Mobility scooter repair
February 24, 2014 3:26 AM   Subscribe

My friend is reliant on a mobility scooter for getting around. She has a fairly active lifestyle and as a result her scooter(s) often break down causing her serious inconvenience while waiting for them to get repaired. Could you recommend some good resources for learning how to diagnose and repair scooter faults? What are the basic skills (e.g. mechanics) that one could learn to help with the process? Bonus question: can you recommend a speedy scooter repair service in Dublin, Ireland?
posted by roolya_boolya to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
I haven't specifically repaired a scooter, but I do a lot of machine repair as a hobby and at work. Problems will be some blend of mechanical and electrical issues. Repairs probably don't require a huge tool kit, but acquiring replacement parts could be challenging; I doubt mobility scooters are made in sufficient quantities to support a market for aftermarket parts, in which case you're stuck with getting them from the original manufacturer, and if they only sell parts to their authorized service centers, you'll be stuck.

If you aren't already mechanically inclined, it could take a while to get good enough at such repairs to solve your friend's problem. Alternately, I'd look at either buying better scooters or perhaps owning two of them so at least one is functional while the other is in the shop.
posted by jon1270 at 5:04 AM on February 24, 2014

Is there the equivalent of what we here in the US call "assisted living" facilities in Ireland? If so, perhaps you could contact the management of one and ask if they have the name of a scooter repair service?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:12 AM on February 24, 2014

My friend is a mobility scooter user in Dublin. She has used both this place and this place. She didn't mention anything about repair classes or workshops in Dublin when I asked. I would guess that's the sort of thing ideal for a YouTube video series, though, so it might be worth checking if you are interested in DIY repairs.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:02 AM on February 24, 2014

The main problem with DIY on a scooter is that if you have a mobility problem bad enough to require a scooter, your physical limitations will prevent you from replacing parts.

Suggest backup scooter or manual chair. It's easier to train friends to push you around than to train friends to diagnose and fix mechanical problems.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2014

Echoing crazycanuck re backup scooter.

"If you have to have a car, you have to have two cars."

"Two is one. One is none."
posted by Bruce H. at 7:05 PM on February 24, 2014

I've driven a mobility scooter for six years now and love it. I also live in a building with nothing but old people and our scooter/power chair count is rapidly escalating. I've learned a few things:

Buy only a heavy-duty scooter - avoid the "easy to take apart for travel" type - they're flimsy and they don't hold up to outdoor use well, and, worst of all, they flip over way too easily. We've had a couple of nasty injuries here as a result.

I need to replace the batteries about once a year. I take the scooter to a store here who sells batteries of all kinds - everything from hearing aid batteries to airplane batteries. They do an electrical check of everything on the scooter and put in new batteries if needed (one time it was only a loose connection) and the charge is less than half what it would cost at a mobility scooter dealer and they do an outstanding job without trying to sell me a new model. The batteries can be either the brand-name ones for this scooter or after-market ones that cost a bit less and do the same job, as far as I can tell. The new batteries and check-up cost approximately $120 a year, which means I pay about $10 a month for the use of the scooter.

My scooter has solid tires; therefore, no flats. Another bonus and good idea.

I cover my tiller top - where the switch is and all the other touchy stuff - with a bowl cover from the dollar store when it's raining or misting; it does a fine job. If it's raining hard, I don't take the scooter out.

Shortly after I got my scooter, which I bought used through Craigslist (it was nearly new), I had my son take the seat and the shroud that covers the motor and controller and wiring off and I took a picture of the "guts" of the thing. While I was at it, I wrote down the part numbers and serial numbers of all the stuff he could find. I printed a copy of the photo on paper and marked the serial numbers on it. It's good information to have. We took it apart again recently and cleaned everything up - it was really dirty, but once cleaned, the wiring, controller and other stuff looked almost new.

I did replace the battery charger with one from Ebay and it worked just fine for about four years. I just now replaced it again with one from my favorite battery place, Toby's Electric, here in Spokane.

The good news is that my scooter (an Invacare Buzz 300) has been nothing short of outstanding for all the years I've had it. Some of the front plastic was broken off by bus drivers on the city bus with their big, heavy, connection devices, but that's small bananas compared to what it could have been. The scooter is EASY to understand, EASY to fix, and anyone can figure it out, using internet information and some common tools - and a good electrical service store.

I thank my scooter for extra years of life; had I remained in my apartment, unable to go anywhere except when I could score a ride, I'd be dead by now - or so depressed I might as well be dead.

There will be more scooters and power chairs as the baby boomers come into their older years. Please drive your cars and trucks carefully and watch for the disabled - they have little power, but lots of courage.
posted by aryma at 10:50 PM on February 25, 2014

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