AARP Driving Resource Center

Getting the Right Fit With Your Vehicle

Learn to configure your car to meet your needs

Are you comfortable and in control behind the wheel of your vehicle? Checking to see that you and your car “fit” together well can be as important to your safety as a mechanical check-up.

See also: How to Adjust Your Vehicle’s Head Restraints

A good fit between you and your vehicle means that you are “car fit.”

  • C - Clear line of sight over the steering wheel. You should be able to adjust the steering wheel and/or seat so you can see at least three inches above the steering wheel.
  • A - Adjust the head restraints properly. The top of the head restraint should be even with the top of your head or as high as it can be adjusted. It should be as close to your head as comfortable and not more than 2½ inches behind your head.
  • R - Room between the center of your chest and the driver front airbag. The safe distance is at least 10 inches between your chest and the center of the steering wheel.
  • F - Fit in your seat comfortably. You should be able to adjust the seat controls for good visibility (front, side and rear) and easy access to controls and pedals.
  • I - Inspect seat belt for proper position and comfort. The lap belt should fit comfortably but snugly low across your hip bones or upper thighs, below your abdomen. The shoulder belt should fit comfortably across the center of your left shoulder and your chest, never under your arm.
  • T - Touch gas and brake pedals to measure easy access. Your feet should be able to reach the pedals without having to stretch. You need to be able to fully depress the brake pedal. You also need to be able to move your foot easily between the brake and gas pedals.

In addition, there are assistive devices that are designed to make you feel more comfortable in the driver’s seat. This equipment may be available for purchase from your local dealership or rehabilitation center. Examples include wedge cushions and seat belt pads. When considering any assistive devices, it is always wise to speak to an occupational therapist about proper use.

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