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Choosing between a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle or adaptations

On the road again

With mobility options ranging from simple vehicle adaptations helping you get from A to B with ease, to state-of-the-art wheelchair-accessible vehicles (or WAVs) designed with the safety and comfort of wheelchair users in mind – it’s never been easier to get out and about, whatever your mobility needs may be.

So how do you choose between a new WAV or adaptations of your current vehicle? Ultimately, it depends on your own personal needs, preferences and budget.

Travel in comfort

Travelling should be as comfortable and stress-free as possible. The last thing you want is for the act of entering and exiting your vehicle to be so awkward and time consuming that a trip to the shops, visiting family or a weekend excursion feels off-limits.

If movement causes you pain and discomfort, a wheelchair-accessible vehicle might be the right choice for you. A wheelchair-accessible vehicle skips the transfer between wheelchair and car seat, making travel easier for both the passenger and the caregiver. With a range of accessibility features including in-floor ramps and lifts, wheelchair users can enter the vehicle with ease and hit the road in no time.

WAVs are often spacious. With many different styles and sizes to choose from, you can find a model that not only allows for a comfortable and safe journey, but has space for everything, whether it’s shopping, medical equipment or recreational gear.

Vehicle adaptations make driving possible againBut WAVs may lack certain features you’re looking for – at the very least they are perhaps less likely to come as standard. If you have very specific preferences in your vehicle, you may prefer an adaptation. Perhaps you recently invested in a car with all the latest gadgets, or maybe you just like the familiarity of your old banger!

Whatever the reason you want to hold on to your pre-loved vehicle, there are plenty of options to make it work for both driver and passenger. Rotating car seats can often be fitted to both sides for easy transfer between your vehicle and your wheelchair. Additional features like our hand controls and pedal extensions allow for a safe and enjoyable journey.

You have arrived at your destination

The great thing about arriving in a wheelchair-accessible vehicle is that you can roll out as easily as you rolled in. With the wheelchair already set up and ready to go, you’re out and about in no time at all.

If you’re leaning towards adaptations for your vehicle, don’t fret. Stowage systems can be installed to help users safely lift and secure the wheelchair in the vehicle. Our range of hoists are simple to fit and easy to master.

Staying social

Ford Tourneo Custom WAV from Cartwright MobilityMany wheelchair-accessible vehicles are designed with the wheelchair placed behind the other seats, away from the other passengers. Perfect for some peace and quiet, but could feel isolating on longer journeys.

While many WAVs overlook these factors and separate the wheelchair space from the other seats, our WAVs are designed with socialising in mind. A number of our models offer seating on one or both sides of the wheelchair space, allowing for friends, family or carers to easily communicate.

Adaptations, on the other hand, can allow for easy access to front or back seats – and that can include the driver’s seat.

Taking your mobility upgrades with you

You may find that in the future, your needs change and you require more or less adaptations in your vehicle. You may even want to buy a new car. Adaptations to your own vehicle are not only interchangeable, they may also be transferable – allowing you plenty of flexibility and choice.

Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are a little less flexible when it comes to bringing your gadgets with you. While there are many additional features you can purchase to kit out your new WAV to fit your needs, when you want an upgrade, you’ll be looking at purchasing a new or pre-loved model.

Buying and selling disability vehicles

Wheelchair-accessible vehicles and adaptations can be costly, which is why many customers choose to finance their vehicles privately or through the Motability Scheme. Find out if you are eligible and visit the Motability website to discover more.

You may also be eligible for a grant from Access to Work which can help you cover the costs of adaptations, special equipment and other work-related needs.

If you are a disabled person looking to purchase a new vehicle with permanently fitted adaptations, you may not have to pay VAT.

Thinking ahead, if you have bought your vehicle privately, you may wish to sell your vehicle – so there’s a few things to consider. Adaptations can often be reversed, while wheelchair-accessible vehicles are designed to fit their purpose. You would be selling the latter to a smaller market.

Making the right decision

There’s plenty to consider when choosing between adaptations and a new wheelchair-accessible vehicle. It might not be an easy choice – that’s why we’re here to help. Our friendly team of mobility experts are here to provide specialist advice you on your next purchase. Email or send us a message today.


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