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5 things to consider when buying a mobility scooter

Updated: May 2, 2023

So, you’re looking to buy a mobility scooter, but you’re not sure what type of machine you need? Well, this blog post is for you. We know that mobility scooters are a significant investment, and whilst they restore freedom, it is important that the correct type of scooter is selected.


We shall explore the considerations when buying these wonderful chariots of freedom.


1. What will be your main use of a scooter?

It seems like an odd question, because surely, the answer is, ‘ride it’. Well, there’s much more to it than that. Will you be riding it daily to go into town? Do you need it to be able to handle some minor off road trails to walk the dog? Do you need it to fold up to go in the boot of a car for those days out?


These questions will make a huge difference to the type of scooter you should buy. Generally, there are three main categories of scooters. There are others, but the main three are:



Travel and folding scooters

These are predominantly designed as a machine that will fit in the boot of a car. Deciding which one is right for you can sometime does require a bit of thought though.


Scooters that fold are ideal for those people that might want to take their scooter on coach holidays, buses, cruises or even on aircraft (as well as the boot of a car). They work well because they fold to the size of a large suitcase and can be lifted in one piece. The upside of this is that there is no need to dismantle the machine. The mechanism can be either mechanical, or electronic for even more ease.


However, there is a small consideration that should be made when thinking about folding scooters. The weight is all in one piece. That does mean that some people may find lifting one of these a bit too difficult. We would urge anyone that is looking at one of these to physically try lifting one before buying one.


To combat the weight, travel scooters dismantle into pieces. Typically, the pieces would be the front section, the back axle, the seat, the battery and the basket. Because the weight is divided, it does make it more manageable. However, you may find that some airlines, coach operators, buses and train services may have restrictions on this type of scooter.


Whilst travel and folding scooters are ideal for those days out, they are usually limited in a couple of ways. Because they are designed to be light, their motors and batteries are small. This means that their range is limited and they aren’t suitable for tackling steep gradients or off-pavement terrain.



Pavement scooters

Pavement scooters are for more everyday use. Fancy a trip to the supermarket? These machines will get you there, around it and back. They are more solidly built than transportable machines and because of this, they are usually more comfortable than the transportable machines.


Historically, they were more basic than the larger 8mph machines. However, some pavement scooters now have suspension, lights and captain’s seats.


Where they are limited, is their speed. These machines will do a maximum of 4mph. That’s why they can only travel on pavements. They fall under the category of ‘Class 2’ vehicles, which is what some companies shall refer to them as when selling them. If you’re wanting to deal with off-road terrain, or go on the road, then we advise looking at something in the next category.



6-8mph scooters

If you’re wanting to travel from village to village, go down some light tracks, or travel on the road, then you need a ‘Class 3’ vehicle. These are road legal machines that are capable of 6 / 8mph. New road-legal machines should be registered with the DVLA. Reputable dealers will do this for you.


Whilst they are registered with the DVLA, there is no need to hold a license to ride these vehicles and there is no requirement to pay road tax.


2. Where will the scooter be stored?

One of the most important considerations when buying a scooter is where it will be stored. Usually we say that dry, sheltered areas with an electricity supply available. This could be a garage or shed. Optimal areas are those that are also warm, so storing it in a house is also a good option.


Often, people will think about leaving their scooters outside under a cover. Whilst the covers are good for the short term, or for gentle rain showers, we do not recommend them as a long-term solution. This is because the covers are very thin and offer little insulation to the scooter. Also, because it is a single layer, it can have the ‘tent’ effect. This is where condensation can accumulate on the underside of the cover and then transfer straight onto the scooter.


If you’re storing it inside or in a garage, you have to also consider obstacles. The width of the door can make a significant difference in which scooters might be suitable for you. As well as this, sharp turns within corridors, or down alleyways can also restrict your selections. So consider all of this before purchasing your machine.


3. Ongoing cost

Once you’ve purchased your scooter, you have to consider any ongoing costs that might be associated with mobility scooters. Often people don’t factor in insurance, or servicing. Now neither of these are a legal requirement, but they both help protect your investment over time. There are also wearing parts that have to be considered.


Mobility scooter insurance leaflets from Mark Bates Ltd.

Insurance

There are a few insurance companies out there that can cover mobility scooters. We are not going to get into which insurance company is best, but we would warn you to look at what your insurance covers.


