Mobility scooters have come a long way over recent years thanks to advancing innovations in design and technology. They have transformed the lives of millions right across the country, allowing them to regain control over their independent living. But with so many varying models, features and uses, it can seem hard sometimes to know where to start. To help you decide, we have put together this simple buying guide detailing the things to consider which we hope will make the process easier and more straight forward for you. By following this guide, you will come to a decision on a mobility scooter that is right for you, taking into consideration your needs, requirements, personal preferences and environment.
Please feel free to contact us for further help and guidance on 01323 444861, or of course visit a member of our friendly and professional team in store. Free home assessments are also available.
When will you use your scooter?
First of all consider when you plan to use your mobility scooter. Do you plan to use it every day or just every now and then? Do you plan to use it for short or long journeys? This will help you to decide whether you need your scooter to be portable or if this is not such a necessity to you.
Where will you use your scooter?
Next, think about where you intend to use your mobility scooter. When considering this, think about the type of environment you will mainly be driving it in. For example, do you have lots of kerbs to negotiate? In this case we would recommend a scooter with a reasonable ride height. If you intend to use your scooter for long journeys and you will be driving on the road, you will need to go for a an 8mph scooter. If you have lots of hills to contend with in your environment, you will need to also consider the speed and range of your scooter. You must not exceed the maximum gradient of a scooter at the maximum user weight setting, as this will reduce the range you can get between charges of your batteries. Therefore, if you are likely to be travelling up and down hills often, we would recommend a larger scooter with larger batteries.
Why will you use your scooter?
You must also consider why you will be using your scooter. Commonly customers want a scooter for going shopping, visiting friends and family or taking on holiday with them. Consider why you need a scooter the most and then ask yourself this key question: must my scooter be portable? Once you decide whether your scooter needs to be portable or not, it will be very easy to narrow down your options.
If you need your scooter to be portable, we would suggest a smaller more lightweight model which dismantles easily. We offer portable or foldable mobility scooters which make taking down and putting up again really quick and simple, perfect for taking on holiday with you or transporting in the boot of your car. You need to bear in mind however, that due to the lightweight design seat padding etc. is kept to a minimum, often making these mobility scooters less comfortable than our larger models. For short journeys this would not be a problem, but if you are using your scooter all the time over long distances, we would recommend you go for either our luxury 4mph or 8mph models, as these will not only cover longer distances but be more comfortable too.
Before you buy a mobility scooter, it’s important to know some essentials. You do not require a driver’s licence to use a mobility scooter, although you do have an obligation to the public to drive responsibly and safely. There are 3 types of invalid carriages ranging from classes 1-3 as defined by Highway Regulations.
Class 1: Manual wheelchairs (ie without an electric motor)
Class 2: Powered wheelchairs and scooters for pavement use with a maximum speed of 4mph
Class 3: Powered wheelchairs and scooters for use on the highway with a maximum speed of 8mph
It’s important to know that all class 2 vehicles are suitable for driving on pavements, footpaths, pedestrian and zebra crossings but are not classified for use on the road, and all class 3 vehicles require a number of specific features. These features include: a rear view mirror, brakes, front and rear lights, indicators and hazard lights and a horn. They do not require road tax*, insurance (though we do recommend this) or an MOT. They are not permitted for travel on motorways, in cycle lanes or bus lanes, and though not illegal, we do not recommend you drive your scooter on a dual carriage way with a speed limit of over 50mph.
If you have difficulties with your vision, perception or learning, you should seek professional medical advice from your doctor before you make your purchase.
*A Class 3 mobility scooter is exempt from vehicle tax, however the owner still needs to apply for a tax disc for the vehicle and renew the application annually.
When choosing your mobility scooter, it’s also very important to consider what features you require in particular.
Let’s first consider the seat of your mobility scooter. This is often a crucial feature because it is important to be sitting comfortably and to have the correct back and posture support in place. A basic seat will have a padded base and backrest with usually width adjustable armrests, a feature found in our smaller portable models. Our larger luxury models will have much bigger “Captain’s” seats, which are more adjustable and have a headrest. If you suffer from back pain, you may want to consider a mobility scooter with suspension such as some of our luxury 8mph scooters.
You must also take into consideration the number of wheels on your scooter. Whether it’s 3 or 4 wheels, this does not affect the overall performance of your scooter, although our 3 wheeled versions will have a much tighter turning circle making them easier to manoeuvre, and our 4 wheeled versions will make for a scooter with added stability.
Another important factor to consider is the maximum carry weight of the scooter; the larger the scooter, the greater the maximum carry weight. Remember to take a look at this on the detailed product page as it will have a bearing on which scooter you can choose. If you do exceed the weight limit of your scooter, you will invalidate your warranty and damage the motor.
We do also supply a large variety of accessories which would allow you to tailor your mobility scooter to your specific needs and personal preferences. For example, you can purchase walking stick holders, storage covers, canopies and shopping baskets, which you can add to your scooter to improve your independent living and mobility experience.
Before you buy your mobility scooter, you also need to have considered where you will store it. You will ideally need a secure and waterproof environment with a power point nearby in order to charge the batteries, such as a garage. If you need to store your scooter indoors, you will need to consider installing ramps and you must check the width of your scooter against the width of your door to ensure it will fit through. It is possible to leave your portable scooter in the boot of your car, as long as you remember to take the battery pack inside for charging.
We recommend you take out insurance on your mobility scooter, although it is not a legal requirement. Check your household insurance cover before buying a specific policy, as your scooter could be covered for theft and/or accidental damage. Also check to see if you have third party liability insurance as this is the most important to be covered for. Other types of risks that the insurance can cover include breakdown assistance and major repairs. Please contact one of our friendly and helpful advisors on 01323 444 861 for more information about this.
All scooters contain 12V DC rechargeable maintenance free batteries, and the performance and durability of your scooter rely on them. They do not require any topping up as they will either be sealed lead acid or gel based batteries. Instead you must make sure they are charged in order for your scooter to reach the best of its ability.
You should always charge your batteries for between 8 and 10 hours at a time in a charging cycle and not just put the battery on charge for a couple of hours. Recharge your battery every time you use your mobility scooter over at least a couple of miles, and do not charge if the level indicator is at 80% or more. Take care not to leave the charger on for long periods of time in excess of 12 hours as there is a risk of overcharging the batteries.
In general, sealed led acid batteries will last for between 2 and 3 years and gel based batteries up to 5 years. It is easy to replace your batteries which cost between £30 and £200 depending on the size.
Batteries will lose their charge more quickly during the colder months so you should aim to charge your batteries at least every fortnight during these times, and they will eventually decay if left in a discharged state for a long period of time.
It is not essential but we would recommend that you have your mobility scooter serviced once a year which will cost in the region of £30-£80 dependent on the size etc. of your scooter. Servicing is often a requirement of your insurance cover, if insurance is something you decide to purchase.