Comfortable cars for coccyx sufferers to drive

Various types of coccyx cushion may help a lot - try them before changing your car.

Ford C-Max [Europe]

Sue writes: Following an injury 18 months ago, I have found car journeys an ordeal. We have spent months investigating alternatives to our current car, and have finally settled on a Ford C Max [available in Europe]. The improvement in pain levels is amazing. The C Max seat is higher and much flatter than in other cars we have looked at, and the height of the roof allows plenty of room to accommodate a coccyx cushion. I find the ride comfortable, and getting in and out is very easy.

Volkswagen Cabrio

Sandra writes: My vehicle is a Volkswagen Cabrio. The seats have a lot of adjustment to them. I keep mine with the seating part high and mostly level but for a slight backward tilt and my knees are no longer higher than my hips when in the car. It makes getting in and out easier and less painful as well. I keep the back pretty much up straight. There is little to no pressure on the tailbone as there seems to be a little open vee with that angle and my tailbone fits into that area when the base & back of the seat are in this position. It is also heated and the heat helps a lot! Night and day.

 

Toyota Corolla

Síle writes: I have changed my car to a Toyota Corolla, and I can really recommend this car to anybody. It has made my daily commute much easier.

 

Paul writes: I found a web site that sells a car seat rest with a cut out for the tail bone. I ordered it and it works great. I feel about 90 percent less pain with this device. It cost about 200 dollars but is worth every penny.

SACRO-EASE Posture Correction Seat Insert, type 3, with seat cut-out. The seat insert is firm, stopping you from sinking into the car seat. (Note that there are four designs of Sacro Ease inserts, only one has a cut-out under the coccyx.) Sacro-ease posture correction seat insert

Toyota Sequoia

Jennifer writes: We own a Toyota Sequoia and we bought an inexpensive twin size air mattress which fits perfectly lengthwise behind the driver's seat. This enables me to travel laying down and still allows room for 3 other passengers along with some luggage. I found that if I sit with my head facing the back of the vehicle I'm able to click in the seatbelt which helps stabilize the air mattress. Otherwise I feel as if I'm sitting on top of a bowl of Jell-O with the motion of the vehicle being amplified by the movement of the air mattress. This suggestion might not help people in countries where smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles are used but I hope it will help give some readers with a desperate desire to travel another option to enhance their quality of life.

Suzuki Wagon R+

I (Jon Miles) found that after my coccyx operation, the most uncomfortable position for me was leaning back in a seat. Unfortunately modern cars mostly make you lean back, often with your feet nearly as high as your bottom. I eventually found my solution with a modified Suzuki Wagon R+, a small town car with upright seats and plenty of headroom. You can see my modified car here.

Toyota Avalon

Mike Davison writes: I recommend a Toyota Avalon (US) as a very forgiving car on the coccyx. The power seat has a very high thigh adjustment that takes most of the pressure of the coccyx. With the thigh adjusted up and the rear down, it's like sitting in a hole. Wonderful.

Honda Civic

Catherine Lugg writes: I can recommend the Honda Civic. I'm driving a 1995 Honda Civic LX (4 door). The good news is one can adjust the driver's seat so the driver is seated ram-rod straight, with the seat actually flat to tilting forward. And this is a MANUAL seat. My partner Mary far prefers to have the "leaned-back" seat, so we're constantly flipping settings.

The bad news is the ride can be a bit stiff on very rough roads. Nevertheless, I can ride in it up to about 9 hours a day. Not too bad for a compact car. I'll probably replace it with another Civic in a few years. The new models are a bit larger and get even better gas mileage (almost as important as the seat in my book).

Cadillac

Ronda (eddleman@adelphia.net) writes: Any Cadillac has almost infinite adjustments in the driver's power seat. I find I get mileage on the highway of 26 mpg and 18 around town. Plus, the trunk is really big and hauls all the garden equipment. Mine is a 1995 so have enjoyed it many years. Bought it used with only 10,000 miles for $25K with a factory warranty which I have never used so far.

I think people often make assumptions about cars when you actually have to ride in one to find out if it fits YOU.

Mercury Mountaineer

Rory Greenwell writes: Linda just swapped her Dodge Durango for a Mercury Mountaineer. I have to say that we are very impressed! The seats are very adjustable, the steering wheel is adjustable, and one of the options available is adjustable foot controls. It has the new independent suspension at the rear.Very smooth ride and very comfortable. Linda drives much further now, and actually has some joy in driving again. Yes, it's an SUV. It's not huge though. The seats in this unit are also heated! I won't use any kind of cushion when I drive (makes me sit too high), so the heating elements are bliss. Linda still uses a cushion, so does not reap the benefit of the heat.

