Living with a disability or a newly diagnosed medical condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you can't drive. There are people and organisations dedicated to helping people enjoy the freedom that driving brings, but it's important to know the full facts about driving with a disability, travelling as a passenger and specialist motoring schemes like Motability to make sure you stay happy, safe and legal while on UK roads. Get all the facts by reading our new A-Z guide, which includes everything you need to know about specialist adaptations, technological innovations and driving with a disability.
The Motability Scheme helps people with a disability drive (or be driven in) a safe and affordable brand-new car or Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) with none of the worry or extra costs that come with owning and maintaining your own vehicle.
It's a scheme that's unique to the UK, and Motability estimate that leasing a Motability car is '45 per cent cheaper' than sourcing a vehicle on the open market, thanks in part to the tax exemptions that Motability Scheme users automatically have access to.
The Motability ‘worry-free’ lease package includes insurance, servicing, MOTs, breakdown assistance, tyre repairs, windscreen repairs and road tax (Motability cars are Vehicle Excise Duty exempt), but amazing as all that is, there are many more benefits and useful hints and tips that even people who already use the scheme don’t know about.
We'll tell you everything you need to know in our handy A - Z guide of the Motability Scheme and driving with a disability.
There are a wide range of adaptations that can make it easier to access or drive a vehicle, and if you choose to lease a vehicle through the Motability Scheme many are available at no extra cost. Around 50,000 Motability customers have adaptations fitted to their vehicle to make their experience as a driver or passenger as safe and comfortable as possible.
Having breakdown cover means help is at hand 24/7 if your vehicle breaks down, and if you choose a Motability car or WAV breakdown cover is included for the whole of your lease. Cover is provided by RAC Motability Assist and includes recovery (including while you’re at home), onward travel and replacement vehicle cover.
If you are a Motability customer charitable grants can be applied for through the Motability Scheme Grant Programme to help towards the cost of an Advance Payment, a specialist adaptation and even driving lessons. Charitable Grants can be applied for through the Motability charity, are means tested and are assessed based on the applicant’s needs, not simply what they want. Charitable Grants
Disability Driving Instructors is an association of specially-trained and experienced driving instructors who help people with a disability learn to drive. Whether you are learning to drive for the first time or are a full licence holder who wants to get back to driving after accident or illness, the Association of Disability Driving Instructors can put you in touch with a specialist in your local area who can help you to get behind the wheel and drive safely and confidently. Driving Mobility centres can also help people to gain or retain the ability to drive and learn how to use specialist adaptations following an accident or newly diagnosed disability. Disability Driving Instructors
Eligibility for the Motability Scheme is dependent on you (or someone you care for) currently receiving one of the following government-funded Mobility Allowances:
You also need to have a minimum of 12 months remaining on your award when you apply. Payments for the vehicle are taken from your qualifying Mobility Allowance every four weeks and paid directly to Motability. Unfortunately, being in receipt of the Attendance Allowance does not mean you qualify for the Motability Scheme. The Motability Scheme
Fuel is pretty much the only thing you pay extra for when you choose to lease a Motability vehicle. Everything else is included (they won’t pay for any parking tickets or speeding fines though!).
The introduction of the Motability Good Condition Bonus (GCB) means that if you hand your Motability car back in a good condition at the end of the lease they could pay you up to £600 (or £900 for WAVs and longer leases) if the vehicle hasn't suffered any serious damage. Keeping your vehicle in a great condition makes it much easier for Motability to sell it on after you've handed it back to them. Motability Good Condition Bonus
Heated seats are becoming more common in cars, and can help people with a disability and certain medical conditions to ease the pain when driving. Most cars with heated seats also come with a heated steering wheel (usually as a part of a 'Winter Pack'), with some new cars now even including massage seats!
Motability vehicles all come with fully comprehensive insurance as a part of your lease. Excess amounts differ depending on age and the driver’s history and can be found in the terms and conditions of the lease documentation. You should also know that Motability insurance specifically excludes vehicle contents, so if you regularly transport expensive equipment you may need separate cover.
If your car isn’t a Motability Scheme vehicle, under the Equality Act 2010 vehicle insurers can't penalise you for being disabled. This means that they cannot refuse you coverage, increase premiums or increase your excess simply because of a medical condition. Insurance
Joining the Motability Scheme is easy, with no forms or paperwork, no medical questions, no waiting lists and no credit checks. Search through hundreds of brand-new Motability cars, crossovers, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs) then make an appointment to visit an approved Motability specialist at a car dealership near you to test drive a vehicle and find out if it’s right for you. Joining Motability
Kwik Fit is the first point of contact for Motability Scheme customers who need help and advice with their tyres. Tyre repairs, tyre replacement and wheel balancing are all included as part of the Motability Scheme lease package.
If you are in the final 3 months of your Motability Scheme lease and you don’t want to order a new vehicle, you can contact the Motability Customer Service Team and apply to extend the lease on your current vehicle. Not everyone can extend their lease, but if your mileage is low and / or you have adaptations fitted to the vehicle there’s a good chance they’ll say yes. If you have ordered a new vehicle and the handover has been delayed, Motability will automatically extend your current lease and the insurance. The Motability Scheme
The total Mileage allowance is 60,000 for a Motability vehicle leased over 3-year, or 100,000 miles for a vehicle leased over 5 years (usually WAVs). Any additional miles over the limit are charged at 5p per mile. The Motability Scheme
If you choose to lease a Motability car, you can now include up to 3 named drivers on the vehicle insurance. So, if you don’t drive yourself, you can nominate 3 family members, friends or carers who can drive the vehicle on your behalf. Remember the rules state that the vehicle can only ever be used for the benefit of the disabled person.
