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What You Need to Know Before Performing a Motability Car Search

The Motability car search program helps individuals to exchange their mobility allowance for a new car lease. If you're interested in this type of service, what do you need to know about the programme and how do you perform a car search to find your new mode of transportation?

Understanding the Motability Scheme

The Motability scheme allows anyone who receives a higher rate mobility allowance to use some or all of this money to lease a car, scooter, wheelchair accessible vehicle or powered wheelchair.

Covered Allowance Programmes

You will be eligible if you receive one of the following allowances:

  • Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment,
  • Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance,
  • War Pensioners' Mobility Supplement,
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.

Note that you can't use the Attendance Allowance to lease a car through the scheme. Different rules apply for each of these programmes, and you can find out more detailed information here.

If you're not sure about your eligibility, you can use the tool here to find out.

You can join the scheme so long as you have at least one year left on your higher rate mobility allowance and you don't need to be the eventual driver of the car either. You can nominate up to three drivers, who could be a friend or a family member.

Terms and Conditions

It's essential to understand the terms and conditions before you proceed, as these will dictate how you can ultimately use the vehicle.

While the programme provides transport for a disabled person, other named drivers can still use the vehicle for other activities, without the disabled person on board. However, the journey must benefit the disabled customer directly (as in a shopping trip, for example).

Specific rules are in place to protect the integrity of the scheme as well. For example, administrators reserve the right to fit a location tracker, to make sure that you're using the vehicle in accordance with the rules. This may be the case if the disabled customer happens to be in a care home where other drivers might have access, or if the named drivers on the agreement live at a separate address.

Of the other named drivers, no more than one may be under the age of 21. If any of those drivers are below 25, they can't drive cars with an insurance rating higher than 16, or vehicles that generate more than 120 bhp.

You are also responsible for taking good care of the car while it is in your possession, and you must control who has access. If somebody uses the vehicle for an unauthorised business purpose, or you allow somebody who is uninsured or subject to a driving ban to take the wheel, the administrators could terminate the lease.

Grant Availability  

In the year between 2019 and 2020, Motability helped more than 25,000 disabled people take care of their transportation needs through a dedicated grant support scheme. 

Several programmes are now available, such as the Cars and Vehicle Adaptations scheme. This scheme will help you if you cannot afford to make any advance payment on a vehicle or cover the necessary adaptations to use it. With the help of a charitable grant, you may be able to access the benefits of the broader Motability scheme and thus get your freedom and independence.

These grants may also be available should your circumstances change when you are mid-way through an existing lease for a scheme vehicle. If your mobility needs change and you now require a different type of adaptation, the grant program administrators may be able to help.

Motability Scheme Car Search - Vehicle Types

You can choose from various makes, models and types of car, depending on your ultimate requirement. For example, you may pick a small or medium vehicle, and these are usually popular with drivers under 25 years old. Alternatively, you could select a much larger vehicle such as an MPV or SUV. These may be more practical if you live in a very rural location or have a larger family group.

You may need a specially converted vehicle that can carry you while travelling in your wheelchair or one that allows you to drive while seated in the chair. If this is the case, you can use the Motability car search tool to look for options.

Different Adaptations 

Many different devices are available to help make the task of driving easier with a disability. In fact, there are more than 500 different devices, and technicians can fit some of these to your vehicle at the beginning of the lease and often, at no extra cost. Motability maintains a price list here

Once you've made your decision, you can work with a specialist installer. They can also help you to make any adaptations if you need to do so, mid-lease.

How to Use the Motability Vehicle Search Tool

Motability has a variety of cars available, and you can narrow down your search by using this tool.

To start the process, choose your allowance type and then decide whether you want to use all of your mobility allowances to lease the car or only some of them. Certain vehicles may cost less than the higher rate mobility allowance.

You will then need to choose how much of an advance payment you're comfortable with. This payment may vary by dealer, and you can use the drop-down box to select a minimum and maximum figure.

Next, pick the car make, model and type (e.g. small, hatchback, etc.). You can also choose the transmission or fuel type, the number of seats and doors and the engine size (litres). Environmentally conscious people may decide to restrict the display to vehicles with a CO2 emissions rate below 100 g per kilometres.

Finally, choose the engine's size and, if appropriate, only display cars suitable for drivers under 25 years of age.

Results of the Motability Car Search in 2020 

In 2020, there are more than 1,500 cars available through this search portal. Once you have chosen all the parameters, you'll see a list of these vehicles, and beneath each entry, you will see the weekly rental and advance payment figures, alongside the vehicle details.

When you finally decide, you can request a full information pack or simply get in touch with a dealer directly.