Used Electric Wheelchair Buying Tips
Buyer beware... Ask these questions before you buy a used motorized wheelchair!
- Are both wheelchair batteries in good condition? Every electric wheelchair has two large AGM-type batteries (never accept car batteries!) - that each weigh 25 to 54 pounds. If one or both batteries are dead, you cannot test the powerchair before you buy it, so you can't be sure that it works. Used batteries should be load-tested to confirm that they can hold a full charge. Two new motorized wheelchair batteries cost $125-$450 or even more (depending on wheelchair size/weight) if you install them yourself - or twice as much if a local Pride or Invacare dealer installs them for you.
- Is there a satisfaction or repair guarantee? Ask for a guarantee that covers seat fit, unexpected noises, batteries that won't hold a charge, delivery damage, or 'chair not as advertised.' If the seller doesn't include a repair or refund guarantee for your used motorized wheelchair, ask why.
- Can you pay with a credit card? Using a credit card helps you to get 'justice' if your used electric wheelchair is never delivered, arrives with dead batteries, is 'not as advertised,' or just doesn't work. Paying by cash, check, or money order provides no protection.
- What is the physical/cosmetic condition of the powerchair? Before you travel to see a used motorized wheelchair, ask for photos that show the upholstery, tires, fenders, joystick, seat belt, headrest, footrest and leg lifts. Replacement parts and qualified repair technicians are expensive. A new joystick, for example, installed by a dealer, costs $800-$1500.
- Are special features included? Some 'rehab' chairs are advertised with as many as four special features: power tilt, power reclining seat, power leg-lifts, and power elevating seat. If the seller claims these features are included, insist on photos that prove that each of these functions actually works. Some sellers are confused by generic powerchair users' manuals that describe all four special features, even though their specific motorized wheelchair includes just one, two, or none of them.
- Will the width and depth of the used wheelchair's seat fit your unique body? Multiple seat sizes are available for each motorized wheelchair model, and one seat size does NOT fit all. If the seller cannot offer you a seat that fits you, it will cost you several hundred dollars to replace and install it - IF you can find another seat that does fit you.
- Does the wheelchair match your weight? Most electric wheelchairs have a weight capacity of 250-300 pounds. If you buy one of these but you weigh more, you may not fit the seat, the batteries will have a shorter range, and you may damage the motors and the suspension. Heavy-duty 'bariatric' powerchairs carry 300+ pounds but may require larger door openings in your home. Buy a power wheelchair that matches your weight AND fits through the doors in your home.
- Can the seller modify this motorized wheelchair to suit your needs? You may need your joystick controller moved from the left side to the right side, or a different seat-to-floor height or sitting depth, or the addition of elevating leg rests.
- Who will deliver your motorized wheelchair? Most power wheelchairs weigh 150-350 pounds. Lifting one safely into and out of a van or pickup truck is a difficult task, even for two or three strong people. And dropping a powerchair from a height of just a few inches can result in serious personal injury - plus powerchair damage that can easily cost hundreds of dollars to repair. (The powerchairs we sell are delivered by a specially-equipped truck with a hydraulic liftgate that lowers the chair to the sidewalk or driveway.)
- Will your electric wheelchair be insured during shipping? We've seen wheelchairs damaged beyond repair by even the best-known freight shipping companies. Insist that a professional packs your electric wheelchair, and that the packer directly insures 100% of your purchase cost. Shipping companies typically pay a maximum of pennies per pound for damage - as little as $25 for a 250-pound used wheelchair that may actually cost you $2000!
- Will your used power wheelchair arrive in one piece, ready to ride? If it comes in more than one box, you'll need patience, tools, and someone with good mechanical and electrical skills, to help you assemble it.
- Is there a separate charger? Wheelchair batteries need special chargers; car battery chargers can ruin them. Older electric wheelchairs included built-in battery chargers. Newer models have separate, off-board chargers. Ask!
- Will the seller provide a receipt or signed bill of sale with seller's name, address, and phone? If not, ask why. You may need it later to ask questions, request missing parts, or to prove that you own the chair.
- Will the seller include a user's manual for the specific model you buy? If not, you may never learn how to use all of its features, or how to identify and fix problems that may occur. (We highly recommend that you read the manual, before you use your power wheelchair.)
- When was the wheelchair's last service date? Ask what was checked, by whom, and when.
- Is the seller reputable? Ask for references, and check them.
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