Mazda Protege 5

KMB writes: I too suffer from coccydynia, and it came down to my not being able to drive my 5 speed VW Golf any more because I couldn't balance on my tail bone long enough to depress the clutch. My first stunt was to cut out a U shape in the seat so my tail bone could hang over the back, but that didn't last too long as the seat cushion and upholstery fell apart. $700 to replace that if I wanted to spend the dough. Naaaa..

So... My next option was to find a car that had seats I could tolerate, PLUS a car that had an automatic transmission (my first ever, I might add!) So, I went car "looking and sitting." I found the Mazda Protege 5. It has seats that fold up in the front like a theatre seat. I bought the car on sight, I didn't even leave the dealership with my VW (the 9th VW I've owned too).

Acura 3.5RL

Gloria (RYN1GLORY2@att.net) writes: Just got an Acura 3.5RL. It goes in the best position for me, my height is 5"8". The best thing is the bottom seat will adjust to almost flat and will raise the back of the bottom to tilt me forward and my head does not hit the ceiling. The lumbar support is still too low, as it pushes in at my lower back and not at the curve, so I use a pillow.


Toyota Corolla or Avensis

Franck in France (coccyx.net@free.fr) writes: The only car that I can sit in is the Toyota Corolla or Avensis. They have a seat which can be tilted down at the back so that most of the pressure is under the thighs instead of the buttocks.

GM Bonneville SSE

Andrew Busigin writes: Unfortunately, I am one of those afflicted with the coccyx pain, and it's pretty severe, but I have been very luck to have just the right car seat. The car I have is a GM Bonneville SSE. It has the leather seats with a 9 rocker switch array of adjustments for the bucket seats. It is perhaps one of the most comfortable armchairs I've ever sat in, and it has made driving long distances tolerable.

Of the 9 controls, 3 are for individual lumbar area inflation pads. By adjusting them, they can help to reduce the pressure on the coccyx significantly. The seat can also be cradled and reclined either jointly with the seat and back, or individually. Tilting the seat pan back is also very useful. During long trips, the seat geometry can be adjusted several times to allow the back to change positions, and the change can be a significant relief. Since getting the Bonneville SSE a few years back, I've been able to double my daily driving range.

Level seat?

Mary in Ohio writes: I wanted to tell you that I found a Mazda MPV van that has a level seat. I took your information to a bunch of car dealers. My brother went with me and we looked at many, many cars, vans or SUVs. This one has a level seat and is reasonable in price. It is more car than I planned to buy but it seems to help me drive for a little longer without as much pain. I am in a hard flare up of pain so it is not the whole answer. But the seat is level on the bottom and the back is straight up or can be adjusted slightly forward. It has plenty of head room also room to move your feet around so that you can adjust your position as you drive.

Or bucket seat?

Anonymous writes: I personally have found that "bucket" type car seats are the most comfortable, ie those with raised sides. I have found that if I use my coccyx cushion as well it has the effect of slightly raising my thighs and hips and then any downward pressure by my feet on the pedals pushes my rear upwards instead of backwards. I cannot explain why this works, but it does. My car is a Skoda Octavia, and although I am not able to drive for very long distances, I can at least get out of the house for a while.

I also have an office chair in the house with raised side edges, which I also use with my cushion which has a slot cut out of the back.

Recaro seat

Anonmymous writes: I do a long commute in heavy traffic. I find that an automatic is much preferable to a stick shift: it gets rid of all that pressure generated by the use of the clutch. I use an older Toyota Camry, but I found that the seats in it were not appropriate for me - I'm 5 feet 10 inches [1.78 metres]. The seats provided no thigh support at all, and I was often getting out of the car with a "dead" leg. I like a chair that provides support under my shoulder blades, and that was not present either. I replaced the driver seat with a base model Recaro seat, adapting it so it could slide three inches further back than the original seat. This seat provides thigh support, and great support for the back and shoulders. After a day at work I sink into it and stretch and relax, it's really comfortable. It's also very tough, according to the collision repair shop that fixed the car after it had been severely rear-ended. They usually have to replace seats after heavy rear impacts, but mine was still just fine.

You may find a Recaro seat would be better for you than any seat provided as original equipment in a small car. I believe they are used in BMW's, so a BMW dealership would be a good place to visit to try one initially. Then find a Recaro dealer, probably a performance shop. Then stick one in probably any car you like that has an automatic. An older larger car with an automatic and a very comfortable seat may be a better package for you than a new smaller car.

Renault Megane Scenic

Neal Philo writes: Many of my customers, including myself, favour the Renault Megane Scenic (the taller version of the Megane). It has plenty of headroom and the seat is a bit bus-driver-ish. The driver's legs tend to drop down, not stretch out in front. This seat combined with a shallow-angled seat wedge with coccyx cut-out can often work wonders. You can do this because of the extra headroom in the Scenic.

