I’m about to order my third car with Motability. Each time its taken me a long time to find the right car. It’s a big decision, and there lots to choose from! I hope by reading this, it will make to process a little easier for you!
First – Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle or Car?
The choice to go for a WAV might seem like a sensible one if you’re a full time wheelchair user, but there are a number of issues to consider first. Is your wheelchair crash tested? Many wheelchairs aren’t. My new wheelchair (when it finally arrives!) is what I need, but it isn’t crash tested. Staying in your chair whilst in a vehicle isn’t always the safest option. Secondly – How do you get your chair or scooter stowed? Could you get it in a car with a hoist? Will it fit in the the boot of a large car? If not, then a WAV may be the best option. If you have a manual folding chair you may be able to stow it in a roof top box (with its own electric hoist) instead.
So a car is best, but what size car?
When thinking about the size of car think about 2 things – how many people you need to transport and how much equipment you need to take with you. If it’s just you and your wheelchair or crutches, don’t rush into getting a 3 door car! Even if you don’t have any carers or assistants travelling with you, it’s difficult to get anything from the back seats – even if it’s just a handbag.
7 seater cars are often a good option with a large family, but be aware that if you need to put a large wheelchair and a hoist into the boot you are likely to lose at least 1 if not 2 of those seats. Lots of people go for MPVs which are great all round cars in terms of space for both people and stuff, but their height can prove problematic for getting in and out of the car for some. But the height can be beneficial if you’re a crutch or stick user and find bending difficult.
No, a WAV is best for me, but what size WAV?
Again, consider how many people you will be transporting, the size of your chair and if you will be driving from your chair, staying in your chair, or transferring internally or externally? Do you need additional space for extra equipment asides from just your chair? A driving assessment may be very helpful in helping identify what type of WAV you need.
What adaptations do you need?
I think that having a driving assessment really is the best way to find out what adaptations you need. Contact Motability and they can arrange one for you free of charge. Don’t be scared about the costs involved with adaptations or some advance payments. Motability can often offer grants to those who are low incomes if there isn’t a car that is cheaper that would be suitable. Some adaptations are best suited to particular cars (transfer seats in particular). Ask your assessor what you need to look for.
Websites which can help
Both the Rica and Motability websites can provide you with a searchable list of the cars which fit your requirements. Think about the heights of door sills, seats, door opening size and door opening angle, as well as boot size. Unfortunately, boot size is often given in litres. Which is great if you have a wheelchair made of liquid…but in reality it’s a bit of a useless measurement. Don’t be afraid to contact your local dealership and ask them to measure them!
Firstly, make sure you’re going to a Motability approved dealership. Car dealerships can be daunting! It often feels like they’re trying to make a hard sell! Go with a list of requirements and if you’re not driving, take the person who will be driving. Be to the point and don’t let them schmooze you! You need something that works for you, not what they want to sell you. Make sure you take all the equipment you need to have in the car and try to load it.
Things to bare in mind…
Motability changes its list quarterly. This means that some models may come or go, and the advanced payments can change. If you’re coming up to this time, it may be best to wait a few weeks before ordering a car.