What You Ought to Know About Mobility Scooters Before Buying

Mobility Scooter

I’ve been putting off bunion surgery for 30 years. I’m finally going to do it. I’ll be off the left foot for 6 weeks. After I heal from that, I’ll be off the right foot for six weeks. A scooter should help, so I dove into the how to choose a scooter, and now I’m sharing that with you.

Answer these questions to choose a scooter: Will I be traveling with this scooter? Will I use it indoors, outdoors, or both? What is my height and weight? How large are the rooms in my home?

But one of the most important questions you need to answer is, “Is getting a mobility scooter a good idea?” Because it might not be, and I’ll tell you more about that below.

Scooter prices range from about $600 to $7,000. You have many choices to make before buying. Be sure of your decision, because returning a scooter is not easy.

What You'll Learn show

What is a Mobility Scooter?

eWheels EW 79 All-Terrain Mobility ScooterA mobility scooter is a battery-powered vehicle for disabled people.

Mobility scooters achieve speeds between 3.5 to 15 miles per hour. They travel from six to 43 miles on a battery charge.

There are scooters for traveling, indoor use only, outdoor use only, tall people, and heavier people.

A mobility scooter is a combination of a wheelchair and motorized bicycle. If your disability requires a wheelchair, then a scooter might work for you.

Mobility Scooter Categories

There are three main categories of mobility scooters:

  1. Portable/Travel: lightweight and easy to carry
  2. Heavy-Duty/Bariatric: larger and able to handle higher loads
  3. All-Terrain/Recreational: larger tires and ground clearance for outdoor use

Crossover Category Scooters

EWheels 4-Wheel Heavy Duty Bariatric Scooter with Electromagnetic Brakes Ewheels EW-72S
EWheels 4-Wheel Heavy Duty Bariatric Scooter with Electromagnetic Brakes Ewheels EW-72S

Within the categories, some models have three wheels, while others have four.

Some models are in multiple categories at once.

For example, the EWheels EW-72S  is an All-Terrain mobility scooter.

It has huge wheels, a stable design, and high ground clearance.

It’s also a Heavy-Duty/Bariatric mobility scooter. The EW-72S has a 500 lb. weight capacity, and can go up to 15mph. It has a range of up to 43 miles per charge depending on the terrain.

Why Buy a Mobility Scooter?

People buy mobility scooters in order to get from one place to another without walking. They can’t walk because they’re sick. Common reasons one buys a scooter include if the buyer:

  1. is unable to walk as much as he needs to
  2. has aches, pains, feet problems or hip problems
  3. has Osteo, Rheumatoid or Psoriatic arthritis
  4. has COPD or respiratory issues
  5. has Multiple Sclerosis or other muscle/nerve diseases
  6. is missing a foot or leg

7 Things You Need to Think About Before Buying a Mobility Scooter

1. Are you in pain? Or are you just trying to avoid exercise?

In pain or avoiding exercise?
In pain or avoiding exercise?

It’s natural to want to rest or ride when walking gets a tiring.

But if you want to use a scooter to rest when you could be getting exercise, then a scooter might not be for you.

We get weak without exercise.

When we get weak, we are more likely to fall.

Falling is the fastest path from your cozy home to a final stay in a nursing home.

So exercise when you can.

Don’t use a scooter when you can do the work yourself.

2. Can you tolerate sitting in the scooter seat for the duration of your trip?

You must sit upright on a scooter, feet on the floor in front of you.

You will be in this position for as long as you drive the scooter.

Measure how long you can comfortably sit upright. Consider whether this will be comfortable enough for you.

3. Can you tolerate the scooter arm and hand requirements?

Tiller Delta Handlebars
Tiller Delta Handlebars

Most mobility scooters come with either a “standard” or a “delta” handlebar.

Just a few scooters come with a “sport” handlebar.

The standard handlebar has two handles pointing to the sides.

The delta handlebar is a closed loop.

It has a lot more surface area than the standard handlebar.

Many people are comfortable driving the delta handlebar with just one hand.

The sport handlebars point toward the driver.

All three of these handlebar shapes require you outstretch your arms, and rest your hands on the grips.

They all require that you move the handlebars to steer your scooter.

Tiller Straight Handlebars
Tiller Straight Handlebars

A few scooters let you pull the handlebars closer to your body.

This means you’ll be able to keep your arms closer to your body.

But if you have arm outreach issues, you might look for a handlebar that tilts toward the driver.

All other handlebars require you extend your arms out from your body.

Tiller Sportster Handlebar
Tiller Sportster Handlebar

All the different handlebar types do is change where on the bar you rest your hands.

Each handlebar type requires a slightly different grip.

You’ll need to hold the handlebars 100% of the time the scooter is in motion.

Consider whether the arm and hand requirements will cause you discomfort.

4. Can you safely drive a mobility scooter?

Can you safely drive?
Can you safely drive?

Before buying a scooter, do an honest self-assessment of your driving abilities.

If you’ve lost some of the abilities that keep you safe when driving, then you’ve lost some of the abilities that keep you safe on a scooter.

Scooters can crash. They can flip over. They can run into people.

Cars and trains can run into scooters.

Good drivers maneuver common dangers.

As we lose sight, hearing, and reaction time, our driving skills decline.

Make an inventory of the issues.

Discuss each issue with a mobility scooter expert.

See how they would suggest you deal with these deficits.

You might also consult an occupational therapist, or your doctor.

In the end, be honest with yourself.

  1. How is your ability to focus? Will you be able to stay alert while driving?
  2. How is your motor coordination? Will you be able to steer the scooter at all times?
  3. What about your eyesight? Will you be able to see a curb, judge its height, and safely determine whether your scooter can travel over it?
  4. How is your hearing? Will you hear a car about to cross the sidewalk where you’re seated?
  5. How is your balance? Can you remain sitting upright for the duration of your scooter trips?
  6. How is your memory? Are you in danger of getting lost?
  7. Maybe a family member is asking you not to drive a car anymore. None of us wants to lose our freedom. Maybe a scooter would be a good substitute. But here’s the problem. The same skills required to be a safe automobile driver also make you a safe scooter driver.

5. Are the rooms in your home large enough?

A scooter might be too big to turn around in a room.

Say you enter the living room on your scooter.

There are two ways to exit the door you came in.

You can reverse out of the room, as long as your scooter has a reverse function.

Or you can drive in a circle until you’ve turn the scooter around.

Some scooters are going to be too big to make that circle in your living room.

Their turns are so wide that all you’ll be able to do is touch the walls.

You might be able to make the world’s most interesting “K” turn, but you will have a hard time existing that living room.

Use the scooters “turning radius” to determine if the scooter will work in a given room.

Follow these steps to check if the room is large enough for the scooter:

  1. measure the narrowest part of the room in inches
  2. divide that measurement in half
  3. the result must be larger than the scooter’s turning radius

Turning Radius Example 1

The narrowest part of the living room is 90 in. (7 ft. 6 inches). The scooter you like has a turning radius of 25 in. 90 divided by 2 is 45. The result of 45 is larger than the scooter’s 25 in. turning radius. You will be able to turn the scooter around in this room.

Turning Radius Example 2

The narrowest part of the living room is 90 in. (7 ft. 6 in.). The scooter has an 80 in. turning radius. 90 divided by 2 is 45. The result of 45 is smaller than the scooter’s 80 in. turning radius. You will NOT be able to turn the scooter around in this room.

6. Is Your Outdoor Environment Scooter Friendly?

The eWheels EW 78 All-Terrain/Recreational Scooter
The eWheels EW 78 All-Terrain/Recreational Scooter

How are the roads near your home?

Is there sidewalk you can use? Is it flat or bumpy?

All-Terrain mobility scooters can handle rougher surfaces, but Heavy-Duty and Travel scooters do not do well on uneven surfaces.

You could get stuck or even tip over if the scooter can’t handle the pavement or trail.

How is the weather near your home? Are you in danger of being stuck in snow or the rain?

You can get an All-Terrain scooter with a canopy for protection from the weather.

You will need large, road-hugging tires to navigate slippery roads.

Look for high ground clearance scooters to navigate over obstacles like rocks and curbs.

7. Are You Choosing Between a Wheelchair and a Scooter?

Wheelchairs are much smaller than scooters, and so have much more ability to move indoors.

Physicians prescribe wheelchairs and insurance often covers them. Scooters are more often a personal choice. Insurance might or might not cover a scooter.

A wheelchair has a tighter turning radius, so it fits better in smaller rooms.

All-Terrain scooters are outfitted with big tires, lights and blinkers, so they’re safer outside.

Many Heavy-Duty scooters are also too large for indoor use, because their turning radius is too large.

Three Types of Mobility Scooters

Scooters come in three major categories, with a lot of variation creating sub-categories.

The three major mobility scooter categories are:

  1. Travel/Portable
  2. Heavy-Duty/Bariatric
  3. All-Terrain/Outdoor.

Some mobility scooters are lightweight and small enough to stow on planes and trains. Some are too big for even the biggest car lifts.

Within each category, there are:

  • three wheel scooters
  • four-wheel scooter
  • indoor scooters
  • outdoor scooters
  • indoor/outdoor scooters
  • lightweight and small scooters
  • large and heavy scooters

1. Portable/Travel Scooters

PET Pro Flex 500 Folds for easy travel and allows you to sit or stand while operating. It can go up to 18mph.

A “travel” or “portable” scooter is designed to travel with you in cars, buses, trains, ships, and planes.

This type of scooter is lightweight and small.

Travel scooters disassemble into pieces, or fold up into a smaller size. Some both disassemble and fold.

Portable scooters range in price from $600 to $3,100.

The cheaper travel scooters have only three wheels and can start at $599.

Travel scooters disassemble for fold for easier carrying and stowing.Disassemble the Jazzy ZT into five pieces for easier carrying and transport.
Travel scooters disassemble for fold for easier carrying and stowing.

Four-wheel travel scooters start at $699.

Scooters that disassemble usually break into four pieces.

You then have four pieces to carry, but each one is lighter than the scooter itself. The heaviest piece is usually the piece that holds the back wheels. This piece averages about 40 lb., depending on the scooter.

You want to know the heaviest piece so you know the maximum load you’ll have to carry.

Travel Scooters are the smallest type of scooter. They often don’t work well for anyone over 5 ft. 10 in. tall.

They have stiff tires, which offer a bumpy ride, but they also don’t deflate. They usually have non-scuff tires in order to avoid marking the floor.

Travel scooters work best on level surfaces. You can take a travel scooter outside, but it’s not a great idea to go on bumpy ground or bigger inclines. A travel scooter works best on level hard floors, well-maintained sidewalks, and paved (not dirt) trails.

Max travel scooter speed is usually 5 mph. They can go anywhere from four to 15 miles between battery charges. Seats are 17-18″ wide.

Travel scooter seats might be uncomfortable for people over 250 lb. even if scooter capacity is  350 lb.

A three-wheel weight capacity usually weighs 300 lb, and a 4-wheel weight capacity usually weighs 325 lb.

Folding scooters have multiple joints to fold the scooter onto itself. The seat folds down, the middle bends, and you end up with a scooter you can carry.

A folding scooter doesn’t weigh any less, so you have to be able to lift the entire scooter in order to lift it for storage.

2. Heavy-Duty/Bariatric Scooters

The Afiscooter All-Terrain is also a Heavy-Duty/Bariatric Scooter.
The Afiscooter All-Terrain is also a Heavy-Duty/Bariatric Scooter.

Some heavier scooters also disassemble for transport.

These aren’t “travel” scooters but they do break down into small enough pieces to store them in transport cargo areas.

Heavy-Duty scooters are also called “bariatric scooters” and “high weight capacity scooters.” They have sturdier frames, larger seats, and more legroom than travel scooters.

Heavy-Duty scooters have weight capacities from 325 lb. to 600 lb. These scooters have bigger seats, and more legroom.

Transportation services such as airlines and trains sometimes have scooter size and weight limits. It’s possible for a Heavy-Duty scooter to exceed these limits.

All transportation companies have rules around scooter size and weight. But the battery is specifically important in airplanes. There are restrictions on lithium ion and sealed lead acid batteries. The FAA and airlines restrict gel and dry cell batteries less, but there are still rules you must follow.

Click here to view our article about traveling with your mobility scooter.

3. All-Terrain/Recreational Scooters

EW-72S 4-Wheel Heavy Duty Bariatric Scooter with Electromagnetic Brakes.

Some scooters are both Heavy-Duty and All-Terrain.

A Heavy-Duty/All-Terrain scooter has a high weight capacity, large wheels, and high ground clearance.

All-Terrain scooters are designed to work well outdoors on uneven surfaces. They can handle curbs and wooded pathways.

An All-Terrain scooter has a suspension system to soften the ride, and lights for safety.

For example, the EW 72S All-Terrain Scooter has

  • font and rear suspension
  • 32 mile driving range
  • lights and turn signals
  • top speed of 15 mph
  • 500 lb. weight capacity

It is a Heavy-Duty, high weight capacity, and All-Terrain scooter in one model. You can see the EW 72S at Senior.com.

All-Terrain scooters are not for indoor residential use. Their turning radius is too large to be viable inside all but the largest homes.  Unless your home has extremely wide spaces, this scooter category will be useful only outdoors.

All-Terrain scooters offer high ground clearance to avoid ground obstacles.

Ground clearance is the amount of space beneath the scooter. Traveling over bumps higher than your clearance will get your scooter stuck on that bump.

Some door thresholds are too high for some scooters’ ground clearance. Get either a threshold ramp or a scooter with a higher ground clearance.

Without high ground clearance, the chassis can be stuck on curbs and rocks. All-Terrain scooters usually have a 3.5″ to 7″ ground clearance.

Three or Four Wheels?

Any given scooter can come in three-wheel or four-wheel models. Why both?

Three Wheel Scooters Pros and Cons

Drive Medical Scout Compact Travel Power Scooter. Disassembles into 5 easy pieces for travel.

Three-wheel scooters are less expensive than 4-wheel scooters.

The single front wheel gives a three-wheel scooter a tighter turning range, too. This makes three-wheel scooters better for indoors, especially in homes with smaller rooms.

On the downside, a taller rider is more likely to tip a three-wheel scooter.

The three-wheel travel scooter is the least expensive type of mobility scooter.

It is also the least liked, based on internet reviews.

If you’re considering a three wheel travel scooter, first read scooter reviews to see if there are problems with batteries staying charged, or with cheap materials breaking.

Because three wheel scooters are less stable, engineers often add “anti-tip” wheels to add stability.

I’ll be honest, this feels like a Band-Aid to me. Obviously, people were tipping their three-wheel mobility scooters before the anti-tip addition.

Four Wheel Scooters Pros and Cons

M35 Four Wheel Travel Mobility Scooter
M35 Four Wheel Travel Mobility Scooter

Four-wheel scooters are more stable than three-wheel scooters.

Four wheels on the ground are just more stable than three.

Taller riders are safer in four-wheel scooters, which are not likely to tip over.

Had I shopped for a mobility scooter for my mother, I would have skipped the three-wheel versions altogether. I will only look at four-wheel scooters for myself as well.

Differences Between Three and Four Wheel Mobility Scooters

Three Wheel Mobility Scooters

  • Have the tightest possible turns
  • Are less stable than four wheel scooters
  • Are suitable for indoor use
  • Are not recommended for all but light duty outdoors
  • Are safe only on smooth surfaces
  • Are not stable for people over 5 ft. 8 in. tall
  • Are sometimes not stable for people over 250 lb.
  • Have a small base
  • Have less foot and leg room than four wheel scooters

Four Wheel Mobility Scooters

  • Have wider turns than three wheel scooters
  • Are more stable than three wheel scooters
  • Are suitable for indoor use
  • Are suitable for outdoor use depending on the ground clearance and tire size
  • Are safer than three wheel scooters on uneven surfaces
  • Are more stable for tall people
  • Are safer for people over 250 lb.
  • Have a larger base
  • Have more foot and leg room
Differences Between Three and Four Wheel Mobility Scooters
Three Wheel Mobility Scooter Four Wheel Mobility Scooter
Turns Tightest possible turns Wider turns
Stability Least stable Most stable
Indoor Use Yes Depends on turning radius
Outdoor Use Not recommended Yes
Bumpy Surfaces, Drive on Grass and Gravel Safe only on smooth surfaces The bigger the tires and the higher the ground clearance, the better it is with bumpy obstacles
Stable for people over 5 ft. 8 in. No Yes
Stable for people over 250 lb. Maybe Yes
Has a small base Yes Possibly
Leg and Foot Room Less More

Portable/Travel Scooter Variations

Portable scooters fold or disassemble (or both) to make them easier to carry onto planes, trains, buses, cars, and ships. Portable scooters come in three-wheel and four-wheel configurations. The four basic portable scooter configurations are:

  1. 3-wheel, folding
  2. 3-wheel, disassembles
  3. 4-wheel folding
  4. 4-wheel disassembles

The table below shows four sample portable scooters, one of each configuration above. In this group, the turning radius ranges from 22 in. to 49 in. They all work inside as well as outside. One has headlights, two has both headlights and taillights, and one has no lights. Top speeds range from 4 mph to 15 mph. Driving ranges start at 6.8 mi. and top out at 25 mi. These scooters hold passengers from 300 to 350 lb. Two of the scooters are almost the same price ($749 and $759) and the other two are over $1,549.

3-Wheel Portable/Travel Mobility Scooter Examples
Scooter eWheels EW 18 3-Wheel Stand-N-Ride Folding Scooter

eWheels EW 18 3-Wheel Folding Scooter

Buzzaround EX 3 3-Wheel Disassembling Scooter

Buzzaround Ex 3 Scooter

Wheels 3 Wheels 3 Wheels
Compaction Folds Disassembles
Turning Radius 22 in. 42 in.
Indoor, Outdoor Indoor, Outdoor Indoor, Outdoor
Lights Headlights Headlights, Taillights
Top Speed 15 mph 5 mph
Range 25 mi. 18 mi.
Weight Capacity 300 lb. 350 lb.
Weight 78 lb. 148 lb.
Price (Sep. 2019) $759 $1,545

 

4-Wheel Portable/Travel Mobility Scooter Examples
Scooter Glion SNAPnGo Electric Portable – Airline Approved Lightweight Mobility Scooter

Glion SnapnGo

M35 Four Wheel Dissasembling Travel Mobility Scooter

M35 Four Wheel Dissasembling Travel Mobility Scooter

Wheels 4 4
Compaction Folds Disassembles
Turning Radius NA. 49 in.
Indoor, Outdoor Indoor, Outdoor Indoor, Outdoor
Lights Headlights, Taillights None
Top Speed 6 mph 4 mph
Range 15 mi. 9 mi.
Weight Capacity 300 lb. 300 lb.
Weight 38 lb. 88 lb.
Price (Sep. 2019) $1,649 $749

Heavy-Duty/Bariatric Mobility Scooter Variations

Heavy duty bariatric Free Rider scooter
Heavy duty bariatric Free Rider scooter

Many Heavy-Duty scooters also break into parts for easier transportation. The sum of those parts is heavier than travel scooters, which are in the lightest scooter category. I chose three Heavy-Duty scooter variations to show you the different options you might need to choose.

The variations are:

  1. 3-wheel, disassembles
  2. 4-wheel, disassembles
  3. 4-wheel, disassembles, carries up to two people

The table below shows the features of each model. The turning radius ranges from 32 in. to 50.5 in. These scooters are useful both indoors and out. Just be aware that a 50.5 in. turning radius means that the narrowest part of any room must be 101 in. (8 ft. 3 in.) or greater.

All of these scooters have both headlights and taillights. Two of these scooters are 3-wheelers and only one of them has 4 wheels.

Their top speeds range from 5 mph to 15 mph. Driving ranges start at 18 mi. and go all the way to 40 mi.*

Maximum load starts at 350 lb. and tops at 600 lb. Prices are $1349, $4899, and $2999.

*By the way. 40 miles at 15 mph. takes 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Bariatric Mobility Scooter Examples
Scooter Buzzaround Ex 3 Wheel

Buzzaround Ex 3 Scooter

FreeRider FR1

Free Rider FR 1

Wheels 3-Wheel 4-Wheel
Compaction Disassembles Disassembles
Turning Radius 32 in. 47 in.
Indoor, Outdoor Both Both
Lights Both Both
Top Speed 5 mph 9.4 mph
Range 18 mi. 26 mi.
Weight Capacity 350 lb. 400 lb.
Weight 148 lb. 354 lb.
Price (Sep. 2019) $1,535 $4,899

All-Terrain/Recreational Mobility Scooter Variations

Ewheels EW-54R 4-Wheel Deluxe Scooter with Full Cover and Front Windshield. Also has stereo speakers and many other comforts.

All-Terrain mobility scooters have large tires, tall ground clearance. They can often have a huge turning radius. The turning radius often excludes a scooter from indoor use.

The EW 54R (see the table, below) has a turning radius of 90 in. The narrowest point of any room it’s in must be at least 180 in., or 15 ft. wide.

It has a 5″ ground clearance which should get you over most obstacles and has luxury features such as 2 stereo speakers, a sound system, locking storage box and ultra comfortable seats.

The PET Pro Flex 500 is on the other end of the spectrum.

What it lacks in luxury it more than makes up for in power and maneuverability, It features the ability to make very tight 360 deg. turns due to its small turning radius (the exact number is not specified on the manufacturers website) and front wheel motor.

It has 3 wheels and can go up to 18 mph. It also allows you to sit or stand for more dynamic riding. The handle also folds down to make storing and transporting easier.

The PET Pro Flex works inside and outside, but the EW 54 is only useful outside.

The EW 54 has both headlights and taillights, while the PET Pro Flex has only headlights.

The EW 54 tops out at 15 mph, and the PET Pro Flex can go as fast as 18 mph.

The EW 54 can travel 43 mi. on one charge.* The PET Pro Flex can go 24 mi. on one charge.

The EW 54 can carry passengers up to 500 lb., and the The PET Pro Flex has a weight capacity of 290 lb.

The EW 54 is $3,749. The PET Pro Flex is $1,699.

All-Terrain Mobility Scooter Examples
Scooter EW 54R Recreational Scooter

Ewheels EW-54R 4-Wheel Deluxe Scooter with Full Cover and Front Windshield

 

PET Pro Flex 500

PET Pro Flex 500 Folds for easy travel and allows you to sit or stand while operating.

Wheels 4 3
Compaction Disassembles Folds (handle folds down)
Turning Radius 90 in. Tight 360 degree turning
Indoor, Outdoor Outdoor Both
Headlights, Taillights Both Headlights
Top Speed 15 mph 18 mph
Range 43 mi. 24 mi.
Weight Capacity 500 lb. 290 lb.
Weight 333 lb. 112 lb.
Price (Sep. 2019) $3,749 $1,699

Scooter Handlebars

The handlebar controls the scooter’s direction. To control the scooter, you reach your arms out from your seated position, and rest your hands on the bars. You get to rest your hands on the handlebars, but not your outstretched arms.

You must be able to stretch your arms to reach the handlebars. With your hands on the handlebars, you must have the upper body strength to steer the scooter. You should not get a scooter if you cannot comfortably reach the handlebar and steer.

Tiller Straight Handlebars
Tiller Standard Handlebars

Standard Tiller Handlebar

The Standard Tiller Handlebar is open-aired with no ends.

You hold the tiller bars in your palms and wrap your fingers around the bars.

Steering requires a bit of a pushing motion.

Delta Tiller Handlebar

Tiller Delta Handlebars
Tiller Delta Handlebars

The Delta Tiller Handlebar is box or wraparound. It’s easier on the hands.

You can rest wrists on the handle.

Some riders are comfortable using just one hand to drive with a delta handlebar design.

Delta handlebars are somewhat better for people with limited hand strength or dexterity.

Tiller Sportster Handlebar
Sports Handlebars

Sports Handlebars

Sports handlebars look like motorcycle handles.

This type of handlebar is only for people with good strength and dexterity.

You lift your arms higher to hold onto a sports handlebar grips.

Your arms and hands can get tired using this design to drive your scooter.

Scooter Incline Rating

An incline is an upward slope such as a hill or a ramp. The higher the incline’s angle, the more work the scooter has to do.

Engineers design scooters for different uphill slopes. If you take a scooter on a steeper hill than it can handle, the strain will drain the battery, and could cause an accident.

On average, mobility scooters can climb angles as follows:

  1. Travel/Portable: up to 8 degrees
  2. Heavy-Duty/Bariatric: up to 12 degrees
  3. All-Terrain/Recreational: up to 12 degrees

Scooter Wheels and Tires

Mobility scooter tires are either air filled or solid. Air filled tires have a softer ride but can go flat. Solid tires have a harder ride but cannot go flat.

Pneumatic (Air Filled Inner Tube) Tires Features, Pros and Cons

  1. Inner tubes are sold separately
  2. Change the tire and tube at the same time
  3. Reduce air pressure for smoother ride
  4. Pneumatic tires are best shock absorbers of all the tire types
  5. Punctures and slices will flatten pneumatic tires
  6. Must be periodically refilled with air
  7. Pneumatic tires range from $10 to $85

 

Foam Filled Tires Features, Pros and Cons

  1. Filled with foam instead of air
  2. Do not require maintenance
  3. Do not go flat
  4. Feel about the same as a fully filled pneumatic tire
  5. Heavy-Duty foam tires recommended for bariatric patients
  6. Foam tires range from $18 to $200

Solid Urethane Tires

  1. Filled with urethane instead of air
  2. Do not require maintenance
  3. Do not go flat
  4. Last longer than pneumatic and foam tires
  5. Are a bumpier ride than air and foam tires
  6. Urethane tires recommended for bariatric patients
  7. Urethane tires range from $10 to $51

 

Mobility Scooter Batteries

There are two types of mobility scooter batteries

  1. The gel battery has a longer life. It can recharge more often. It is more expensive.
  2. The sealed acid battery has a shorter life. It requires replacement sooner. It is cheaper.

Maximizing Scooter Battery Life

eWheels EW 52 BatteryBoth battery types will last longer if you keep them fully charged. To prolong its life, never let a mobility scooter battery run completely out of power.

All of the following shorten battery life in either type of battery:

  1. the terrain is an upward slope
  2. there is more weight on the scooter
  3. the temperature is colder
  4. the battery has been allowed to completely lose its charge

 

Battery Safety

To avoid being stuck without power, and to double your driving range, get a second battery for your mobility scooter. Replace battery every one to two years.

Mobility Scooter Accessories

You can buy many accessories for your mobility scooter. These include lights, pouches, and baskets. View the table below to see more.

All accessories add weight to the scooter, which then drains the battery faster than before. Add up the accessory weights to gauge how much extra weight the accessories put on the scooter’s drive train. The scooter’s weight capacity includes the rider, his belongings, and the scooter accessories.

Calculate the weight of all accessories you add to your scooter. The scooter’s weight capacity is the combination of the rider’s weight, belongings on board, and the weight of all the accessories. Here are some of the accessories you can add to your scooter.

Mobility Scooter Accessories
Holders Scooter attachments that hold cell phones, computer tablets, canes, drinking cups, walkers, and oxygen tanks
Baskets Plastic and metal baskets for carrying belongings and shopping items.
Batteries There are three reasons to get extra batteries:

  • if the current battery is failing
  •   if you want to double your driving range
  •    if you need an aviation-safe choice

Scooter and battery stores also sell battery-charging accessories.

Canopies Canopies are fabric scooter attachments to protect the user from sun and rain. Some canopies use plastic for water protection, so you should ask about the canopy’s ventilation ability before ordering.
Covers Covers are nylon or PVC fabric covers for protecting the scooter when parked outside. Canopies do not necessarily provide waterproofing, so it’s important to research your choice.
Lifts A scooter lift attaches to the back of a vehicle. It has a either a manual or a powered lifting mechanism. Transport the scooter behind a vehicle in a scooter lift.
Pouches Pouches are saddlebags, tote bags, and nylon baskets for holding your personal belongings.
Ramps Ramps are solid plates that bridge scooter obstacles. Use ramps to get from the walk to the front door, or the driveway into a van. Threshold ramps bridge the transition between rooms, or between doors and floors.
Seat Cushions Some scooter seat cushions have covers to protect the cushion from incontinence. Some are comfortable gel to protect the rider’s behind.

How Fast Can a Mobility Scooter Go?

Mobility scooter speeds range from 4 mph to 15 mph. The Go-Go ES2 3 Wheel Scooter reaches only 4 mph. The Afiscooter S 3 Wheel with Canopy travels at speeds up to 9.3 mph. The EW 66 2 Passenger goes up to 15 mph.

More speed isn’t always better. You won’t be able to use the extra speed indoors. When using the scooter outdoors, higher speeds are safe only on flat, well-paved surfaces.

How Far Can a Mobility Scooter Go?

Mobility scooters run on rechargeable batteries. The distance you can travel depends on the battery’s capacity, and the load placed on the motor. Manufacturers base the driving ranges on a medium weight person driving the scooter. Heavier people will get less range. So a larger weight person driving on a steep incline will not get the maximum driving range a scooter offers.

On the low end, the Go-Go ES2 3 Wheel Scooter has a 6.8-mile driving range. On the high end, the EW 52 Recreational Scooter can go 43 miles on one battery charge.

Batteries can lose capacity over time. Don’t try to max out your scooter’s mileage. AAA probably won’t pick you up. Remember to calculate the return trip into your plans as well.

How Much Do Mobility Scooters Cost?

Mobility scooters cost between $600 to $7,000 dollars.

In general, Three-Wheel Travel/Portable scooters are cheapest. Heavy-Duty/Bariatric are mid-priced. All-Terrain/Recreational is the heaviest, has the most features, and is the most expensive.

The least expensive scooter on Senior.com is the Three-Wheel Travel/Portable Spitfire Pro SE 3W at $629. The most expensive Heavy-Duty, high weight capacity, and All-Terrain Afiscooter S 4-Wheel with Canopy.

The Three-Wheel Travel/Portable Shoprider Echo 3 is the cheapest scooter on Mobility Scooters Direct at $599. The All-Terrain/Recreational Shoprider Flagship 4-Wheel Mobility is $6,995.

Mobility Scooter Total Cost of Ownership

The scooter cost is not just its purchase price. Add to that the sales tax, shipping fee, warranty fee, insurance, and accessories. You will also incur expenses over time. You will need to replace the batteries and tires. You must use electricity to keep the scooter battery charged.

What’s the Difference Between a $1699 Airline Approved Scooter and a $3,095 Airline Approved Scooter?

I looked at the least and most expensive airline approved scooters on Senior.com to compare the features and benefits.

The EV Rider Transport Plus is $1,699. The Moving Life ATTO Full-Size Travel Scooter is $3,095.

Both the EV Rider and Moving Life fold up and become compact for travel. The Moving Life folds up into what appears to be a carry on luggage.

The Moving Life ATTO is made from aviation grade aluminum and has a 53″ turning radius. It also has other niceties such as USB charging ports.

The EV Rider boasts a 270 Watt and an articulated front end that provides better stability.

Both of these scooters are appropriate for indoor use and perhaps some limited outdoor. Neither of these scooters seems to have the ground clearance that would be needed to go over the obstacles that one encounters off road.

Cheapest and Most Expensive Airline Approved Scooters on Senior.com
EV Rider Transport Plus

EV Rider Transport Plus Manual Folding Mobility Scooter EV Rider

Moving Life ATTO Full-Size Folding Travel Scooter

Moving Life ATTO

Wheels 4 3
Price $1,699 $3,095
Seat Width 16 in. 13 in.
Seat Depth 13 in. 14.5 in.
Lights Headlight, Taillight None
Compaction Folds Folds
Top Speed 4 mph 4 mph
Weight Capacity 250 lb. 220 lb.
Range 15 mi. 10 mi.
Turning Radius 32.3 in. 53 in.
Ground Clearance 2.4 in. 4 in.
Extra Features
  • USB charging port
  • Deck storage

What’s the Difference Between a $599 Folding Scooter and a $3,149 Folding Scooter?

I looked at the least and most expensive mobility scooters on Senior.com to compare the features and benefits. The Shoprider Echo 3 is $599. The EWheels EW-77R Edge Foldable is $3,149.

The Echo is a Three-Wheel Travel/Portable scooter. It goes up to 8 mi. on a charge, at a maximum speed of 3.8 mph.

The EW-77R Edge Foldable is a three-Wheel scooter with two wheels at the front. It travels as much as 36 mi. on a charge, at a max speed of 15 mph.

