A couple of wheelchairs are lined up
In this wheelchair buying guide, you'll find out what to look out for or consider when buying a wheelchair to suit your mobility needs.

The Wheelchair Buying Guide

There are many different types of wheelchairs available in the market. Although used wheelchairs are cheaper to purchase, brand new wheelchairs have the unparalleled advantage of being customized to accommodate your physical characteristics and individual needs.

Since they can be a big investment, it is important to determine which features are suitable for your needs. In addition to shopping around for the best deals, you should also research whether or not you qualify for government subsidies.

Another money saving tip is to purchase the wheelchair directly from the manufacturer rather than through a retailer. Since you are dealing directly with the manufacturer, different discounts will commonly be offered. The following factors should also be considered before purchasing a new wheelchair.

Frequency of Use

One of the most basic factors that should be considered is how often you will use the wheelchair and the length of time you will rely on it as a mobility aid. If you require a wheelchair for short-term rehabilitation, then adding little to no customizable features will help you keep your costs low.

However, if you require a wheelchair for longer-term mobility, there are different options to make your experience more comfortable such as foam padded cushions to prevent pressure sores. Removable footrests are also available and are usually recommended for individuals who will be spending long periods of time in their wheelchair on a daily basis.

Different Style Options Designed to Meet Your Needs

Before purchasing a wheelchair, you should also consider what type is best suited for your needs. Automatic wheelchairs have become a popular substitute for manual wheelchairs because they require less work to get around without requiring any assistance. They are also preferred by individuals who tend to spend a greater amount of time outdoors since they are easier to maneuver up hills.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that they are more expensive. In addition to higher purchase costs, they are also more expensive to maintain and repair since they are operated by an electric motor. In addition to being more cost-effective, manual wheelchairs are also lighter in weight, which makes them easier to manage on wheelchair lifts.

Choosing Appropriate Wheels

The wheels are a very important feature and there are many different types to choose from. Wheels that contain carbon fiber spokes are a convenient choice because they are significantly lighter. However, they are often considered a luxury since they are a more expensive option.

Since tires are an important feature on wheelchairs, you should take some time to consider the different types available before making a purchase. As a general rule, indoor wheelchairs function well with skinny, lightly treaded tires since they are easier to maneuver around corners. However, outdoor wheelchairs generally require wider tires with treading in order to provide better traction.

Pneumatic tires are popular because they offer a great deal of comfort for outdoor wheelchairs due to how well they are able to absorb shocks. However, they are not suitable for individuals who travel on unpaved roads since they are easily punctured.

Buying a New Wheelchair Guide

Purchasing a used wheelchair is an economical option, but worn seats and damaged hardware may create an uncomfortable feeling for the user. Buying a brand new wheelchair is an investment in a loved one's health. Consider several factors before deciding on a model. Your insurance may pay for the bulk of the cost.


Two main wheelchair types are common in the healthcare industry. Transport wheelchairs have four matching wheel sizes and may not fold easily. These wheelchairs work well for people who are being pushed on short trips. In contrast, large rear wheel models are typical for everyday use. The large wheels allow the user to push themselves across the ground without a companion. These wheelchairs fold quickly and easily into a basic vehicle trunk for trips outside the home.

Chair Dimensions

When you buy a wheelchair, you need it to fit in a car trunk or handicap-accessible van. Bring your measuring tape with you when you shop for a brand new chair. Most wheelchairs have a 20- to 21-inch height above the ground for the seat. If you have an extremely tall or short person, they may need a different seat height to be comfortable. Measure all wheelchair dimensions to ensure that you have the best chair for your loved one.

Seat Size

Because a loved one may sit in the seat for many hours, choose a seat size that provides a comfortable width. In general, seat sizes vary between 10 and 24 inches wide. Ask your loved one to sit in various seats to determine the best size for comfort.

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Arm and Leg Rests

Ask your loved one to sit in the prospective wheelchair. Place the arms and legs in the rests to see the comfort level. No chair parts should chafe or rub on the person's body. They should also be easily removable or swingaway types for easy access into and out of the chair.

Seat Thickness

Select foam, gel or air cushions for your seat. Some seats use a contouring shape to help the person's posture improve.

At the very minimum, choose a seat with a 1.5-inch width. This thickness provides enough cushioning for comfort as your loved one sits for several hours.

Ask your wheelchair company about warranty times and coverage. These chairs take a lot of abuse, but must remain durable for many years. Choosing a quality chair allows your loved one to stay mobile and safe at the same time.

Used/Rental Wheelchairs

Brand new wheelchairs can be incredibly expensive, but buying one that is used can be easier on your budget and still provide you with a machine that works. While it might seem easy to simply shop for a used wheelchair, there are many components that come into play when it concerns getting a good quality one. Used electric wheelchairs have a lot of components to them that could be malfunctioning with a used unit. There are certain things to look for when buying a used wheelchair for yourself or a loved one who needs it.

Wheelchair Size and Age

Both the size and age of the used wheelchair should be considered before purchasing the product entirely. Older wheelchairs have a tendency to become rusted and may not work the way that you want. This is why you want a newer used wheelchair that still works fine and is not too old.

Don't be afraid to ask the seller of the used wheelchair about its age and how often it was used. Look for any signs of corrosion before buying the wheelchair to ensure that it is still in decent shape. The size of the wheelchair should also be suitable for you or the person who will be using it.

Electric wheelchairs can have corrosion and malfunctions over time, so it is especially vital to try out the motor wheelchair before making the decision to purchase it. Keep in mind that minor flaws and malfunctions can easily be repaired and the repairs will probably still be cheaper than buying a new wheelchair.

However, there are certain issues that can become quite pricey, like an electric wheelchair that has a motor that is no longer working. This is just one of the things you should be looking for when you are shopping around in the used market.

Where Can I Buy a Used Wheelchair?

Purchasing a used wheelchair can be a very cost-efficient way to get the item you desperately need without the huge price tag that is often attached to it. Many people spend thousands of dollars on new wheelchairs that they have trouble affording. Be sure to look online, in local advertisements and in used medical supply stores to see if there are any used wheelchairs available to you.

By choosing a good quality used product, you will be able to feel good knowing that you have something that is going to work without breaking the bank just to have it at home.

Finding Used Wheelchair Parts

When you have a friend or family member in a wheelchair or you yourself must use a wheelchair to get about, it is best to invest in quality parts for that wheelchair. The wheelchair is your primary mode of transportation, and you want to be able to get anywhere any able-bodied person can. This means that there are some parts to consider that will make your wheelchair comfortable, mobile, and easy to use.


The cushions on a wheelchair can get a workout every day because they are usually in constant contact with the person who is using the wheelchair. Therefore, the cushions need to be of the highest quality and must also be soft enough to allow for comfort during a long day. A replacement cushion can change colors to meet your personal style, they can change materials to help with comfort and ease of use, and they may even change in size depending on how sensitive your joints are.

Other Parts to Consider Replacing

Replacing parts on a wheelchair is not something you should take lightly, but it is wise to consider customizing the wheelchair to help make it your own. When you want to change a cushion, it should be changed. However, the footrests can also be an issue if they are not holding your legs in a good resting position.

The armrests must also be comfortable so as to accommodate you resting in the chair for the majority of the day. Other parts to consider are replacement wheels in case of an accident or a sudden loss of performance in the wheels. Replacement screws, nuts, and bolts may also be needed to ensure that you can make small repairs to the chair if you need to get it working in a hurry.

Making an improvement to your wheelchair is a personal choice that can take on many forms. You don't want to simply change everything about your chair, but you can make an improvement to a couple parts of your wheelchair so that you will feel more comfortable from day to day when you are using the chair to get around.