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Motability Adaptations for Disabled Drivers and Passengers

About Motability

There are currently around 600,000 Motability customers in the UK and more than 200,000 Motability cars driving on UK roads at this moment? But what is Motability?

Motability is a charity led scheme operating across the UK that helps disabled people gain access to the use of a car or mobility equipment. The scheme is currently open to any citizen who receives a higher rate of mobility allowance from the Government and has at least 12 months award time remaining.

The way Motability works is simple. Those who receive qualifying allowances are able to exchange their benefits with Motability to lease either a car, mobility scooter, motorised wheelchair or wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). They can then use their car or equipment for the duration of the lease and the cost is deducted from the allowances they receive each month. Simple, right?

About Motability Cars

Motability cars are very popular, with around 1 in 3 of Motability customers choosing to drive one. But whilst the basic functions of a car suit some individuals and their circumstances, there are certain disabilities that prevent a person from being able to use a car as either a driver or passenger. This is where Motability cars and adaptations come in.

Adaptations can be fitted to a Motability car to improve the utility of the vehicle for disabled people. This means how the car is used and operated is changed so it can cater for disabilities that would otherwise restrict the use of it.

Adaptations are tailored based on the specific needs of the driver or passenger, and with so many variations offered, Motability cars can cater for a range of disabilities. In fact, there are more than 500 different adaptations available on the Motability scheme, which are categorised into three groups: driving controls, stowage, and access

Types of Motability Adaptations

Driving Controls


Driving controls adapt how the vehicle is driven. From the pedals of the car to the steering wheel and gearbox, changing how the car is controlled can help drivers who have limited use of their arms and legs.

Stowage


Disabled motorists tend to use manual mobility equipment like wheelchairs or frames, which can be hard to store in a car that doesn’t have adapted facilities. Motability cars can have adapted stowage in the rear boot space that can help load and store heavy mobility equipment.

Access


For many disabled people, simply getting in and out of a car proves difficult. Adaptations can be made to the seating and doors of the vehicle to provide support and assistance for drivers or passengers using the car.

Adaptations for driving controls

Left foot accelerator


If you have a lack of mobility in your right leg, your motability car can be fitted with a left pedal that acts as the accelerator. The pedal is fitted so the right accelerator can still be used.

Pedal extensions


Pedal extensions are for drivers who have difficulty reaching the pedals. They are designed to offer more comfort when driving and to prevent any loss of control of the vehicle.

Steering wheel accelerator


A 'ghost ring' is fitted behind the wheel of the car to allow the driver to control the car with their hand. Acceleration and braking is controlled through the fingers of the driver by simply moving them on the ghost ring.

Hand-controlled accelerators


Electronic accelerators are fitted in the vicinity of the steering wheel so the car can be controlled without the use of the drivers legs. A simply pull-push motion can accelerate or brake the car.

Soft release handbrake


While many cars can be fitted with an electronic handbrake, many Motability cars will have a manual handbrake. For these cars you can adapt the handbrake to make it easier and softer to use.

Signalling aids


Signalling aids are remote controls fitted to the steering wheel that make it easier for the driver to control the indicators without movement of their hands.

Steering aids


Steering aids are fitted to the steering wheel that support drivers with handling the vehicle. Steering wheel knobs can help the driver manage and cope with the motions of driving.

Remote controlled electronics


Remote controls can be fitted to the steering wheel of the vehicle to allow the driver to simply control the headlights, wipers and indicators of the car without moving their hands repeatedly.

Adaptations for stowage

Mechanical equipment hoists


For loading heavy equipment, mechanical hoists can load mobility scooters into the rear boot space of your car or into a rooftop stowage unit.

Manual equipment hoists


Manual hoists will load less heavy equipment into a car and the load will need to be fastened into the car by someone. A 2-way hoist can only be operated up and down and not back and forth.

Roof-top stowage unit


Rooftop stowage are extended units that can store lightweight mobility equipment like a manual wheelchair. Rooftop boxes will often feature some sort of mechanical hoist to ease loading.

