In the technological age we live in there have been multiple life-altering inventions. The iPhone was a cultural reset, space shuttles continually bring the world to a pause to watch in awe, but there is one which should never be overlooked: the mobility scooter.
The creation of modern mobility aids as we know them have allowed countless people to gain back their independence, improve their social lives, and get out and about again. Mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs are essential to the lives of so many, but how do you pick the perfect one for you and your lifestyle?
Choosing a Mobility Scooter
We believe choosing a wheelchair should not only be made simple, but should be an informed, personal choice. This is why we have created this: the ultimate guide to choosing your mobility scooter. Here you can learn about the classes of wheelchair, legislation, features, and insurance, as well as the things to consider about your lifestyle before choosing and investing in a scooter or powerchair.
Who is a Mobility Scooter For?
There is no official medical examination to determine who is eligible to use a mobility scooter: if you need a mobility aid or have mobility issues, you can have one.
It is illegal for a fully able-bodied person to use a mobility scooter unless they are
- giving a demonstration prior to selling
- training a user
- moving the mobility scooter to or from maintenance and repair
Mobility scooters may not be appropriate for those with sight or hearing impairments as these problems can affect your ability to safely manoeuvre.
They also may not be appropriate for use inside of the home due to their larger designs. If this is what you are looking for, lightweight electric powerchairs are probably a better option than a mobility scooter.
It should also be noted that to use a mobility scooter independently, you must be aged 14 or over.
Other than these examples, anyone with restricted mobility is able to purchase and use a mobility scooter. The real question is about which one to get?
Classes of Mobility Scooter
There are three classes to categorise the abilities of each type of wheelchair.
One class is for manual wheelchairs, and two are dedicated to powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Class 1 Wheelchairs
Class 1 wheelchairs are any wheelchair without an electric motor. The simplest, classic wheelchairs that are operated completely manually.
Class 2 Wheelchairs - Pavement Mobility Scooters
- Motorised wheelchairs
- Pavement use
- 4mph maximum speed
Class 2 wheelchairs are electric wheelchairs that are only permitted for pavement use with a 4mph maximum speed. They are not permitted for use on roads, but can be used to cross roads at zebra crossings and such.
Although mechanically propelled, class 2 power scooters are more often lightweight and compact, as to fit into a vehicle with ease and be used both indoors and outdoors.
Class 3 Wheelchairs - Road Legal Scooters
- 8mph maximum speed
- Headlights and indicators
- Rear view mirrors
- Emergency handbrakes
There are a few features an electric wheelchair must have in order to be considered “road legal”. Similarly to any other road vehicle, they must have headlights and indicators to properly signal to other drivers, rear view mirrors to make informed manoeuvres, a horn, and emergency handbrakes.
They have a maximum speed of 8mph, but must also have the ability to limit their speed to 4mh for pavement use. This is usually done by a switch on the control panel.
Even though this is a wheelchair to be used on the road, it is not classed as a motor vehicle so you will not need to pay road tax or get an MOT.
Other Types of Mobility Scooter
You may be interested in a folding mobility scooter. Also known as “boot scooters” or travel scooters, there are variations of folding mobility scooters, namely lightweight folding mobility scooters, and automatic folding mobility scooters.
These scooters are great as they are very easily portable, and they will generally fall within the Class 2 category to be used as pavement mobility scooters.
They are also cheaper than more expensive scooters like heavy duty scooters or power chairs.
Is a Folding Scooter Right For You?
Folding and portable mobility scooters are great for lots of reasons, but you need to understand them to know whether they would work for you.
You should think about their weight, comfort level, power, and ease of use.
Weight of a Folding Mobility Scooter
Due to their portable nature, especially if they are built specifically to be lightweight, folding scooters can still be pretty heavy. Even lightweight models can weigh up to 30kgs, even sometimes over! This means that despite their ultra-easy selling points, you may still have to acquire help to lift and move it.
Always check your product descriptions to find out the weight of the mobility scooter as a whole. They are, of course, far lighter than other mobility scooters on the market so will be easier to travel with, but whether you are able to independently lift and move them is up to you and your personal strength.
Comfort Levels of a Foldable Scooter
The seats of a foldable electric wheelchair, especially portable models, are often smaller in size. In fact, because they are built to be lightweight and small, they can sometimes feel unsteady or flimsy than their larger counterparts with more rigid frames. They are also not as good at absorbing shock when traversing rough terrain than their larger counterparts.
