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Car for 500+ Pound Driver

Hoping someone with experience here can offer up some help. 72-inch waist and 500+ pounds. Currently driving a Villager with a well worn in seat. The measurement from the back of the seat to the steering wheel is 21-inches, I am sure the seat “flexes” a little bit for additional room. I have test sat in a great deal of vehicles and the closest to comfortable I have found so far has been the Nissan Quest (2015), Chrysler Pacifica (2007) and Chevy Tahoe (2000ish). The Tahoe is a bit higher than I would like, but doable. The other two were the perfect height to get into and out of without stressing joints or back.

Here are some other vehicles that you might take a look at.

Believe it or not…a very ig co-worker of mine drives a Kia Soul. Not sure he’s 500lbs…but he’s well over 350…and probably over 400lbs.

Daniel Pinkwater, a Public Radio personality and author, says that he drives a VW Beetle. He claims to be quite large.

Can’t really tell without the test fit/drive.
Many have the space…BUT …if the seat springs can hold up is only a matter of unknown time.
Most of my large customers drive large vehicles…Crown Vic, Cadillac, Expedition etc.
On all of those, the seats break down over time.
One key to help the longevity of seat springs is to NOT plop down onto it, but just gently sit down.
AND… don’t expect the little seat motors to lift all that weight for long…to adjust the electric seat, lift your mass up off for a sec while the motor works.

One customer had to be in the driver’s seat for an accurate alignment .

Had a guy at work probably near that mark, Had a smaller suzuki mini suv kind of a thing, don’t remember the model, but had the seat quite more than nomal reclined, and he was happy.

Those are some awesome suggestions, thank you all very much. I have basically been spending my weekends hitting up various lots to test sit what they have. I did test out a Kia at a used lot, but not at the dealer. I’ll head there today and report back.

I’ve read about cars with telescoping steering wheels and think that might be something that solves my issue. Also, on newer cars, is it cost effective/possible to have the steering wheel swapped out for something smaller? I remember my brother doing this to his Bronco which was very old.

Power seats with up/down, forward/backward and tilt for the seat bottom as well as the seat back can help a lot of people fit into a car that without this feature could not fit.

Try a Subaru Legacy or Outback. They have larger doors to help people with limited mobility, maybe it will help you too.

"on newer cars, is it cost effective/possible to have the steering wheel swapped out for something smaller?"

The driver’s airbag is located in the hub of the steering wheel, and replacing the standard steering wheel with something else might result in incompatibility with the Supplemental Restraint System, and that could cause all of the car’s airbags to not function.

I doubt if you would be able to find a legitimate shop that would be willing to do what you are contemplating.

^In all fairness, if MY belly was flush with the airbag system…I don’t think I’d want it going off.

I agree, but finding somebody willing to–in effect–disable the SRS might be very difficult.

I suppose that a shop that specializes in auto modifications for disabled people might make the SRS modification. It’s worth a check if that is the only way to get a car. Or they might move the driver’s seat back.

I don’t mean to sound like a sourpuss, but I have a few thoughts . . .

I don’t think it’s legal for a repair shop to intentionally disable any part of the SRS system

In fact, the owner can sign whatever he wants, and I still think it’s not legal for the repair shop to do it

Any shop contemplating this should consult a/their lawyer

Good points.

Tried all the cars at a Kia and Chevy dealer and one used lot yesterday. The Kias have doors too narrow to consider as something I would like to get in and out of more than once. The Chevy’s just weren’t a good fit.

They had 2 trade ins that actually weren’t bad. A 2012 VW Beetle, which has a huge door opening. Only issues being the car sits too low and the seat was very snug. The other being a 2012 Nissan Quest which was extraordinarily roomy and the perfect height to get in and out of. Only issue is the price was a bit out of my range. I am thinking one a couple years older might afford the same interior style while costing a little less. Anyone familiar with Nissan Quests know what models might have similar interior layout? Not caring about the bells and whistles such as sunroof, fake wood trim and entertainment center. Don’t need that anyways.

Meanwhile, going to see what I can find along those lines.

The only dealership I haven’t hit yet is Toyota. Any input on their Sienna would be great.

jtsanders: I met a man years ago in a parking lot. He was of a similar size. He had a late 1970s? Corolla DX 2dr. The front seats had been replaced with an unidentified bench seat. It was positioned for best fit and mounted with no fore/aft adjustment rendering the back seat unusable. Seat belts had been re-positioned and extended. A smaller after market steering wheel was fitted (no airbags no problem. The work was professionally done by a local reputable body shop and appeared to be well executed.

I don't think it's legal for a repair shop to intentionally disable any part of the SRS system
I *believe* it's legal with a doctor's written statement of necessity.


I’m not so sure about that.

I think even in that scenario, if the airbag failed to deploy and the driver was injured, the court would find in favor of the driver . . . even if the shop provided the doctors’ statement and the driver’s signature

I know this . . . if I owned a shop, and a customer requested me to disable their srs system, in all likelihood, I would say “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that. If it means that I lose you as a customer, that is regrettable, but I have to protect myself and the shop from any possible legal troubles.”

Sure, I probably will lose the customer

But is it worth taking the risk, and then maybe the customer gets in a wreck, survives. And then his lawyer advises him to file suit. And then he winds up literally owning the shop

No, thank you

Even if someone disabled the airbag system and the car is traded or sold without making it active again that would really bring in the lawyers.

Alright, so considering the disabling of the air bag system, I would pass on modifying the steering wheel. I am thinking something that involved would probably be cost prohibitive anyways. Wasn’t even thinking about air bag when I thought about changing out the steering wheel.