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Getting and adapting your new car

Do your preparation carefully, you will probably keep the car for years so you need to get it right first time.

Whether you are looking to purchase a new or used car privately or if you are thinking of getting a car through the Motability Scheme, it is going to be a major commitment that needs careful consideration to make sure you get it right first time.

What type of car suits your needs?

Large, medium or small car? Saloon, hatchback, estate car? An MPV, or a 4×4?

Consider the different costs of insurance for different cars, especially important for young or inexperienced drivers. This also needs to be considered if you are getting a car through the Motability Scheme, insurance is included but, especially for younger drivers, there may be limitations to the vehicles available.

Do you want or need an automatic or do you prefer a manual car?

How many seats? Are the seats comfortable (especially if you need to drive longer distances)? High seats are easy to get in and out from standing but lower seats may be easier if you are transferring from a wheelchair.

Once you are in can you see out easily, can you see behind and to the sides when you are reversing?

What is your budget?

Work out what you can afford (either to pay outright, cover HP repayments, or pay the customer contribution to Motability – also consider the impact of losing the mobility component of your PIP to pay for the lease). Don’t forget to take into account the cost of insurance, road tax, maintenance and servicing, as well as the cost of tyres and breakdown recovery. Don’t forget to consider the running costs of different cars, fuel consumption and insurance groupings can affect the overall costs of running a car.

Another thing you may wish to consider is the environmental impact different types of vehicle may have, you may wish to even think about getting a hybrid or battery electric vehicle.

Do you need driving adaptations fitted?

Can you operate the standard controls in a manual or automatic car? If you can’t physically operate the controls, or doing this causes pain/discomfort, there are many different adaptations available to help. Hand controls, a steering ball, left foot accelerator or a remote secondary control keypad are examples of different driving adaptations that are commonly available.

Do you need aids for getting in or out of the car (as a driver or passenger)?

Additional handles are available to help you stand up when getting out of the car. If you need to transfer from a wheelchair to the car seat you could use a transfer board or you could fit a transfer plate to fill the gap and make transferring safer and more comfortable. A swivel seat could be fitted to the car or an electric rise/fall device or you could even fit a system that allows the wheelchair seat to slide int the car so you remain in the same seat.

Do you need to carry a wheelchair or other mobility aid?

Make sure that the car has a big enough boot or wide enough doors if you are going to carry it inside the car.

Do you need aids for loading your wheelchair?

Wheelchair hoists are available for lifting the chair in and out of the boot or possibly into the interior of the car. If you need to load the wheelchair from the driver’s seat you could also consider a “top box” where a hoist lifts the wheelchair and stows it into a roof mounted storage box.

What are the pro’s and con’s of buying privately versus using the Motability Scheme?

If you buy the car privately you eventually get to own it outright. If you choose the Motability Scheme you are getting the car on a lease and will need to return the car at the end of the lease period (but you would then have the option of arranging to lease another new vehicle through the scheme), you “pay” for the lease by transferring the Mobility component of your PIP award to Motability.

The Motability Scheme includes: insurance, breakdown assistance, servicing and maintenance as well as covering the cost of basic adaptations; everything is included in the price you pay. If you are buying privately you will have to cover the cost of all these additional items yourself.

Updated 09.01.2021