Most common Motability car adaptations
The Motability Scheme lets eligible drivers add modifications and adaptations to their new car. Here are the most popular on offer...
The Motability Scheme is a way for those who are eligible for a disability allowance to exchange it towards leasing a new car. The scheme also offers around 500 different mobility adaptations for your new car, many of which are available for free when fitted at the start of your lease. It’s all about allowing all drivers to maintain their independence and feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel.
Some mobility issues can be solved simply by choosing the right car. Features such as an automatic gearbox, push-button start, parking sensors and a boot with a height-adjustable floor might be the answers to your driving needs.
However, there are also plenty of options for alterations to your car if your mobility needs require them. Adaptations range from small things, such as moving an indicator stalk from the left to the right of the steering wheel, to more significant changes such as adding ramps for a wheelchair. You can specify the adaptations you need when selecting your new car, and the Motability Scheme will help organise not only the fitting and installation of your requirements but, depending on cost, the finance side of it, too.
Here are the most popular adaptations available through Motability.
If you have trouble holding or moving a standard steering wheel, aids can be added to help with turning the wheel. A steering ball makes it easier to grip the wheel and gives you more control when operating the wheel with one hand. A steering ball is often essential if you have other hand controls fitted, too; it lets you steer with one hand and operate a push/pull accelerator switch with the other. An automatic gearbox is almost always required to remove the need to operate a gearlever.
Hand controls are a popular adaptation to help those with less mobility in their legs or are unable to operate pedals effectively. These usually take the form of a hand lever next to the steering wheel that you can pull to accelerate, or push to brake. It’s worth noting that this, along with all of the Motability driving adaptations below, are only available with an automatic gearbox.
Steering wheel controls
If you struggle with a push/pull hand control, you can also have an acceleration system fitted to the steering wheel. This is usually done by attaching a ring accelerator – a plastic ring add-on – either above or behind the steering wheel. To operate it, you simply pull or push (depending where it’s fitted) to accelerate. A ring accelerator can often be easily removed, too, if you share a car with a non-Motability driver.
If you struggle with mobility in your legs, adding pedal extensions may help you operate the accelerator and brake pedal more easily. There’s also the option to fit a left-foot accelerator, so you can both brake and accelerate with one foot if movement in your right leg is an issue. Some pedal systems also allow you to flip between a left and right accelerator so it can be operated as a regular car.
Not all cars are suitable for swivel seats, but they can be a very useful adaptation on those that are. They allow the front car seats to rotate towards the door to provide you with easier and more comfortable entry and exit. Some setups even allow the entire car seat to slide out and attach to a wheelchair-style base. These can be electric or manual, but you or your family/assistant will need to be able to operate the seat if you go for the cheaper, more fiddly manual setup.
A transfer plate is an extension to the car seat that folds out to make the seat wider and lets you move from a wheelchair or mobility scooter to the seat more easily. Once you’re in the car, you can fold the plate away. Transfer plates are available with either manual or electric movement, or can even be operated with a remote control.
A range of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) can be leased on the Motability Scheme. These range from regular MPVs with an added fold-out wheelchair ramp, such as the Citroën Berlingo or Peugeot Rifter, right up to adapted vans and minibuses, such as the Mercedes V-Class or Volkswagen Caravelle, depending on your size requirements.
To help when lifting a heavy wheelchair or mobility scooter into the boot, a boot hoist can be fitted to lift the chair or scooter up and let you guide it into the boot space. Hoists can be fitted to most car boots with a hatchback-style rear tailgate, although the suitability of your car will depend on the size and weight of the product you need to lift.
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