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The importance of test-driving a wheelchair-accessible vehicle

You’ve shortlisted the wheelchair-accessible vehicles that you think fit the bill – so what’s next? A test drive is an essential part of buying a WAV – not just for driver, but for everyone who will be using the vehicle.

It’s not until you’re in the vehicle that you start to get a feel for the space. Does the vehicle offer solutions to the problems you’ve experienced in other, less accessible vehicles? Are you comfortable? Do you feel secure?

What makes a vehicle wheelchair-accessible?

A WAV gives you the freedom to travel in your wheelchair without having to transfer into a seat. This way, you continue to benefit from the support your wheelchair provides, and you don’t have to worry about where to stow your wheelchair during the journey.

Most WAVs are fitted with a ramp or lift at the rear, the most common being a lowered floor with a manually folding ramp to allow access for wheelchairs. If ramps prove too difficult or you have an electric wheelchair, you can consider investing in a WAV with a powered lift – often available in our larger range.

With so many options available, most retailers will recommend you attend a demonstration before committing to purchasing your vehicle.

Here’s what to expect from a Cartwright Mobility demo

Viewing a WAV in a showroom gives a good first impression, but it doesn’t allow you to get a feel for the vehicle. You want to see how it will perform for you – and where better to test that than on familiar roads?

Your WAV test drive can be held at your own place of residence, at work, the home of a family member or another site that you think would be most convenient. We encourage customers to test drive or invite their regular driver to take the WAV along a familiar route. This could be a trip to the local shops or supermarket, to their place of work or simply a leisurely ride around town.

Our home demonstrations take as long as the customer requires to feel comfortable with the vehicle and are fully led by the customers needs. Get in touch with our WAV specialists today to discuss your personal requirements.

Who attends a test-drive?

Our trained mobility experts bring the WAV straight to your door for a free, no-obligation demo and can answer any and all of your questions. But who else needs to be there?

We’ve talked about inviting your regular driver, but you’re welcome to include anyone else who will be using the vehicle on a regular basis. Your carer needs to be confident that they can assist you into the vehicle so it’s worth spending some time practising entering, exiting and learning how to best secure the wheelchair in place.

Our WAV demo checklist:

To get the most out of your WAV home demonstration, we have created a list of things to consider when test driving the vehicle – including some key points you may not necessarily consider. Remember to ask yourself these questions while exploring the vehicle.

Getting road-ready:

Are you able to get in and out of the vehicle with ease? Is there enough room behind the WAV to allow access to the ramp of lift? Make sure you have enough head clearance when entering the WAV and space to comfortably manoeuvre your wheelchair into position.

Can you reach the seat belt or the doors? Is it easy to operate the wheelchair restraints? Take the time to practise getting road-ready so there’s no surprise when you take your first trip.

You’ll likely need to transport more than just your wheelchair and other passengers. Is there room for your weekly shopping, the family dog, luggage for holidays or weekends away? Do you have sufficient space for any specialist equipment you may need?

On the road:

Do you have enough space at your home to safely manoeuvre the vehicle? Are you parking off road or do you have to navigate a tricky driveway? This may impact the size of WAV you should consider. Find out more about our sizes.

How’s the view? Wheelchair users are often positioned higher in the vehicle than other passengers which may impact your line of sight. Will you be able to take in the scenery from your seat?

Are you comfortable when the vehicle is in motion? Are there many speed bumps on your regular journeys? Ensure there is enough ground clearance and that you feel secure when the vehicle is jostled.

Arriving at your destination:

Check for any size or height restrictions on your regular journey and at your final destination. Are there suitably sized parking spaces at work or your local shops? Again, check you have enough space behind the WAV to operate the lift or use the ramp.

Thinking of the future:

Are you likely to change your wheelchair in the next few years? Consider the suitability of the vehicle if you do need to modify or switch your wheelchair.

There may also be space to further improve the WAV. You might consider installing extra features, such as an electric winch to help you up the ramp and into the vehicle. Talk to our trained mobility experts about customising your WAV to your specific needs.

The Motability Scheme helps people afford to lease wheelchair-accessible vehicles, adapted disability vehicles, scooters or powered wheelchairs. They also have resources to help you get the most out of WAV demonstrations – why not take a look at their checklist?

Booking your WAV test drive

To help you in your search for a vehicle that suits your needs, we offer free, no-obligation home demonstrations across the UK on all our new wheelchair accessible vehicles. Our trained mobility experts are here to guide you through the process of buying your WAV, from advising on models based on your needs to showing you the ropes in a familiar environment. For more information and to book a demo, please visit our website.

Still searching for the perfect fit? Browse our WAVs for sale or talk to the team to discuss your requirements.

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