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Updated: 30 Dec 2021

Choosing the right mobility scooter

There are hundreds of different mobility scooters for sale. We help you understand what to look for so you can buy the best scooter for your personal needs.
Which?Editorial team

Discover the different types of mobility scooter and choose the right one for you. This guide explains each type, including those built for particular terrains, and the top mobility scooter considerations to bear in mind.

What is a mobility scooter?

A mobility scooter is an electric vehicle that can provide a simple and affordable way of getting out and about independently if you have mobility problems.

A typical mobility scooter looks a bit like a golf buggy, but functions more like a cross between a motorised wheelchair and a motor scooter. However, they travel much more slowly than motor scooters, with maximum speeds of 8mph for road scooters or 4mph on pavements.

Although there are different types available, all mobility scooters have bike-style steering (a ‘tiller’) to direct the wheels, large padded upright seats and simple controls. They are powered by batteries.

Who is a mobility scooter suitable for?

Mobility scooters can be ideal if you have limited mobility but still want to be able to visit friends and family nearby, do your shopping or get around town without relying on others to help you get around.

They’re suitable if you have good sitting balance, the ability to step on and off, adequate eyesight and a good memory. However, if you have problems with any of the above, or if you have a medical condition that is likely to change, this might not be the best solution for you.

A mobility scooter may not be suitable for:

  • People who have sight, hearing or perceptual awareness difficulties, as you still need these senses to drive a scooter safely.
  • Long journeys out of town due to their limited speed, and the fact that the rechargeable batteries are only able to power the scooter for a few hours at a time.
  • Use inside the home, although some small portable models do give you that option.

If you are not able-bodied enough for a scooter, you might benefit from using a motorised wheelchair. See our guide on how to choose the right wheelchair.

How to pick the right mobility scooter

A mobility scooter is a medical device as well as a lifestyle choice. It's important to pick a scooter that suits your needs, and your lifestyle - otherwise you could waste money or buy a scooter that isn't the safest or most comfortable. 

Always try before you buy. Take advice from a mobility shop or by contacting an occupational therapist (OT) before you make a final decision on what to buy.  If in any doubt you should arrange an assessment from a mobility centre or an OT. You can search for independent OTs in your area on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists website

The Driving Mobility charity can help you find mobility centres near you that offer wheelchair and scooter assessments. This will assess whether a mobility scooter is a safe and suitable option for you and which type of equipment would best suit your needs. 

If you need a local authority assessment for mobility equipment, read our advice on how to get a needs assessment. Although the local authority is unlikely to provide you with a mobility scooter, they can make recommendations about any equipment and/or adaptations you need.

What type of scooter should I buy?

There are three types of mobility scooter to choose from:

  • Class 2 scooters - These can be driven on pavements and in shopping areas. They should be driven no faster than 4mph. 
  • Boot or travel scooters - These are also class 2 scooters, and the most popular types of scooter sold in the UK. You can pack them into a car boot by folding or dismantling them. You can only drive them on pavements, not roads.
  • Class 3 scooters - These can be driven on roads as well as pavements. They are larger than Class 2 scooters and can be driven up to 8mph (although the 4mph limit still applies when you're on pavements).  

Read on for more information about each of these options.

Mobility scooters for the pavement (class 2) 

Class 2 scooters can be used to travel on pavements and in shopping areas. If you live near a high street and you can get to your destinations by avoiding roads, this could be the right choice. 

Class 2 models are smaller, lighter and often cheaper than those designed for the road. They can have three, four or, in some cases, five wheels.

Although some are capable of much faster speeds, they should be driven at a maximum of 4mph on pavements. Some models allow you to cap the speed level to this legal limit.

Boot scooters and folding scooters 

These are smaller mobility scooters that can be folded or taken apart for transporting. They are often referred to as 'boot' scooters and are suitable for use on pavements only. 

If you can drive or have access to a car and you're looking for help with short journeys, perhaps to go shopping in a town centre or for a day out with your family, a boot scooter can be a good choice.

There are two types to consider – folding and dismantling.

  • Folding scooters can be folded down into a compact shape and can then be wheeled along, like a wheelie suitcase. 
  • Dismantling scooters are made up of four or five sections (seat, battery, tiller, chassis, basket and sometimes also the rear driving unit) that have to be taken apart for travel, and put together again before they can be used. 

Is a boot scooter the right choice?

Before opting for a folding or dismantling scooter, think about the following factors.

Weight

Despite their portability, all boot scooters tend to be heavy to lift. So if you're likely to need help lifting it in and out of a car, you will need to consider buying a car hoist or arranging for someone else to do it for you. Weight is a particular issue with folding scooters, as you normally have to lift them as one piece. For some people the disadvantage of their weight can cancel out the benefits of easy folding and unfolding.

Dismantling scooters allow you to lift each component separately. However, you do need to reassemble them before use, which you may find inconvenient.

Comfort

Boot scooters are light and manoeuvrable, and can be used indoors, but their smaller, less-padded seats often mean they’re not as comfortable as larger models. They’re not as good at absorbing bumps in the road. Lighter folding scooters in particular can feel more flimsy and less secure than dismantling scooters.

