Do You Need a Mobility Scooter?

Buying Tips

The mobility scooter is one of the most popular mobility aids today. Each manufacturer of these scooters offers a variety of details that can help those with limited mobility achieve much of their independence back. Many scooter users have found that they do much more than they have in years thanks to their new-found increased mobility.

Senior woman riding an electric scooter
Els van der Gun / E+ / Getty Images 

Do You Need a Mobility Scooter?

If you have trouble walking for extended periods of time, experience difficulty managing a walker, cane, or crutches, then a scooter may be for you.

Scooters are also helpful for people who use oxygen and need to conserve their energy.

Individuals who suffer from constant joint pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also benefit from using the scooter.

Paying for a Mobility Scooter

Many scooter sellers accept Medicare to cover part, if not all, of the cost of buying one of their machines. They will bill Medicare and all they need is a signed form from a physician indicating that a patient needs a scooter for mobility due to a disabling condition.

If your physician doesn’t think you need a scooter, but you feel using one would improve your mobility, you can still purchase them directly from a manufacturer or reseller.

Some resellers of mobility scooters offer their own financing programs in addition to deep discounts on refurbished or close-out models. Some basic models cost less than $800. Four-wheel, all-terrain models generally cost more than $2,000.

Two, Three, or Four Wheels?

Depending upon the intended use of a mobility scooter, owners may choose between a two, three, or four-wheeled model.

  • Two-wheeled models look more like the type of scooter that you see on the road. These can go two to three times faster than a three or four-wheeled model.
  • Three-wheeled scooters are lightweight models that do well both inside and on paved roads or sidewalks.
  • Four-wheeled models are heavier and serve a variety of purposes. A heavy-duty, four-wheeled model is able to roll across gravel roads and other unpaved surfaces while easily navigating public buildings.

Scooter Basics and Accessories

Scooters are hand-operated and have a steering column that allows the users to move forward, turn in either direction, and go in reverse.

Most scooters have a low profile, which means they can serve as a chair in restaurants or at the table in your own home and they are narrow enough to make it through most doorways of a home or public building. The majority of mobility scooters are less than 24-inches in width.

Along with a scooter, you may wish to buy accessories to make moving and using your scooter easier.

Mobility scooter accessories to consider:

  • Plastic cover
  • Ramp
  • Basket
  • Oxygen tank carrier
  • Cup holder
  • Saddlebag
  • Rear basket
  • Scooter lift
  • Safety package (lights, horn, turn signals, side mirrors)
  • Cane, crutch, or walker holder
  • Flag
  • Scooter coach
  • Car charger and/or home charger
  • Additional battery

Try Before You Buy

When possible, try out a mobility scooter before you buy one. If there is a mobility store in your area, go to the showroom and sit on the various models and give them a test drive if possible.

Things to consider when buying a mobility scooter:

  • Does the chair offer enough cushion?
  • Can the chair rotate easily from side to side or is it stationary?
  • Is the chair adjustable up or down?
  • Is there enough room for your legs to rest comfortably?
  • How long does it take for the battery to charge fully?
  • How far can you travel before the battery needs to be recharged?
  • How fast can the scooter go?
  • What is the maximum weight a scooter can hold?
  • Is the scooter size airline-friendly?
  • Is it easy to transport the scooter (can it easily be taken apart or folded)?
  • What is the maximum weight of a single part that the owner would need to lift during transport?
  • Who will service the scooter if there is a problem?

All of these questions should be answered to your satisfaction before purchase, especially if the model you’re considering is a clearance or discontinued scooter.

Additionally, if you’re buying the scooter for someone else to use, make sure they are able to lift the scooter and take it apart for transport. Otherwise, make sure the person who is using the scooter has a vehicle with a trailer hitch so that they can attach a scooter lift for transport.

By Charlotte Gerber
Charlotte Gerber is a disability writer and advocate. She has made a career of educating the public about various diseases and disabilities.