A Guide to Vehicle Adaptations

09/03/2016 10:00

Here at Bristol Street Versa we are able to provide and fit a wide range of mobility enhancing vehicle adaptations and accessories into your car or wheelchair accessible vehicle. Whatever your specific needs are, its likely that there will be a vehicle adaptation designed to make your life easier. To help make you aware of the types of car adaptations for disabled drivers that are available when choosing a vehicle, weve put together a brief guide with all the introductory information about vehicle adaptations youll need.

What is a vehicle adaptation?

A vehicle adaptation is a change made to improve the accessibility or functionality of a vehicle for a disabled person. Adaptations can generally be broken down into three areas:

  1. Access adaptations  Adaptations designed to make it easier for a person to get in and out of a vehicle.
  2. Stowage adaptations  Adaptations that alter and improve a vehicles storage facilities, to allow for wheelchair and scooter stowage.
  3. Driving adaptations  Fittings installed to make it possible or easier for a person to drive.

What type of vehicle adaptations are there? 

Vehicle adaptations come in a number of different types to suit. Below, weve broken down vehicle adaptions into the access, stowage, and driving areas, and included specific fixtures within these.


Swivel seats

  • Swivel seats allow for easy access to the vehicle for wheelchair users, scooter users, and for those with limited mobility. A swivel seat is a seat that is able to be turned to face out from the vehicle, making it easier to get in and out. Swivel seats can either be manually powered or motor powered, and can be designed so the base of the seat allows for a wheelchair to be inserted.

 Electric Hoist

  • Electric hoists are fittings that physically lift a person into a vehicle. Generally, these consist of a permanent but discrete fitting added to the door of a vehicle, and a separate frame attachment. When a person with limited mobility needs to get into the vehicle, the frame will be attached to the permanent door fixture alongside a hoist, and the person will be lifted into the seat.

Wheelchair and Scooter Stowage

Car boot hoist

  • A car boot hoist is a type of wheelchair lift that allows a scooter or wheelchair to be easily lifted and stowed in a car boot. Depending on the size of your car, and the size of your wheelchair/scooter, you may need to choose a certain type of hoist. Mini, Midi, and Maxi hoists allows for chairs and scooters from 40kg to over 100kg to be lifted into the car boot via a permanent hoist and removable frame. A platform hoist on the other hand, allows for a scooter or wheelchair to be driven onto a permanent platform, and lifted onto a boot; however, this is only suitable for larger vehicles.

Rooftop stowage

  • This is a hoist that allows for a wheelchair to be lifted onto and stored in a rooftop stowage compartment. Rooftop stowage is a useful alternative to a car boot hoist if you have a smaller vehicle, or if you simply need boot space for other things.


Left Foot Accelerators

  • Left foot accelerator pedals are used by those who have limited use of their right leg, and who thus may find it difficult to use a standard accelerator. Left hand accelerators dont have to be permanent, and can be easily placed in by a mobility driver if needed. This allows for the traditional accelerator set up to still be used; useful if a vehicle has more than one nominated driver.

Hand Controls

  • Hand controls for cars are ideal for those who find traditional brake and acceleration controls difficult. The most common hand control is a push/pull device. This adaptation is typically installed as a lever connected to the brake and accelerator, allowing a user to drive with their hand of choice.

Electronic Accelerators

  • Electronic accelerator systems are designed for those who find both traditional and hand operated accelerators difficult to use. Installed as either a ring over the steering wheel or as a finger operated trigger, they require minimal effort and power to be used.

Pedal Extension

  • Ideal for those who have difficulty reaching the pedals in a vehicle. A pedal extension is a fixture that can be simply fitted over existing pedals, bringing them closer to a driver.

Steering Aid

  • For Motability customers that find it difficult to keep hold of a steering wheel, a steering wheel aid could help. The most common steering aid is a steering ball. This is a simple ball attached to the wheel that allows for easier grip.

Remote Controls

  • If you find it difficult to reach or use the horn, windscreen wipers, lights, or more when driving, a remote control device could help. This is a steering wheel mounted control, making all the necessary features accessible from one place.

How do I find out which vehicle adaptations are right for me?

Theres bound to be a vehicle adaptation that will suit you, whatever your needs might be.  When you get in touch with Bristol Street Versa to enquire about a new wheelchair accessible vehicle, you should ensure that you let a member of the team know about any specific requirements you might have. We can also help with enquiries about Motability, so if you think youre eligible to receive adaptations through the Motability scheme then let us know.

We hope this guide has given you a good introduction to the range of different vehicle adaptations available. If youd like to know more about vehicle adaptations, why not get in touch with Bristol Street Versa today.