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Drive From Wheelchair WAVs

A Drive From Wheelchair WAV (DFW) is a specially converted vehicle which, unlike a standard WAV, allows a wheelchair user to drive whilst remaining in their wheelchair.

What's the difference?

Drive From Wheelchair WAVs are bespoke vehicles, with more adaptations than a standard WAV, to allow a wheelchair user to actually drive the vehicle themselves. Because of their complexity, the timescales and costs involved are much higher than they would be for a standard car or WAV. The vehicles also tend to be larger than other types of WAV and are more in line with commercial vehicles.

There are two types of WAV conversions available.

A Drive From Wheelchair (DFW) allows you to drive directly from your wheelchair, which is safely secured in place with wheelchair tie-downs.

A typical seating layout could include:

An Internal Transfer (IT) allows you to access the vehicle in your wheelchair and then transfer from your wheelchair into an adapted driver's seat.

A typical seating layout could include:

dfw and it

The complex nature of these vehicles means they are a more expensive option than a standard WAV. While there are usually a small number of pre-adapted Nearly New vehicles held in stock by converters, which come at a more affordable cost, new DFW vehicles will typically have an Advance Payment of £20,000 or more. Please also note that the Advance Payment of the vehicle doesn’t include the cost of any adaptations, so if you need to add automatic tie-downs for example, you will also need to consider these costs before ordering a DFW or IT WAV.

If you are unable to afford the type of vehicle you need, Motability, the CharityOpens in new window, may be able to provide you with a grant depending on your circumstances. If your grant application is successful, Motability will work closely with you throughout the process of identifying the right solution for your needs, including a visit by one of their Mobility Driving Assessors and advice on what they are able to fund.

If you are thinking of ordering a DFW or IT WAV, you can find out more about the process and who is involved below. If you are not sure whether this is the best option for you, try our Product Selection Tool to help you decide.

Your DFW assessment 

A driving assessment is an essential part of the ordering process, helping you to determine a suitable vehicle and the adaptations you will need to drive comfortably.

How is a driving assessment arranged?

If you are applying for financial help for a DFW or IT vehicle, the application is first considered by Motability, the Charity. If you're eligible for financial help, an advisor will contact you to discuss any essential information such as the size of your wheelchair, equipment you regularly travel with and your upper body strength. They'll then arrange an appointment for an assessor to visit you at home and from the discussion over the phone, they will bring what they believe to be the most suitable vehicle to demonstrate.

If you are funding the DFW yourself your converter will usually conduct an assessment for you, but you can also seek independent advice from a mobility assessment company such as Driving MobilityOpens in new window. Call our Customer Services team on 0300 456 4566 if you would like to arrange a Driving Mobility assessment.

What happens during an assessment?

The purpose of the assessment is to understand your vehicle access, wheelchair loading and driving requirements. You'll be asked to complete some tests in order to establish your strength, range of movement and visual ability, which helps to identify the sorts of driving adaptations you may need. The assessor will also look at whether you can access the demonstration vehicle, attain a good driving position, safely secure the wheelchair and reach and operate the controls.

What usually happens by the end of an assessment?

In most cases, the vehicle and adaptations required can be agreed upon by the end of the first appointment. However, in some cases, a second visit may be needed to demonstrate alternative vehicles or adaptations. At this point in the process, you will be given some estimated guidelines around vehicle delivery times and how long they make take to convert.

Your DFW converter

The converter is the company that will be converting the standard vehicle in to a DFW or IT WAV. There are a number of converters across the country, and many of them provide a nationwide service.

What does the converter do?

Your WAV converter is your main point of contact throughout the ordering process. They are responsible for:

  • Arranging home demonstrations and helping you choose the right vehicle.
  • Providing expert advice on seating layouts and the best design for yours and your passenger’s needs.
  • Discussing Nearly New DFW options.
  • Placing your application.
  • Converting the vehicle in to a DFW or IT WAV.
  • Providing regular updates on the progress of your conversion.
  • Safety testing and quality control upon completion of the conversion.

Once the vehicle has been converted, they will then arrange for it to be delivered to the adaptations installer for the driving controls to be fitted. The converter should let you know when your order reaches this stage.

Support during your lease

Your WAV converter also acts as your main point of contact throughout your lease. They will arrange any servicing, maintenance and repairs and as part of our worry-free package, they will also perform an annual check to ensure the converted elements of your WAV are working correctly.

Your adaptations installer

Once the vehicle has been converted for wheelchair access to the vehicle and driving position, you will then be allocated an adaptations installer to fit the adaptations you need to enable you to drive the vehicle.

The adaptations can take between four to 20 weeks to install, depending on the complexity of the adaptations being fitted.

What happens during the adaptation installation process?

Once the vehicle arrives with the adaptations installer from the converter, they should call you to arrange a fitting. It’s essential that you have a fitting so that the installer can work out the positioning of equipment and ensure it meets your exact requirements. They may try a few different adaptations depending on your driving position and how far you can reach from the driving position.

It’s important not to rush through your fitting, so be sure to take your time and try various different adaptations to help you find the most suitable option for your needs. You should also bring any equipment you normally travel with to the fitting, such as medical equipment and extra wheelchairs, to make sure everything can fit in. We also recommend taking some winter clothing to make sure you can reach everything with the extra layers on.

What happens after all the adaptations are installed?

Once the installer has fitted the adaptations, you will be invited for a final fitting and a road test with the installer. This helps them check that all the adaptations are positioned correctly and you are comfortable driving with them. Once this is confirmed, the installer will look to arrange delivery for you.

Ordering and delivery

If you would like to learn more about the process of ordering a DFW or IT WAV, please follow the link below. If you have decided a DFW or IT WAV is not the right option for you, find out more about ordering a standard or Nearly New WAV .

Ordering a DFW or IT WAV