What you need to know to buy a mobility scooter online with confidence
If you have trouble getting around, an electric mobility scooter can be the key to regaining your independence,enjoying the outdoors and navigating your own home without the help of others. For all the difference it can makein your life, researching and buying a mobility scooter is not always pleasant. There are so many options and so many decision to make, it can be overwhelming to the first-time buyer and veteran scooter owner alike. That’s why we put together this guide: to explain in clear language the different options available to you in the mobility scooter world and to help you through your research on your path to independence.
First Steps: Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before you start looking at your mobility scooter options, ask yourself these four questions:
Do you plan to use it indoors or outdoors? Maneuvering your scooter inside your home will require a tight turning radius and compact design. On the other hand, if you plan to use your scooter primarily outside, you’ll want to consider one that can provide a comfortable ride over rough terrain and uneven pavement. Speed and stability are important factors here, too.
Are you planning on transporting your scooter anywhere? If you plan on running most of your errands on your scooter from home, portability isn’t a major concern. If you need to take your scooter with you in a car or other vehicle, however, you’ll want to consider compact scooters that can be folded down to fit in the trunk of a car or easily taken apart and put back together.
Will you take your scooter on roads? Local laws vary on the types of scooters that are allowed on public roads, so look into them before making a scooter decision. In general, for road travel, most local regulations require that scooters be able to achieve 8 miles per hour and must have headlights and taillights.
Will you need to climb up curbs or steep hills? Going uphill in a scooter requires a little bit of extra power. If you anticipate a lot of uphill travel, consider a 4-wheel mobility scooter, which will have the power and stability to handle difficult terrain.
MOBILITY SCOOTER 101: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
When you’re shopping for mobility scooters online, you might encounter some confusing vocabulary. To help you make the right decision, here’s what those terms mean and why they matter.
Batteries Batteries are what give mobility scooters their power. Most use multiple 12-volt batteries, which are rechargeable. In descriptions of batteries, you might notice the abbreviation “Ah.” This stands for “amp hours.” The more amp hours in a battery, the longer it can last. Larger scooters have batteries that reach 75Ah, which equals about 20 hours of running time before a recharge. Portable scooters usually have batteries with 12Ah.
Seat Size The seat size of a scooter depends on the overall size of the scooter. Usually, smaller scooters have smaller seats with lower backrests and fewer adjustability options. Larger scooters usually have larger seats, more adjustability options, and sometimes even headrests. Almost all scooter seats swivel to let you on and off easily.
Controls Unlike a car, you don’t use your feet to control a mobility scooter. It’s all in the hands. A lever called the “wig-wag” is used to put the scooter into drive. You use your thumbs on the wig-wag and fingers on the control paddles to move your scooter forwards and backwards. Usually, the forward controls are on the right paddle and the backwards controls are on the left, but in some scooters it is reversed to accommodate left-handed people.
Tiller The tiller is the front column of your mobility scooter; you use it to steer, turning it with the attached handles. Most tillers are adjustable, although some are not. Before buying a scooter with a fixed tiller, make sure it’s in a comfortable position for you.
Ground Clearance Ground clearance is a measurement of how high above the ground a mobility scooter sits. This is especially important if you plan on taking your scooter outdoors, as you don’t want it getting stuck on bumps and rocks.
Unit Weight As the phrase implies, unit weight refers to the overall weight of your scooter. This is important to know if you plan to transport your scooter.
Operating Range This is how far your scooter can go before needing a recharge. It will vary depending on your weight, the surface you’re riding on, the age of the scooter’s batteries, and other factors.
Weight Capacity The weight capacity of your scooter is the maximum amount of weight it can hold. If you put more weight on your scooter than it can handle, it might break down.
5 TYPES OF ELECTRIC MOBILITY SCOOTERS
Mobility scooters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes for a wide variety of uses. Here are the most common ones you’ll find in your search for the perfect match:
Standard These are your all-purpose scooters. They are available with three or four wheels and can usually travel up to 20 miles between charges. Some allterrain models come with large tires for navigating rough outdoor terrain.
Portable (Travel) Portable or travel mobility scooters are light and easy to pack in the trunk of a car. They often fold or can be disassembled or reassembled easily. These scooters are a good fit for people who like to take frequent trips.
Heavy Duty Heavy duty scooters are built to last and carry a lot of weight. If you plan to take your scooter for large shopping trips, carry equipment with you, or are a heavier person, this might be a good choice for you.
Luxury Some manufacturers might just throw the luxury label on for marketing purposes, so check specifications carefully. In general, luxury scooters come with all the latest features for a smooth and convenient ride—and they look good, too.