You can use the Echo in both the home and outdoors. However, you must avoid steep inclines, high curbs, and uneven pavement.

The EW-77R Edge Foldable is likely too big to use inside. It requires a minimum of 13 ft. room width to turn 360 degrees. The Edge does well outside. It has a 5 in. ground clearance and very large wheels. It can climb steep inclines and is safe on uneven pavement. It is easy to fold and maneuver.

The front portion also folds down for added storage while using. This scooter also features a reverse switch so you can get out of tight spots. The Edge also has front and rear lights a horn as well as turn signals and a speedometer.

Cheapest and Most Expensive Folding Scooters on Senior.com
Shoprider Echo 3-Wheel Mobility

Most Shoprider scooters use Sealed Lead Acid batteries

EWheels EW-77R Edge Foldable

EWheels Edge Foldable 3-Wheel Portable Electric Scooters Ewheels EW 77 R

Wheels 3 3
Price $599 $3,149
Seat Width 17 in. 11 in.
Seat Depth N/A 9 in.
Lights None Front, Rear, Turning, Running, Brake
Compaction Folds Folds
Top Speed 3.8 mph 15 mph.
Weight Capacity 250 lb. 350 lb.
Range 8 mi. 36 mi.
Turning Radius 32 in. 161 in.
Ground Clearance 1.5 in. 5 in.
Front storage platform

What’s the Difference Between a $599 Scooter and a $6,995 Scooter?

I looked at the least and most expensive mobility scooters on Senior.com to compare the features and benefits.

The Shoprider Echo is $599. The Shoprider Flagship is $6,995.

The Echo can travel up to 8 mi. at speeds up to 3.8 mph. The Flagship can travel up to 25 mi., at a maximum speed of 7 mph.
The Echo is useful indoors, but you must be cautious outside. The Flagship requires a room with at least 12 ft. width to turn around.

The Echo does not come with outdoor accessories. The Flagship includes a weather canopy.

Oddly, the smaller, cheaper Echo does have headlights. The Flagship does not.

 

Cheapest and Most Expensive Mobility Scooters on Senior.com
Shoprider Echo 3-Wheel Mobility

Shoprider Lightweight Echo Folding Travel Mobility Scooters Shoprider FS777-R

Shoprider Flagship 4-Wheel Mobility

Shoprider Flagship blue mobility scooter

Wheels 3 4
Price $599 $6,995
Seat Width 17 in. 22 in.
Seat Depth 16 in. 19 in.
Lights None Headlight, Taillight, Turning Signals
Compaction Disassembles None
Top Speed 3.8 mph 7 mph
Weight Capacity 250 lb. 350 lb.
Range 8 mi. 25 mi.
Turning Radius 32 in. 70 in.
Ground Clearance 1.5 in. 5 in.
  • Windshield wipers
  • Canopy
  • Rear view mirrors
  • Headrest
  • Reclining, padded, swiveling seat
  • Adjustable tiller
  • Auto safety glass windshield
  • Lockable

 

Will Insurance Pay for My Mobility Scooter?

Before you do anything else, read this excellent article about mobility scooter insurance coverage: Get Rolling: Tips on Paying For the Mobility Equipment You Need by Anne Cohen. It will save you from making at least a dozen mistakes.

Insurance sometimes pays for mobility scooters. Your situation has to fit their rules. You might or might not be covered. Call your insurance company to get the rules around your specific mobility scooter benefits.

Will Medicare Pay for a Mobility Scooter?

According to Medicare’s Wheelchair & Scooter Benefit:

  1. Scooters are power-operated vehicles, so they fall under the durable medical equipment (DME) Medicare Part B medical insurance.
  2. The doctor must submit a written order on your behalf stating that you need the scooter in your home for medical reasons.
  3. After that requirement, you must also meet all of these conditions: you have a disability that makes it significantly difficult to move around your home.
  4. You are unable to do bathe, dress, or use the bathroom even if you have a walker, cane or crutch.
  5. You can safely get onto and off the scooter, or you have someone to help you do that
  6. you can safely use the scooter
  7. both you and your doctor must be enrolled in Medicare
  8. The equipment makes sense for your home. You can get it through doors and move around rooms with it.
  9. If approved you pay 20% of the Medicare approved amount (after paying your part b deductible)
  10. This is called Medicare’s Wheelchair and Scooter Benefit
  11. There’s a hierarchy. Can you safely use a can, walker? If not, can you safely use a manual wheelchair? If not, can you safely use a power-operated vehicle or scooter? If not, then if you can safely use a power wheelchair you might qualify for a scooter.
  12. You must have an in-office doctor visit to qualify.

Are Mobility Scooters Tax Deductible?

I can’t give tax advice, but I will tell you what other people say about deducting scooter costs on your taxes. As of September 2019 for the 2018 tax year:

Multiple mobility device websites claim that scooters are tax deductible. They say that mobility scooters are Durable Medical Equipment (DME).

But IRS 502 Publication: Medical and Dental Expenses does not refer to mobility scooters. This is what it says about wheelchairs:

“You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for a wheelchair used for the relief of a sickness or disability. The cost of operating and maintaining the wheelchair is also a medical expense.”

Pub 502 does say that deductible medical expenses “include but are not limited to” wheelchairs and other items.

It’s hard to find an independent source that confirms the scooters are Durable Medical Equipment. It seems logical that they’re deductible, but we’re talking about the IRS, so get confirmation for your specific situation.