Power of a Folding Mobility Scooter
Again, because they are built to be small and portable, these electric scooters cannot carry a large lithium battery pack or motor, so are less powerful than larger models such as heavy duty mobility scooters. Their maximum travel range is still high enough for you to reliably use for small and medium sized journeys.
This means that portable scooters are better suited for smaller journeys and shallow curbs.
Always check the product specifications to find out about the maximum mile range on a full charge for any mobility scooter you are considering. If you feel you require larger batteries or if battery size is a concern to you, look into class 3 scooters!
Ease of Use in a Folding Mobility Scooter
Making sure the folding mechanisms are easy to use is important, as if you do not find this function to be useful you will not use it.
Mobility scooters with automatic folding mechanisms are great for this, as they will fold up and down in seconds with just the click of a button on the console.
Portable scooters are great due to their ability to fold down into compact shapes and stored away or carried, you just need to decide whether this will work for you.
Mobility Scooter Legislation
To protect yourself and those around you, there are electric scooter laws.
Who can use a mobility scooter?
- People aged 14+
- People who struggle to walk due to injury, physical disability, or medical condition
- Able-bodied people who are demonstrating the wheelchair before it is sold
- Able-bodied people training a disabled user
- Able-bodied people who are taking the vehicle to or from maintenance or repair
Licence and Registration
You do not need a licence or a medical examination to use a mobility scooter. You must, however, register your mobility scooter if it is a class 3, road legal wheelchair. Class 2’s do not require registration. You also do not pay vehicle tax.
Riding on Roads
It is in the name: when using a road legal mobility scooter, you are permitted to drive on roads.
You must not drive in bus lanes, cycle lanes, or motorways, and you should avoid driving on roads with a speed limit of 50mph+.
When riding your mobility scooter on a road you must use an amber flashing light for visibility, to protect yourself and those around you.
Footpaths and Parking
When riding on a footpath, you must not exceed a maximum speed of 4mph.
Again, do not drive on a cycle path!
Normal parking rules apply to mobility scooters. Do not park unattended on a footpath or pedestrian zone if it is obstructive to pedestrians, other wheelchair users, or people with prams or pushchairs.
It is not a legal requirement to insure your mobility scooter, but due to the nature of the vehicle, it is highly recommended that you get insured!
There are lots of types of insurance that can cover your mobility scooter.
It is important that your insurance policy covers potential theft, accidental damage, and third party liability, meaning if you run over someone’s toes you are protected!
Choosing Your Perfect Mobility Scooter
Now that we have ran through all of the technical things, the next step is to consider which mobility scooter will match your needs and your lifestyle.
There are lots of types of electric wheelchairs out there so everyone who needs one can find their perfect match.
We carry ranges of folding, lightweight mobility scooters, automatic folding mobility scooters, lightweight electric powerchairs, heavy duty mobility scooters, and second hand mobility scooters so have the ability to supply you with a wheelchair no matter your budget, size, or aesthetic preference. We also offer free demonstrations, so when you think you have found the perfect scooter please get in touch to organise a viewing!
You must match your scooter to both your needs, and your environment.
The Best Scooter for Your Lifestyle
One of the initial questions you must ask before purchasing a scooter is “where and how will I use this?”
The “where” and “how” are important here because you need to know which speed and battery life to go for. If you know you will be primarily using your power chair for short trips on pavements, but would like something portable and lightweight, you will be able to go for a folding, lightweight mobility scooter, or an automatic folding mobility scooter.
These are lightweight mobility scooters that generally have a 4mph maximum speed and a smaller battery. They are also very easily portable, folding down in seconds to be carried, wheeled, or stored.
Looking for something simple and lightweight, but do not require folding mechanisms or handlebar controls? A lightweight electric powerchair may be the perfect option for you! Great for pavements, with compact builds and straight-forward, modern designs, power chairs are perfect for everyday indoor and outdoor use.
If you require something a bit more robust, heavy duty mobility scooters could be perfect for you. Bigger builds, larger weight capacities, and even more powerful batteries make for sturdy yet sleek mobility scooters that anyone can use. Whether you use one for the impressive mile range or the maximum weight capacities, bariatric wheelchairs are the perfect answer for someone who needs something that will withstand any journey.
