Hand controls on cars

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Hand controls on cars

Postby bee40 » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:22 am

Hello ,
Is there anyone out there who knows about driving a car with handycap controls on it. My right foot is numb and weak sometimes . It makes me nervous when I take my daughter to school when I have to use the break pedal sometimes I dont know if I am applying enough pressure. I decided to stop driving until I order the controls to fit my car but I dont know if I need a special liscence, permit or take a class . If there is anyone who has done this or knows anything about it , It would be so helpful.
Thank you,
Debbie(Bee40)
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby Sarah in Paradise » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:00 pm

Debbie

Check with your area /regional Independant Living Center --they are located all over the US =each state has at least one , and all offer free guidance /help with how to arrange evals , instalation , training ect . = it can vary area to area how they are arranged . They will also know about possible funding routes ect . = it is fairly common to see used sets sold and installed in a differant vehicle too . In the past = I've seen sets offered for under $100 , and been told they will take just a few hours for most any "backyard " mechanic to install =here it's been sugested you have instalation checked over by an addaptive vehicle modification bussiness if we install them ourseves OR someone similar who'd know mechanics of such ( they are pretty simple on the older sorts =havn't seen any real recent sorts myself ) .

I've used a couple kinds during prior times when I drove still = it seemed to me easier than normal control routes within just a few mins of getting started .

At one point I bought a used old van with controls = EVERYONE who drove that van LOVED EM , ( very little training was needed = just a few mins in a parking lot was enough all felt fine actually driving the van ) - like cruise control they actually make it seem easier than conventional controls .

You'll find an interactive map of ILC center locations and dirrectory of them at

http://www.ilru.org/html/publications/d ... index.html

Ask too = many states have programs available through their state vocational rehab agency ( names of this agency vary state by state = federally funded typically ) - in California it's the State Dept of Voc Rehab for example . This may prove a route you can use as well =rules of eligibility ect arn't standardised , so it's beyond me to guess what you /your state process might be ect . --but quite often we will find we are eligible for their assistance and here in CA if felt controls will benifit you = they will arrange both the instalation /evals ect and training in using them if needed . ( they send us to a location in the state where this is all done = it can include things like other modifications needed such as wheel chair lift or ramping or special seating ect too . )

Those outside the US = you'll find independant Living centers in most country's of the "developed world " too = those are linked at the site above in international istings last I checked too .

Best wishes = Sarah in Paradise
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby bee40 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:43 pm

Sara,
Thankyou so much for the info. It makes me fell better knowing that its not that difficult to drive.No one really understands when I explain about my foot but I feel that I dont want to put my daughter in danger when I cant brake correctly.I will call the regional Independant living center. I'm sure there is one in the Sacramento area close to Elk Grove. I heard my health insurance might pay for some of it but I'm not sure if I have to contact my Insurance Company.I bet the regional Independant Living center will tell me. So Thankyou!

Take care, Debbie
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby hjwats » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:57 am

I hope you have found a hand control for your car by now. Since you live near a big city, there will be many providers of hand controls in your area. This is a routine and simple job for them and the hand controls and installation are not very expensive. I believe mine was less than $1000 installed. They are easy to use but you do need to concentrate for a while so you don't make mistakes. The nice thing is that the car can still be driven normally by a person without a handicap so when necessary anyone can drive the car. I seem to recall that medicare doesn't cover modifications to cars, at least I paid for mine myself. When your legs are not totally responsive, it is imperative that you get hand controls before you find yourself in an accident that may injure you or someone else unnecessarily. They do disconnect the steering wheel tilt so that it is in a fixed position. I believe you can specifiy the position you want if there is room for you to operate the vehicle, get in etc. I have had mine for about 5 years without any problems. Since I have normal use of my hands and arms, it is so freeing to be able to drive by myself. I also have a " car topper " for my wheelchair which makes it possible for me to relatively easily go anywhere by myself. It is such a good feeling to know I can travel. :!:
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby bee40 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:32 am

Well, its working out pretty good. I got my hand controls, its pull for gas and push for brake and I got a spinner knob for the stirring wheel. The training was a little hard to get use to, especicialy when I would hear how easy it was from others, these were people on the internet that I had looked up when I was doing my research on the subject . So far driving around down is pretty comfortable, my next venture is the freeway, my hand gets tired sometimes and cruz control seems annoying to me when you suddenly have to stop and then it turns off. Did you travel the freeway with your hand controls? I'm just curious how different it is from just driving around town with. Thank you , Debbie
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby hjwats » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:31 pm

