Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Accessories to look for when choosing a car

What to look for

  • Any gadgets that help with the things you find difficult.

Features found on some cars

  • Air conditioning or climate control. Sometimes you can have separate temperature zones in the back and front of the car, or on different sides, which is known as 'dual-zone' climate control. Some people may also benefit from a pollen filter.
  • Audio equipment can be voice-activated on some luxury cars. Remote controls on the steering wheel are more common.
  • A satnav can help with navigating. It's included or available as an option on many cars (from around £500), or you can buy it separately (from £50).
  • PIE sells a satnav with built-in data on disabled parking spaces. You can also buy the data as a download for TomTom or Garmin satnavs for £30. 
    PIE
    Tel: 

    0844 847 0875

    Email: 

  • Anti-dazzle mechanisms on the rear-view mirrors of some cars automatically dim the reflection of bright lights behind you.
  • Parking-distance sensors sound when you're a certain distance from whatever is behind you, and are available on a wide range of cars. Some use a TV camera to show you what's behind. You can also fit sensors or cameras to any car yourself.
  • Park assist is the latest development. It helps with parallel parking. Ultrasound sensors detect the size of the parking space, and, if it's suitable, you pull up alongside the car in front, select reverse gear and drive slowly into the space. Park assist does the steering; you just accelerate and brake.
  • Roof rails, found on many estates and some MPVs, run along the length of the car. As well as being used to stow items including wheelchairs on the roof, they can be useful to hang on to when getting in or out, particularly for wheelchair users.
  • Heads-up displays project speed and other information on to the windscreen, so you can read them without taking your eyes off the road.

Useful products and services

  • Panoramic mirrors fit over or replace the rear-view mirror and show a much wider view, which saves you turning your head. They cost around £20 at motor-accessory shops and adaptation manufacturers. Note that panoramic mirrors make objects look further away than they actually are.
  • Stick-on 'blind spot' mirrors cost £2 or so and extend what you can see in your wing mirrors. They stick on to the mirror itself or the housing.
  • The Easifuel is a small plastic gadget that holds open the trigger on petrol pumps - particularly useful if you have limited dexterity or the use of only one hand. It costs £3; to try before you buy, call 020 8302 8858. 
  • If you get caught short, male and female portable urinals are easy to use and discreet - they cost around £4-£16 from general aids suppliers.
  • Service Call is a service that lets you call for help at participating shops, petrol stations and other outlets that are difficult to access. You carry an infrared transmitter (£15), which you use to signal that you need assistance.
    Service Call
    Tel: 

    0800 458 3008

    Email: 

Last updated: June 2011


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