We explain the various features you'll come across when buying a mobility scooter to help you decide on what's most important to you.
There are three types of scooter, as defined by the DVLA.
These can be driven on pavements and in shopping areas. They should be driven no faster than 4mph.
These are 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. This can be useful if you want to take your scooter with you for a day out. You can only drive them on pavements, not roads.
These can be driven on roads as well as pavements – that's why they have a rear-view mirror as well as lights at the front and back. 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).
You don't need a driving licence to operate one but you'll need to register the scooter with the DVLA.
Typically a 12V battery that you can recharge on your mains electricity. You can buy different sizes – the larger and heavier the battery, the longer it will last. If you live in a hilly area or you are at the heavier end of the weight capacity, the battery will drain more quickly.
This is the base of the mobility scooter, usually made of metal or fibreglass. It holds the motor, battery, seat post and steering column. Wheels attach here, too. Its rear section contains the driving mechanism (motor, gearbox and axle) and in some models this is detachable.
The handlebars sit on top of the tiller and guide the scooter in the direction you want. Models either have handlebars or a delta tiller (square shape) that allows you to rest your hands and operate forward and reverse levers with your thumbs.
On some models, the seat swivels and locks and the armrests flip up to allow you to get on and off the mobility scooter more easily. You may also be able to detach the armrests for easier transportation, as well as adjust their width to maximise comfort and enable storage in tight spaces.
This is the vertical column at the front of the scooter that sits above its front wheels and guides steering. It houses the control box at the top. Some models have flexible tillers, so you can adjust their height and position when getting on and off, as well as for driving.
Small scooters tend to have solid rubber tyres that are puncture-proof, whereas larger models have pneumatic tyres (ie tyres filled with pressurised air). The latter are more comfortable but need to be checked/inflated regularly.
Scooters have three to five wheels. Four-wheeled models are popular because they feel stable, but three-wheelers are narrower and enable you to get around tight corners more easily. Five-wheeled scooters offer the best of both worlds: you get stability but the fifth wheel at the front allows you to turn in a tight space.
The battery indicator allows you to judge how much battery power you have left and gauge how much distance your scooter will travel (but watch out – it's not particularly accurate in some models).
The stopping mechanism on a scooter is permanently on until you push the wig-wag to drive the scooter. As soon as you let go of the wig-wag, the brakes are applied and the scooter comes to a stop. Some larger scooters have traditional brakes.
This sits on the top of the tiller, usually on the handlebars. It has a speed dial, forward/reverse directions and battery-level indicator, as well as the ignition and horn.
You’ll need to insert and turn a key to switch the scooter on. Some models have no ignition, just an on/off switch. This makes them easier to steal so if you don't have a secure place to store your scooter, go for one with an ignition.
This allows you to control your speed from slow to the model’s top speed. In some models the range is illustrated by a tortoise for the slowest speed setting and a hare for the fastest. Some allow you to limit the speed to 4mph.
The lever you press with your thumb to make the scooter go forwards or backwards. Depending on your thumb control, you can control the speed by applying gentler or firmer pressure.
This mode allows you to disengage the drive mechanism and pull the scooter along like a wheelie suitcase – useful if you want to position it into a tight space after use. You’ll need to switch it back to drive mode when you’re ready to use it again.
Can act as a warning alarm. It will often, though not always, sound automatically when you're reversing.
If you opt for a Class 3 scooter it will include extra elements, such as rear-view mirrors, and front and back lights for driving on the road. Some Class 2 scooters also have lights.
Of all the accessories available for mobility scooters, the UK weather dictates that the most essential is probably protection from rain, wind and cold.
A scooter cape that covers your body (and sometimes the scooter, too) with a hole for your head can be bought for less than £50. This is probably the safest way to protect yourself from bad weather as it allows you to maintain full visibility.
Transparent covers/hoods that fit over the entire scooter, including your head, are also available but are not advisable because they reduce visibility and could lead to accidents.
Other useful accessories include plastic covers for the scooter controls, scooter bags that attach to the back of the seat, walking stick holders and waterproof seat covers.