What to Look for When Buying a Mobility Scooter

For seniors who find it hard to get around, buying a mobility scooter could make life a lot easier, and help people remain at home.

A mobility scooter can make a huge difference to seniors who are struggling to stay as mobile as they used to be. These sit-on motorized vehicles are designed to make it easy to get around, and are  simple to operate.

A mobility scooter can give a senior their independence back, making it easier for them to get out and about in their local community, to attend social events or see friends and family. Some of the most lightweight scooters can even be folded down and transported in the trunk of a car.

There are many different kinds of motorized scooters for seniors on the market today, and choosing one can seem like a daunting task. To make it easier, we’ve broken it down into the key features to look for and points to consider when buying a mobility scooter.

What to Look for When Buying a Mobility Scooter
(c) Can Stock Photo / SoggyCanuck

9 Things to Consider When Buying a Mobility Scooter

#1. What is the ideal terrain?

Not every mobility scooter is suitable for use on every kind of terrain. Some models are recommended only for use around the home, while others can be used outside but only on sidewalks, not roads. Others are suitable for use on roads and are considered highway ready – these models are fitted with lights and turn signals. The more powerful models are also more appropriate for going up and down curbs and hills.

When buying a mobility scooter, think carefully about where the scooter will be used and make sure to choose a model that can handle that terrain.

#2. Weight and Portability

Small, foldable travel scooters can weigh as little as 80lbs or so, and be folded down to fit in the trunk of a car. If you know your loved one will need to stow their scooter in the trunk of a car, opt for a lightweight model.

On the other hand, if they want to travel on the roads, one of the heavy duty models is much more appropriate. They weigh considerably more, but there is no need to lift them. You simply charge them up, then drive from the charging point and back to it at the end of the trip.

#3. Size and Maneuverability

Motorized scooters for seniors come in a range of sizes, from slender 3-wheel indoor models to huge chunky outdoor models. The 3-wheelers have a much smaller turning circumference, which makes them more suitable for indoor use. If your loved one needs to use their scooter indoors, take this into account when buying a mobility scooter.

#4. Maximum Speed

Most scooters come in one of two speeds: Around 4 mph for the indoor and sidewalk-friendly models, and around 8mph for those suitable for highway use. Speed isn’t a huge consideration for most users – getting the right scooter for the terrain and their needs is more important – but more frail or nervous users might find the faster models uncomfortable.

#5. Range Per Charge

Scooters need frequent charging (via a regular plug.) The number of miles you can travel on each charge varies widely, from 6 miles for smaller or more basic models all the way to 30 miles for the heavy duty models. We recommend thinking carefully about how far the user will be driving the scooter on a regular basis, to make sure you choose a large enough range for thier needs.

#6. Safety Features

We recommend checking to be sure your scooter has anti-tip wheels to protect the scooter (and user) from tipping over. An easy-to-use single hand controller will also make the scooter safer to use, and easy-use brakes are also a must. A charge level indicator is also useful.

If you are buying a highway-worthy scooter, make sure it comes with turn signals, hazard lights, front and rear lights, a horn, and a rearview mirror.

#7. Comfort Features

Comfort is an important factor when it comes to choosing a scooter. After all, your loved one is going to be sitting on it for some period of time when out and about, so making sure they are comfortable is vital.

Comfort features vary per model. Basic models are good enough for most users, but may not be suitable for longer periods of time, or for seniors who have physical challenges such as joint or back problems. There are models out there with extra padded seats, adjustable armrests, extra wide seats, or adjustable seat backs. If comfort is an issue, check out which comfort features are included before buying a mobility scooter.

#8. Maximum User Weight

The maximum user weight per scooter can range from 250lbs for foldable models all the way to 500lbs plus for the heavy duty models. If your loved one is of a larger size, do take that into account when choosing a model, to make sure they’re safe and comfortable.

#9. Affordability

Buying a mobility scooter can represent a significant investment. Some 3 wheel and portable models cost around $600, while high-spec heavy duty models can cost in excess of $3000.

With so many mobility scooters for seniors on the market, you are sure to find something that suits your needs and budget. Use this list as a guide to write out the specs your loved one needs, to help guide you when shopping for a scooter.

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  1. My daughter suffers from EDS (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome) and is steadily loosing her mobility. She can only walk about 10ft before she has too much pain. We would like to walk together on a bike path, go camping and walk around the campground, go to the park, and walk from one building to another in a large campus. She could use a non-motorized wheelchair inside. Its mostly the outside activities that she misses. She is also obese and needs a heavy-duty machine. What would be most appropriate for her needs?
  2. My grandmother has been having a lot of problems with her knees since last January. She can’t really walk far on her own anymore. So, my family members have been considering getting her a mobility scooter to help her get around better. Thanks for explaining that some models are specifically designed for home use. That seems like something we would definitely need to look into.
    1. Thanks for the feedback! And yes, it’s important to understand what the mobility scooter will be used for, there are so many different types and models. You may also find this page about the top mobility scooters useful in your search.
  3. My husband weight is 255 and he want it for outside and gravel and grass also for travel and putting behind truck

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