What Do You Drive?

trevorsendeavortrevorsendeavor Posts: 38Moderator Moderator
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I know for a lot of people getting behind the wheel after suffering a spinal cord injury can be a difficult adjustment with a lot of overwhelming choices. There are so many various cars and setups that I have seen people have altered with hand controls and other things such as ramps and lifts. I know level of injury has a lot to do with making those decisions as well.

I decided when I was looking at cars post injury that I really wanted something that didn’t need a lot of modifications or changes. I had a 5 speed before my injury so I had to get rid of it and look for something that was automatic. I decided to go with a Subaru Impreza and have had it now for 2 years and I love it!
The only modification I had done is the hand controls. It took me a few months of good practice breaking down my chair and learning the best way to get all the parts arranged in the car the best way.

So I guess I’m interested in hearing about what everyone drives and what works best for you!
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Comments

  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 193Moderator Moderator
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    Trevor, what level are you?
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • trevorsendeavortrevorsendeavor Posts: 38Moderator Moderator
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    @Zcollie I am c6/c7!
  • dd Posts: 1Member
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    Subaru forester is the best for people who drive and use a wheelchair. I have 2! If you're with friends they can put the whole wheelchair in the back back! You don't have to break it down unless you're by yourself! 
  • wildwheelswildwheels Posts: 6Member
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    I personally don't think there is a vehicle that is "best" for everyone.  It comes down to personal likes and dislikes, comfort, affordability, and a number of other factors.  I personally have driven all types of vehicles over the past 35 years, everything from small cars, vans and trucks to a 3 wheeled can-am motorcycle, and after all was said and done I ended up with a pickup modified by a company called ATC.  It's safe, comfortable, 4wd, and I can drive right from my chair.  And just a couple of words of wisdom from a 30+ year wheelchair user, when possible plan for the future when you get older and bodies don't function as well as we would like and the snap crackle pop sets in.
  • trevorsendeavortrevorsendeavor Posts: 38Moderator Moderator
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    @d I know exactly what you mean. My girlfriend drives drives a crosstrek and it is just a little bit bigger than mine which allows for the whole chair to fit in the back as well. We take that when we are together and it makes it easier! My Imprezza I pretty much only drive when I am alone.
  • trevorsendeavortrevorsendeavor Posts: 38Moderator Moderator
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    @wildwheels I would have to agree that everyone's needs and wants when choosing a car are very unique so there is not a best choice in general! That is a very nice truck, I have a couple friends that have lifted trucks with a lift in the back for the chair and have always thought that would be something I may explore in the future when I get another vehicle. Where I live, it is very important to have something that handles the bad weather in the winter and the Subarus seem to do so well!
  • wildwheelswildwheels Posts: 6Member
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    My truck actually has a lift built-in and is an integral part of the cab.  The entire side of the truck slides out and I enter the truck via the lift and drive from my chair.  As you can from the video (link below), it makes life so much easier, and I too live where the weather is horrible for about 5 months out of the year.  P.S. I almost bought a Subaru, and probably would have if I hadn't stumbled onto the truck.  Thnx for the compliment.  Nice Subaru too.

    Here is a link showing how the lift operates:

  • CruckerCrucker Posts: 60Moderator Moderator
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    My wife just bought a Honda Fix. Little sucker compared to those trucks but she can throw the whole manual chair in a very roomy back end and off we go. I drive a sedan and break the chair down. I plan to do that until my shoulders give out.
  • wildwheelswildwheels Posts: 6Member
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    And for those of you who come across these posts and links related to accessible pickup trucks I will caution you to stay away from the svm, Generations 1 2 and 3 accessible trucks. I learned the hard way. They are driven with electric motors and they do not last long and they go very very slow. I personally paid out of pocket $1,500 three separate times before I finally sent my truck to a company called ATC in Indiana to have it converted over to hydraulics. Since then, no issues. That is all unless you want to pick up an original svm conversion truck and have it converted over to Hydraulics for somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 to $14,000 including transport.
  • JanarJanar Posts: 1Member
    First Comment
    I live in South Africa, so no issues with bad weather. I drive a Daihatsu Sirion with removable hand controls. My electric wheelchair folds flat and fits behind the front seats in an upright position. For the past few years I have not been able to transfer myself due to a destroyed right elbow, so I need help getting in and out whether I drive or not. I envy you guys with your trucks, here such a conversion is way too expensive, it would cost about a year's wages. 
  • wildwheelswildwheels Posts: 6Member
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    I envy anyone who isn't buried in snow right now lol.  Those modifications aren't cheap here either.  The average truck modification is around $30k US, in addition to the actual cost of the vehicle.  That has always been the issue, and cost prohibitive modifications really narrow the choices.  There are very few options in terms of funding sources to assist with the cost, and until these things become more reasonable it won't get much better.  Unless you have have some type of settlement, are a service connected vet, or have a good VR system in your area, it is very difficult unless you can afford a very high vehicle payment.  Hopefully as more modifiers become available the prices will drop, as they have with wheelchairs.  This doesn't only apply to trucks, but also vans and mini vans requiring more extensive modifications.  Looking for local resources in your area, and connecting with a local Independent Living Center for information on available resources/funding sources would be advice right now.
  • wildwheelswildwheels Posts: 6Member
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    Below is a link to a national directory of Independent Living Centers