Yes I travel on the freeway and use the cruise control often. Fortunately, the cruise control is on the steering wheel so once I engage it, all I have to do to reengage it is push resume on the steering wheel and it is on again. Or I simply push set again especially if I have slowed down quite a bit.
I can appreciate that some people adapt to the difference more readily than others and I am probably one of those people. When I was in England some years ago I had no trouble switching to left side driving.
I started with just the brake control as at the time I could still operate the gas pedal, but in about a year that became more difficult so I went all the way with gas and brake hand controls. You do have to concentrate and make as sure as you can that your brain is programed to react quickly in a tight spot. I am still working on that. When you are so used to operating the brake with one foot it takes some reprogramming to automatically know exactly what to do. Once I found myself pulling down ( Gas ) when I meant to be pushing to stop. Fortunately I was going slow and was able to quickly correct. What I try to do is 1) drive defensively, and 2) stay below the speed limit, and 3) take my time to allow plenty of room for me so I have time to react in case something happens unexpectedly. As I gain more experience, confidence grows. I do have some cataracts which makes it uncomfortable to drive at night which I avoid if possible. Since I am retired I do a good job avoiding rush hours which are really difficult to keep manipulating the controls every minute or so. I really llike to put it on cruise so all I have to worry about is the brake. Good luck. You can do it.
Harry
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby bee40 » Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:53 pm

That s pretty sound advice. I do think I'm pretty ready for the freeway, I think its just that I never really drove it that much in the first place unless I had to..But, I do miss seeing my sisters and thier families and the only way to see them is by going on the freeway so its worth it to practice.Pretty cool how you drove in Londen..................................Thanks ,Harry
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby karenb » Mon May 02, 2011 4:41 pm

A word of warning. I just found out that if you have a conversion vehicle (modified for a ramp or lift), you have to be careful about installing hand controls while the conversion is under warantee. If the equipment is installed by someone other than the authorized dealer for your conversion, it can actually void the warantee!

Karen
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby hjwats » Thu May 05, 2011 12:28 pm

I feel sure that any conversion installer for a vehicle would be able to install appropriate hand controls on the vehicle. I only makes sense to have the same installer do both jobs. As a matter of interest, as far as I know, Medicare does not cover the cost of modifications to cars or bathrooms etc. I paid for these things myself.
I do have to be careful with the hand control as I have had a few instances where I applied the brake when I had moved the hand control down slightly and had a monentary surge-brake experience which was a bit uncomfortable. This was usually when I was stopped and jockying the car. I try to be extra careful when I am operating in close quarters. Otherwise, it just takes paying attention to what you are doing and taking rest stops at times to maintain good operation as we all should be doing anyway. The difference is that if you are in close traffic you have to maintain one hand on the gas/brake so you only have the other hand on the wheel. Most comfortable is when you can travel withe cruise control on with both hands on the wheel. Don't be afraid. It's worth it.
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby karenb » Thu May 05, 2011 10:58 pm

Hi Harry,

Thanks for chiming in. I only spoke up because my van was originally converted in Ohio, and my local dealer (who assumed the warantee directly from the factory) gave my mechanic specific instructions regarding repairs that invalidated my warantee and also rendered my vehicle unusable.

I've been fighting for over a month now trying to obtain some sort of resolution - my conversion has only 16,500 miles on it, and the last "factory-trained mechanic" left my ramp in position where it completely destroyed the door - after spending $2,000 on parts, it won't even close it, and I'm facing a 220 mile highway drive (once the parts arrive) to see if the mechanics with more than a few weeks experience can fix it. I'm about to start the 1500 mile drive back to Indiana for repairs.

I haven't even attempted hand controls yet - I just use cruise. After being told hand controls would invalidate my warantee, I've been too afraid... sigh...

Why do they think that just because we're in wheelchairs we have no brain or intelligence???

