Mobility scooters are an incredible tool for helping those with limited mobility to regain their freedom and independence. They can be invaluable when you need to travel any significant distance, whether you’re doing your weekly shop, visiting relatives or simply exploring the great outdoors.
If you plan to buy a mobility scooter for yourself or a loved one, it’s crucial to make an informed decision and choose a mobility scooter carefully. There are many different types of scooter available with a variety of different specifications and features. This comprehensive mobility scooter buying guide explains how to select the perfect model for your needs.
Is a Mobility Scooter Right for You?
Mobility scooters are electric vehicles designed to assist individuals who may have difficulty walking due to age, physical disabilities or health issues. From those recovering from surgeries to the elderly, scooters can be an incredibly valuable and worthwhile mobility aid. You might consider buying a scooter for mobility if you find daily tasks like shopping or visiting friends challenging.
Mobility scooter insurance is not legally mandatory (though it is recommended), and you don’t need to pass a test or apply for a licence. However, you should be confident that you can drive your scooter safely, so seek medical advice if you’re unsure. It’s also important to understand the different types of mobility scooter for sale, and choose the right one for you.
Understanding the Different Types of Mobility Scooters
The right type of mobility scooter may depend upon your specific needs, preferences and where you intend to use it. In the UK, mobility scooters are broadly categorised into two main types, or ‘classes’.
Class 2 Mobility Scooters
Designed primarily for pavement and use in pedestrian areas, Class 2 scooters can travel up to a maximum speed of 4mph. They may be the best option for short journeys around the neighbourhood and local shopping trips. Class 2 scooters are usually portable, meaning they can be disassembled or folded up to fit into a car boot.
These slower models do not need to be DVLA registered, and are not allowed to be driven on the road, except where there is no pavement available.
Class 3 Mobility Scooters
Perfect for longer journeys, with a maximum speed of 8mph, class 3 mobility scooters are suitable for use both on roads and pavements.
Every Class 3 mobility scooter must be registered with the DVLA, and must come with certain essential safety features such as a rear-view mirror, front and rear lights, reflectors, indicators and a horn. While they can go up to 8mph, they must be fitted with a speed limiter that can restrict their speed to 4mph in pedestrian areas.
Parts and Features of an Electric Mobility Scooter
Before purchasing a scooter, it’s essential to understand their parts and features, and how these can differ between models. Understanding these variations can help you select the right type of mobility scooter for your needs and lifestyle.
Mobility scooters are powered using two 12-volt batteries, which are rechargeable. Different scooter models come with varying battery capacities, depending on factors such as the size and weight of the scooter. The type of batteries can affect the safe weight limit, battery life and range (the maximum distance you can travel on a full charge).
Traditionally, scooters are fitted with lead acid batteries. These can vary in size from 6AH up to 100AH. The ‘AH’ or ‘amperage’ dictates the travel range of the scooter per charge. The larger the AH, the larger the battery’s size. Smaller scooters usually have physically smaller batteries which are lighter to pick up whilst bigger scooters usually have physically larger batteries which provide a longer travel range.
In recent years we have seen the introduction of lithium batteries. These are lighter, charge in less time and have a longer life span. Whilst lithium batteries are more expensive, they are considered to be an improvement on lead acid.
Wheels and Suspension
The type of wheels and suspension system can affect the scooter’s stability and comfort. A good suspension system can provide a smoother ride, especially on uneven ground. Suspension springs are usually fitted on the scooter’s front and rear axle whilst a suspension seat post can provide under seat shock absorption.
Some scooters come with larger wheels suitable for rough terrains, while others have smaller wheels designed for use on flat surfaces. Mobility scooters can also come with 3 or 4 wheels, with 4 wheel scooters having a larger turning circle and 3 wheel scooters offering better manoeuvrability in tight spaces. We recommend 4 wheel mobility scooters for their better stability over 3 wheel alternatives.
Choosing a mobility scooter with a good seat is essential, as it determines the user’s comfort and posture during rides. Consider the following:
- Size: The seat should be large enough to be able to accommodate you comfortably.
