How to Choose A Wheelchair Accessible Car
Choosing what car to buy for yourself can be a long but exciting process.
Getting your own car means you get to experience a new level of independence. No more needing to ask for a lift here or there and waiting for your family member or friend to be available to bring you.
Should the mood strike, you can pop in your car and head to the pier, go to the shops or even pop in for a cuppa to a friend’s house.
When I went looking for my first car, I was more focused on how it looked and its colour which I don’t need to tell you isn’t the best idea. I had to do my research, what type car (manual or automatic), petrol or diesel and the size of car I was comfortable in operating.
When it comes to choosing a wheelchair accessible car, most of the questions you need to ask yourself are the same and that’s what I’m here to share today.
Car Features to Think About
Like I said above, there are a number to questions to ask yourself and features to look for when choosing a car and for wheelchair users, attention to the specification and features of a car is important for accessibility.
Use the list below as a checklist when you go shopping for your new car.
Manual V’s Automatic
We all have our own preferences when it comes to manual and automatic cars. If you are unsure, you can go through an assessment process and then be advised towards the best automation for your ability.
When you viewing potential cars make sure to test that the doors work well for you. What we mean here is to:
- Check that the doors open wide enough for you
- Is the handle easy to reach to open and close?
- Is the door frame high enough to allow you easy access?
- Make sure the door sills are not too high or too wide, so you have easy access
- Are the door catches accessible and easy to use?
Each car brand and their modals can have different seating options. Here’s what you need to keep an eye out for when looked at the car seats:
The height of the seats
A low seat could cause you issues in accessing the car, whereas a high seat gives you ease in motion when getting into and out of the car.
The Seat Controls
The seat controls (moving the char forward and back or up and down) should be relatively easy to access especially if you need to make adjustments when getting into and out of the car. You don’t want a seat that causes more hassle for you.
The Shape of the seat
All cards these days offer various seating styles. Flat, curved or bucket seats. What you need to make sure of is that whatever the style of chair, does it give you full support.
Some cars have arm rests for the driver and the front passenger, this can make it difficult for some to access the handbrake. When shopping for your car, make sure the handbrake can be easily accessed.
Most cars these days allow you to move the seatbelt up or down to allow for different heights of the driver. Make sure the seatbelts can be secured and opened easily.
This is an important one, storage of your wheelchair and/or additional equipment need to be considered when you go looking for a car. The storage space needs to meet 2 important requirements:
- Is there room for your wheelchair?
- Is it easily accessible?
Shopping around for car insurance can be a tedious task. It’s good to know that insurance companies are not legally allowed to charge additional premium costs for those living with a disability.
My personal rule of thumb is to get 5 quotes from insurance companies and that way I can get a good idea of the base price and if I have any negotiation power.
Potential Discounts to Consider
For potential discounts on accessible cars you will need to be a member of the IWA. As their members can avail of discounts with the following car companies:
- Toyota Volkswagen
- Nissan Opel
Of course, in some cases you may also need to be a member of the VRT/VAT Tax Relief Scheme.