If you’re the proud owner of a wheelchair accessible car, it’s only natural you’d want to keep it looking and feeling brand new for years to come. They’re a vital part of your day to day life, empowering your independence.
But while you’re looking out at your vehicle and smiling because you ensure it’s cleaned on a regular basis, you might actually be damaging it without knowing. Crazy, right?
Habits that could damage a wheelchair accessible car
To help keep your wheelchair accessible car / vehicle free from damage, read over the following surprising habits that can harm your car without you knowing. Once you understand the risks in them, you can drive mindfully to try and keep it going for as long as possible.
But first, read tips on how to wash properly when spring cleaning a car – or cleaning at any time. There are right ways and wrong ways.
Now onto bad habit number one…
Skipping the coolant is bad for your vehicle
Australia is HOT. It’s just how it is. And if you spend a lot of time in your wheelchair accessible car, shuttling to and from appointments and social outings or simply sitting in traffic a lot, your radiator water can overheat and boil. This is a shortcut to engine damage.
And if you reckon you’re safe in winter, hold your horses.
On very cold days, water can freeze. Which isn’t such a huge problem in itself. But if you’ve ever seen a bottle or container crack or explode when you put it in the freezer, you’ll know where we’re going with this. As the liquid expands, your engine block is at risk of cracking.
Coolant prevents both of these from happening, luckily. So the best course of action is to avoid using plain water unless you really have to in a pinch. Then go for a mixture of coolant and water as soon as possible. Here are some more summer car care tips for those hot Aussie days.
Resting your hand on the gear stick
This one was a bit of a surprise, even to us!
If your wheelchair accessible car has a gear stick, did you know resting your hand on it could damage the car? The gear stick is only meant to make contact with the transmission and all the other important mechanical stuff when you change gear. If you rest your hand on it all the time, you can wear it out.
So, keep your hands off the stick and on the wheel…
Impatience could be damaging your wheelchair accessible car
After a long day, you want nothing more than to get home. We get it. But if you’re not slowing down for speedbumps, potholes, or even bumpy dirt roads you could be damaging your wheelchair accessible car’s wheels, exhaust, tyre alignment, and more. Not to mention the wheelchair, wheelchair ramp or other precious cargo inside it!
If you’re speeding around corners, pulling away from lights like Daniel Ricciardo, and accelerating hard, there’s more bad news. Not only are you decreasing your fuel efficiency, but you’re putting a lot of stress on your car, including the brakes, tyres, and handling systems.
And you know that slow car will arrive at the traffic lights 30 seconds after you anyway. Is it really worth it?
Overloading your car
This one is a biggie for a wheelchair accessible car. You’re likely to have extra gear that other cars wouldn’t. Like a wheelchair, ramp, hoist, extra battery/ies and any other mobility equipment you might need.
And of course, these are all essential items. But if you overload your car, it’ll take strain. You can expect your car to wear down more quickly, especially when it comes to the brakes, suspension, and tyres.
So keep the important stuff, by all means. But reconsider whether you need extra luggage, your family member’s bicycle, or anything else extra heavy. Plus, a clutter-free car is a pleasure to take a drive in.
Skipping the petrol station can damage your car too
Some people fill up as soon as their fuel tank is half empty – or is that half full? Others wait until the car says they have 1km of fuel left and then figure “it’s ok, there’s a reserve too.” If you’re the second one, we have two things to say to you.
Firstly, you’re a brave, brave person.
Secondly, your bravery might be damaging your wheelchair accessible car.
When your fuel tank is pretty much running on empty, the car takes fuel from the very bottom of the tank. Fine, right? The problem is that contaminants sink to the bottom of a fuel tank and collect. So if you have some nasty bits and pieces floating around there, you don’t want your car to try and use them to power along. They could get into the engine or block your filters.
We know stopping for petrol is one of those chores that seems to take a ridiculous amount of willpower given how quick it is. But just remember, a road trip isn’t a fun game of “see how far you can go on one tank.” Leave that to the guys at Top Gear. Which you can see below, for your own viewing entertainment.
Maintaining your wheelchair accessible car
We don’t need to tell you that wheelchair accessible cars require a little bit more attention than a regular, “off-the-shelf” car. Things like modifications and conversions mean there are more elements to consider.
Making sure you’re always up to date with maintenance helps keep your car safe and working properly. It’s important to regularly maintain your wheelchair ramp, swivel seat, lifts and hoists, for instance. Using equipment that’s broken or weakened could mean uneven weight distribution as you transfer in or out and when manouevring your wheelchair into place. Or it could mean your chair knocks against doors or frames.
Either way, improperly maintained equipment could easily lead to damage to your wheelchair accessible car.
In addition, you should ensure you get regular checks on any conversions such as driving controls. After all, these are key to both your independence and your safety. Having them in good nick could save you tons of money in future and help you avoid handling or control issues while driving.
Not sure you’re looking after your car well enough? Here are some more detailed tips on maintaining a disability converted vehicle or wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV). And here are tips on how to check the oil in your vehicle.
Insurance for your wheelchair accessible vehicle
Hopefully, you’re not doing any of these things that could damage your wheelchair accessible car. Regardless, WAVs are big investments you’ll want to protect with everything you can.
Blue Badge Insurance offers specialised car insurance for wheelchair accessible vehicles and disability converted cars. And we know that drivers with a disability parking permit are likely to be safer on the roads. So you could also get up to 25% off your premiums when you take out a policy with us.