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Car Conversions for People with Disabilities

Despite what some people might think, getting around when you have a disability isn’t impossible. On the contrary, some people with mobility impairments have taken the world by storm by taking mobility to the next level. Formula One driver Alex Zanardi doesn’t let his impairment keep him from speeding around a track. While not everyone can be a race car driver, many people with disabilities can still get themselves from point A to B in different ways. Below we’ve listed some of the conversions that can be made to vehicles to benefit drivers and passengers with disabilities.

Vehicle Conversion

These conversions are essential for people with disabilities to get around as easily as possible. While none of them come free, some medical aids make provisions for their clients and this can definitely be a huge advantage for those who already deal with myriad other medical costs due to their disability.

Hand Controls

There are various hand controls that can be modified to suit an individual’s needs depending on the extent and severity of their impairment.

Portable Hand Controls

These hand controls are fairly self-explanatory – they’re portable. They can be carried around and installed in any automatic vehicle in a matter of minutes. This is especially useful for people who travel often or do not own their own car.

Electronic Hand Controls

While these vary in terms of instructions, most electronic hand controls work on the same key concept which is allowing the driver to steer, turn, accelerate, and brake by simply using the electronic hand controls.

Left Foot Accelerator

This conversion is focused on those that have minimal to no mobility in their right leg. This simplifies travelling by allowing the driver to remove the pedal and transfer it to other cars (for example, a rental vehicle.)

Extended Indicator Arms

Extended indicator arms simplify turning by helping those with limited mobility in their upper body.

Steering Wheel Adjustments

There is a large variety of steering wheel adjustments that can be made to suit someone with a disability’s needs. Below we’ve listed some of the more common steering wheel adjustments:

  • Deep-Dish Steering Wheel
  • Foot Steering Control
  • Horizontal Steering Column
  • Low Effort Steering
  • One Hand Drive Control System
  • Steering Column Extension
  • Steering Spinners
  • Zero Effort Steering


Swivel Seats

Swivel seats help disabled drivers and passengers get in and out of their cars by turning out at an angle. This is perfect for those who might have trouble transferring rom their wheelchairs into a car.

Specialised Braking Systems

Needless to say, braking is an important, non-negotiable part of driving that ensure that the driver and those around them are safe. Different braking systems are available to simplify the action of pressing down the brake pedal. These conversions range from larger brake pedals, to a zero-effort or electronic braking system installed in the car.


Top Vehicles for Drivers with Disabilities

  1. Scion xB

The Scion xB is a compact car manufactured by Toyota and was originally aimed at younger generations by being a commuter car. This car has a very generous mobility programs which makes it perfect to convert to suit a person with disabilities’ needs.


  1. Subaru Forester


Subaru’s have long been considered perfect all-rounders thanks to their safety and comfort. A great plus of the Forester is that it can be modified or converted directly from the factory to include the accessibility features that you might need. It is not only a spacious car that makes getting around in urban areas easier, but it’s also great for camping trips and off-road adventures. It also comes standard with automatic transmission. These cars are generally reliable and durable.


  1. Hyundai Sonata


While the Hyundai i20 might be a more modern choice, the Sonata is a classic favourite. Not only does it have an incredible warranty, but its also very reliable and easy to modify. Some features don’t even require modifications thanks to its low-ride height and interior support and comfort. Just like the i20, it has a smart digital system that simplifies making calls and managing music while driving.


  1. Ford Mustang


This might not have been your first thought when you consider cars for people with physical impairments. Most able-bodied people don’t consider a sportscar as practical options. Ford not only offers a disability reimbursement program, but also revolutionised their new models to accommodate racing drivers with physical impairments. These cars can be manufactured with various accessibility features.


  1. Chevrolet Silverado

 The Silverado is perfect for those who need a spacious cabin as well as more power than your average SUV. This pickup truck not only have a wheelchair lift, but it also has hinged doors that make getting in and out a whole lot simpler. Just like Ford, GM also offer a disability reimbursement program that helps people who might not have the needed finances to afford it on their own.

 Where Can I Get My Car Converted?

While it helps knowing more about the conversions you might need for your vehicle and which cars would suit your lifestyle, it’s all for naught if there is no one to apply these conversions in your area. The next list of South African companies specialises in vehicle conversions and are always more than willing to assist. If these companies are not in or near your area, be sure to contact your local health department for more information.  These are by no means all of the available facilities in South Africa.

Click here to view the list.


Who Can I Speak To?

While the companies listed below might not all offer vehicle conversions, they can still offer valuable information and advice regarding vehicle conversions.


Easy Drive

Website: http://www.easydrivewc.co.za/

Where: Cape Town

Contact: johan@easydrivewc.co.za


Auto Mobility

Website: https://www.auto-mobility.co.za/driver-solutions/drive-from-wheelchair/

Where: Nation Wide

Contact: https://www.facebook.com/automobility.co.za/?ref=hl


Rolling Rehab

Website: https://www.rollingrehab.co.za/conversion-companies/

Where: Centurion

Contact: rule@global.co.za