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:
- Controller/Control Modules
- 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 when your power wheelchair breaks down?
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.
Troubleshooting Parts Malfunctions on Your Electric Wheelchair
Most power chairs are used with the help of a handle or a joystick. For safety purposes the 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 secret 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. For the best and fastest resolution of this issue, ask one of our certified technicians to repair your joystick.
Need a replacement joystick? Shop our inventory of certified pre-owned joysticks or call 401-294-4111 for assistance finding a compatible joystick for your power wheelchair.
Moving on to what conducts message from the joystick to the various parts of your wheelchair, we land on the controller or 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). No matter what tires are on your electric wheelchair, it is important to avoid cracks in the sidewalk, potholes, sharp objects, etc. If obstacles like that are unavoidable, proceed with caution.
Are your tires flat, punctured, worn, or damaged? Buy an affordable replacement from our inventory of certified pre-owned tires or schedule a repair today.
The driving force behind the tires would be the motor. A power chair contains two motors, while a mobility scooter will have one. Each motor operates the drive wheel on that side of the electric wheelchair and draws from the chair’s batteries in order to turn 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 and contact us today for assistance finding and installing compatible motors in your power wheelchair. However, to prevent problems with your motors, it is important to clean out the connector plugs at least twice per year.
A 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.
Is your chair losing charge too quickly? Is poor battery life interfering with how you use your wheelchair every day? Mobility Equipment Recyclers can help you replace them. Contact us to request new battery installation today!
An actuator provides movement to correct posture and improves the user's comfort level by operating power seating functions. If you've ever seen an electric wheelchair tilted or the back rest reclined, this was done by one of the chair's 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 have a large inventory of certified pre-owned parts at up to 90% off MSRP! Browse our selection of actuators here or simply schedule a repair today.
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, 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. Contact us or call 401-294-4111 today to schedule repair or replacement of the cushions and/or padding on your wheelchair!
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.
Think you might have a wiring issue on your power wheelchair? Browse our selection of cables for power wheelchairs. If you need assistance, please contact Mobility Equipment Recyclers at 401-294-4111 or set up a maintenance/repair appointment so that our trained technicians can inspect and fix your wiring issues.
Base/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.
Need parts for your power chair repair?
Are DIYing your mobility repairs and looking for an alternative to expensive manufacturer parts? Mobility Equipment Recyclers has a large inventory of certified pre-owned replacement parts—the same parts sold by the manufacturer—at up to 90% off MSRP! Shop our replacement parts to find the components you need for your next power wheelchair repair.
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, 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.