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What's different about a WAV?

WAVs are very different from standard cars and each of these differences can impact whether a WAV will suit your needs. Here's an overview of some of they key differences to consider.

Key considerations

Travelling experience

Travelling in a WAV will feel different from sitting in a standard car. You will be seated in your wheelchair which, although safely restrained, is not fixed to the floor in the same way as a car seat. You will therefore experience slight movements when seated in your wheelchair – most people get used to this in time, but some may not. Your height when seated in the wheelchair may give you a different eyeline out of the windows and with most WAVs the wheelchair user is seated towards the back of the vehicle and so hearing and talking to the driver can be more problematic than in a standard car. Again, in time most people get used to these compromises, but you should check whether you are happy with these aspects before you decide if a WAV is right for you. The travelling experience will vary between each WAV as well as between conversions from different suppliers, so we would always reccommend a few demonstrations to test each out.

Top tip:

If the wheelchair user is sensitive to temperature check both the air conditioning and the heater during any demonstrations, especially if you are considering a larger WAV.

A wheelchair user within a WAV will move around more in the back than if seated in a standard car, particular on roundabouts and sharp bends.

Seating arrangements

When making the vehicle accessible for wheelchair users, the converter usually has to remove some of the standard seats. Some vehicles have rear seats designed to fold out of the way to make room for the wheelchair, or you may be able to request to have the wheelchair user to be located in the passenger seat. Layouts also depend on the size of the WAV.

Top tips:

Think about the size of your family. The size of the WAV you need will depend on how many passengers you regularly travel with.

Do you regularly travel with just the driver? Would sitting behind the driver be a problem for you?

Will a partner or carer need to assist the wheelchair user during journeys – does the layout safely allow for this?

Parking

WAVs can be bigger than the type of car that you're used to, so it's important to think about how this will affect your travel from day to day. All WAVs are fitted with either a ramp or lift, and access will either be from the back or side of the vehicle depending on the conversion. Think about where you normally park and if there is enough space for a ramp or lift and room for wheelchair user to manoeuvre. If you opt for a larger vehicle, make sure the height of the vehicle will be able to clear any height restrictions that you regularly pass through, for example multi-storey car parks.

Top tips:

Where do you normally park?

Will there be enough room behind or to the side of the WAV to access the vehicle by a ramp or a lift?

Will there be enough room for the ramp to fully extend?

Are there height restrictions?

Ground clearance

Most WAVs will have had their floor specially lowered to allow enough headroom for the wheelchair user. As the floor has been lowered, you will need to make sure the WAV allows for enough ground clearance in the places you usually drive, and the driver will need to be more careful over speed bumps.

Top tip:

Where will you regularly travel to in your WAV? Are there lots of speed bumps or areas with height restrictions?

Driving experience

Some WAVs are larger than regular cars, and as a result will offer a very different driving experience and may require some adjustments in driving style to make sure everyone is safe and secure. It is extremely important to ensure that your driver feels comfortable and confident operating the vehicle.

Top tip:

Think about what would make driving the WAV easier. For example, does your driver need automatic transmission to make motoring easier? A WAV demonstration could help your driver in understanding what could help.

Fuel gauge

When the converter lowers the floor of a WAV, the fuel tank may need to be modified or replaced, reducing its size or changing its shape. This can mean your WAV will need to be refuelled more regularly than a standard car and the fuel gauge may be less accurate. Ask your converter if this applies to the WAV you’re looking at.

Top tip:

Do you mainly make local journeys, or will you be taking your WAV on longer trips?