Mobility scooters provide millions of people with freedom of movement and a priceless sense of independence. However, there are so many different model types available it can feel like a daunting task when trying to choose the one that's right for you. Since each scooter comes with its own set of features and capabilities, there will be much more to consider aside from just the color. Read through our mobility scooter buying guide and let us help you figure out which scooter best fits your needs!
Types of Mobility Scooters
There are 5 main categories you should be aware of when shopping for a mobility scooter; heavy duty scooters, travel scooters, recreational scooters, 3 wheel scooters, and 4 wheel scooters. Each type has it's positives and negatives, so it's recommended you read and understand each before continuing.
Heavy Duty Mobility Scooters - All heavy duty mobility scooters come built for larger-framed individuals and can handle rider weight capacities of up to 600 pounds. They're designed to be more rugged and are available in both 3 and 4 wheel options. Wider wheel bases and higher ground clearance makes these scooters well-suited for uneven outdoor terrain and pavement.
Travel/Portable Mobility Scooters - As you may expect, travel scooters are compact and lightweight making them ideal for airplane, cruise and train travel. Standard portable scooters come designed for easy assembly, tear-down and portability while others offer the ability to fold down for you automatically. You can buy portable mobility scooters in both 3 and 4 wheel models knowing that they will easily fit right into the trunk of your vehicle.
Recreational Mobility Scooters - Ideal for recreational use both indoors and out, these scooters are often designed to be faster than others. A variety of 3 and 4 wheel model types usually come with extra accessories, including headlights and oversized tires.
3 Wheel Scooters - Best when used indoors, the 3-wheeled scooter has two wheels in back and one in front. This gives the driver plenty of leg room and a tighter turning radius that makes it extremely easy to maneuver around corners inside a home, office building or supermarket.
4 Wheel Scooters - Best for outdoor use, the 4-wheeled scooter comes with two wheels in back and two wheels in front. Even though it’s minimal turning radius could make it more difficult to navigate around corners, Four wheels scooters offer much better stability, security and a smoother ride while moving on uneven surfaces around town.
Mobility Scooter Features
Now that you understand the different types of mobility scooters available, you may want to read about each of the features you should be looking for before buying. These guarantee you'll have an enjoyable ride!
Weight Capacity - Standard scooters will typically support riders who weigh upwards from 250 to 350 pounds. Anyone weighing over 350 pounds will want to consider purchasing a heavy-duty scooter.
Speed Variation - There are two classes of powered mobility scooters. Manual wheelchairs and Class 2 vehicles are those with an upper speed limit of 4mph (6 km/h) and are designed to be used on pavements. Class 3 vehicles are those with an upper speed of 8mph (12 km/h) and are equipped to be used on the road as well as the pavement.
Types of Seats - Seat depth and width are important features to help ensure a safe and comfortable ride. Most scooter seats will let you raise or lower the height, swivel at least 90 degrees and have arms that flip up or out of the way for ease of transfer. If you plan to use your scooter frequently then consider a soft and supportive cushion such as the "Captain's seat," which can also be referred to as an "Admiral's seat." Another option is a "Power seat" that can raise you up an additional 6 inches with the touch of a button. Further options include swivel seats, reclining seats, high back seats, and extra wide seats.
Scooter Weight – This feature is probably most important for those planning to travel with their scooter. Most three wheel power scooter models will weigh approximately 220 to 250 pounds. Heavier four wheel power scooter models come in at around 350 to 400 pounds. Lightweight portable scooters can weigh as little as 45 pounds with the battery, making them easy to lift for those with limited strength and often the best choice for anyone traveling with their scooter.
Types of Tires - The size of tires on a scooter can have a direct impact on its ability to surmount obstacles and provide stability. Scooters generally come equipped with six, eight or ten inch wheels. Smaller wheels are typically found on front-wheel drive scooters intended for indoor use. Manufacturers tend to offer a specific tire as standard equipment, and then offer additional tires as extra-cost upgrades. Pneumatic tires include air-filled tubes that are very similar to those found on automobiles. Air pressure should be checked regularly to maintain proper levels and tires may need to be replaced if punctured.
Foam filled tires are similar to pneumatic tires but they include foam inserts rather than air-filled tubes. These tires cannot be deflated and, therefore, require less maintenance. They may be more expensive than pneumatic tires and may not offer a consistently comfortable ride. The least expensive tire option is the solid rubber tire. These tires require the least amount of maintenance but provide minimal shock absorption and are intended primarily for indoor use.
Batteries - Your mobility scooter will have one of three different types of batteries inside. Lead acid (wet cell), AGM (absorbed glass mat), also know as sealed lead acid batteries, or gel cell batteries. Gel cell batteries are the safest and most readily available but they will also cost you more than the others.
Mobility Scooter Accessories
Don't forget to also consider additional accessories when thinking about purchasing a new mobility scooter. Scooters can be outfitted with a variety of different accessories including:
- Armrest Bags
- Oxygen Tank Holders
- Crutch Holders
- Additional Under-Seat Storage
Questions to Ask Yourself
The questions below should help you decide which type of scooter is best to consider purchasing.
Where do you want to use your scooter?
This question represents a big distinction in the different classes of mobility scooters out there. You need to first determine if you plan to drive your scooter on roads or if it will be enough for you to only travel on pavement. A machine intended for use on pavements will have a maximum speed of 4mph and will generally come at a lower price than one intended for road use. Road use mobility scooters are able to travel between 6 and 8mph but also require a tax disc.
Do you plan on traveling with your scooter?
By answering this question you'll be able to significantly narrow down your search for a new mobility scooter. If you need a scooter that's going to be portable, it's recommended you go for something smaller and more lightweight that can be folded or disassembled easily.
How far do you plan on going?
The further you wish to travel on your scooter, the longer your battery life will need to be. Mobility scooters can range in miles between charges anywhere from 9 to 36. Ask yourself this important question and take it into consideration when looking at different models.
Rural or off-road driving?
Consider the area you live in when thinking about the type of mobility scooter you want. Those who live in rural areas will need to purchase a scooter that can handle the terrain around them. Several scooters come designed specifically for off-road use and can handle almost any conditions.
Benefits of Mobility Scooters
Mobility scooters offer a wide variety of benefits to both younger and older people. The user can get around the house or neighborhood without requiring assistance from anyone else and that gives them a huge boost of independence. Injury prevention is another benefit for older users. Our physical strength decreases with age and falls become a major risk. But your chances of a hard fall will decrease significantly with the aid of a mobility scooter. Finally, when using a mobility device you'll be able to get around much faster and with much less energy. The extra time and energy you save by using a mobility scooter can make getting around fun again!
Who Needs a Mobility Scooter
If you meet any of the criteria below, a mobility scooter is probably right for you:
- I have trouble walking for extended periods of time
- I experience difficulty managing a walker
- I use a cane or crutches
- I use an oxygen tank
- I've recently had an operation/surgery and now have limited mobility
- I have crippling back/knee pain.
- I want to be able to enjoy daily activities (shopping, grocery, going out with friends and family) without depending on others to move me around.