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Automatic vs Manual – Choosing Your WAV

Just as when purchasing any vehicle, choosing an automatic or a manual transmission wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) is largely a matter of personal driving preference. If you are going to be the passenger in the vehicle, you should consult with the person who will normally be driving it. Ask if they have a preference and make sure their driving licence includes a manual vehicle. If they’ve taken their test in an automatic, it may not!

Manual WAV

• Driver has more control
• Cheaper to buy and repair
• Not compatible with some adaptations

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Some drivers prefer the control that a manual gearbox offers. It’s a big part of driving and for some people it feels natural to change gears manually. Overall manual vehicles are less complicated and they are cheaper to buy. They’re also lighter so a manual is considered to be more fuel efficient providing between 5 and 15-percent more miles per gallon of petrol or diesel.

Unfortunately though manuals are not always compatible with adaptations so if you’re the driver of the vehicle and you need to have hand controls then you may have to consider an automatic vehicle.

Automatic WAV

• Easier to drive
• Modern automatics can save fuel
• Expensive to buy and repair

Vehicles with an automatic gearbox are more expensive to buy and if something goes wrong your repair bill will almost certainly be higher, however, it does make driving easier, particularly in hilly conditions or in traffic. As there is no clutch to control and you can keep both hands on the wheel at all times, an automatic vehicle is definitely easier for an inexperienced driver. And because an automatic transmission ensures that the engine is always in the correct gear for the road conditions, you may find that you use less fuel.

The Ford Grand Tourneo Connect and Ford Transit Custom (below) are two medium sized, rear-entry wheelchair accessible vehicles, which are available with automatic transmissions from Cartwright Mobility.

Ford Grand Tourneo Connect with automatic gearbox
Ford Grand Tourneo Connect WAV

Ford Transit Custom with automatic gearbox
Ford Transit Custom WAV
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What if I need adaptations?

If you’re the driver of the vehicle and you need adaptations then depending on your mobility restrictions it is likely that an automatic transmission will be more suitable for you. If you need to have hand controls for the brake and throttle then automatic will be the way to go. Whether you will be driving from your chair or transferring into the driving seat, it is likely that an automatic transmission will give you more room and make driving more pleasurable for you.

About Scott Smith

Scott Smith Profile ImageScott Smith is the founder of the Accessible Planet and WAV Compare. As a wheelchair user himself, he is incredibly passionate about connecting people with the right accessible vehicle for them. Scott’s websites have helped thousands of people with limited mobility to find products that make life easier.

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