Choosing a mobility scooter

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Mobility scooters are an increasingly popular way of getting around if you struggle with walking or you want a simpler alternative to driving. This page looks at the types of mobility scooters available, and what to consider before buying one. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at our guidance on buying a mobility scooter.

Types of mobility scooter

“Class 2”

  • This is a smaller form of mobility scooter that has a maximum speed of 4mph.
  • They’re generally good for short distances and flat environments where you can get around using just the pavement or a pedestrianised area.
  • Some can be used indoors and are particularly suited to getting around public buildings as well as outdoors, but they cannot be used on the road.
  • Some can be dismantled, so you can take it apart into several pieces to pack into your car or store away at home. The component parts can still be heavy – especially the battery – so do check it can be lifted if this is important to you.
  •  Some models can be folded up.
  • Available with three or four wheels – this will affect the stability of the scooter.

“Class 3”

  • These are the largest form of mobility scooter, designed to be usable on the road. They have a maximum speed of 8mph and have lights so that you can go out in the dark.
  • You won’t be able to use them indoors (they’re generally too big).
  • They are useful for travelling longer distances
  • They generally have large wheels for navigating rougher terrain.
  • Available with three or four wheels – this will affect the stability of the scooter.

Things to consider when choosing a mobility scooter

  • Usage – do you want to make shorter or longer journeys with your scooter? Will there be someone with you who can help you get it in and out of a car? Do you want to use it indoors? How hilly is the area where you live?
  • Size – a larger scooter can provide greater comfort and stability, but you may want a smaller scooter that you can fit into your car or your home. Generally the larger the scooter the greater the travelling range and the more robust it will be on rough terrain. Do you wish to transport it in a car or van? If so this may well affect the size of scooter that you can consider.
  • Stability – a more stable scooter will be safer to use when going round corners or over uneven terrain. Class 3 scooters are generally more stable than Class 2 scooters, and you may prefer a scooter with four wheels over one with only three.
  • Comfort – scooters vary in the comfort of their seating, and generally a smaller scooter will have a more basic and less comfortable seat. The larger scooters tend to have suspension built into the seat to better absorb the discomfort of uneven surfaces.  If you need special support when seated, a scooter may not be for you. Instead, consider a powered wheelchair.
  • Controls – some controls are adapted for people with limited mobility or strength in the hands, or limited vision.
  • Storage– have you got a permanent storage room that you are able to drive it in and out of? It is likely you will need a garage or large shed to safely store a Class 3 scooter. Mains power supply is also essential to recharge the batteries. If you do not have storage in your current property separate scooter storage units are available to purchase with a mains supply and automatically opening doors but it can be a costly extra.
  • If you live in council-owned or housing association accommodation, for example, a sheltered housing scheme or similar, it is important to check whether scooter storage is available, there are frequently local arrangements for the number of scooters that can be stored often resulting in a waiting list for people wishing to purchase a scooter.

Not sure what you need?

It can be helpful to see an occupational therapist before you make a significant purchase like a mobility scooter. They can provide impartial advice on what kind of physical support you may need or what controls would be best for you as well as storage facilities. For more information on finding an occupational therapist, click here.

Ready to start looking?

Once you’ve got an idea of what you need, it’s time to research what’s out there. A good place to start is RICA’s online mobility scooter search.

Before you make a decision, it’s always a good idea to try before you buy. Here are your options:

  • Try one at home – some suppliers of mobility scooters offer a home visit so you can give a mobility scooter a test drive in your local area.
  • Visit a mobility shop – specialist mobility shops will stock a range of mobility scooters and may have the space for you to give one a test drive.
  • Visit an equipment demonstration centre or Mobility Centre – these offer impartial advice, and some offer assessments for mobility scooters so you know exactly what you need. To find your local equipment demonstration centre, click here. To find a Mobility Centre, use this search tool.

When you’re trying out a scooter, check the following:

  • Can you reach the controls? Are they comfortable and easy to grip? Are they intuitive to use? Can you press the buttons? Can you turn the scooter on and off? The controls may take some practice before you can use them easily. Can you understand and read the control panel?
  • Can you speed up and slow down? Can you navigate slopes and get on and off the kerb? Can you turn confidently?
  • Can you sit in an upright and comfortable position?
  • Is there enough leg room?
  • If the scooter is foldable – can you fold it up? Can you pick it up?
  • If the scooter can be dismantled – can you take it apart / put it back together?
  • Can you can fit it in the storage area that you are intending to use?

Finally, you might consider using a scheme such as Shopmobility to try out a scooter for a day before committing to a purchase. The Shopmobility scheme operates across the UK and allows you to book a scooter for a day to go shopping. To find your local Shopmobility scheme, click here.

Do you know what you want?

Take a look at our guidance on getting a scooter.