- Adjustability: Ensure the seat can be adjusted to the correct height, allowing you to use it safely. Larger mobility scooters may also have a seat that slides closer / further away from the controls and has an angle adjustable seat back.
- Swivel: A swivelling seat can make it easier for users to get on and off the scooter.
- Padding: Adequate cushioning ensures comfort during longer rides.
Most mobility scooter seats will also usually have armrests for additional support and comfort. Check if they’re width adjustable and can be flipped up for easy access.
Operation and Controls
Operating a mobility scooter is designed to be straightforward, ensuring that users can navigate safely with ease and confidence.
To drive the scooter, you’ll need to ensure the key is in the ignition. As you engage the throttle, which takes the form of a small lever, the scooter moves. Releasing it will slow the scooter down and bring it to a complete stop.
You steer the scooter by turning the handlebars. There is also a reversing lever. Most mobility scooters (including all Class 3 scooters) will have an adjustable speed setting.
Some scooters come with extra features designed for safety or convenience, such as lights, mirrors, horns, rain covers, shopping baskets, walking stick holders or even USB charging ports. The range of additional features can vary widely between models, so consider what features are essential and which ones might be nice to have when buying a mobility scooter.
Things to Consider When Buying a Mobility Scooter
Selecting the right mobility scooter is crucial for ensuring comfort, safety and convenience. With a plethora of options available on the market, there are many factors to take into account when choosing your ideal model. Here are some of the most important things you may want to consider.
Size, Weight and Portability
The weight and size of the scooter plays a pivotal role in determining its portability. Some portable scooters are also designed to fold up for easier storage when not in use.
Before making a purchase, ensure the scooter would provide sufficient leg room while also fitting comfortably into your vehicle’s boot space. You’ll also need to consider where you will store your scooter at home when charging or when not in use, and whether the scooter is light enough for you to lift it if needed.
Additionally, if you use public transport, check for width and weight restrictions – some larger models might not be able to travel on certain buses and trains.
Weight Capacity and Ride Height
Mobility scooters come with varying weight capacities. It’s crucial to choose a model that can comfortably support your weight. Overloading the scooter can lead to decreased performance and potential damage.
Speed of Travel
While mobility scooters aren’t designed for racing, the speed at which they travel can vary. Depending on your needs, you might opt for a faster Class 3 vehicle for longer journeys or road use, which can be operated at 4mph or 8mph. If you only need your scooter for shopping or local journeys on the pavement, a slower Class 2 model may suffice, which have a slower speed limit and are typically cheaper.
Battery Range and Charging
The battery’s range determines how far you can travel on a single charge. Most mobility scooters tend to offer between 8 and 30 miles of range, though this can vary. Consider how often you’ll need to charge the scooter: a larger battery capacity may be preferable if you’ll be taking it on longer trips.
Some models offer on-board charging, allowing you to charge the battery while it’s still in the scooter, while others require off-board charging, meaning you’ll need to remove the battery. Many models will allow both on and off board charging. The right choice depends on your personal preference.
Budget and Condition
While it’s tempting to opt for the cheapest model, it’s worth investing in a trustworthy brand that is comfortable to use and meets your required specifications. Comfort and user experience is paramount, especially if you’ll be using the scooter for extended periods.
Higher mobility scooter prices often equate to quality, durability and better features. It’s a good idea to try out a few models before you buy, so that you can be sure you’re happy with how it feels and how easy it is to drive.
If you don’t mind shopping second-hand, you may be able to save money by finding a used or refurbished mobility scooter for sale. Choose a trusted supplier that offers reliable warranty and return policies.
A6 Mobility Shop: New, Ex-Showroom and Refurbished Mobility Scooters for Sale
The decision to buy a mobility scooter is an important one that can significantly enhance your independence and overall quality of life.
A6 Mobility Shop, based in Stockport, has been serving the local community since 1992. We offer a wide range of mobility scooters for sale, as well as stairlifts, wheelchairs, riser recliner chairs and more.
Visit A6 Mobility Shop today or browse our Showroom Deals page to view some of our great offers on new, ex-showroom and refurbished mobility scooters. Our competitive prices and exceptional customer service make us the go-to choice for all your mobility needs.