Also, have you looked in your local Yellow Pages for "Vehicle Trimmers"? Or asked at your local garage where they send cars to have tatty upholstery renewed? Or who converts or customises vans into caravannettes locally? These people can cut holes out of foam and mess with your car seat until you are comfortable. All upholstery in modern vehicles is simply clipped onto the metal seat frame and is really easy to get off. (not so easy to re-fit though!).

Please note: Any alteration of your car seat, however minor, could well invalidate your insurance. This is because seat bases have been designed to slope backwards to prevent "sledging" - that is when you slide out from under your belly strap in a hard crash. So if you mess with the dynamics of seat design, be sure to consult your insurer first.

Neal Philo, The Comfort Shop Ltd, UK. Tel : 01253 724902, Fax : 01253 732696 www.the-comfort-shop.co.uk

Mercury Grand Marquis LX

Elizabeth Mina writes: My biggest limitation in life after suffering with coccydynia for 17 years still is riding in a car. It has made me unable to work at any type of job as well as kept me from travelling virtually anywhere, turning me into a virtual hermit.

I have found that the ONLY car I can ride in comfortably for an hour or so is the pre-1998 Mercury Grand Marquis LX (luxury) model with power package that includes dual powered/adjustable split front seats - this is almost like a bench seat - with cloth. (Avoid redesigned model with different seats produced from 1998 on which is not good.) Interestingly, American consumer magazines criticized the seats in the pre-1998 Grand Marquis as "spongy" and "unsupportive" because they are soft and cushy, and the manufacturer responded with a design much poorer for us coccydynia sufferers. Soft seats avoid producing painful pressure points as quickly as the hardened sculpted seats the car industry has adopted as a virtual standard today. I compare the current car seat approach of hard supposedly supportive seats to the position the bed mattress people used to promote: that a hard mattress was "healthier" for people because it molded them into a correct position while sleeping. Yet now the bed industry has pulled back, realizing that this advice was very wrong, and they are routinely adding features such as pillow tops as well as producing mattresses made of different kinds of foam in order to reduce pressure points. Let's hope the car industry catches on, particularly as the world population ages and more and more people have back problems.

The other attribute of the pre-1998 Mercury Grand Marquis seats LX with power package is that BOTH driver and passenger seats have power seats. This allows one to tilt the bottom seat cushion of either side completely forward so the seat is FLAT - very important and impossible without the power seat - because it transfers much body weight under the thighs. Thus, the body isn't propelled into a forced leaning back position that channels all weight to the base of the spine. It also doesn't have side "wings" on the bottom seat cushions that further press body weight inward to the center and ultimately to the base of the spine. Because of the ability to change the seat in 8 ways, body position can also be changed frequently into everything from completely straight up to 3/4 leaning back. Changing position is vital for us coccydynia victims! Just make sure you don't get leather seats, as leather is stretched tight and doesn't have the softer give of fabric seats even if on the same base and cushion.

In addition, the Mercury Grand Marquis is known as one of the old-line "boats" from the American car industry with lots of space and leg room and a very s-m-o-o-t-h suspension with one of the best systems for protecting against road jolts. It has been consistently rated tops in CAR RIDE by the advertising-free American magazine "Consumer Reports."

Actually, virtually all of the OLD cars had this kind of soft flat seats, often in a bench design. I remember even riding in a wonderful similar old 1970s Saab that gave a great ride as well as a cushy level seat and loved it even before I developed coccydynia! These old flat bench seats were particularly helpful for us with tailbone problems, but they are virtually unavailable today due to the prominence of the bucket seats on practically every model.

I have tried to deal with "handicapped" authorities at many American car manufacturers, and nobody at them acknowledges that their modern seats cause difficulties for a large segment of the population that doesn't want "sporty" styling, just comfort. Most models are IMPOSSIBLE to order with DUAL power seats for both driver and passenger - it's often not an option and none of the car companies will stick their necks out with this special change, even as a handicap adaptation.. Also, after-market specialists here in America will not alter the car by adding a power seat to the passenger side because of the extensive extra wiring required, as well as the fact that if they alter a seat, they are putting themselves liable to be sued if the seat fails in a car crash. I actually had a specialist make a whole separate overlayed seat particularly adapted to me that was supposed to duplicate a seat with a flat bottom cushion, straight back, and cushier padding, but it didn't work. I have concluded that adding bells and whistles to what is a bad seat design in the first place can never be really successful. The only way to make an impact is to lobby the car manufacturers to think differently about car seat design comfort for the entire population and particularly for people like us with special needs who require adjustability and soft support.

Unfortunately, with most cars designed today with hard, leaning back bucket seats and no available power adjustments - particularly on the passenger side for me while my husband drives - I am forced into lying face down in the back seat. This is both degrading and very uncomfortable after a time. It shouldn't have to happen.

Updated 2009-10-04

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