Karen
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby hjwats » Fri May 06, 2011 11:33 am

Sorry about that. We are fortunate to live in an area that has multiple quality installers. I wonder why you have to go so far to get a modification. By all means I would advise not to drive without hand controls if that is what you need. I don't know who told you about hand controls invalidating your warranty but I don't believe it. The hand controls dont alter the car or its functioning one bit. They simply press the gas pedal and operate the brake by means of a rod instead of a foot. Any person can drive the vehicle in its normal way without touching the installed hand controls.
It might be a bit late now, but the time to ask these questions is when you buy the vehicle.
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby karenb » Fri May 06, 2011 11:30 pm

Hi Harry,

Fortunately or unfortunately, I live in southern New Mexico. The nearest dealer is 220 miles away, in Albuquerque.

They have a "local" branch that's only 60 miles away, but the mechanic doesn't know what he's doing. Right now, I'm in the midst of a big $2000+ battle because the prior "local" mechanic left the ramp pressing against the door, and the current local "mechanic" told my own mechanic to replace the broken latch and roller assembly - even though doing so would invalidate my warantee! When my mechanic attempted to verify the instructions, he was told "I'm busy in Albuquerque". I spent hours on the phone with them last Monday, and my van has ben unusable for the past month!

I'm trying to cool down before I write to the president of the company. Right now, I have no estimated time to even get the part, much less perform the repair, and the mechanic in Albuquerque still needs a few lessons in common courtesy (like return calls when you receive them). The really sad part is that my conversion only has about 19,000 miles on it, and has a 36,000 mile warantee.

The next nearest dealer is in Tucson, about 280 miles away. That will be my next try, if this local dealer leaves me hanging. Meanwile, I'm struggling about in a vehicle with one door partially open, hoping and struggling to get my wheelchair in the back door before I fall...

When i bought the vehicle, I was told that hand controls could be added later as needed. I was stretching my budget as it was to buy the vehicle, and was buying it for the long-term. (I've had Toyota's for years, and never experienced anything like this. My understanding was that Braun was also one of the best companies around, and was the only one, at least 2-1/2 years ago, with a Toyota conversion.)

The big problem seems to be the state-wide dealer and It was the local mechanic (I hesitate to call him that - he's only been on the job a few weeks... they had to fire the last one for incompetence... sigh...).

Karen
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby hjwats » Sat May 07, 2011 11:34 am

The least of your problems is the warranty issue. Forget it. Your problem is getting to a facility that has competent installers. I am assuming you are adding this to a previously owned vehicle since you say it has 19,000 miles on it. Hand controls are a must if your leg is weak. You are endangering your own and the lives of others to drive with a weak leg. By all means, don't go to some local mechanic to do the installation as both of you will have unlimited liability exposure.
When you say " dealer " I am assuming you are talking about someone who is an " installer " of handicap modifications not simply an automobile dealer who generally are not " instollers ". Since you are having problems with your installer, I would not jump to someone else before you get in touch with Braun if they are the supplier of the modification. In fact they are good but even experienced installers have problems with some of these because sometimes they don't do many of them and they do have training issues because people leave. I have a Braun " Car Topper " which my 40 year installer centered it on the car which caused the wheelchair to scrape along the side of the car going up or down. They worked with Braun and offset it and made adjustments that made it work. But conversion vans are very common for anyone who does this business and they should be able to do the job properly. Be sure you are working with a Braun dealer or a dealer for whichever conversion package you are installing. Good Luck.
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby karenb » Sun May 08, 2011 4:06 pm

Hi Harry,

I am working with the "local" Braun dealer, since I have a Braun conversion. Unfortunately, one of the dealer's "technicians" didn't adjust my ramp correctly when the bolts connecting the ramp to the motor sheared off last year, and his faulty work caused this year's problems. [He was also the person who told me that installation of hand controls could only be done "locally" by a company in Phoenix (500+ miles away).]

So... when I call Bruan headquarters on Monday to try to find out the status of my parts (since the local dealer's mechanic refuses to check status), I will ask them about installation of hand controls.

Thanks so much for the advice!

Karen
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Re: Hand controls on cars

Postby karenb » Mon May 09, 2011 3:20 pm

Harry,

I (finally) heard from my dealer today. It appears that my parts are stuck in the overall shortage of Toyota parts, so they ***might*** ship this week some time. Until they actual ship (or arrive, if they ship from Phoenix), we can't even start looking at an install time-frame (since it will be a multi-day project).

I'll keep you posted... And thanks again for your advice and guidance!

Karen
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