The Best Scooter for Your Surroundings
Next, you need to consider the environment around you.
Do you have a lot of dropped kerbs where you live? Is your area hilly or flat? All of these things should be taken into account when searching for the best mobility scooter for you.
If you know that you will need to mount kerbs rather than smooth ramps, you should look for a wheelchair with some height. Information like this can be found in every product specification, or you can get in touch to discuss the wheelchairs with the best height for you.
If you live in a hilly area, this should also be taken into consideration. Going uphill on your power chair or mobility scooter will affect the battery life, simply because your chair has to work harder! A lot of electric wheelchairs will have a maximum gradient written in the product specification so you can see which ones are appropriate for traversing hills and descents.
What to Consider before Buying
- Types of journey you will be taking
- Where you will store the scooter
- Your weight and size
Types of Journeys
Will you be taking short journeys to and from the shops using pavements? Or will you be travelling for longer journeys on roads? Will you be using your electric wheelchair both inside and outside? These are questions to ask yourself before you decide which model you need.
For longer journeys on roads you will need a Class 3 road legal scooter, or a heavy duty mobility scooter, whereas for shorter journeys you will likely look at more lightweight or automatic folding scooters.
Storing a Mobility Scooter
Mobility scooter storage is another thing to bear in mind. It needs to be stored, fully covered, in a secure and waterproof place. The space you keep your mobility scooter in of course requires a power outlet to keep the batteries charged, but you should also consider whether your storage place will need ramps installed to allow you to enter and exit with absolute ease.
Your Weight and Size
All mobility scooters have a weight limit. This is so the motors are not working too hard and allows the battery to last as long as possible.
This information can always be found in product specifications. By a general rule, lightweight mobility scooters have a lower weight capacity of around 15-21 stone, whereas larger mobility scooters have larger seats and 25+ stone weight limits.
Every person of any shape and size is entitled to comfortable mobility, so electric scooters are built with inclusivity in mind. This is why there are many scooters with larger weight capacities.
It should also be noted that just because a mobility scooter has a large weight capacity does not mean this model is only made for plus sized users. If you would benefit from a larger electric wheelchair for the battery life, features, and speed benefits then it is absolutely appropriate for you to use one.
The final, and the most fun, consideration to make is about the features that you would like to be included in your power chair or mobility scooter.
USB chargers, LED screen displays, docking stations, are only some of the exciting features you can have on a modern mobility scooter!
Accessibility features can include holders for walking sticks, storage baskets, and the tiller which includes the handlebars and all of your controls.
Be sure to read product specifications not only for the technical information you require, but for the features you want.
Always feel free to contact your mobility scooter retailer to discuss the features you would like, but also to learn more about the features that are available to you!
Mobility Scooter Prices
The mobility scooter market can be confusing as there are so many differing types of wheelchair at so many different prices. We are here to help you learn more about what to expect when it comes to purchasing your mobility aid.
Class 2 pavement scooters will often be found at a price of £1000 - £2000.
Class 3 road scooters are pricier, at around £1500 - £3000.
Of course, within these broad categories are lots of different types of wheelchair.
A lightweight folding scooter can be purchased for anywhere from £800 to £2500, whereas a heavy duty mobility scooter can cost between £1500 all the way up to £11,000. Electric wheelchairs with automatic folding mechanisms can range from £1000 to £3000, which is a similar price range to lightweight powerchairs.
Ultimately, there are wheelchairs that come in all shapes and many prices. It may also be worth considering second hand electric wheelchairs as you will be able to get a high quality wheelchair for a lower price than its brand new counterpart.
VAT Relief for Mobility Scooters
If you are disabled or suffering from a long-term illness, you may be eligible for VAT relief from your mobility scooter. This is because you should not be charged VAT on products designed for your personal or domestic use.
As long as your product and disability qualify for VAT relief, you will also not be charged VAT on the installation or any extra work needed, repairs or maintenance, or for spare parts or accessories.
More information can be found on the government financial help for disabilities page.
Buying a Second Hand Mobility Scooter
When buying anything second hand, there needs to be an extra layer of care and attention. This is simply due to the fact that the item has been pre-owned, and has likely been used before you purchase it.
