functions using thumb or forefinger at the side.

Both achieve the same things but offer different experiences and are therefore dependent on your personal preference and comfort levels. Remote Control Devices can range from having 7 – 13 different functionalities.

5. Pedal Modifications 

It's understandable that due to certain circumstances some drivers may not be able to reach the standard foot pedals regardless of how close you sit to the wheel. For maximum safety and comfort, it is recommended to have the pedals extended. Detachable foot pedal extensions can be a simple solution to ease any discomfort when trying to reach for the pedals whilst driving, and would overall improve the control you have over the car. For some drivers, it may only be that the right leg is affected, in which case a Left Foot Accelerator is a popular alternative.

Left Foot Accelerators are perfect for drivers with limited mobility in their right leg. This adaptation enables the driver to control the acceleration from a Left Foot Accelerator. There are 2 leading designs:

Twin Flip Accelerator - A second pedal fitted to the left side of the brake pedal. This allows you to use your left foot to accelerate. The original and new acceleration pedals can be folded up out of the way. This is perfect if the car is used by anyone else not needing this modification.

Floor Mounted Accelerator - A device mounted to the floor with an accelerator pedal to the left of the brake. There is also a pedal guard in front of the original pedal.

Stowage Solutions

Anyone who requires a scooter or wheelchair knows that travelling by car can be tricky when the car in question is unable to store the assisting equipment. Stowage adaptations allow the driver to easily store wheelchairs or scooters in the car through internal vehicle modifications and Car Boot Hoists. Alternatively, you can choose to store your equipment on top of your car through clever Rooftop Stowage.

1. Car Boot Hoists

A Car Boot Hoist has been designed to help transfer your wheelchair or scooter in and out of the boot with the touch of a button. Tie-downs are included in the hoist-package to keep the wheelchair or scooter secure whilst driving. The hoists are mounted inside the boot and an extendable arm helps you guide your product into the boot.

It’s important when choosing a hoist package that you have visited your local branch with your product as they can advise you which hoist would be most suitable for your chair or scooter. Our Motability Specialists are fully trained to help advise which hoist package would be best suited for you but to give you a general idea of what's available, here are two options:

2-Way Hoist - Generally used for lighter wheelchairs. They can only operate up and down so once it has lifted the chair or scooter it would have to be manually pushed into the vehicle.

4-Way Hoist - Perfect for heavier items. This hoist will lift your chair scooter up and in / out and down with little guidance.

2. Car Rooftop Stowage 

Rooftop stowage can be a great solution if your boot is needed for other storage. It’s an adaptation that allows you to store a folded wheelchair on the roof of your car but wouldn’t be ideal for larger, heavier items such as a scooter. Being concealed in a box protects your stored wheelchair from weather conditions and keeps it secure on all of your journeys.

An electric hoist is activated by the touch of a button and will lower down allowing you to attach the chair. It is then pulled back up and maneuvered into the stowage box. The box can usually be fitted to the driver’s side or passenger side for convenience.

Access Adaptations

Generally, people who rely on a wheelchair or scooter for mobility often look for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAV) only. This isn’t the only option and here at Sandicliffe we are more than happy to arrange a no-obligation appointment to demonstrate the different options available to you. There are a number of adaptations that can be installed to improve the accessibility of any standard car.

Simply put, Access Adaptations are alterations to your car that enable you to get in and out of the vehicle with ease. These include Transfer Plates, Electric Hoists and Swivel Seats.

1. Transfer Plates

Fitted to the side of your seat, a Transfer Plate creates a surface from your seat to your wheelchair. This helps you transfer to and from the seats easily. Once in the car, the plate can be folded out of the way to ensure comfortable driving. The plates can be manually or electrically controlled depending on which package you choose.

Transfer Plate accessibility requires upper body strength to be able to move from the plate to seat and vice versa. Please consider this when making your decision.

2. Electric Hoists

A permanent hoist will be mounted into the car. Three sections are then clipped together to create a frame that’s able to lift a person entirely into the vehicle electrically. A canvas has been specially designed for this purpose. Once seated, parts of the frame can be detached and stored in the boot, however, the sling would remain with you as it’s then easier to be put back into your wheelchair at the end of your journey.

Some people see this as an alternative to WAV vehicles as they are then able to ride in the front seat with the driver rather than in the back in their wheelchair.

3. Swivel Seats

A permanent Swivel Seat can turn, lower and tip to make getting in and out of the car easier. The seats can be manual or electrical depending on what is preferable to you. Wheelchair Swivel Seats can also be installed inside your vehicle. Due to a specifically designed car seat, the wheelchair base allows for it to be connected so that the seat can be turned and pulled out of the car completely by sliding onto the wheelchair frame.

We hope our guide has given you a better insight into what types of car adaptations are available to you. If you do require an adaptation, it's important to provide as much information as possible before ordering your car to ensure the required adaptations are compatible with your chosen model.

Speaking to a Sandicliffe Motability Specialist can help narrow down a choice of cars that would be most suitable for your chosen adaptations. You can do this by booking an appointment using the short online form below or calling us on 0115 939 5000. We're always happy to help!

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