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  • Install hand controls on our own

    Okay so I'm wanting to start driving. Come to find out hand controls are $1200 + labor and was quoted about $1600 in total.. I've installed hand controls with a friend and it's literally only 6 simple bolts and for $1600 that's outrageous. I'd prefer not to pay so much when I already have 2 sets of controls and could have them installed within minutes for FREE

    I talked about this with an occupational therapist and he said I could easily be sued if I get in an accident. 2 things about that though;
    1. I'm sure they would have to show the accident was caused by the hand controls being improperly installed (which they won't be, because they're so damn simple lol)
    2. ‎They have universal hand controls which people can installed on their own, so why not these?

    I could just install them, take them to a dealer to have them inspected and say I just bought the car and they were already in there 🤷

    I'll add I used to work on my vehicles before I was paralyzed, and most of my friends are car guys and know how to tear down and fix a car

    What do y'all do for your vehicles??
    Male - early 20's - c5 complete since mid 2013

  • #2
    I have two vans that I installed my own in. I couldn't do the actual work, but had a friend do it that was capable. Like you say, it's no big deal for anyone with a little talent.

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    • #3
      Shop around.
      I found myself in need of a new set-local outfit wanted 1400$, and said it would take at least 2 days to put them in.
      I knew that was nonsense-I used to install them. 25 years ago, they sold for 450, installed.
      I could usually do them in a couple hours.
      I started making a few phone calls, found an outfit an hour drive from me, they did them in 2 hours, and charged 700$.
      I've known guys who made their own, as well.

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      • #4

        These above (Az-1 hand controls, you can google them) are barely over $300, and you can install them yourself in under 5 minutes. As a bonus, you can also take them off your car and put them on (almost) any other vehicle in 5 minutes. To install you just slip the feet around the gas and brake pedal and tighten it down with the wing nuts attached to the feet. Four "bolts" and you don't need any tools. I routinely get to the airport, pop the hand controls off and stuff them in my baggage, get to a new city and reassemble the hand controls so I can rent whatever car I want instead of whatever car the rental company decides to put hand controls on (if they even bother to actually have a hand control equipped car ready after I request it).

        I bought a set in 2007 when I was injured and have used nothing but these (well okay, I did fly out some places and use a rental car with it's own hand controls a few times) since that time. Cars of mine that they've been on are a Toyota Camry, Toyota Solara and currently on my Honda Accord. So they've outlasted two of my cars (one of which was totaled while I was driving it, the hand controls were fine and did not injure me in any way).

        I did run into one issue. I rented a Dodge Challenger and drove out of town (it did fine with the hand controls), but when it rained I realized that the Challenger rear tires were bald (surely this had nothing to do with the burnouts I was doing on the way to the mountains... right?). So in the middle of nowhere I had to swap rental cars and the only option that would work for me, my lady friend, and her dog was a Jeep Liberty (or something like that... some kind of Jeep). This vehicle had very large (very plastic) bulky pedals, so the feet of the AZ-1 hand controls wouldn't fit over it, it just would not work with this kind of vehicle. But in my experience that's like one out of probably ten or fifteen cars that I've put the hand controls on without a problem (between rental cars, friends and family's cars, and the three cars I've owned in the past few years).

        It blows my mind that people pay $1600 for hand controls. I mean if it works for you and you've got the money, that's great, I guess, but I've had no problems on the vehicles I own with my $300 hand controls and they're still going strong 11 years and probably 200,000 miles later.

        If I won the lottery today and went out and bought a top of the line Mercedes S class coupe for $200,000 I wouldn't put my current hand controls on it, however. Such a nice car would surely deserve a brand new set of AZ-1 hand controls, but the point being even if I was fantastically wealthy, I would still use these hand controls, I've gotten used to them after all these years I guess.

        (note, I'm not affiliated or paid by whoever makes these hand controls in any way, just a big fan of the product, which I guess is obvious).

