Buying A Mobility Scooter: Everything You Need To Know
Mobility scooters are a great way for people with limited mobility to stay independent for longer. But with so many options available, how do you go about choosing the right one?
We spoke with Alastair Gibbs who has been selling mobility scooters for decades, and is involved with the British Healthcare Trade Association to find out everything you need to know before buying a mobility scooter. It’s a great alternative if your parent has stopped driving their car.
Nowadays, you can buy a mobility scooter in-store at a mobility shop, or online.
Whilst online might seem like the most efficient way to purchase one (especially if you’re buying for your elderly parent who lives far away), we’d recommend you going to reputable bricks and mortar mobility scooter dealers.
It’s easy to buy the wrong scooter online – without sitting on it, going for a test drive and having a proper assessment, you don’t know how well suited it is for the individual and it can be an expensive mistake to make.
But either way you decide to buy, we hope this article helps you feel more informed.
- Types Of Mobility Scooters
- Class 3 Mobility Scooter
- What To Consider When Buying A Mobility Scooter
- How Much Does A Mobility Scooter Cost?
- Do You Need A Tax Disc For A Mobility Scooter?
- Mobility Scooter Insurance
- Mobility Scooter Service
- Parking Mobility Scooters
Types Of Mobility Scooters
There are two different classes of mobility scooters.
Class 2 Mobility Scooter
A class 2 mobility scooter goes up to 4mph and is only for use on the pavement. They are lighter models with smaller wheels which work well on flat, level surfaces (so wouldn’t be good for going up and down curbs). They are unlikely to have lights and indicators but usually have a horn.
Folding mobility scooters fall under this category – as they’re smaller and designed to be easily portable, they are not robust enough to go on the road.
There’s more to consider when buying a class 2 mobility scooter than whether your parent wants to just drive on the pavement. If they have conditions such as arthritis, they may not be able to bend their legs to get into the small seat easily.
Also, class 2 mobility scooters can often have an 18-stone weight limit, so you need to assess if the actual space on the small scooter would be comfortable for someone of this weight.
Sometimes a physically bigger class 2 mobility scooter (also called a midi scooter) is the answer.
Slightly longer and bigger than the standard (but never wider, so it can still get through doors), it allows people to stretch their legs, sit in a position that doesn’t affect their joints and overall be more comfortable. A midi is still a pavement mobility scooter.
Class 3 Mobility Scooter
Moving up a level is a class 3 mobility scooter. Also known as an 8mph mobility scooter, it can drive on the road at this top speed (but it also still does the slower speed of 4mph for when your parent wants to go on the pavement).
It comes with more features – rearview mirror, suspension and bigger tyres to cope with the curbs, indicators, lights and a horn. Many also come with a padded captain’s seat for extra comfort.
They generally have a larger, detachable battery which can be brought inside to charge separately.
As it’s a road vehicle, the driver needs to comply with the highway code. They need to think of themselves as a cyclist would, taking care on the roads and staying at the side of the lane.
What To Consider When Buying A Mobility Scooter
There’s an obligation that comes with driving a mobility scooter, and that’s why it’s so important to get the right one for the person using it.
Before buying, make sure you know the answer to the points below so you can find the best mobility scooter possible, and cut down the chances of buying the wrong one.
If you buy in-store, these would be covered in an assessment (but it’s always good to think about them beforehand!).
How Will The Mobility Scooter Be Used?
It’s definitely not one size fits all when it comes to mobility scooters! Speak with your parent and understand what they want a powered scooter for.
For example, will they use it to go on short trips into town, or will they be going up lots of hills or off-road (this doesn’t need to be crazy terrain, it could just be using it on grass in the countryside, or at the beach).
Knowing what their expectations are first of all is really helpful in ensuring you match the right scooter with the right person.
How Capable Are They To Be In Control Of A Mobility Scooter?
If someone feels confident, they will be a better driver. Test drives before buying can really help people feel more in control, and also work out whether they want a sturdier or smaller vehicle.
