Mobility Scooters—Restore your Independence
Mobility Scooter Types, Features and Maintenance
Mobility scooters (or “scooters”) are designed for people who lack the strength or ability to walk or operate a manual wheelchair. They are battery powered and may have three or four wheels. Unlike power chairs, mobility scooters are steered by tillers.
Types of Mobility Scooters
There are three main types of mobility scooters: travel/portable, three-wheel and four-wheel.
Travel/portable—Travel scooters can fold or be disassembled, usually into three or four parts that will fit into the trunk of a car or as airplane cargo. These scooters tend to be lighter than full-sized three- or four-wheel scooters.
Three-wheel mobility scooters have a tight turning radius, making them easier to use indoors.
4-wheel mobility scooters are more stable and the risk of their tipping is relatively low. They maneuver well over rough terrain and hills.
Features of Mobility Scooters
Tiller—Mobility scooters are steered using tillers. Tillers are “T”-shaped steering columns that control the front wheels to turn left or right and to go straight. Other controls such as forward/reverse, speed and turning signals may be located on the tiller as well. Delta tillers have wraparound handles (instead of “T”-shaped) giving the user a variety of hand and wrist positions. They also allow the user to rest his/her wrists on the handle. Delta tillers are ideal for people with limited hand dexterity or strength.
Seats—Seats on travel/portable scooters are smaller and less padded than seats on full-sized mobility scooters. Most scooter seats swivel to allow the user to get on and off with ease. The user should be able to raise and lower the seat for his/her knees to rest at a comfortable 90-degree angle. Captain’s seats offer the most comfort and support. They usually have more padding, contoured backrests and seats and may even have headrests.
Suspension—Scooters with suspension systems offer a smoother ride, especially when going over bumps, uneven surfaces or rough terrain. Suspension is standard on most full-sized three- and four-wheel scooters, although it is available on some travel/portable scooters.
Wheels—There are three main types of wheels: solid, pneumatic and foam filled. Solid and foam-filled wheels will never go flat but the ride tends to be rougher than pneumatic wheels. Foam-filled wheels absorb more shock than solid tires, making the ride slightly smoother. Most travel/portable scooters come with solid wheels. Pneumatic wheels are air filled (like cars) and can go flat, but they offer the smoothest ride. Most full-sized and all-terrain scooters have pneumatic wheels.
Maintenance—Regularly inspect the mobility scooter for damage, paying special attention to the wheels. They may need to be replaced if they show excessive signs of wear or if they are punctured (pneumatic wheels). Preserve the battery life by charging it regularly for eight to ten hours at a time. If the mobility scooter is used during the day, charge the battery overnight. Refer to the owner’s manual for manufacturer’s instructions on how to charge and maintain the battery.
Cleaning—Always turn off the scooter before cleaning. Wash it with soap and water regularly to prevent dust and dirt from damaging any moving parts. Allow the scooter to dry before use. Avoid getting water on electrical components.
How much does a mobility scooter cost?
Prices for mobility scooters vary according to their features such as maximum speed and other options. Three-wheel travel scooters start around $600, and four-wheel travel scooters around $650. Full-sized scooters are significantly more expensive. Prices for full-sized three-wheel scooters start around $1,150 and full-sized four-wheel scooters around $1,650. Specialty scooters such as heavy-duty and all-terrain models start from $1,200 and $2,500 respectively.