Mobility scooters are an incredible asset to seniors who want to stay independent and social. However, just like every other technology, they’re prone to wear and tear. If you’re looking to troubleshoot issues on your mobility scooter, read through this list of the top 10 common problems, and learn how to fix/prevent them!
10 Common Mobility Scooter Problems - and How to Fix Them!
1. Battery Issues
Batteries wear down over time. If you’ve had your mobility scooter for a few years, or tend to run the battery all the way down each time you use it, chances are it will show signs of degrading. This could lead to loss of speed, range, and even a non-working mobility scooter.
It can be nearly impossible to reverse the effects of battery degradation; once it’s gone, it’s gone. This means that if you have a very worn, inefficient battery, you’ll likely have to replace it. There are, however, several steps you can take to preserve your battery health:
Bonus: the Best Battery Fix!
If you have severely depleted batteries, you can remove them from the scooter and charge each battery separately using a 12V charger. It can take upwards of 15 battery cycles to get them back to prime condition, but doing this can potentially save you hundreds!
2. Motor Issues
Motors in mobility scooters are one of the most essential and technologically complex parts of the whole scooter. Fortunately, motors are also one of the most durable parts of the scooter.
If you notice your scooter is “lurching” forward randomly while using it, that’s a sign that the motor has begun to fail. When this happens, you have two options: replace the motor or replace the scooter (depending on cost of repairs)
If you’re mechanically inclined, you can order a new motor and install it yourself; however, this is not recommended for most people as the potential of human error is high. It is best to have a professional scooter servicer make the repair for you!
3. Flat/Worn Tires
Over time, the tread on your tires will wear down, making them ineffective. Similarly, the inner tubes in your tires may also deteriorate or be punctured. Worn/flat tires make your mobility scooter inefficient at best and outright dangerous at worst.
Start by checking your scooter’s warranty. Because tires are known to wear down, most scooters will include a total warranty on tires, so you can get replacements for free. Installing new tires is roughly the same as changing a car tire; you can definitely do the job yourself if you’d like.
For people with severely limited mobility, this isn’t an option. Tire replacements can be done by mobility scooter technicians easily. You can also ask your local home and garden store if they could install the tires for you since the process is similar to that of lawnmowers!
4. Ignition Switch Failure
The ignition switch on a mobility scooter is more or less the same as one in a car or riding lawnmower. They can become corroded over time due to exposure to the elements, and cease working/moving. On top of that, keys are notoriously easy to break, and when they break inside the throttle, they leave behind a hard-to-remove piece of metal.
Before replacing the entire ignition switch, disconnect the scooter’s batteries and try to clean it. You can use a pressurized can of air to blow dirt and grime out of the ignition, which may be enough to fix it. If that doesn’t work, you can order a replacement ignition and install it yourself; it takes a lot of time to do, but it isn’t an overly difficult repair if you have the patience!
Removing a broken key is easy with a pair of pliers. However, you may want to leave the broken piece in place until you get a replacement key. That way, you can use the pliers to turn the key and use your scooter while you wait for the replacement in the mail!
Once you’ve had a scooter for a few years, or if you use it outdoors a lot, you’ll notice the upholstery start to wear out. Usually, this is nothing to worry about, but after a while, it will certainly reduce the comfort and safety of the scooter. Armrests are usually the first upholstered piece to go since they get a lot more regular use than other parts of the scooter.
Unfortunately, there is no good DIY fix for worn upholstery; your best option is to have it replaced. This can sometimes be covered for free by your scooter’s warranty, but you will likely have to pay a reasonable fee to get new upholstery. Armrests, specifically, are very affordable and easy to install on your own, so at least that part is simple!
Different parts of your scooter are wired through a fuse, which prevents a potentially dangerous overload of electricity. If most of your scooter is working fine and one specific part isn’t, it may be a sign of a blown fuse.
Use your scooter’s owner’s manual to locate the fuse panel on your scooter. If you notice that the thin wire inside any of your fuses is broken, you’ll need to replace it. This is an easy fix anyone can do- check your owner’s manual for the correct type of fuse, install it, and you’re back on the road!
7. Electrical Issues
Because scooters are electronic vehicles, they can be pretty moisture-averse. If you’ve had your scooter out in rainy weather, it can damage the internal electronics. Using your scooter on bumpy ground can also cause wires to come loose. When this happens, you’ll notice that either part or all of your scooter will stop working.
First, check any accessible wires to make sure they haven’t come loose. If that simple fix doesn’t work, it’s time to take your scooter to a technician who will be able to locate/replace problem spots in the wiring!
The Potentiometer is directly related to the throttle control; it’s what tells the scooter how fast or slow it should go. If you notice your scooter suddenly slowing down when you didn’t tell it to, your potentiometer could be failing.
When your potentiometer fails, there are few things you can do about it. Check all the fuses in the scooter, and if you can, check the fuses inside the potentiometer. If finding/replacing a broken fuse doesn’t work, you’ll have to get the part replaced!
9. Not Steering Straight
Just like a car that’s in need of alignment, your scooter can become misaligned and pull to the right or left. This can be caused by years of use, or a particularly bumpy ride.
Aligning your scooter’s wheels can be simple- you may only have to hold the front wheels still and force the turning mechanism to line up by twisting it back to the correct spot. That’s how bicycles and lawnmowers are easily (if crudely) aligned on the spot. If you have a more complicated steering system, it’ll need to be taken in for realignment.
10. Unlocked Free-Wheel Lever
Many mobility scooters have a “free wheel” lever that you can use to release the wheels from the drivetrain. That allows you to push the scooter like a wheelchair when you need to. Unlocking the free wheel lever and forgetting to lock it will fool you into thinking your scooter is broken when it isn’t!
If your scooter isn’t moving, the first thing you should do is check the free-wheel lever. It’s the simplest fix: just disengage it, and you’ll be moving!
Mobility Scooter | Freewheel Mode | Forbes Rentals
Troubleshooting Your Mobility Scooter by CareCo
Conclusion: How to Fix a Mobility Scooter
Mobility scooters are a perfect daily aid for many seniors, even though they do experience the occasional breakdown. If you’ve found the right fix for your scooter, we’re glad we could help! If you have any more questions, or scooter fixing tips for other readers, please share them in the comments section below!