Electric wheelchairs have become indispensable tools for individuals with mobility challenges, providing them with the freedom to move and engage in daily activities. Just like any other piece of complex machinery, electric wheelchairs require regular care and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the expert insights and best practices for servicing electric wheelchairs, covering key aspects such as battery care, routine maintenance, troubleshooting, and professional servicing. Whether you are a wheelchair user, a caregiver, or a healthcare professional, understanding the nuances of electric wheelchair care is crucial for enhancing the overall quality of life for individuals with mobility impairments.

Understanding and Optimising Battery Performance

Electric wheelchairs rely on rechargeable batteries as their power source, making proper battery care essential for uninterrupted mobility. Understanding the type of battery used in the wheelchair is the first step. Commonly, electric wheelchairs use sealed lead-acid (SLA) or lithium-ion batteries.

1. Charging Practices

Proper charging practices significantly impact battery lifespan. It is advisable to charge the wheelchair's batteries regularly, preferably after each use, to ensure they remain at optimal levels. Avoiding deep discharges and keeping the battery levels between 20% and 80% can contribute to prolonged battery life.

2. Storage Considerations

If the electric wheelchair is not in use for an extended period, proper storage is crucial. Ensure the batteries are fully charged before storage and keep them in a cool, dry place. Periodically check the battery charge during storage and recharge as needed to prevent deep discharge.

3. Battery Inspection

Regularly inspect the batteries for any signs of damage, corrosion, or leakage. Loose or damaged connections can affect the wheelchair's performance. Clean the battery terminals with a mixture of baking soda and water to prevent corrosion.

Key Components and Regular Checks

Routine maintenance plays a pivotal role in preserving the overall performance and safety of electric wheelchairs. Understanding the key components and conducting regular checks can help identify potential issues before they escalate.

1. Tire and Wheel Inspection

Inspect the tires and wheels regularly for wear and tear. Uneven tire pressure can affect the wheelchair's stability and manoeuvrability. Ensure the tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

2. Seating and Positioning

Check the seating and positioning components for any signs of damage or wear. Loose bolts or damaged upholstery can compromise the user's comfort and safety. Adjust the seating as needed to maintain proper posture and support.

3. Joystick and Controls

The joystick and control panel are critical components for the user interface. Regularly check for any malfunctions, loose connections, or unresponsive buttons. Clean the joystick and controls using a soft, damp cloth to prevent debris accumulation.

Identifying and Resolving Problems

Electric wheelchairs, like any mechanical device, may encounter issues over time. Understanding common problems and adopting effective troubleshooting techniques can save both time and money.

1. Power Loss or Inconsistent Speed

If the wheelchair experiences power loss or inconsistent speed, check the battery charge first. Insufficient charge can lead to reduced performance. If the batteries are charged, inspect the wiring, connections, and motor for any faults.

2. Unusual Noises

Strange noises can indicate underlying issues. Inspect the wheels, casters, and motor for foreign objects or damage. Grease moving parts regularly to minimise friction and noise. If the issue persists, seek professional assistance.

3. Joystick Calibration Issues

Calibration problems with the joystick can lead to erratic movement. Consult the wheelchair's manual for joystick calibration instructions. If calibration does not resolve the issue, contact the manufacturer or a certified technician for assistance.

The Importance of Professional Maintenance

While regular user maintenance is crucial, there are instances where professional servicing  and repairs of wheelchairs becomes necessary. Trained technicians possess the expertise to diagnose complex issues and perform intricate repairs, ensuring the wheelchair's optimal functionality.

1. Scheduled Servicing

Manufacturers often recommend scheduled servicing at specified intervals. This may include thorough inspections, component replacements, and software updates. Adhering to these recommendations can prevent potential issues and extend the wheelchair's lifespan.

2. Manufacturer-Authorised Service Centers

When seeking professional servicing, it is advisable to choose manufacturer-authorised service centres. These centres have access to genuine parts, specialised training, and up-to-date knowledge, ensuring that the wheelchair is serviced according to the manufacturer's standards.

3. DIY Limits and Safety Concerns

While user-level maintenance is encouraged, there are limits to what individuals can address on their own. Attempting complex repairs without proper knowledge can lead to further damage or safety risks. When in doubt, it is best to consult with professionals.


In conclusion, the care and maintenance of electric wheelchairs are integral aspects of ensuring the sustained mobility and well-being of users. By understanding the nuances of battery care, conducting routine maintenance checks, troubleshooting common issues, and recognizing the importance of professional servicing, individuals, caregivers, and healthcare professionals can contribute to the longevity and optimal performance of electric wheelchairs. Ultimately, this comprehensive approach to wheelchair care empowers users with the freedom to navigate their lives with confidence and independence.

By Ruby Lou May


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