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How to choose a secondhand mobility scooter

Are you looking to buy a mobility scooter for yourself, a friend or a loved one? If so, you have probably come across numerous secondhand offers either on shopping centre notice boards, in the Quokka or on gumtree. The price is right; the scooter looks good, so it should be easy right? Wrong.

Here at Bluesky Healthcare, we often hear the same story from our customers. They purchased a secondhand scooter, which they were told was "good as new" and "barely used" and withing 3-6 months of owning it they started to experience significant issues or got stuck on the scooter as its' battery needs replacing. Of course, you can get lucky and purchase a well looked after mobility scooter and had a great run with it. The problem is that you just don't know. That is why I have put together a list of what questions to ask and what to pay attention to avoid making a poor choice when purchasing a scooter second-hand.

Name and make of the mobility-scooter
Even before going to view the mobility-scooter ask over the phone what make and model is being sold. This will allow you to do your research. Make sure it has a weight capacity, battery range, features and top speed that is appropriate to your needs.

When it was last used
This will let you get an idea of what the battery condition might be like. It is possible that it is from a family member that hasn't used it for many months and that it has just been sitting in the garage or even outdoors. This should raise all the alarm bells. Batteries need to be regularly charged to be maintained. If you let it run flat for too long, it will affect the amount of charge that the battery can hold. The longer it has been unused for, the more likely it is that it will need a new battery in the near future. The exception is when the scooter has been kept on charge while not in use. This stops the battery from going flat - extending the battery life.
Note: The best way of storing a scooter is to keep it plugged in whenever it is not in use

Always find out where the mobility-scooter was purchased from originally and under what name. That way you can call the company and follow up on some details about the actual model, service & repair history of that particular scooter and you will have a place to call that will be able to maintain and fix it if need be.

The test ride
Make sure you try out the gopher and take it for an extensive test ride. Try to take a friend or family member along with you so they can give you a second opinion. During the trial pay close attention to the battery bar. This might be a small needle hovering over green, yellow and red areas or a bar with little lights; the most modern scooter might even have an LCD. The battery bar should not move during your test ride. Most gophers are designed to travel between 20km and 50km, so a 5 - 10minute test ride should not be showing up on the battery bar. If you do notice a change in the battery bar, it is an indication that the battery is not working at its full capacity and might need replacing soon (this usually costs around $650).

Make sure to ride the scooter over some potholes, grates or uneven surfaces. This will allow you to feel how well the suspension is working. You wouldn't want bumps in the road causing a sore back down the line. Riding the gopher should be an easy and relaxing experience, once you have gotten used to all the controls.

Try to listen out to any strange grinding or rattling noises, especially when doing tight turns, reversing and breaking.

Ask when / if the tyres have been replaced and have a look at them to see if they look damaged or worn.

Chances are that the person selling the scooter may not be in possession of the original users manual. Ask them if they know of any features and try them out. Most scooters these days should have the below features and functions
-light and indicators
-backlit display
-swivel seat
-Adjustable seat and armrests
- Adjustable Tiller
- Mirrors
- Adjustable Speed
- Choice between Hi and Low range

The scooter may come fitted with some accessories; this adds additional value as they are sold separately in stores. For example, to purchase and fit a canvas rear shopping bag can cost around $200. So take this into account when making your choice.

Second-hand mobility scooters can hugely range in price, just like used cars do. You can get scooters for under $500 and up to $3,500. Scooter is not like scooter, and that will come very apparent when you start doing some test rides. It is ok not to buy a mobility scooter on the spot and to go back home and think about it. I would recommend trying three to four different secondhand options before making up your mind.

There is a higher risk when purchasing a secondhand model than when buying one from a dealer. If you do choose a secondhand option, it is best practice to buy from a friend or family that you trust or to contact a dealer such as Bluesky Healthcare that also offers second-hand options that have been thoroughly serviced and repaired. If you do choose to purchase over classifieds, use the above questions to help you better determine which scooter is worth its money.


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