What is a mobility scooter?

A mobility scooter (sometimes called a disability scooter) is a small battery-powered aid for people who have difficulty walking long distances due to health conditions, injury or disability. Due to technical improvements over the last decade, they have many benefits for users and are commonly used out in the community.

Who can use mobility scooters?

Anyone who needs the support a mobility scooter offers can use one. This can range from seniors who need assistance with walking, to people with health issues that make getting around can be more difficult. People with injuries that hamper their ability to walk can also benefit from the use of a mobility scooter.

What factors should I consider when buying a mobility scooter?

Some factors to keep in mind when shopping for mobility scooters Australia-wide are:

User confidence

This is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing a disability scooter. The user must be able to operate the scooter in a safe manner, including getting on and off the scooter, being able to maintain balance on the scooter, operating the hand controls, and being about to move and turn their head to see the environment around them. A chat with an occupational therapist will go a long way in helping you figure out which scooter is best for your needs.

Location and Environment

Where you will be using your scooter is a crucial factor to consider, as this will influence the type of scooter you should buy. Will you be using it around your home and at the shopping centre? For getting to the shops and out for social visits? Or will it be replacing your car for further travel?

Adjustability

Some models of mobility scooters can be adjusted in the seat, armrests and steering controls for comfort and reach. This is important to consider, particularly if the user’s needs are likely to change over the course of using the scooter.

Weight

The weight of the driver – including the weight of equipment that is needed to be transported, such as an oxygen tank – can affect the efficiency of a mobility scooter. It’s worth considering if weight requirements are likely to change over time and planning your purchase accordingly.

Budget

When it comes to mobility scooters, price can vary significantly depending on the model and size you are after. Rather than just looking at cheap mobility scooters for sale, make sure it is the right size and has everything you require. Mobility Caring offers high quality mobility scooters at competitive prices, so you can find one that suits your budget and meets your needs.

What sizes do mobility scooters come in?

Most mobility scooters can be classified into three categories: small mobility scooter, mid-sized mobility scooter and heavy-duty mobility scooters.

Models can also vary between a 3 wheel mobility scooter and a 4 wheel scooter. A 3 wheel mobility scooter has more leg room and is more beneficial for manoeuvring in smaller areas, while a 4 wheel scooter is more stable and capable on rough terrain.

Small Mobility Scooter

A small or lightweight mobility scooter is considered the best option for use around the home or inside shopping centres.

Benefits include:

  • Portability – most small models are light enough to be lifted and transported in a car. These portable mobility scooters (also called a folding mobility scooter) can even be disassembled and come with a carry case.
  • Small turning circle – this allows for ease of use inside the home where there are smaller spaces to navigate, or for easier manoeuvring in busy shopping centres.
  • Front basket – lightweight mobility scooters have a small front basket which is useful for carrying small items and shopping.
  • Removable battery – this can be beneficial when transporting or disassembling the scooter when travelling.
  • Front and rear LED lights – these allow for increased visibility and safety for the user
  • Due to their small nature, portable mobility scooters can be checked in as baggage when travelling.

Things to be aware of:

  • Due to their size, a travel mobility scooter has a shorter battery life than their larger counterparts.
  • The battery and motor may not be large enough to provide the power needed for getting up steep hills.
  • Small mobility scooters may not be suitable for taller or heavier people, as they have much lower weight limits than their larger counterparts.
  • The smaller wheels of lightweight mobility scooters are less steady on uneven ground and there is less in-built suspension.

Mid-sized mobility scooters

Mid-sized scooters can be used to replace local car travel, such as a trip to the local shops or a social visit to a nearby friend. These scooters can also deal with outdoor travel, including small hills.

Benefits include:

  • Tyres – Mid-sized scooters have tyres that are suitable for outdoor use. They have traction and are puncture-proof, which can protect against stones and debris that may be on footpaths.
  • Longer battery life – being larger than the small mobility scooter, the battery life is longer.
  • Additional lights, headlights, taillights and indicators. These features can indicate direction and allow for increased visibility and safety for the user.
  • Rear-view mirror – due to the scooters’ larger size, the rear-view mirror is needed to allow for extra visibility.
  • Basic suspension to assist with creating a smooth ride for the user
  • Padding on the seat, headrest and arm rests to enhance the driving experience
  • Front basket for carrying small items and for shopping.
  • The mid-sized scooter is the best option for public transport. This size is large enough to deal with traveling outside, yet small enough to comfortably fit on wheelchair accessible public transport.