To change or add another driver to the insurance, you simply need to contact the insurer with the details of the new driver.
Motability now have an online account facility. Log in to your Motability Online account where you can monitor the progress of your Motability application, manage your lease, keep your personal details up to date and quickly find all the contact information for your chosen dealership or supplier. Online Account
Parking with a Blue Badge parking permit means you can park your vehicle closer to your destination if you (or someone you care for) have a disability or health condition that affects your mobility. The rules for disabled parking can be tricky, and vary depending on where you live. Blue Badge Parking
Her Majesty The Queen has been the Chief Patron of the Motability Scheme since its foundation in the 1977. Over 4 decades the scheme has supplied and looked after the vehicles of more than 4 million people with a disability, their families, and friends.
A reversing camera is a huge help when you have aches and pains that make turning in your car seat difficult. With a reversing camera you can see what’s behind you, making your car easier to reverse and park. Upgrade to a 360-degree camera and you’ll get a ‘bird’s eye’ view of your vehicle, which means you can see all around you when manoeuvring.
Servicing, maintenance and windscreen repairs are included as a part of the Motability lease package. How often the vehicle needs servicing is set by the vehicle manufacturer, but most are serviced annually or when the vehicle has covered a set number of miles.
A transfer plate is just one of the many simple adaptations that can be added to your vehicle. Designed to help people make a sideways transfer from a wheelchair to the drivers or a passenger seat (or if reduced mobility makes getting in and out of a vehicle challenging), a transfer plate helps to bridge the gap to the car seat. A transfer plate can be added to almost any vehicle, and there’s a wide choice of models available including manually operated versions that fold away and powered versions that can be electronically moved up and down to the desired height of the user.
You may have to pay an upfront Advance Payment if you choose a more expensive Motability car. Some vehicles are available with no upfront Advance Payment, but most require an Advance Payment that you would pay to the dealership before taking delivery of your vehicle. The amount can range from £49 up to many thousands of pounds. Upfront Advance Payments
A Motability car and the Motability lease package represents fantastic value for money when compared to a standard lease car. Motability negotiates prices with car manufacturers every 3 months (new prices are released on 1 January, 1 April, 1 July, and 1 October) to make sure prices are kept as low as possible for scheme customers. If you compare a Motability lease package with a like-for-like vehicle leased from a specialist like Nationwide Vehicle Contracts or Select Car, the potential saving over 3 years is usually somewhere between £3,000 - £6,000 once you add in all the additional running costs (insurance, windscreen cover, tyre cover, breakdown cover, servicing, and maintenance).
In fact, Motability themselves estimate that leasing a vehicle using the scheme is '45 per cent cheaper' than sourcing a vehicle on the open market.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (or WAVs) are vehicles that have been specially converted so that people with disabilities can travel in comfort and safety while seated in their wheelchair. The vehicle is accessed via a ramp or a lift at the rear or the side of the vehicle and, depending on the model you choose you can sit towards the rear, next to the driver or even drive if you opt for a specially adapted ‘Drive From’ WAV.
If you qualify you can lease a new WAV through the Motability Scheme, or alternatively you could buy your own brand new or a second-hand WAV from a specialist WAV supplier. Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Motability are famous for their 'Xcellent' customer service. OK, we cheated a bit on this one, but it’s true. In fact, in 2020 the UK Institute of Customer Service (UK ICS) rated Motability as the highest-performing organisation in the UK for customer service, achieving a massive 94.4% satisfaction score.
If you receive the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) you can learn to drive and hold a licence in the UK from the age of 16, a year before everyone else can.
There are restrictions though for young people who want to drive a Motability car. Drivers aged 25 and under can only drive Motability Scheme cars with an insurance group of 16 or lower and an engine that produces 120 brake horsepower (BHP) or less. This rule does not apply to customers who drive Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs). Young Motability Drivers
Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) cars can now be leased through the Motability Scheme, but if you choose a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) it will get all of its power from rechargeable batteries, which means it’s cheaper to run and produces zero tailpipe emissions when driven. Today there are more 100% electric Motability cars to choose from than ever before (many BEV’s can be ordered with nothing to pay upfront) and the Motability package now includes the option of a fitted home charging point or access to an on-street charging network for no additional cost. Zero Emission Electric Cars
So, there you have it, our A-Z guide to driving with a disability and the Motability Scheme. Around 630,000 people currently choose to spend their Mobility Allowance benefit on a new car or WAV leased through the Motability Scheme to help them get around and retain their independence.
If you want to join them, find out more about the scheme and everything it has to offer by visiting a Motability Specialist at a car dealership near you. They’re all fully trained, accredited, and there to help you to find the vehicle that’s right you and all the things you do!
Before going anywhere though make sure you take a look at the full range of vehicles available and draw up a shortlist of the vehicles you like.
Thank you to the members of the Motability Advice & Special Offers Group on Facebook who helped to put this A - Z guide together.
Some of the organisations that we find provide the most valuable information and support for motorists with a disability and carers are below: