The best vehicle for you leaves you with minimal or no pain when sitting, driving, getting in and out, and doing common tasks like loading mobility devices (cane, walker, scooter, etc.) and groceries. As an aside, some of the hybrid cars have their battery packs in the trunk area, reducing the usable amount of trunk space. While shopping, take whatever you use daily, such as a cane or walker, and see how it fits into the car.

Davis recommends hiring an occupational therapist knowledgeable about arthritis and/or driving rehabilitation to help you car shop. You can find one in your area on the AOTA site, at your local hospital or from your local state occupational therapy association.

Must-Have Features

Some interior features that address common points of stress on the body include heated seats, an adjustable steering wheel, adjustable pedals, controls that can be reached effortlessly and a seat belt that’s easy to use.

• When a seat belt is within easy reach, goes on quickly and releases without difficulty, it’s more likely to be used. Seat belts should be buckled low on the hips, crossing the bony pelvic bones, and the shoulder strap should cross mid-shoulder.

• Having to twist knobs or turn a key either to get into the car or to start it can be a challenge if you have arthritis in your hands. Keyless entry and a voice-activated navigation system, which a number of cars have, easily solve both problems.

• Craning your neck to see on either side of your car or turning your head quickly can result in intense pain when you have arthritis in your neck and shoulders. Cars equipped with enhanced visibility via more or bigger mirrors or a back-up camera system and parallel parking guidance make driving much safer.

 “The ability to see all around the vehicle – a clear line of sight to the rear and sides, offers the driver the greatest opportunity to prevent a crash,” says Schold-Davis.

• Heated seats feel heavenly if your arthritis is in your hips and keeps them more flexible.

• A 911 system much like OnStar notifies someone if you’re in a crash. This can be a benefit to anyone but especially to someone with mobility issues.

If your new car needs adaptive equipment, you can receive a $1,000 credit from the auto manufacturer for those additions. Just ask.