Power

Boot scooters are less powerful than those that can be driven on the road, which makes them better suited to short journeys (normally of less than 10 miles). Their wheels may also struggle with shallow kerbs.

Ease of use

If you’re buying a folding travel scooter, make sure it’s easy to fold without your fingers getting caught in the frame. If it dismantles, make sure you can take it apart easily, lift its component parts and put them back together again.

You’ll also want to experiment with how you’ll get your mobility scooter into your car, either lifting it, perhaps with help, or with the aid of a ramp or hoist. It’s also important to make sure that the scooter will fit into your boot.


If you have a registered disability or another significant health or mobility issue, you may be entitled to a Blue Badge parking permit. Read our Blue Badge guide to find out more.


Mobility scooters for the road (class 3) 

Mobility scooters you can use on roads are known as class 3 vehicles. They are larger and heavier than class 2 models. You can drive them on any roads except motorways or dual carriageways. The maximum speed for a mobility scooter on a road is 8mph.

Being more powerful, with bigger batteries, means they are suited to longer journeys (up to 25 miles) and can cope better with hills. 

They have front and rear lights, indicators, hazard lights, a rear-view mirror, brakes and a horn. They tend to provide a more comfortable ride than some of the smaller scooters.

You don’t need to have a licence or pay vehicle tax for any mobility scooter, but class 3 scooters need to be registered with the DVLA. Your retailer will usually arrange this, but if you need to register a scooter or change the registration details, visit Gov.uk for more information.

Choosing a mobility scooter: top four things to consider

Before you choose a scooter, think about these key considerations.

  1. The types of journeys you plan to make
  2. Where you will store your scooter
  3. Your weight and size
  4. Your budget

Types of journeys

Before deciding on the type of mobility scooter you want, think about the sorts of journeys you're likely to make.

  • Will they be short, everyday journeys on mainly smooth terrain, such as trips to the local supermarket or to visit a nearby friend or relative? If so, a class 2 mobility scooter will probably be right for you.
  • Will you mainly be using the scooter for occasional days out, perhaps with able-bodied friends or family? If so, a class 2 boot scooter that can be easily taken apart or folded and transported by car is likely to suit you.
  • Do you want to make longer journeys, perhaps to visit a neighbouring town, or do you live in a particularly hilly area? In this case, a class 3 scooter that you can take on the road might make more sense.

Storing your mobility scooter

You’ll need to store your mobility scooter somewhere dry and secure when it’s not in use. You’ll also need to charge its batteries overnight, so ideally you’ll need somewhere covered, such as a garage or shed, with a mains plug. 

If you don’t have a suitable outside space, consider whether you have room in your hallway or living areas to accommodate it. If you need to bring the scooter inside, you’ll need to check whether you'll be able to get it in and out through doorways. You may also need a ramp over steps to allow you access. Scooters that allow you to reduce the width of armrests or fold the tiller down may be more practical. 

Portable scooters and some of the smaller models can be dismantled or folded for storage and transporting, although you're unlikely to want to do this every time you use the scooter.

Get the mobility scooter weight right

It’s important that you buy a machine that’s suitable for your weight, because if you’re too heavy for the scooter it might become unstable.

Some of the smaller and lighter models have a maximum weight capacity – around 15-20 stone (100-130kg) for portable models. 

If you buy a scooter with a recommended weight capacity that's lower than your actual weight, you will also invalidate the warranty.

Budget

Mobility scooter prices depend on the type you buy and whether you opt for a new or reconditioned model. 

You can pay as little as £500 for a new portable mobility scooter, or as much as £4,000 for a top-of-the-range Class 3 scooter for the road. There are plenty of small and medium-sized scooters available for between £650 and £2,000. 

Find more detailed information on prices and retailers in our Mobility scooters buying guide.

If the price of a suitable machine seems too expensive for your budget, you can also explore buying a second hand model or look into hiring a scooter.

Mobility scooters: pros and cons

Pros of using a mobility scooter

  • They provide you with independence if you have difficulty walking.
  • They are simple to operate, and you don’t need a driving licence to drive one.
  • They require less upper-body strength than manual wheelchairs.
  • They can be cheaper than electric wheelchairs.
  • Some scooters can fit into the boot of a car, making them easy to transport.
  • You can use scooters in most public and private spaces, depending on their size.

Cons of using a mobility scooter

  • Although cheaper than electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters can still be expensive and are not normally available on the NHS.
  • The batteries usually need to be recharged every day – especially if you live in a hilly area and use the scooter each day.
  • If you can walk unassisted, using a scooter might deter you from walking and eventually reduce your mobility even more.
  • Mobility scooters are generally ‘off-the-peg’ and lack the bespoke features of an electric wheelchair, such as engineered seats.
  • Scooters can be difficult to store, often requiring outdoor space if you can't remove the battery to charge it indoors. 
  • Many mobility scooters are designed for outdoor use, with most models not suitable for use around the home.
  • Some mobility scooters struggle with hills and kerbs.

If you're not sure whether a mobility scooter is right for you, you should get tailored advice from a registered health professional such as an occupational therapist.