  • skosillsskosills Posts: 13Member
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    My husband (T7 complete) drives a Honda Element. The suicide doors make it easy for him to stow his chair behind the driver's seat. He used to break it down but now he has a folding chair and likes that better. The only mod he needed was the hand controls. It's a shame they don't make it anymore.
    Sandra
    Peer Mentor for able bodied care givers
    Wife of T7 Complete Para
  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 127Moderator Moderator
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     I Drive an acura mdx
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 328Moderator Moderator
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    Hey guys and gals,
    We are 3 years post injury and are yet to be able to afford an adaptable vehicle for my boyfriend Dan but, meanwhile I drive a Hyandai Veloster, it's compact and small but the trunk space is large enough to take apart the wheelchair and fit it all in the trunk including our suitcases when we go away. The wheels, seat cushion come off and the manual chair folds down. Can't think of a better little compact to fit all our needs into for the time being. This is the vehicle I've been driving before Dan's injury. 

    Cheers,

    Elena (Wags of SCI)
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 193Moderator Moderator
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    I unfortunately don't drive right now. I do have an accessible minivan with a ramp that comes out. I roll into the passenger side (seat is taken out) and use tie-downs to hold my wheelchair in place. Then I have someone drive me around. BUT! I have been in the process of starting to learn how to drive since last year and will be driving by myself independently sometime this year! My new van is currently being modified. I am so excited for this door to open and gain more freedom and independence! 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 176Moderator Moderator
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    My brother has his eyes on one of these upcoming VW vans if it can be modified: https://newsroom.vw.com/vehicles/future-cars/official-the-vw-bus-is-back-and-its-electric/
  • Gus2019Gus2019 Posts: 1Member
    First Comment
    Hey guys greetings from Nashville...paraplegic L1 I'm driving an FJ cruiser with hand controls and i love it.
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 175Moderator Moderator
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    I am a T2.  Initially after injury we had a VMI conversion Honda Odyssey.  We got a really good deal on a used one with only 18,000 miles.  We had that for about two years.  Then I got a bug up my butt and decided I wanted a Scion Xb.  It was a cool car but after putting in hand controls, I realized there was not enough room for safe transfers.  I was constantly banging my knees into the hand controls.  So, after having that for about a year, I switched to a Subaru Forester.  I think it is an excellent vehicle for me.  One of the first things I noticed and absolutely loved was how wide the driver and passenger front doors open.  So much wider than my Scion xB.  I also get the "eyesight" feature which is adaptive cruise control meaning it follows the flow of traffic slowing or speeding up as the traffic does.  This allows me to take my hand off the hand control and is more relaxing especially on longer drives which my wife and I enjoy.  I am now on my second one and this time we got it with the eyesight plus an power tailgate.  I just love my Subaru. 
  • 619Drake619Drake Posts: 19Member
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    Hey iamdadman, I too drive a Subaru, mine is an Impreza Wagon. I got it two years ago and really like it. Before that I drove several different convertibles ('68 Pontiac Le Mans, '69 Pontiac Le Mans and two Chrysler Sebrings). The classic cars are the best, you never have to worry about enough trunk space for your wheelchair. I was at a wheelchair tennis tournament while driving my '69 Le Mans and we got 5 guys and our chairs in the car! Three chairs in the trunk, three guys and one chair in the back seats, myself driving and one guy who put all the chairs in the trunk and then he got shotgun with his chair on his lap. It was pretty cool. Eventually I had to get something a little more practical and that came as the Impreza. Very easy transfer because the car it lower than most SUVs and Crossovers. I wish it had a little more trunk space but it is plenty for just a broken down wheelchair.

  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 175Moderator Moderator
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    @619Drake
    Bro,  those had to be folding chairs not rigid right?  If they were rigid chairs I want to see how many of your friends you can get in a phone booth.  That is freaking awesome bro.

    JP
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 328Moderator Moderator
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    Hi guys- Brooke here- 

    My husband and I have a Toyota Siena with the Braun Ability package ramp. It’s set up so right now I drive and he “clicks in” with his power wheelchair in the passenger seat, but he will eventually drive it. 

    When we were in Italy we rented a full size station wagon (a European brand one from Peugeot) and he was able to put his entire wheelchair in the back without breaking it down! A LIFE saver when travelling. I could literally just pull it out of the back and transfer him into it. We searched the lot for one that was 24” from the ground to the seat so that he could transfer evenly into it every time. It made it so much easier for me to do because there was no up hill or downhill sliding board transfer - just even straight across. 

    Our record for in and out transfers while there was 8 in one day 😂😂because we went on a food tour of Emilia Romagnia - of course it wasn’t accessible for the driving around part- so we drove behind the tour guides van and just got out ourselves at every stop. Ahaha 

    - Brooke 
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • 619Drake619Drake Posts: 19Member
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    @iamdadman
    You are dating yourself, what's a phone booth? LOL. They were actually all rigid chairs with easy pop off wheels and folding backs and the top was down so no worries with head room. To be young, crazy and disabled! 
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 175Moderator Moderator
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    @619Drake
    LMAO!!!  If you have a picture of that, I would love to see it.  And yes I am dating myself.  Just remember what Will Rogers once said, " People get to a point where they stop lying about their age and start bragging about it."  I am going to be 68 on May 1 but I still think, feel and act like a kid... it's a beautiful thing...
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 175Moderator Moderator
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    @WAGSofSCI
    Hi Brooke,
    I just got back from getting a new cushion.  I had to transfer at least 10 times.  It turns out that after transferring out so they could switch out the cushions, they had to put a lift on one side because I am a little crooked.  Then they changed the backrest, the wheels, the coasters and the foot rest.  I am telling you I had just come from my workout session with my personal trainer and I told the PT that she had me sweating harder than I was at my workout.  I will bet that all that great Italian food made those transfers worthwhile.  Being 100% Italian myself, it would have been worth it to me...lol
  • BelieveInBaileyBelieveInBailey Posts: 18Member
    10 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    I know for a lot of people getting behind the wheel after suffering a spinal cord injury can be a difficult adjustment with a lot of overwhelming choices. There are so many various cars and setups that I have seen people have altered with hand controls and other things such as ramps and lifts. I know level of injury has a lot to do with making those decisions as well.

    I decided when I was looking at cars post injury that I really wanted something that didn’t need a lot of modifications or changes. I had a 5 speed before my injury so I had to get rid of it and look for something that was automatic. I decided to go with a Subaru Impreza and have had it now for 2 years and I love it!
    The only modification I had done is the hand controls. It took me a few months of good practice breaking down my chair and learning the best way to get all the parts arranged in the car the best way.

    So I guess I’m interested in hearing about what everyone drives and what works best for you!

  • BelieveInBaileyBelieveInBailey Posts: 18Member
    10 Comments Photogenic Name Dropper
    Hi! Guessing from your license plate frame that you're in Central Illinois? I'm in Bloomington, my son is currently hospitalized in Peoria at OSF, and has been since January 15. Hoping for a transfer to BroMenn soon, as insurance won't pay for inpatient rehab at OSF.

    He is an L1 paraplegic, and hasn't yet been able to do much as far as rehab, due to having had casts on both arms. He is now 'weight bearing as tolerated' on his arms. We don't know how much rotation he'll end up having in his right wrist/forearm. I currently drive a Jeep Wrangler, and am guessing he won't be able to transfer to it. Are dealerships around here good about letting you see how easy or difficult it is to get into a vehicle? The Leman dealerships in Blm are ones I will avoid, as past dealings with them have been horrendous - and that was well before my son's injuries.

    This is all so new to us!


  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 175Moderator Moderator
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    @BelieveInBailey
    At first there are so many questions without answers.  But, honestly, it does get better... much better in fact.  I drive a Subaru Forester and I love it.  Getting in and out is not a problem at all and I am a T2.  An L1 injury, with time, should not pose any type of problem.  I live in Washington state and the dealerships here had no problem letting me see how different cars would be to transfer in and out of.  I would also check getting behind the wheel and seeing what kind of leg room the vehicle has.  Give your son support and love, but let him find his way as well.  My wife, who is an RN, did too much for me and it slowed my independence.  She hated seeing me struggle with things that prior to my injury were absolutely no problem.  Leave the room if you have to.  It will be a struggle at first for your son but as I said it gets easier.  He will find his way.  This injury didn't only happen to your son but to all the know and love him such as yourself.  Together you will make it...

    Joe
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