Before purchasing a mobility scooter, you need to know what to look for. Do you need higher weight capacities? Do you want faster speeds or longer mile ranges? Do you want all of the bells and whistles or are you keeping things more simple?
While these questions are still relevant to the purchase of a used wheelchair, you must also check for any wear and tear.
You should always ask about the age of the powerchair, as well as the age of the lithium ion battery and about how long it lasts on a full charge.
H3 - Second Hand Wheelchairs from a Shop
When purchasing a used wheelchair from a retailer, you can be sure to have access to essential information.
The shop or retailer should have fully serviced the wheelchair, so when you go to view it it will be in the best possible condition. Despite this, you should always search for signs of wear and tear before purchasing. You should also ask for the full service history of the chair, as well as any other information about the battery life and how old the chair is.
Often, they will have a shorter warranty than a new wheelchair.
Second Hand Wheelchairs from a Private Seller
Sites like eBay and Gumtree, as well as services such as Facebook marketplace and newspaper ads have made it easier than ever for people to sell their unwanted or unused mobility scooters.
Accessibility-wise, this is great, as you can often find a great bargain and have your electric wheelchair within days, but you must always exercise caution when purchasing from a private seller.
You need to know exactly what you are buying before sending any money, so be sure to ask lots of questions! Here are some tips to help you when buying privately:
- Ask why they are selling
- Ask if it has been regularly serviced and maintained, and how
- Obtain the original paperwork and instruction manual
- Check the vehicle number, as this can be used to find out exactly how old the scooter is and whether the seller is being truthful, as well as whether spare parts are still available
Your Rights when Buying Privately
If your goods arrive and are not as they were described by the seller, you can argue misrepresentation or breach of contract, for example if someone has listed a wheelchair as “new” or “excellent condition” but it arrives clearly highly used. You would have a case for a refund in a situation like this!
Try Before You Buy
It is important that before you make any purchases, you are able to test drive your chosen electric wheelchair.
Without a test drive, you will not know how comfortable the seat is, or whether it has enough leg room for you, or if the controls are in a good place for you to reach. Trying your wheelchair before you buy it is essential, as there are so many aspects and features that can vary depending on the model. The perfect model for you is out there, but it might not be the first one you consider purchasing.
You should also ensure that your scooter comes with a warranty and potentially an after-sales service to be certain that you will be properly cared for even after purchasing. This is because should anything go wrong or should you need some help with your scooter, it will be readily available for you.
What to Ask Before You Buy
A mobility scooter is an investment, and you need to know everything you possibly can before making the purchase.
You should endeavour to find out if there are any extra costs, such as having to buy your own battery or how much a service of your mobility scooter would cost, so there are no unexpected costs in future.
You should also ask:
- Do you need to buy any additional accessories for the scooter?
- How long is the delivery period?
- Will the scooter acquire assembly, or will it arrive fully assembled?
- Will the scooter come with an instruction manual?
- What is the after care service policy?
- What is the guarantee or warranty information?
- Are spare parts readily available and easy to acquire?
Pros and Cons of Using a Mobility Scooter
Pros of Using a Mobility Scooter
- Gain independence
- Easy to operate
- Long battery life for long adventures
- Can be a cheaper alternative to a power chair
- Require less upper body strength and physical effort than a manual, class 1 wheelchair
- No licence is needed
- Sometimes they are very easily portable, depending on the model you buy
- Can be used in most public and private spaces
- VAT exemption available
Cons of Using a Mobility Scooter
- Can be very expensive and often not available on the NHS
- Batteries can need daily charging
- Can be large and difficult to store
- Can be heavy and difficult to move unassisted
- Can struggle with hills and curbs
- Can be difficult to use indoors as they are often built for outdoor use
Is a Mobility Scooter For You?
If you are still unsure whether a mobility scooter is worth your investment, you should contact someone, like an occupational therapist, to ask for another opinion about it. They will be able to advise whether it will help or hinder your condition to use a mobility aid, as well as point you in the right direction to look into buying one.
Ultimately, there is no correct answer as to whether you should or shouldn’t begin using a mobility aid. There is no examination for those wishing to use one, and you need not prove how desperately or slightly you may need one.
If you feel you would benefit from having something to help you get around, you should feel empowered to at least research or go to view the models available to you.
Mobility scooters are there to help you get around, so if you feel you need some help with this, we hope this guide has been helpful for you.