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Mobility Scooters

Five questions to ask yourself before you buy an electric mobility scooter

N.B. This article is written for general guidance and should not replace medical advice.

1) What do I plan to use it for?

The right scooter can bring you renewed freedom but it needs to fit into your lifestyle. It is tempting to look at the larger scooters but ask these questions: will it be versatile enough for my needs, do I have space for it, can I easily charge it? Maybe you want a very light or small scooter but is it going to go far enough on a charge, will it be comfortable enough, will it be sturdy enough? A larger scooter is ideal if you want to head down to the shops or out for walks from your home, but if you want to take it out and about with you on family days out, holidays or out shopping, then a boot scooter is more likely to suit your needs. Boot scooters can also go on flights with you if you plan to head for the sun! You can get very small ‘suitcase’ scooters but they tend to be very uncomfortable with a really short range and quite a heavy, concentrated weight as they tend to fold rather than break into smaller sections as a boot scooter does. There are now slightly larger boot scooters with a longer range and all round suspension while still having the convenience of breaking into smaller pieces for transportation and storage. Of course, many people have more than one for their different needs but there are issues of cost as well as considerations of storage and charging points.

2) Where can I store it?

Whatever size or type of scooter you choose, you will need to be able to store it somewhere safe and where you can charge it. Smaller scooters often have off-board charging options, where you can easily take the battery unit out and charge it away from the scooter as well as a charging point on the scooter itself (handier if you are storing somewhere that has an easily accessible power point). Indeed some people actually store them in the boot of their car and only take the battery out to charge in the house or their accommodation if they are lucky enough to be on holiday 🙂

If you are looking a larger scooter such as an 8mph road legal scooter, then you really want a secure place to keep it and you will need an accessible power point to charge it usually has to be done on board. Although you can take the batteries out, they are usually fairly inaccessible, heavy and not designed for off-board charging.

Whatever size of scooter, you will need to check how accessible the place you plan to store it is. Are there stairs? If so, can a ramp be fitted? Is the path wide enough? Are there any sharp bends?

If you live in shared accommodation or flats, you may need to check if there are any restrictions on if you can have a scooter stored in any shared space as well as practical considerations of whether it fits through the doors and fits in the lift.

Most of these things are not insurmountable but it is better to have these things organised before you spend your hard earned cash. Which takes us to the next question.

3) How much can I afford to spend?

Whether we like it or not, budget is always a consideration. Boot scooters are generally considerably cheaper than larger scooters – a range of boot scooters will be easily available for under or around a £1000. The large, road legal 8mph scooters are likely to be at least twice that. However, there is a middle ground with many companies offering a 4 or 6 mph scooter that have many features of the 8mph models such as suspension and larger, more comfortable seats but at a more affordable price. There is always the option of buying second-hand and I will cover the pros and cons of this in a later blog, as well as the things to look out for to make sure it doesn’t end up costing you more than a new one would!

4) Where should I buy from?

You may apparently be getting the cheapest price on the internet but you might want to look at the bigger picture. Often the deal that you get through a reputable dealer is much better value for money. If you go to a reputable dealer such as Mobility Stirling you will have someone who can talk through your needs, let you try out a range of scooters (either at the showroom or at your home if you can’t easily get there), make sure you know your scooter well and be there for you if anything goes wrong. They will deliver it and set it up for you, making sure you are happy with it. They often have special offers such as free servicing which make it even better value for money. The main advantage of a local dealer is that you have someone on hand to sort out any problems you might have, answer any question and, of course, someone to shout at in the unlikely event that anything does go wrong! Manufacturer warranties normally only cover the cost of replacement parts, you may be charged for labour costs – this won’t happen if you buy from a reputable dealer.

Have a look at the reviews online and you will find they all have similar stories – buying online is a bit of a minefield. If you decide to buy online, make sure you know exactly what you are getting for your money, how and to where it will be delivered and find out what happens if anything does go wrong. Will it be delivered kerbside or to your home? Is it set up or delivered unassembled? Who pays for return costs if you have to send it back? What about the packaging?

You might be surprised how competitive your local mobility shop can be, especially as they often will give add-ons and excellent customer service at a fair price.

5) What are the running costs?

It is best to have your scooter serviced once a year – prices vary considerably so shop around. Expect to pay around £60 to £90 depending on the size of the scooter. Ask about subsequent labour charges if you need any work done and if there are any additional costs such as a pick up/drop off charge. A full service should include a full diagnostic is carried out on your batteries, this takes a bit of time so be prepared to be without your scooter for a day. A reputable dealer will always give you a quote before going ahead with any repair work.

The main ‘big’ cost is likely to be replacing batteries. If you look after your batteries, they should last for years. The rule is simple, keep them topped up and they will keep going longer. Don’t leave the batteries in the shed all winter. Where possible when not in use, keep them on charge. If this is not feasible, deep charge them at least once a fortnight. The smart chargers that these scooters have will not overcharge the batteries. When you need new batteries, beware of really cheap ones off the internet – they won’t last.

It is always advisable to take insurance for your scooter to cover things like third party costs in the event of an accident. Depending on the type of cover required, you should pay between £80-£110 for your insurance – but check what is being covered for example the insurance cover offered by Mobility Stirling covers dental fees (for example, if you damage your teeth in an accident) and pet cover too for vet bills if your pet gets hurt in an accident while riding with you. Most insurance cover will let you travel abroad with your scooter but always go through the cover carefully to ensure it meets your needs. Again, a local company such as Mobility Stirling will happily guide you through this process.

This is a very brief run down of some of the things to consider before you head out to buy a mobility scooter – happy shopping and enjoy your freedom!

N.B. This article is written for general guidance and should not replace medical advice.

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