It’s also important to understand if your parent has the capacity to use the scooter safely. Whilst there are no legal rules in place to stop someone driving a mobility scooter, ethically you need to consider if they have the cognition to learn how to use it, remember where they have parked it etc.
And health-wise, how is their eyesight and hearing?
Does The Mobility Scooter Need To Be Transported?
If so, who will be lifting it into the car? For example, if you’re buying for your parents, make sure they have the upper body strength for this.
Portable mobility scooters come in different sizes and weights, so if transporting the scooter is the major consideration then a lighter, smaller model could be more suitable. Or find out about wheelchair accessible vehicles which could be suitable for scooters too.
Mobility Scooter Storage
Getting a mobility scooter is one thing, but where is it going to be stored and charged? Mobility scooters fit through doors so can in theory be brought inside or into sheds, but think about:
- Most sheds have a six inch step at the door, which not all class 2 scooters will be able to get over easily.
- If your parent lives in a flat or sheltered housing, they may not be allowed to bring their scooter inside for fire safety.
- If the battery isn’t detachable, there needs to be a mains plug nearby to keep it fully charged.
How Much Does A Mobility Scooter Cost?
Mobility scooters are an investment and the price depends on the class and the features. Shop around, and buy from the place where you feel you not only get good value but also get good service.
Whilst the prices could be lower online, think about the reassurance and help you could get from a dealership (they can also sell secondhand mobility scooters and trade in so can be an affordable option).
Do You Need A Tax Disc For A Mobility Scooter?
Mobility scooters don’t need road tax or to display a reg plate. However, a class 3 mobility scooter should be registered with the DVLA and so have a V5.
This is especially important if you buy second hand so that if anything was to happen (e.g. it was stolen), there are the correct details on the V5 for the police to trace it back to you.
Mobility Scooter Insurance
Mobility scooters are thought of like bicycles – they too go on the road and pavement and don’t legally need insurance. However, whilst insurance for mobility scooters isn’t legally required, there’s an ethical responsibility and it’s definitely advisable.
Third party insurance gives peace of mind to your parent and you. We’d recommend Fish Insurance – they don’t shy away from taking responsibility if a claim occurs.
It’s also worth getting mobility scooter breakdown cover too. Fish Insurance also offer this and will pay for the driver to hire a taxi home and then recover the vehicle.
Mobility Scooter Service
It’s worth getting a service and safety check once a year, just like you would with a car. The elements will wear, and this way you can be reassured everything’s working well and can even prolong the life of the electric scooter.
If you buy a second hand scooter, always get a service before using it. And some mobility scooters online are imported from abroad, meaning it’s hard to get the replacement parts here. Keep this in mind as if you then go to trade in at a dealer, they may not be able to buy it off you.
Parking Mobility Scooters
Always park it somewhere safe (not in the way of pedestrians or drivers), and they can be parked on the road.
You don’t need to buy a parking ticket in a car park (the same as if you were riding a bike). Just park them on the side or adjacent to a disabled bay.
Buying a mobility scooter is a big emotional and financial decision that also comes with a responsibility. These electric vehicles are a fantastic way for your parent to stay independent but with so many options on the market, it’s important to get the right one for them.
We hope this article has helped you understand the buying process, and will speak with a local dealer to find the right one for your loved one.
Yes, class 3 mobility scooters can travel up to 8mph and so can go on the road. They also go at a slower speed (4mph) so are suitable for the pavement too. A class 2 mobility scooter can only go at 4mph so can only be driven on a pavement.
It’s not one size fits all with mobility scooters. Think about:
– How confident the driver feels
– What they want a mobility scooter for, and to be able to do e.g. will it need to be transported a lot?
– Where will the mobility scooter be stored?
By law, shops need to have disabled access and this includes allowing mobility scooters inside. Some mobility scooters are longer and bigger than other models, but the width does not change so that they can fit through standard doorways.
You’re not legally required to have insurance but third party insurance is recommended to protect both the driver, pedestrians and people on the road. We’ve got more detail on this in our article.