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        • #5
          I wouldn't worry about the liability. After all, that applies to anything you do including an oil change. Just do it right. There isn't much to get wrong.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by funklab View Post

            These above (Az-1 hand controls, you can google them) are barely over $300, and you can install them yourself in under 5 minutes. As a bonus, you can also take them off your car and put them on (almost) any other vehicle in 5 minutes. To install you just slip the feet around the gas and brake pedal and tighten it down with the wing nuts attached to the feet. Four "bolts" and you don't need any tools. I routinely get to the airport, pop the hand controls off and stuff them in my baggage, get to a new city and reassemble the hand controls so I can rent whatever car I want instead of whatever car the rental company decides to put hand controls on (if they even bother to actually have a hand control equipped car ready after I request it).

            I bought a set in 2007 when I was injured and have used nothing but these (well okay, I did fly out some places and use a rental car with it's own hand controls a few times) since that time. Cars of mine that they've been on are a Toyota Camry, Toyota Solara and currently on my Honda Accord. So they've outlasted two of my cars (one of which was totaled while I was driving it, the hand controls were fine and did not injure me in any way).

            I did run into one issue. I rented a Dodge Challenger and drove out of town (it did fine with the hand controls), but when it rained I realized that the Challenger rear tires were bald (surely this had nothing to do with the burnouts I was doing on the way to the mountains... right?). So in the middle of nowhere I had to swap rental cars and the only option that would work for me, my lady friend, and her dog was a Jeep Liberty (or something like that... some kind of Jeep). This vehicle had very large (very plastic) bulky pedals, so the feet of the AZ-1 hand controls wouldn't fit over it, it just would not work with this kind of vehicle. But in my experience that's like one out of probably ten or fifteen cars that I've put the hand controls on without a problem (between rental cars, friends and family's cars, and the three cars I've owned in the past few years).

            It blows my mind that people pay $1600 for hand controls. I mean if it works for you and you've got the money, that's great, I guess, but I've had no problems on the vehicles I own with my $300 hand controls and they're still going strong 11 years and probably 200,000 miles later.

            If I won the lottery today and went out and bought a top of the line Mercedes S class coupe for $200,000 I wouldn't put my current hand controls on it, however. Such a nice car would surely deserve a brand new set of AZ-1 hand controls, but the point being even if I was fantastically wealthy, I would still use these hand controls, I've gotten used to them after all these years I guess.

            (note, I'm not affiliated or paid by whoever makes these hand controls in any way, just a big fan of the product, which I guess is obvious).
            Agree totally. More expensive isn't always better. The Monarch and other expensive ones that you push toward the floor may hit your knee. The portable hand controls don't have that problem because they go back and forth rather than down. Hence, depending on how much room you have the less expensive ones could be better. Then there is preference. I can rest my elbow on my lap while operating the portable hand controls. To reach the Monarch hand controls, your elbow will be up in the air. That is less comfortable.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by August West View Post
              Agree totally. More expensive isn't always better. The Monarch and other expensive ones that you push toward the floor may hit your knee. The portable hand controls don't have that problem because they go back and forth rather than down. Hence, depending on how much room you have the less expensive ones could be better. Then there is preference. I can rest my elbow on my lap while operating the portable hand controls. To reach the Monarch hand controls, your elbow will be up in the air. That is less comfortable.
              You have some fascinating anatomy if you can rest your elbow on your lap.

              My take...portables are ok to get the job done. I used both, and properly installed/located permanent controls are more desirable. I liken portables to having a wheelchair which is actually a generic office chair and using broomstick to shove it around.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Andy View Post
                You have some fascinating anatomy if you can rest your elbow on your lap.

                My take...portables are ok to get the job done. I used both, and properly installed/located permanent controls are more desirable. I liken portables to having a wheelchair which is actually a generic office chair and using broomstick to shove it around.
                I'm with Andy, portables will work but they are no where near as convenient and easy to use as permanent controls. At least not for me. I've always had help installing mine, never paid anyone to do it. I have monarch controls I found on ebay ($350-400) in my car as well as my wife's with no issues for years. My left elbow sits on the door armrest, not in the air, and pulling a lever down takes way less effort than pushing the gas pedal with your thumb.

