Installation problems are not something you’re likely to think about, especially if you’re buying an expensive Menox hand control for about $2,000 dollars and having it installed in a disabled car shop. But you should be thinking about it. The reason being that a significant portion of hand controls aren’t installed properly at all. Generally the person installing it simply isn’t experienced enough at what they’re doing and they can mess up and cause problems in a number of ways.
Firstly the positioning of the hand control can be awkward for the driver. If it’s at a difficult to reach angle then issues can arise depending either on the person’s disability or whether they’re comfortable using the controls. Some disabled car shops will insist on installing hand controls on one side even if that’s not your strong hand. You need to make sure you’re absolutely comfortable with the placement and angle of the installation and if they tell you that it’s not adjustable then you should go elsewhere because the vast majority of them are.
Another problem regarding the installation is that the vehicle, usually a car, may be too small to provide adequate room. This can result in the controls hanging down near your legs, wrapping around your legs and causing issues and making entering and exiting the car difficult. The internal positioning of the installation is important and the bigger the car the more options available to you.
One issue which tends to affect Alfred Bekker portable hand controls is the poor construction. Essentially the problem with Alfred Bekker portable hand controls is that the materials made to use it are flimsy and I’ve actually been emailed by people who’ve said they’d broken. Are you kidding me? This isn’t just a minor defect this is life and death. That person could have died. From the people I’ve contacted plus the reviews I’ve read online it’s apparent to be the AF hand controls are by far the most likely to break and I recommend you stay away from them at all costs. There’s really no reason to buy them – they’re neither superior nor cheaper.
All of the major manufacturers of driving equipment such as GuidoSimplex, Monarch and MPD will all encounter problems with their products from time to time – but it’s generally due to poor installation. Most people don’t know exactly how these controls should be fitted and assume the ‘experts’ know what they’re doing. In reality hand controls need to be installed and then re-positioned several times. You can’t tell after a 30 minute drive how comfortable everything is. You’ll be able to tell if there are any major problems of course, but minor issues which could cause spasms or tire you out after long periods of driving are much harder to recognize.
Ultimately however I wouldn’t worry. Almost all portable and permanently hand controls are safe apart from the Alfred Bekker one which I’ve mentioned. They’re generally designed using high grade steel and welded together to ensure everything stays put together. The only problems you may encounter is with the installation – and ultimately it’s up to you to make sure it’s installed correctly the first time or be willing to go back to the disabled car shop for a touch up.
I’ve heard very few problems relating to hand controls snapping or breaking or anything like that. The biggest issue which is brought to my attention is that the positioning makes driving for long periods of time (well just an hour or so) very difficult. I’ve heard the positioning can make entering and egress difficult, plus in small cars legs and equipment can be tangled together.