9 Parts That Can Break On Your Electric Wheelchair & How To Fix It
Like a car, electric wheelchairs require regular maintenance and service in order to achieve top performance and baseline safety standards. They are more likely to break down than manual wheelchairs. Problems with your power chair usually regard any of the following parts:
-Cushions, Arm and Head Rests
-Base/Frame (of the Wheelchair)
Say you’ve gone through the process of getting your power chair. You’re zooming around the house, tearing up the pavement throughout the neighborhood, and just generally enjoying your freedom and independence of mobility. Suddenly, out of nowhere, some part of your chair breaks down and you’re stuck.
What do you do?
Luckily, as with everything else, Mobility Equipment Recyclers has got your back. When there are serious problems with your mobility device, one of our trained technicians can help you get moving again.
Taking care of your electric wheelchair is very important. At Mobility Equipment Recyclers, maintenance and repair service is one of the many services we provide. With regular maintenance checks, we make sure your mobility device lasts you a long time. A good rule of thumb is to have your mobility device completely serviced once a year.
To know if your electric wheelchair requires more frequent servicing, ask yourself these questions:
-How often do I use my wheelchair outdoors?
-What is the weather like where I live?
-When I do go outside, do I drive my wheelchair quite hard or more gently?
A properly working power chair can be a lifesaver for someone with limited mobility including those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Advanced Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Parkinson’s, Spinal cord injuries, and other physical disabilities. So, when a wheelchair stops working, it can negatively impact a person’s life in many important ways.
Most power chairs are used with the help of a handle or a joystick. Due to safety reasons, joystick must always work correctly, meaning repairs will be necessary throughout the lifetime of the joystick. Important signs a joystick needs repair include sluggishness and an obvious delay after pressing the lever in any direction.
Sometimes, users think their joysticks are broken because it becomes locked after they accidentally perform a sequential code such as hitting your power button twice. All joysticks have a lock mode which prevents the use of the joystick and restricting all functions of the power wheelchair. A simple search in the owner’s manual can show you how to unlock it.
There’s a bigger concern if you see the joystick light flashing or hear unfamiliar beeps, that’s your wheelchair’s way of telling you that there's something wrong. Each flashing and beeping code sequence corresponds to a different problem with your wheelchair. These are bigger concerns where your best bet is visiting our store and let our certified technicians solve your problem.
Moving into what conducts the joystick, we land on the controller or the control module. It regulates all of the necessary electronics to operate the motors and govern acceleration, deceleration, and braking.
Since this is such an important part of the electric wheelchair if damaged or broken you need to replace it immediately.
Avoiding inclement weather such as rain or snow will help ensure that the control module does not receive water damage.
The control module makes the tires move on the wheelchair but it's a problem when the tires won’t move. Like a car tire, power chair wheels will eventually lose tread, making it hard to traverse up inclines and stop when needed.
Tires on a power chair are either pneumatic (air-filled) or solid (foam-filled). If you have flat, punctured or damaged tires, we can sell and install replacements for you.
No matter what tires are on your electric wheelchair, whether solid or pneumatic, it is important to avoid cracks in the sidewalk, potholes, sharp objects, etc. If obstacles like that are unavoidable, proceed with caution.
The driving force behind the tires would be the motor. A power chair contains two motors. (A mobility scooter will have one motor.) Each motor operates a drive wheel on either side of the electric wheelchair that draws from the chair’s batteries in order to move the wheels.
When steering, if the chair starts to veer to one side or if you hear abnormal noises coming from the base of the chair, chances are your motors are becoming defective and replacements will need to be bought soon.
Replacing motors is not something that the average person should take on by themselves -- leave that work to the professionals. However, to prevent problems with your motors, it is important to clean out the connector plugs at least twice per year.
The power wheelchair simply cannot operate if the battery does not work. Like the motors, a power wheelchair uses two batteries that provide the electrical energy to operate the device.
The electric wheelchair battery life varies and is dependent on several different factors but with proper care, the battery should last for at least three years.
Until that time, problems with the batteries aren’t uncommon. It might be as simple as the charger not putting out as much voltage. Batteries typically come with at least a six month warranty, so if you experience charging issues within that time frame, it will likely be replaced at little or no cost to you.
Once your battery starts interfering with how you use your wheelchair every day, Mobility Equipment Recyclers can help you replace it.
An actuator provides movement that corrects posture and improves a user's comfort level.
Actuators control and power the electric wheelchair's seating functions. If you've ever seen an electric wheelchair tilted or the back rest reclined, this was done by the chair's different actuators.
If one of these actuators malfunctions, it prevents the users from
relieving pressure, re-positioning themselves, and transferring to other mobility devices.
Actuators are known to be one of the most expensive components of an electric wheelchair, but thankfully we provide certified pre-owned parts up to 90% off MSRP.
Cushions/Arm and Head Rests
Worn out cushions will compress over time since the normal lifespan of foam seating (cushions and rests) is about two years. When this happens, you are less comfortable and are no longer getting the full benefits of pressure relief and may be at risk for skin breakdown. To stay on top of things, check the cushions on a monthly basis to prevent discomfort, or worse, pressure sores.
However, when the wheelchair upholstery suffers extreme damage or gets worn down over time, Mobility Equipment Recyclers can rectify your situation quickly. Whether it’s recommending more suitable padding, or working to repair the upholstery of your wheelchair, we’ll make sure this doesn’t become a serious, long-lasting issue.
There are all types of cables on an electric wheelchair including but not limited to: battery cables, joystick cables, and actuator cables.
Frayed or crimped wires can have a negative effect on the performance of the wheelchair. Some problems may include power cutting out, a decreased battery life, and other electrical failures. For electric wheelchair users with swingaway joystick mounts, cable-crimping errors are very common due to the stress that the stretching of the cable causes.
Battery cables and battery terminals are subject to corrosion. If the terminals and/or cables are corroded, it can negatively effect the life and performance of the batteries. To clean the corrision, simply disconnect the battery cables and remove the hardware from the battery terminals. Pour a small amount of baking soda onto the cable connector plugs and terminals. Scrub the corrosion off the terminals with a stuff brush. When the corrosion is removed, rinse with clean water. Let the battery dry completely before re-connecting.
If you are unable to accomplish this by yourself, please contact Mobility Equipment Recyclers at 401-294-4111 and set up an appointment in order to let our trained technicians inspect and fix your wiring issues.
Rust/Frame (of the wheelchair)
Between professional tune-ups, perform regular weekly maintenance checks on your electric wheelchair to ensure it stays in good working order. This will ensure your power chair’s ability to move smoothly. Check for loose parts and remove any built-up dust. Also, if you use your wheelchair outside often, make sure you wipe it down after it has been in the rain or snow so it does not rust.
Once a power chair starts to rust, it is beginning to deteriorate. Rust remediation efforts include grinding out rust spots and repainting.
If the frame of your wheelchair is rusted out beyond repair, and it is structurally defective, check to see if your chair is under a recall. Most manufacturers offer a limited lifetime replacement under the warranty.
If All Else Fails, We're Only One Call Away!
If you cannot find a way to solve the problem you’re having with your power chair, visit our store at 6802 Post Road, North Kingstown, Rhode Island where we can take care of all your needs.
We also perform in-home service calls in the event that you are unable to transport your electric wheelchair to our store. If there is an urgent matter, we also provide same-day and next-day emergency service is available upon request.
If a component of your power chair is broken and is in need of repair, please feel free to call us at 401-294-4111 or email a picture of the problem with a small description of the issue at PowerChairRecyclers@gmail.com.