Travelling by car as a wheelchair user | Help & Advice

By Published On: 24 April 2021

Whether you’re a wheelchair user or have reduced mobility, travelling by car can seem daunting, if not challenging. Yet, with a few helpful tips from LITH-TECH, you can enjoy a more comfortable journey the next time you plan to travel by car.  

Nowadays, accessible vehicles make it easier, and more convenient to travel with mobility difficulties. From adjustable comfort controls, lifts and hoists to the wide variety of adaptations that can help make cars generally more accessible, it can start to feel more natural to travel by car.  

Experience a more comfortable journey with our advice and helpful tips for traveling by car as a wheelchair user.  

Choosing a car to adapt 

If you are the driver of the car, choosing or adapting a car for your needs is essential. Whatever car you currently drive, whether it’s a sports car to a more practical family wagon, choosing one that suits your needs is paramount. 

Here, the best thing to do visit your local Motability approved dealer, or specialist Motability shop, who will be able to assist.  

Loading a wheelchair into your car 

When travelling with a wheelchair user, there are adaptations that help ensure that each individual can get in to, and out of, a car with as little trouble as possible. 

There are a wide range of adaptations available, each suited to various kinds of user.  

  • Transfer Plates 

This simple, effective and discreet solution essentially provides a seat for those who cannot manage a standing transfer between a wheelchair and the car seat. They tuck away when not in use but slide out when needed. Either electric or manual, the user or their carer  can then lift themselves into the car. You will need upper body strength for this but it is a relatively simple solution.  

  • Electric Hoist 

Slightly more complex than a transfer plate this contraption contains two parts; a sling which goes around the wheelchair user, and a hoist, which is fitted to the passenger seat of the car.  

To use, the sling is placed under the body of the wheelchair user and then connected to the hoist using a variety of strengthened loops. Once in the car, the sling stays where it is to make reversing the process easier.  

  • Swivel seats 

Perhaps the most advanced of all of the loading mechanisms, a swivel seat is a plate fitting instead of a passenger seat that allows the wheelchair seat to slide into the car and swivel to face the front.  

The wheelchair base can then be stored in the boot or backseat.  

Both the wheelchair and car need to be compatible, but this option is perfect for wheelchair users who rely on the wheelchair for posture support, or for full body mobility.  

Before making any choices, it’s worth consulting a physical or occupational therapist to discuss the best options for you.  

Stowing a wheelchair in your car 

For some people, stowing a wheelchair in your car can be a daunting prospect. Here at LITH-TECH our electric folding wheelchairs are easy to stow away. There’s two ways to get your wheelchair into the boot, either by lifting it manually or using telescopic ramps to create ease for elderly or frailer users.  

Folding your wheelchair is simple, and is achieved by bring your arms together so it folds on itself like a pushchair. Once folded you can easily lift or ramp the chair into your car. 

Watch a video on lifting your chair into your car:

Or, if you’re using ramps, have a watch of this:

Comfort while driving 

When in the car, it can get uncomfortable on long journeys when adjusting yourself may cause pain or be tricky.  

Our top tips for this are: 

  1. Take multiple short test drives when getting a new car to make minor adjustments to seat positions. 
  1. Consider getting cushions or neck pillows to protect the neck and upper body from rubbing seatbelts 
  1. Plan journeys in advance to allow for rest breaks, toilet breaks and food stops 

If you’re considering taking a journey and want to speak to our team about loading a wheelchair into the car, we’re happy to provide demonstrations. Why not give us a call? 

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