Adaptations for access

Transfer plates


Transfer plates provide a smooth surface to enter and exit the car. A driver or passenger can use a transfer plate to traverse the gap between the car seat and an external seat like a wheelchair.

Mechanical person hoist


A mechanical person hoist will load a driver or passenger into the car from their wheelchair. The hoist is permanently fitted to the vehicle and the person is carried with an attached material sling seat.

Swivel seating


Swivel seating is a permanent adaptation and helps people get in and out of the car. Swivel seats can either simply rotate in the car or some can even lower out of the car to ease transition.

Stoneacre tip! Adaptations can completely change how the car is driven and this can prove difficult for people who have driven before with conventional controls. Organisations like Driving Mobility can offer advice for anyone returning to driving who needs to use Motability adaptations. 

More about Motability adaptations...

The adaptations listed above are just some of the more common and popular ones, but there are actually more than 500 different adaptations available on the Motability Scheme. To help keep the scheme affordable for customers, more than 180 of these more popular adaptations can be fitted free of charge if they are ordered with the car.

Some of the free adaptations include steering aids, left-foot accelerators and wheelchair stowage. Generally, the more advanced and mechanical equipment will incur a charge. For more information on adaptations and costs, take a look at the FAQs at the end of this guide.

Once you've ordered your Motability vehicle, the adaptations will be fitted prior to delivery so you can start using your car immediately. Later in this guide we will take a look at how you order your car from a Motability dealer and how you select what adaptations you will have fitted to it with the help of a Motability installer.

Choosing a Motability Car

There is a wide range of cars available on the Motability Scheme so you will have plenty of choice to find a vehicle that suits your preference as well as your mobility needs. However, you will need to bear in mind the different style of cars available and how they will cater for your requirements.


It is can sometimes happen that the type of car you choose will affect what adaptations will be required and vice-versa. Some adaptations won't be able to be fitted to certain cars, whilst others simply won't be practical to fit. For example, on smaller cars if you install an electronic or manual hoist you may need to fold the rear seats to fit equipment in the car. This is less than ideal if you require the rear seating for passengers. Likewise, if you choose a hatchback car you may be restricted by only having 2 passenger doors, while SUVs may require more expensive adaptations given that they are a higher vehicle.


Below is a list of all the types of car available on the Motability scheme, including a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), which is an alternative to a standard car. Be prepared to make considerations for what adaptations you need because you may have to compromise between your preference of car and your required adaptations. When you order your car though, you'll have the support of an adaptations installer who will be able to offer advice on what adaptations you require and what cars will be suitable.

Types of car available on Motability

Hatchback


Hatchbacks are small but popular cars that can have both 3 and 5 doors. Typically, they are not designed to have much boot space or rear passenger space, but there are models that will offer more practicality. If you don't require the extra stowage space, hatchbacks like the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 are both popular and affordable small cars.

Saloon


Saloon cars will typically offer more rear boot space than a hatchback given that they are longer vehicles. This means they will also have more space for passengers in the back and have easier access to the rear seating. Saloon cars are versatile, so you can find large family-centric models together with more performance styled models.

Estate


An estate car is essentially a longer version of a hatchback and are popular because of the large boot space and rear space for passengers. They tend to be favoured by families who want space and practicality without the size of an SUV. Overall, estate cars are known for their performance, comfort and practicality, which is an ideal mix for many drivers.

SUV (Sports utility vehicle)


SUVs are a very popular and diverse class of car. From compact crossovers to large 7-seaters and off-road 4x4s, SUVs are recognised for their versatility. Modern SUVs tend to have less off-road capabilities but a greater focus on comfort and practicality. They have a large raised profile to allow for more space for passengers and greater capacity for luggage.

MPV (Multi-purpose Vehicle)


MPVs are commonly referred to as people carriers and are larger vehicles designed to maximise passenger space. They offer more interior space plus ample capacity for luggage in the boot. MPVs vary from family-centric 7-seater models to stripped-back models that are designed more for practicality than comfort.