Things to be aware of:

  • Mid-sized scooters have a larger turning circle than their smaller counterparts and may not be suited to indoor residential use.
  • The battery and motor may not be large enough to provide the power needed for getting up steep hills.
  • -Compared to a folding mobility scooter, a larger scooter may need wheelchair-accessible cars for transporation. It’s worth checking to see if the model you are buying has this requirement.

Heavy-duty Mobility Scooters

A heavy-duty scooter or off road scooter is a good option for someone who is planning on replacing the use of their car with their scooter. Heavy-duty scooters can travel long distances and deal with uneven terrain such as lawns and rough footpaths.

Benefits include:

  • Suspension – an off road scooter has the best suspension due to pneumatic rubber tyres, which ensures a smooth ride over uneven terrain.
  • Hydraulic breaking for a greater level of control
  • A full LED lighting system (including headlights, kerb lights, taillights and indicators)
  • Padding in the armrests and seat, and a high backed seat for extra support
  • A large front basket for carrying shopping and other items that need to be transported
  • An option to add additional storage and accessories
  • Heavy-duty mobility scooters can go on most public transport and can go in wheelchair accessible taxis. Just be aware that additional features like a canopy may make the scooter too wide or tall for transportation in a vehicle.

Things to be aware of:

  • Unlike a travel mobility scooter, Heavy-duty mobility scooters need wheelchair-accessible cars to be transported and may even require anchor points to be installed in the car to transport it safely.

What is the best mobility scooter?

The best mobility scooter is the one that suits your needs. If you need something to help you out at home and for outings around the shopping centre, then a small mobility scooter will be sufficient. If you want a scooter to help replace the majority of your walking or travel, then it’s worth considering a mid-sized or heavy-duty scooter.

There are also other factors to consider when looking at mobility scooters for sale, such as the terrain and distance you want to travel and how portable you would like your scooter to be. Rather than simply looking at cheap mobility scooters for sale, make sure it has enough features to enhance your quality of life.

Can I travel on public transport with a mobility scooter?

These days, most public transport is accessible for mobility scooters. Often, a ramp needs to be extended by the driver or a transport official for access.

If you are planning on catching public transport with your scooter, make sure you plan ahead. This can give you confidence that you will be able to get on and off the bus, tram or train. Sometimes you may require extra time to access lifts and ramps, so allow for this in your planning.

What should I do when I first get a mobility scooter?

After looking at mobility scooters for sale and choosing the one you want, it is important to consider insurance. Comprehensive scooter insurance covers things like loss, theft, and damage to your scooter and property, as well as liability for injury to yourself. Check your current Home and Contents insurance; sometimes it can be included for a premium. Alternatively, you may need to purchase separate insurance.

When you first try operating your mobility scooter, take a drive in a quiet location with level surfaces and no obstacles. Get a feel for the controls by practicing stopping, starting and turning. Also attempt to navigate small inclines, such as a kerb or accessibility ramp, if you plan to use your scooter outside.

Mobility scooters Australia-wide do not classify as a ‘registered vehicle’ so they do not need to be registered. The exception is Queensland, where you will need to register your scooter if you plan on using it outside.

How do I provide ongoing care for my scooter?

Make sure that you charge your scooter’s batteries between use, so that you don’t get stuck with a dead battery while out and about. You can also increase the life of your scooter and keep it running smoothly by having it serviced annually. Mobility Caring offers servicing and repairs for mobility scooters and other equipment, to give you peace of mind.

Can I go off-road with a mobility scooter?

Small mobility scooters are not designed for off-road terrain, but the larger, off road mobility scooters or heavy-duty mobility scooters are designed to be able to navigate bumpy surfaces, hills and even small puddles.

How do I stay safe with a mobility scooter?

Here are some tips:

  • Make sure that the mobility scooter you purchase is correct for your weight. Each model of mobility scooter has a weight limit for level ground, but their weight limit for even a small incline, like a wheelchair ramp can be different. For safety and to ensure you are using your scooter in the most effective way possible, make sure you have chosen one that can carry your weight.
  • Get some basic training for how to drive your mobility scooter when you purchase it.
  • Much like driving a car, ensure you feel well, are rested and are not under the influence of alcohol or medication that may inhibit your ability to operate your scooter.
  • Make sure you and your scooter are visible at all times by wearing bright colours, or having a safety flag attached to your mobility scooter when you are out.
  • Don’t overload your mobility scooter with weight from too many accessories, bags or equipment.
  • Make sure you can always safely access the controls on your scooter, with nothing in the way.
  • When you are driving, try to stay on flat footpaths and be cautious of tree roots or other obstacles that may have damaged footpaths and cause a hazard to you.
  • Get your scooter regularly serviced.

Want to speak to someone in person about your mobility scooter needs? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch; we’re happy to help.

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