Some companies only cover the machine itself, whilst others may cover liability, personal items and even medical / dental bills in the event of an incident. So it’s worth reading the fine print.

Most insurance policies for mobility scooters are a fixed price and will typically cost between £50 and £150 for the year. Because there is a variation in what the policies can offer, it’s sometimes difficult to decide which one is most suitable. So, take your time consider what you’d like to be covered and then look at the different insurance companies.



Mobility scooter on MLV Mobility's workbench

Servicing

Depending on how heavily you’re using your machine, typically we’d recommend having your scooter serviced once a year. Again, this isn’t a legal requirement, however some extended warranties, or insurance policies require an annual service to remain valid.


Most reputable mobility companies will offer a service for somewhere between £60 and £150. Again, different companies will offer a variation of what is covered, but most will at least supply a checklist of what has been checked.


Rascal Vista DX wheel with grass in the background

Wearing parts

In addition to servicing, there are certain parts that wear. This won’t necessarily happen quickly, but you should consider them. Any part of the scooter can wear, the same as any vehicle. However, the batteries are one expense that can creep up on you.


Historically, mobility scooters have used 12v AGM batteries which are sealed lead acid units. Scooters usually have two of these which gives the scooter 24v to operate. Depending on the size of scooter and it’s use, depends on how many Amp Hours (Ah) your batteries will have. The Ah is what gives your scooter it’s range. A general rule of thumb, is the larger the scooter, the larger the Ah. The larger the Ah, the greater the price for a battery. Batteries can start from around £60 per pair, but can go right up to £500+ per pair.


With technology moving forward, we are also seeing the introduction of 24v lithium batteries. These offer a lighter and more efficient alternative to AGM batteries. They still are measured in Ah, however, as with all new technology, they are significantly more expensive than their AGM counterparts.


Tyres are another wearing part. Depending on the type of tyre / wheel combination you have, these can also become quite pricey items. Without going too in depth about wheels and tyres, they generally come in three varieties: pneumatic, ‘foam infilled’ solids and moulded solids. More often than not, the price follows the same order with pneumatic tyres being the cheapest.


4. How far do you need to travel?

A big part of deciding which scooter is correct, is its maximum range. You have to question how far you will realistically need to travel on a charge. It isn’t unusual for some people to underestimate, or overestimate how far they need to travel. Underestimate and you could be caught stuck away from home. Overestimate and you could be paying significantly more than is necessary on batteries.


Man riding Kymco Agility next to lake


5. New or Pre-owned?

This is a question that we get asked a lot. There are pros and cons to both of these, but let us talk you through the main factors.


New scooters come with peace of mind that there is a manufacturers warranty and that there should be no issues with the machine. They often come directly from a supplier and depending where you buy it from, it could arrive all ready to ride. Be aware that some online suppliers will supply you a scooter in a box. It will then be your responsibility to build it up. If you want it to arrive built, check that this is included, or prepare to pay extra (we only provide built up scooters, so this is factored into our prices).


Buying pre-owned can be daunting and sometimes worrying. On one hand, you can save a fortune off of a new scooter, and you may find that diamond deal. On the other, you could buy a scooter that looks good on the surface, but could cost a fortune in repairs or parts. Batteries that are close to failing are a common reason for selling scooters, and this becomes costly very quickly. So, if you’re buying privately, we urge you to be careful.


However, there are some dealers that have reputable second-hand options. If you know where to look, these will come with a multi-point check and maybe even some warranty. Our pre-owned scooters come with a full check and include the test sheets for the batteries. The capacity of the batteries will be tested by any reputable dealer. The industry standard pass rate is anything above 60% of a batteries capacity. Here at MLV Mobility, our pass rate is 85% of a batteries capacity. If they are below this, then we supply the scooter with new batteries for your peace of mind. If you’re buying a second-hand scooter, our top tip is to ask whether the batteries have been tested and at what capacity they passed.


Summary

Now these aren’t the only considerations when buying a machine, but they are some of the more important ones. If you believe you’re ready for a scooter, we urge you to write a list of questions for your dealer. That way you’re prepared for them, it will help you and them establish the correct products quickly and efficiently.

Have your questions ready? Why not book us for a telephone or online consultation, or even a home demonstration?

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