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                • #9
                  I have a Monarch in my Chevy Monte Carlo and a portable E-bay one in my BMW 645 (different than the one you have). Each one works better in it's own car. I could never rest my elbow on my lap in the Monte Carlo. The hand controls are too high up to do that. In the BMW the hand controls are practically in my lap so it's easy to rest my elbow in my lap while using them. This way actually improves my balance around corners.

                  I wouldn't want to push the control with my thumb for gas. That sounds like a miserable driving experience. On my portable ones, I pull for gas. It's comfortable and less effort than pushing the Monarchs down toward the floor. That takes much more effort. Another reason the Monarch isn't for the BMW is because there isn't enough room between the steering wheel and my knee to push the Monrach hand control down toward the floor. It would hit my knee before full throttle. Not a problem with pulling for gas.

                  Another feature about the portable ones is that they can control the gas in two ways: 1) pull toward me, and 2) push toward the passenger side. The second way isn't the way it is intended to be used. But you can install such that it works out that way. I pull for general driving. I push to the side when I want to give it just a little gas, like starting a turn. Quite a nice little feature.
                  Last edited by August West; 04-10-2018, 02:37 PM.

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                  • #10
                    I don't know the age of your Monte Carlo, if it has a DBW pedal or not. Those pedals don't lend themselves to easy mechanical control function (removing one of the springs helps quite a bit however). If you have issues with the force needed for gas on a push/right angle hand control, it isn't installed correctly. On my setups it is one or two finger operation, thumb for brake using MPD right angle controls, elbow on the door armrest. My portables are a floppy calamity which am rather apprehensive to use long-term, or with any sort of spritely driving (or emergency maneuvers for that matter) as I have zero functioning trunk muscles.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Andy View Post
                      My portables are a floppy calamity which am rather apprehensive to use long-term, or with any sort of spritely driving (or emergency maneuvers for that matter) as I have zero functioning trunk muscles.
                      Monte Carlo is 2001. I wish they still made them. Not a problem with gas. Just easier with the portables on the Bimmer. If your portables are a floppy calamity, they aren't installed correctly. You can reduce play with a strap around the steering wheel. You can eliminate play with a bracket.

                      By the way, when I first installed the portables in the Bimmer, I felt the same way. Not optimal for spirited driving. But with a few tweaks they are fine now. First you have to secure them. Second, extend the tube for the gas as far as possible to increase sensitivity.

                      Remember that not all portables are the same. They look similar. But they operate differently. I think I would hate the ones where you push with your thumb for gas.
                      Last edited by August West; 04-10-2018, 04:00 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I got the thumb (sportaid) type, it's been a couple years since I needed them, they work ok for shuttling stuff around. I like something mounted to the car though. 2001? Man, that's a relic! I had one of those dinosaurs once, lol
                        Attached Files

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                        • #13
                          1. When it comes to portable hand controls, you don't want thumb control (pic 1). That's too much stress on the hand.
                          2. You want a push-pull lever (pic 2). It's easy on the hand and the location of the lever enables a neutral position for your arm (you can rest your elbow on your lap).
                          3. A good quality portable hand control is very similar to a permanent type (pic 3).
                          4. The main difference is that the permanent hand control comes with a mounting bracket (pic 4) whereas the portable ones come with a strap.
                          5. To convert a portable hand control into a permanent hand control (to better secure the position), secure the brake tube with an electrical conduit bracket (pic 5). Line the bracket with something like pvc or fabric tape to prevent metal rubbing on metal.
                          Attached Files

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                          • #14
                            All's you need to know...1 finger, 1 thumb, and a martini glass in the other hand:

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                            • #15
                              My experience in 22 years w/hand controls has been that there's so much friction in the somewhat complex hand control throttle linkage, that it's hard enough to get them to reliably return to fully-closed throttle/idle with both throttle return springs in play.
                              Does this control always go to idle and if so, what kind is it?
                              69yo male T12 complete since 1995
                              NW NJ

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