Mobility Scooter Buyers Guide and FAQ

Among the elderly, the mobility scooter provides one of the most valuable services for those who have difficulty walking. There are a number of different mobility scooter models available, as well as a number of different manufacturers, so it is sometimes overwhelming finding right mobility scooter, but when you know a little bit about them, it is not as difficult as it might seem.

Mobility scooters have been around for over forty years, but it was not until the eighties that they really became popular and more common place. Today, mobility scooters, which are sometimes called electric scooters or adult scooters, are very popular and provide a lower cost alternative to an electric wheelchair.

Below, you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about these extremely useful senior mobility vehicles.

Table of Contents

  1. What Are Mobility Scooters?
  2. Where Can I Use My Mobility Scooter?
  3. What is the Difference Between Three Wheel vs Four Wheel Scooters?
  4. What Type of Speed and Battery Life Should I Expect?
  5. What Extra Features and Accessories Are Available?
  6. What Are Travel Scooters?
  7. What is a Heavy Duty Scooter?
  8. Who Are Some Popular Mobility Scooter Manufacturers?

What Are Mobility Scooters?

A mobility scooter is an electric vehicle that is used to carry a single occupant, typically both indoors and outdoors. They are similar to electric wheelchairs, except mobility scooters have a longer base, with the captain’s chair positioned more towards the rear of the scooter. A set of handlebars, called a tiller, is attached to the front of the scooter, which allows the scooter to be turned, as well as regulating speed, braking, and controlling the extra features, such as the horn and lights.

The main difference between a mobility scooter and an electric wheelchair is the addition of the tiller. Electric wheelchairs typically use a joystick control that is mounted to the side of the wheelchair’s arm rest, which allows the wheelchair to be driven directly up to a table or bench. Mobility scooters, on the other hand, are controlled by the tiller, which prevents it from being driven directly up to a table. Mobility scooters also usually cost a good deal less than electric wheelchairs.

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Where Can I Use My Mobility Scooter?

Most mobility scooters are designed to be used indoors, as well as outdoors over tightly packed terrain. However, if you intend to use the scooter over loosely packed ground, such as dirt or sand, you may need to invest in a more durable mobility scooter. However, when driving over uneven terrain, even if it is tightly packed, it is important to be very careful in order to prevent the scooter from tipping over.

One thing to keep in mind is how much room you have indoors, as some mobility scooters are more maneuverable than others. The manufacturer will provide a turning radius, which describes the smallest space the scooter can turn it.

There are also environmental factors that can reduce the performance of the scooter. For example, driving a mobility scooter uphill will cause the battery to wear out quicker than when it is driven on flat terrain. Similarly, the weight of the rider also affect the per-charge range of the scooter, with a heavier rider reducing the range of the mobility scooter.

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What is the Difference Between Three Wheel vs Four Wheel Scooters?

One way that mobility scooters are classified is by the number of wheels that they have, specifically, either three wheeled mobility scooters or four wheeled mobility scooters.

In general, a four wheeled mobility scooter will provide better stability and higher weight support, where a three wheeled mobility scooter will be more maneuverable. This is because the four wheeled scooter more evenly distributes the weight of the rider between the front and back of the scooter.

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What Type of Speed and Battery Life Should I Expect?

Both the top speed and the per charge range, varies by model. However, most travel between 4-5mph and have a per charge range of between 8-10. There are, of course, exceptions to this, with some mobility scooters traveling over 10mph for distances of over twenty miles.

One thing to keep in mind when considering battery life, is that the amount you use the scooter will have a direct relation on how often you have to charge it and how long the battery lasts. For instance, someone that only uses their scooter once every few days probably would not need to charge the scooter everyday. On the other hand, someone who drives several miles each day on their scooter would probably have to charge it each night.

Environmental factors also play a part in battery life, with things like driving up hill or carrying extra weight causing the battery to wear down faster. Batteries do need to be replaced and depending on how much the scooter is used, this could mean replacing it each year or every few years.

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What Extra Features and Accessories Are Available?

There are a number of extra features available for most scooters, which include things like cane holders, oxygen racks, and visibility flags. Often, some of these can be purchased cheaper at a bike store, as is the case with side mirrors and visibility flags, than you would be able to purchase them from a manufacturer. So, it is important to determine if it is a scooter specific accessory, which will only work with a specific model, or if it is an accessory that is generic, which will work with any type of scooter.

There are a number of bags that are also available, including armrest bags, under the seat bags, and back of the seat bags. Trays are also popular, which make it easier to eat, write, or work on a computer while using the scooter.

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What Are Travel Scooters?

Travel scooters are lightweight mobility scooters that are designed so that they can be quickly and easily dissembled into several easy to manage pieces. Often, they use quick release snaps that can be activated with a single hand and the heaviest piece weighs only around 30 pounds.

The advantage of a travel scooter is that it can be stored quickly and easily in a plane, car, or other vehicle, without having to use a scooter lift. Most travel scooters are three wheeled, as this helps reduce weight. However, they are also usually bare bones in regards to included features, which helps to reduce weight. Travel scooters are also not able to travel as far on a single charge, nor are they able to support as much weight or preform as well outdoors as other mobility scooters.

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What is a Heavy Duty Scooter?

A Heavy Duty Scooter is one that is designed to support more weight and preform better outdoors than a regular mobility scooter. They typically are four wheeled, which provides the most stability and use air filled, pneumatic, tires, which improve suspension and off road performance. Heavy Duty Scooters are intended for outdoor use, so have larger wheels and a higher ground clearance, as well as having reinforced bumpers, extra large seats, and a number of other extra features.

While Heavy Duty Mobility Scooters are well suited for outdoor use, have a very large range, and a much higher weight capacity than other scooters, they are much bigger than most other types of scooters. As a result, a heavy duty scooter might not work well inside of a smaller home and to transport it, a scooter lift would be needed.

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Who Are Some Popular Mobility Scooter Manufacturers?

There are a number of mobility scooter manufacturers, but Pride Mobility and Golden Technologies are probably the most well known, with both companies having manufactured home medical equipment for over twenty years. While Pride Scooters and Golden Scooters are the most recognized, they also tend to cost more than other lesser known brands.

ShopRider is a company that offers a number of mobility scooters, which are typically priced lower than Golden Mobility Scooters and Pride Mobility Scooters.

Ultimately, if you decide not to go with one of the major brands, it is important to check for consumer reviews of the company and their scooters. Also, ensure that they provide a warranty for their scooter, which is similar to the length of a warranty on a name brand scooter. There are a number of very cheap scooters out there, but they will often have a very limited warranty, which means they should usually be avoided.

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