WAV (Wheelchair accessible vehicle)


WAVs are an alternative class of vehicle to other cars available on Motability. They are specifically designed (or converted) to cater for disabled passengers and would not be typically used otherwise. They offer easy access for wheelchairs using a rear ramp and access friendly sliding side doors. More expensive models may feature a mechanical lift too.

Stoneacre tip! WAVs are vehicles that have been specially converted to carry disabled passengers. In some models there is no rear seating – only space for wheelchairs or mobility scooters. If you want to use your Motability car as a family vehicle as well, a WAV more than often won't be best suited for carrying other passengers.

Ordering a Motability Car with Adaptations

Step 1.

Contact a Motability Installer


A Motability installer is responsible for supplying the scheme with vehicle adaptations and fitting them to Motability vehicles for customers. The installer will also be able to offer you advice regarding adaptations which is way they are a good first point of call when looking at Motability cars.


They will be able to advise you on what adaptations you will require to cater for your disability and they will also be able to suggest vehicles from this. In some cases, installers won't be able to fit all the necessary adaptations and you may have to use two installers.

Step 2.

Visit a Motability Dealer


Motability dealers are registered dealers with the Motability Charity who supply cars to the scheme. When you visit a dealer you will be asked to complete a 'Motability suitability questionnaire', which is used to evaluate your needs from the scheme.


The questionnaire will help assess whether or not you require a car, as well as help determine what sort of car you would require if you do. Alternatives to a Motability car are mobility scooters, motorised wheelchairs or WAVs. If you tend to only travel short distances it may be suggested that you're better off leasing a mobility scooter.

Step 3.

Choose a Car


A Motability dealer will be able to offer a range of Motability cars. Some dealers, like Stoneacre for example, will represent multiple manufacturers who all offer some of their models on the Motability scheme.


As we've seen there is a wide range of cars offered on the scheme, but your final choice of car should be made inline with considerations for your mobility requirements.

Step 4.

Order Your Car with Adaptations


After you've chosen the car you want to drive, the dealer will complete your application on your behalf and order the car. They will also work with your chosen Motability installer to fit the adaptations to your new vehicle so that you can use the car immediately once it is delivered. A dealer will also be able to provide an introductory session, so you can get used to your new vehicle before driving it on the road.

Transferring adaptations between Motability Cars



At the end of the lease deal you will be required to return your vehicle to the dealer you ordered it from. Your options at this point will be to leave the scheme and reinstate your mobility allowances, extend the lease deal, or lease a new Motability car.


If you choose to lease a new car you may be able to have your adaptations from your previous vehicle transferred. A large number of stowage and access adaptations can be transferred between vehicles. Any transferable adaptions will be labelled as such when you order them, which will help you save money. In many cases though, driving controls are not able to be transferred between cars.

Motability Adaptations FAQs

Can I add extra adaptations during the lease?


Yes. Adaptations can be added part way through a lease deal, but you must inform the Motability charity for insurance purposes. For adaptations part way through a lease, Motability advise that you must use a recognised installer and pay them directly for the work.



How much do adaptations cost?


A full list of adaptations and prices is available online at - motability.co.uk/products/adaptations/prices. Bear in mind that prices may differ depending on how and when you order them.

Are there any rules for transferring adaptations between cars?


Some adaptations are transferable between cars, like boot and person hoists, as long as your new vehicle can fit them. In most cases, adaptations can be transferred at no extra cost, but charges that apply will be payable direct to the installer.



What if i can't afford to pay for adaptations I need?


Whilst many adaptations are available at no extra cost, some will cost you money to have fitted. There is financial support available from the Motability Charity if you are unable to afford the extra expense. 

What adaptations are free?


Almost 200 of the most popular adaptations are available for free as long as you order them with your car. Some of the more common adaptations that are free include left-foot accelerators, pedal modifications, steering aids, and wheelchair stowage.



Does my insurance policy cover damage to my adaptations?


Yes. All adaptations fitted to your vehicle by a recognised installer when you ordered the car will be covered by your insurance. RSAM Motability are the insurance providers for the Motability scheme who will take care of any claims you make. 


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