As with all medical expenses, the deduction is subject to the AGI Minimum. As of 2018, the AGI Minimum was 7.5% for people at or over 65, and 10% for everyone else. The way that works is, whatever your “adjusted gross income” is (your gross income minus a few items), take 7.5% of that. The result is what you have to pay in medical expenses out of your own pocket before you can start claiming deductions. So if you make $25,000 a year (for simplicity let’s say your AGI is $25,000), 7.5% of your AGI is $1,875. You can then claim medical expenses after the first $1,875 you spend out of pocket.

Are There Grants for Mobility Scooters?

Disability, veteran and non-profit groups offer grants and assistance. To view a list of organizations that might be able to help you buy your mobility scooter, view the Brandl Mobility Finance Grants and Assistance list. The Mobility Resource Center has a fantastic list of grant-giving agencies. Look up your state on their site.

The National Disability Rights Network is a federally funded protection and advocacy network. It works to protect and expand the rights of people with disabilities. Each U.S. state and territory has offices. Find your area’s Network office. Contact them, and ask if they know of resources you can pursue for mobility scooter grants. Go to the Membership page to find your local agency (use the dropdown). Or download the list of member agencies here.

Do You Need to Pay Tax for a Mobility Scooter?

Mobility scooters are subject to sales tax, but are exempt from sales tax in some situations. Online stores have to follow the rules in your state, regardless of where the store is located. The easiest way to answer this question is to speak to the mobility scooter dealer.

Will the VA Pay for a Mobility Scooter?

Maybe. You need to inquire with the VA. You can find your local VA state office to ask for help. You can call the VA Health Benefits Hotline at (877) 222-8387. You can view more information at the VA Healthcare website.

Which Scooter is Best for You?

Do you need a Travel, a Heavy-Duty, or an All-Terrain scooter?

Travel/Portable Mobility Scooters

Travel/Portable scooters are the easiest to bring with you on a plane, train, bus, ship, or car. These scooters fold or disassemble to make them easier to store and carry.

Travel/Portable scooters are small, lightweight, and usually the least expensive.

Three-wheel variations are usually cheaper than 4-wheel, but they are also less stable.

When you disassemble a scooter, you can carry and stow the individual pieces. The disassembled scooter has a “heaviest piece.” This is going to be the heaviest item you’ll need to carry when the scooter is broken into 4 or 5 pieces for travel.

Foldable scooters have hinges to decrease the scooter bulkiness, making them easier to carry and stow.

Travel scooters work well indoors. Outdoors, they work well only on flat, even surfaces.

Heavier and taller people can be uncomfortable and every unstable on Travel scooters. Heavier people might find the seat uncomfortable. Taller people might find their height creates an unstable center of gravity. The scooter gets a little tippy. This problem is worse with three-wheel than four-wheel scooters.

Heavy-Duty/Bariatric Mobility Scooters

Heavy-Duty/Bariatric scooters hold riders up to 600 lb., depending on the model. Some have swappable seats that are wider and deeper. These scooters usually have lights for outdoor navigation.

Heavy-Duty/Bariatric scooters are usually heavier than Travel/Portable scooters. They are also usually longer, wider, and more expensive.

Some Heavy-Duty mobility scooters have a large turning radius. The larger this number, the larger the room has to be for the scooter to turn around. This makes the scooter unsuitable for indoor use. It’s not possible to navigate large scooters in anything smaller than a barn. Indoor use might make sense at a residential living facility, but not at an independent senior’s own home.

All-Terrain/Recreational Mobility Scooters

All-Terrain/Recreational scooters have large tires and high ground clearances. These are the scooters for traveling on wooded paths, over large curbs, and on uneven sidewalks. Some All-Terrain scooters are also Heavy-Duty/Bariatric, when they have larger weight capacities as well as the all-terrain features.

All-Terrain scooters have lights and mirrors. Sometimes they have security alarms. These scooters are much too large to use inside, due to their high turning radius.

Can You Drive My Mobility Scooter on the Road?

I am not a lawyer, this is my opinion. Where you are allowed and not allowed to operate your scooter depends on your area’s laws. For example, your area might allow mobility scooters on the roads, but only if they are “recreational.” You need to investigate your area’s definitions and laws, because “recreational” scooter can mean anything they want. They don’t have to follow the industry guidelines for how they classify different scooter types.

It’s not a good idea to drive a mobility scooter on busy roads. Cars and street-level trains hurt and kill many mobility scooter drivers each year.

Don’t consult the web about the legality of your activities. Only your town and state governments can give you the accurate and up-to-date facts.

May You Carry a Child on a Mobility Scooter?

Whether you can carry a child on your mobility scooter depends on your area’s laws, the child’s weight, and the carrying capacity of the scooter. Many scooter manuals specifically say, “Do not carry a passenger” on your scooter. So in all likelihood, the answer is no, you may not carry a child on a mobility scooter.

People Also Ask

Can I Drive a Mobility Scooter when Drunk? According to the website Scoot Around, drinking on a mobility scooter is both dangerous and illegal. The legality of impaired scooter driver comes down to the laws in your area. At least one lawyer believes that the drunken driving laws in his state (North Carolina) do not apply to mobility scooters. In fact, a Minnesota man successfully appealed a DWI conviction for just this reason. The judge agreed with him that a mobility scooter was a wheelchair, not a vehicle. A Los Angeles man lost his DWI case when the judge ruled that the mobility scooter he was operating was, in fact, a vehicle.

Whether or not it’s legal, it’s certainly not safe to drive a vehicle while impaired. Legislators can change the definition of “vehicle,” so what’s legal today might be illegal tomorrow. DWI convictions are expensive and often involve prison. If you’re driving a scooter for medical reasons, why endanger your health more with both alcohol and drinking while driving?