Common Mobility Scooter Problems and How to Fix Them

Mobility scooters are an asset for independence. According to the US Census Bureau 2017 report, 40% of adults over 65 have mobility disabilities, and the need for mobility scooters is increasing.

While scooters can improve your ability to move around, there may be some mobility scooter problems that you will need to troubleshoot to enjoy the product entirely. If you decide to get a new one afterward, don’t forget to check our post about the best mobility scooters in the market.

1. Battery Problems

Over time, constant charging and usage can cost batteries their ability to hold a charge. Most mobility scooters will alert you when a battery needs replacement, but it might miss some errors.

What to Look for:

  • Your mobility scooter isn’t capable of traveling the same distance
  • You notice sudden stopping or the power cutting unexpectedly

Unsecured connections can cause some battery problems. A loose battery pack that’s off by a smidge can make a difference. Check links to see if everything is seated correctly. If there are no visible signs, try gently pressing or holding the connections closer.

To check for battery degradation, you can test the voltage using a multimeter or voltmeter. If the voltage measurement is less than 11.8, the battery charge is less than 25%. 

Try charging your battery, and then test the voltage again. If you have a spare charger, you should also test the second charger. 

If there’s no change, you’ll need a new battery.

New batteries and chargers will be available from your mobility scooter service center and online retailers.

Tips for Improve Battery Life

  • Charge batteries regularly to prevent them from drying up and shortening their lifespan. Avoid the charging dropping below 50%.
  • Don’t overcharge. Too much voltage can damage your battery.
  • The optimal battery charge is between 50-90%.
  • Run your scooter regularly, even when not in use, to avoid overcharging.
  •  Keep batteries in a clean, dry place.

2. Motor Problems 

Without the motor, there is no movement. Mobility scooter motors are made sturdy and reliable. Your motor shouldn’t be a problem early in your scooter’s life. However, after years of use, motors can have problems.

What to Look For:

  • You experience uneven motion
  • You notice bumping or jerky movement

Flat spots are when a motor temporarily decreases to a decreased output, causing the scooter to jump forward. The uneven or jerky motion is usually a sign of a defective or degraded motor.

When the motor goes, there are two options: replace the motor or replace the scooter. Often if the motor breaks down, it’s an indication that your mobility scooter is on its last legs. It might be the first of many parts that need fixing. 

However, if it’s a new purchase with a faulty motor, you can benefit from replacing the motor. We recommend calling in a professional with expertise on how to fix a mobility scooter.

3. Tires Problems

While quite durable, mobility tires will wear out over time. Tires can affect performance and stability.

What to Look For:

  • You experience uneven movement
  • Tire sidewalls and tread pattern are worn

There are three common tire types: foam-filled, pneumatic (air), urethane (solid).

Pneumatic and foam-filled vulnerable to puncture damage. Check your mobility scooter tires for sharp objects stuck in the wheel. Even if it isn’t flat yet, a puncture means you’ve sprung a leak.

Urethane tires are solid, so there’s no danger of leaks, but they will wear. Uneven wear can cause problems with scooter movement.

Inspect your tires regularly and replace your tires when worn out. Check your warranty, as many include free replacement tires. 

Mobility scooter tire installation is similar to lawn mower tires, expanding the list of professionals you can call. You can do it yourself or ask experts at your local home and garden store.

4. Potentiometer Problems

The potentiometer, or throttle pot, controls forward and backward movement. If you notice your speed fluctuating, you might have a flaw. Exposure to moisture, resulting in rust and corrosion, is often the cause.

To confirm if your potentiometer is defective, you can use a multimeter to check the voltage. You will need to run the scooter to test the outer wires. The readings should show both negative and positive activity. 

For example, suppose the left wires and center wires register a negative measurement. In that case, the right and center should have a similar positive measure. If the readings are erratic or show zero, the potentiometer needs replacing.

If your potentiometer requires replacement, installation should be handled by a professional with electrical knowledge who knows how to fix a mobility scooter.

5. Fuse Problems

Fuses prevent potentially dangerous electricity overloads and are essential for activating your mobility scooter. You can easily replace an overloaded fuse.

You can check using your product manual to find the fuse panel on your mobility scooter. Another electricity mishap might involve your circuit breakers, located on the front side of the battery case. If a visual inspection isn’t possible, you can bring out that handy multimeter to check connectivity. 

For electrical repairs, you’ll need thorough knowledge before attempting repairs. Or, call someone with the know-how.

6. Controller or Ignition Switch Problems

The controller or ignition switch controls everything. Your controls experience regular use and are exposed to humidity and moisture, leading to corrosion.

If you’re experiencing a locked controller, it might not be because of damage. Locked controls can result from inputting too many commands sequentially; for example, double-clicking the power or holding a button too long. Your product manual will have a simple unlock solution.

Wear and tear might cause a trapped key. If a corroded key is locked in the ignition, you can use tweezers to pull it out. If you need to use your scooter before you can get a repair or spare keys, you can use needle-nose pliers to turn the stuck key. Check our guide on how to start a mobility scooter without a key to get some inspiration.

7. Armrests or Upholstery Problems

Not all mobility scooter problems are mechanical. Over time, the constant use and exposure can wear out the armrests, handles, and upholstery, impacting comfort and safety.

If you’re a skillful crafter, you might create new armrest covers or padded handles. Creating a new padded seat is trickier.

You should check your warranty in case replacement upholstery is included. If not, replacement armrests and upholstery are affordable and easy to install yourself. 

8. Unlocked Free-Wheel Lever Problems

A free-wheel lever disconnects the wheels from the electric drivetrain, allowing the scooter to be used manually, like a wheelchair. If you forget to lock the free-wheel lever, you might find yourself thinking your scooter isn’t working. 

But that also means it’s an easy fix. Disengage the free-wheel by locking the lever. Some models might have more than one lever, but both will be in a similar position at the back of your scooter.

If you’re not sure what your free-wheel lever looks like, consult your manual. It’s better to do a little light reading than have a repair service turn a lever.

Conclusion

While we hope you never encounter any of these mobility scooter problems, not everyone can be so lucky. Knowing how to fix a mobility scooter can be a big help. Still, you should also follow a few tips on preventing mobility scooter problems.

Be familiar with your mobility scooter and do routine checkups. If y identify problems early, the solution will often be more manageable and less costly.

Let us know which tips you found the most helpful. Share this article with anyone you know searching how to fix mobility scooter problems.

Tina Miao was a doctor for years and then became a government officer who was responsible for health policies. She likes to review products and has a lot of insights into senior living and health-related problems.

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