Selecting a Vehicle

Knowing how to select a suitable vehicle as a driver or passenger with a disability can be a daunting task. Typical questions from motorists with disabilities include:

  • Do I need a manual or automatic vehicle?
  • What type of adaptation is required?
  • How do I store mobility my aids?

Watch our video about vehicle adaptations:

Selecting and purchasing a vehicle

Buying a major item like a car calls for many considerations: finance, model of car, automatic or manual etc. For a disabled driver, attention to the specifications and features of a vehicle is important for accessibility.

It is recommended that you make a checklist of the information provided here to help ensure that you have a full list if your needs when you go to choose a car and arrange adaptations.

Explore all the options by getting quotes from different adaptation companies as prices can vary significantly.

Vehicle features to consider

1. Manual or automatic

People may have preferences for driving either a manual or automatic vehicle. Drivers who go through the assessment process will be advised individually as to the best automation choice for their ability.

2. Vehicle doors

The design features of a two/three door cars give people significantly wider doors and more room for transfers. When testing a vehicle ensure that the:

  • Vehicle doors can open wide enough
  • Vehicle doors are easy to reach in order to close
  • Door frames are high enough to allow ease of access
  • Door sills are not too high or too wide for ease of access
  • Door catches are accessible and easy to use

3. Seating

Seating in a vehicle varies across the different models. Consideration needs to be given to the:

  • Height of a vehicle seat. A low seat may present difficulties in accessing a vehicle, whereas a higher seat gives people ease in motion in entering and exiting a vehicle.
  • Seats controls. Ensure that the seat controls are easy to use, particularly if frequent seat adjustments are required in completing transfers.
  • Shape of the seat. Ensure that the seat gives full support.

4. Vehicle Steering Wheels

Consider the following steering wheel features when viewing a vehicle. Assess the:

  • Weight of the steering wheel. The weight will vary from model to model. Generally, lighter steering is more suitable for drivers with disabilities.
  • Steering wheel grip. Ensure that the wheel can be comfortably gripped.

Steering wheel features i.e. lights, indicators, wipers and horn. Ensure that all these features are accessible.

5. Handbrake

  • Ensure it is accessible and can be easily used.

6. Seatbelts

  • Ensure they can be secured and opened easily.

7. Stowage of equipment

As many disabled motorists use wheelchairs or mobility aids stowage of equipment needs to be considered when purchasing a vehicle. The stowage space needs to meet the requirement of both space and ease of access. Often vehicles with deep boot sizes have narrow boot openings which can cause extreme difficulties for people who want to store their wheelchair in the boot.

Vehicle Insurance

Insurance companies are not legally entitled to charge additional premium costs on the basis of their client’s disability. We recommend that people shop around for the best quote.

Currently, the insurance company JLT offers our members a discount on their home and vehicle premiums. To contact JLT call 1890 700 744 or click here to visit their dedicated website.

Vehicle Discounts

Members of Irish Wheelchair Association can avail of discounts with the following companies: Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Nissan Opel, Peugeot, Seat, Skoda, Toyota VW, Volvo.

In certain cases, applicants must also be in the VRT/VAT Tax Relief Scheme.