Key Features and Guide to buying a Mobility Scooter
Maneuverability and stability
The main purpose of a mobility scooter is to keep the user mobile. This prospect, unsurprisingly, requires a delicate balance of maneuverability and stability to keep the user safe.
- Wheels: Mobility scooters have either three or four wheels, though specialized models may vary. Three-wheel scooters (one wheel in the front, two in the rear) are generally lighter and more maneuverable while four-wheel scooters offer more stability.
- Deck size: The deck, the platform on which the rider sits, is usually wider for heavier scooters to accommodate three or four wheels. As a general rule, a wider deck leads to increased stability.
- Tiller: A scooter’s steering column is called the “tiller.” Smaller scooters have thin tillers that may be easier to turn but may be less stable than heavier tillers. Tillers for larger, bulkier scooters are thicker and thus more stable, but they can be harder to turn.
Adjustability and comfort
To fit users of all sizes with different needs, most mobility scooters can be adjusted to maximize user comfort. The degree to which each scooter allows for adjustment varies across models.
- Seats: Most mobility scooter seats can be adjusted to fit users. Deluxe models tend to have more adjustment options, and some models can be outfitted with nicer, more comfortable seats.
- Adjustable tillers: Some scooter tillers can be adjusted to different lengths to better fit drivers of various heights.
- Adjustable deck: A feature that is most common in compact or foldable travel scooters is an adjustable deck. These can be lengthened or shortened to fit consumers.
Carrying capacity, especially for consumers who are obese, is an important concern to ensure rider safety.
- Suspension: A scooter’s suspension refers to the systems of shocks, springs, tires and inflation that connect the scooter to its tires. A stronger suspension can support more weight.
- Seat size: A strong suspension will keep the motor from over-exerting itself, but a wider seat can also distribute more weight evenly and relieve some of the pressure on the rear of the scooter.
- Wheels: Stronger suspensions often require larger wheels that make it easier to disperse weight.
Electric mobility scooters require a charge for their batteries to help consumers stay mobile. Consumers who need to travel longer distances without recharging will need stronger batteries.
- Voltage: As a general rule, the higher the battery’s voltage, the more power it can supply to the scooter. Most scooter batteries have a voltage of 12, though larger scooters may require batteries with more voltage.
- Ah: “Ah” refers to a battery’s amp-hour rating, meaning how many amperes of power it can supply per hour. A battery with a higher Ah can last longer. Smaller scooters can operate on as little as 12Ah for short trips, but more powerful scooters that need to sustain longer trips and heavier loads may need closer to 20Ah or even 30Ah.
Warranties and service
Mobility scooters can be expensive investments, so consumers will want to make sure their vehicle is protected with a warranty. Customer support regarding delivery, maintenance or any general questions consumers may have about their scooter should also be taken into consideration.
- Delivery and training: Some scooter retailers offer white glove delivery and training to new scooter owners. Consumers who are purchasing a mobility scooter for the first time can benefit from one-on-one training and the opportunity to have their questions answered.
- Online support: Some mobility scooter companies offer online chat or other resources for customer support.
- Warranties: Most scooters purchased come with a warranty, though each warranty varies across manufacturers. Consumers should always read their scooter’s warranty to know what is covered.
- Dealership service: Purchasing a scooter from a dealer that also offers local repair and maintenance is a popular option to help consumers maintain their scooters.
When it comes to choosing a mobility scooter, features that fit the consumer’s needs are more important than price. Nevertheless, price can be a factor for many consumers.
- Basic vs. Deluxe models: Deluxe scooter models are often feature-rich versions of more basic models. Price-conscious consumers may want to consider which features matter most to them before deciding on a particular model.
- Financing: Some retailers offer financing options for consumers who want to set up payment plans for their scooters.
- Sales: Local mobility scooter stores and online retailers offer rotating sales on select makes and models.
Mobility scooter types
Travel scooters are smaller scooters designed for portability. They can usually be disassembled easily to make them more portable, and some models even fold up for storage and transportation. They can sustain an average of 275-300 pounds.
Mid-size scooters are generally heavier and more stable than travel or compact scooters. They can sustain an average of 300-350 pounds.
Full-size scooters can sustain more weight and usually offer more stability than smaller scooters, though they sacrifice portability. Most heavy-duty and deluxe scooters are full-size models. They can sustain any weight between 350-500 pounds.
Full-size heavy-duty scooters are designed for the bariatric market. These scooters often have extra comfort features like wider seats. They can, on average, support 450-500 pounds.
Full-size all-terrain scooters have larger wheels and higher clearance designed for outdoor use. These scooters also often have improved suspension for more rugged terrain. All-terrain scooters can support anywhere between 300-450 pounds.
Luxury scooters are feature-rich, deluxe scooters designed for comfort and power. They can come in heavy-duty and all-terrain full-size models. Carrying capacities over various models range from 300-500 pounds.
Research provided by ConsumerAffairs.com
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