Getting in and out of the car
If you find it difficult to get in and out of a car because of physical problems, there are products you can buy that can help.
- Car caddies: adjustable straps that attach to the car door and can be held to make it easier to stand up from the car seat. You can also get straps that fit around headrests and work in a similar way.
- Handybars: fit into the locking mechanism of the car door and provide a grip handle to push down on.
- Swivel seats and leg lifters: help turn the body in the car seat, so you can sit down or get up more easily if you have problems rotating in the car.
- Transfer boards: these are positioned between the car seat and a wheelchair. They are another option if you aren’t able to lift yourself out of the car.
We have a list of selected Independent living retailers, some of these offer a range of car mobility aids and accessories. If you’re not sure what products are best for you, a physiotherapist or occupational therapist can help you work out the best solutions.
Loading wheelchairs into a car
Families often get a wheelchair so that their relative can join in with outings and continue to leave the home for shopping trips and social activities without having to walk long distances. If your family is thinking of getting a wheelchair for this purpose, the following check list may help them to ensure that the chair is transportable:
- Buy a lightweight chair that can be easily lifted into the boot of the car. Removing the foot plates and any other accessories will also reduce the lifting weight. Lift from your knees and not your back to avoid back injuries.
- Check the frame of the chair will fit into the boot of the car. On most chairs the back can be folded and the wheelchair footplates can be removed to make it more compact.
- Having a car with a high sill to the boot will mean that the chair has to be lifted up and over it, so if you decide to replace the car at some stage, consider a vehicle with a low sill or no sill.
- If there is no sill, heavier chairs and small scooters can be manoeuvred up on a car ramp, although this requires more effort and takes extra time.
- Finally, for heavy chairs, a wheelchair ‘boot lift’ will enable the chair to be placed in the back of the car without the need for heavy lifting.
For more advice on how to choose the right wheelchair – from electric powered chairs to lightweight folding options – visit our guide to Choosing a wheelchair.
Staying comfortable when you're on the road
It’s important to make sure you’re comfortable while travelling. Think about placing support cushions on the seats or attaching comfort straps to the seat belt. If you have a back condition, there are a number of supports to help you sit as comfortably as possible.
Work out the route in advance to make sure there are stops to take regular toilet breaks, if necessary. Portable urinals can be useful for long journeys and are available for both men and women. Disposable urine bags are another option; they convert the waste into a gel and can then be sealed and disposed of in a bin.
Choosing and adapting a car for mobility
If you have a friend or family member with limited mobility who will be travelling regularly with you, it may be worth adapting your vehicle or even replacing your existing car with one that is more suitable.
If your car isn’t suitable for your loved one’s needs and you’re thinking of getting a new one, you could look into vehicles with good accessibility features, including low door sills and wider doors.
Additionally, if you’re looking to adapt your car to suit a family member or yourself, there are a number of Driving Mobility centres around the country that can provide personalised advice on accessibility.
How to lease an accessible vehicle
If you receive a government-funded disability allowance – such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP), you may be able to get a suitable car through the Motability Scheme. The not-for-profit scheme allows people with disabilities to lease a car, scooter or powered wheelchair in exchange for their mobility allowance.
Motability advisers can also help you with choosing which vehicle adaptations would be best suited to your mobility needs.
For more information on how to use the Motability Scheme, read the Which? Cars guide to getting a Motability car.
Take advantage of the Blue Badge scheme
A Blue Badge allows people with disabilities to park closer to their destination. Find out more about about eligibility, how to apply and how to use the permit in our guide:
Whether you’re planning to take a holiday or go on a day trip, here's what to consider if you have reduced mobility.
Our guide to the different types of mobility scooter for the pavement and the road, and what to consider when buying.
Older drivers can start to experience difficulty with driving. Read our tips for older drivers to be safer on the roads.