The AZ-1 portable hand controls set is a fairly standard manual hand control’s kit. It’s designated as a portable hand control because of it can be installed and removed within 5 minutes, doesn’t require any permanent modifications to the automobile and doesn’t require any tools for installation. The AZ-1 kit is also fairly cheap and retails at around 300 dollars which makes it much cheaper than most permanent alternatives.
Review of the AZ-1 portable hand controls kit
What we have here is a fairly standard set of portable hand controls. Its constructed from durable and very lightweight aerospace aluminium (it’s what they build planes out of) which sounds very impressive but it’s a standard material for this kind of material as well as a necessity due to the effort involved with operating the acceleration and brake pedals with one hand.
The length is adjustable which allows installation among a variety of automobiles including vans, lowered floor vans, trucks and of course cars. The manufacturer’s guide doesn’t state the minimum and maximum lengths which it can adjust to which is very frustrating because if you’re unsure about whether it’s too small for your vehicle you have no way of checker. I’ve not been emailed any complaints about it being too short and I would guess that it’s very similar to that of other handicap portable driving kits. The adjustable length allows for the driver to fold down and store his/her AZ-1 kit when needed for travelling.
The hand grip to the rods which control the pedals are coated in a heat-proof foam which is comfortable because of both the foam but also the heat-prevention. I should however point out that this is not a particularly unique feature and several other portable driving kits have this exact same feature.
Installing the AZ-1 Portable Automobile Hand Controls
There are a few key things which you need to look at when installing the AZ-1 portable hand controls, firstly you need to make sure that your vehicle has the following:
- Automatic transmission
- Power assisted brakes
- Hand operated emergency brake
- Enough space for the driver to use the portable AZ-1 hand controls. Some disabled drivers are overweight and their automobiles have driver compartments with insufficient space. It is imperative that enough room is available for a reasonable amount of hand use during the operation of the AZ-1 system.
The Installation Process:
Firstly you need to slide the brake mount clamp over the pedal and then use your fingers to screw in both of the bolts into position. The mount clamp should be evenly screwed into both sides and then you should attach the acceleration mount clamp in the same manner (unless you only need an accelerator or brake control because one of your legs is functional). Although the manufacturer’s of the AZ-1 do not actually give the specifications of the maximum and minimum length the extension rods can be adjusted to, they do offer to replace and refund the product if it does not install properly.
When you’re installing the AZ-1 portable hand controls you must ensure that there is enough clearance for both the brake and gas pedals. This means that you need to check that there’s enough room to both engage and disengage without interfering with any other equipment you may have. The only hiccups which some people have with installation is that there simply isn’t enough room for full operation. Occasionally this might be because there’s a floor mat which is too thick and needs to be removed… but if it does occur it’s generally because the car is too small, the person is too big, or there are other modifications which have been made to the vehicle.
Seat positioning isn’t technically a part of the installation process but it’s also very important which new drivers might not realize right away. Your seat adjustments need to allow for a comfortable and functional amount of room for operation of both the steering wheel and AZ-1 hand controls. You need to unfasten the snap pin to adjust the length of both of the hand control rods, adjust it to the length which is appropriate to your position and then reinsert the snap pins.
One important thing to remember is that when you’re adjusting the length of the acceleration rod you need to make sure it’s several inches higher than the brake rod. This is so that you can press down with your thumb onto the acceleration rod.
Make sure that everything is securely in place before driving, and even if everything is secure in place I’d recommend doing a little test driving in low traffic conditions before starting. Removing the AZ-1 portable hand control kit is essentially the reverse as installation so it’s something which you need to be aware of.
Operation of the AZ-1 hand controls requires the driver to drive using the left hand only and use the thumb of the driver’s left hand to press down to accelerate and use the entire hand to brake.
My thoughts on the AZ-1 hand controls are relatively simple. It’s a decent product and it won’t snap in your hands like I’ve read reports about Alfred Bekker’s hand controls, but on the other hand it’s also nearly 50 dollars more than its competition. Furthermore it requires the driver to specifically use their left hand which seems odd to me because most people are right handed. This situation with the AZ-1 does of course leave the right hand to operate the steering wheel – but why not give people a choice and see what they prefer? Finally the requirement of the thumb to press down on the entire acceleration rod to operate the gas pedal seems a little ridiculous. Most other portable hand controls require the use of one’s hand and ultimately they should have had it made so that the brakes (which are used far less frequently) require the use of the thumb (if any thumb had to be used that is). Ultimately this is expensive and tiresome to operate.
Other Portable Hand Controls
Freedom Staff Hand Controls – Our most popular and highly recommended product. The Freedom Staff handicap driving kit combines portability, functionality and price in the most efficient manner. They’re one of the cheapest and yet most highly recommended portable hand controls. I’ve never read any negative reviews of the Freedom Staff handicap driving hand controls and quite to the contrary the feedback has been immense.
TNT Hand Controls – In the past TNT’s portable hand controls were probably one of the most popular however they’ve somewhat failed to keep up with the times (go take a look at their website). They’re similar to their competitors however they’re more expensive and ordering TNT driving controls can be difficult. You need to go through their ‘website’ whereas for most other portable hand controls brands you can simply buy them of Amazon and get them delivered to your door.
PHC 3 Portable Hand Controls – The PHC 3 kit are another set of portable hand controls which are manufactured by WheelAbility. They’re one of the most expensive hand control sets from one of the oldest manufacturer’s of portable driving control kits – but they’re also significantly more expensive than the competition. The PHC iii hand controls cost, on average, around 360 dollars which is almost a 100 dollars more than its competition.