Things to Consider When Buying a Used Wheelchair

Written by NELOAIDS
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Used wheelchairs are an affordable option for those needing an extra mobility device or are having problems getting their insurance to cover a new one.

Knowing where to buy cheap used wheelchairs can help those with mobility issues on limited incomes and give access to much-needed equipment that would usually cost thousands of dollars. 

Still, it’s vital to be cautious and patient when looking for a good second-hand standard or electric-powered wheelchair to ensure it is safe and meets your mobility needs.

Read on for tips on how to shop for one the right way.

Don’t forget to check our review in the best wheelchairs for elderly!

Is it Safe to Buy a Used Wheelchair? (What to Consider When Shopping)

Try the Wheelchair Out Yourself

Wherever possible, insist on a test ride of the chair. Make sure you can transfer in and out of it safely even if it is only a standard wheelchair.

Check its breaks and make sure the controls are working on smart wheelchairs. If you find a travel wheelchair, see how it handles on different surfaces.

Likewise, you want to try a terrain wheelchair on as many different tracks as you can.

a man trying a used wheelchair

This is also an excellent time to:

  1. Check that the armrests and footrests are secure and comfortable,
  2. Double-check the breaks are working,
  3. Make sure the wheels are not flat or worn down and that they are durable,
  4. Ensure you have enough back support,
  5. Make sure the padding and seats are not worn or damaged,
  6. Check the controls on any smart wheelchairs are fully functional,
  7. Check how easy it is to transport and store the chair.

Make Sure the Chair Has All Its Parts

Suppose you are unfamiliar with the brand of a wheelchair or which parts it should have.

In that case, you can contact the manufacturer or a local wheelchair repair professional to check that the wheelchair for sale has all its necessary parts. You should also check in accessories for wheelchairs that might come it.

second hand manual wheelchair

Also, research the new models of the chair to compare with the used ones. Motorized wheelchair prices can come down significantly when they are pre-owned.

Check Size and Dimensions

One of the reasons it is essential to see the second-hand wheelchair before buying is to make sure it fits you and your needs.

A chair that is too small can cut off circulation, while a chair that is too big makes you vulnerable to slipping or falling out.

You should also be familiar with the different types of wheelchairs to know whether you need a rigid, all-terrain, or travel wheelchair. 

Chairs also have weight limits, so it’s crucial to make sure the wheelchair on offer is sturdy enough for your frame.

Related: What’s an Average Wheelchair Width?

Check the Battery and Wires

If you are looking for a used wheelchair that is battery operated, try to establish how old the battery is and how long it holds its charge.

You don’t want to be stranded unexpectedly. If the battery is more than eighteen months old, the distance it can take you will be limited, and it should be replaced.

Try to find sealed, lead-acid batteries, where possible. Thoroughly inspect the battery box for any corrosion and make sure there are no faults in the wiring.

Related: Best Electric Wheelchair Batteries

The Age of the Used Wheelchair

Keep in mind that a used wheelchair that is eight or ten years old may need more parts replaced.

This is particularly true for an electric wheelchair, but an old manual one might also be losing its functionality. 

What’s more, these parts might not be readily available anymore. An older model will also need to be replaced sooner, so try for a newer, gently-used wheelchair. 

different types of used wheelchair

Where to Find Used Wheelchairs for Sale In Your Area

There are various places in the vicinity where you can look for used wheelchairs of all types including:

  • Manual Wheelchairs
  • Bathroom Wheelchairs
  • Electric-powered wheelchairs
  • Rigid wheelchairs

Finding a used wheelchair in your area has the benefit of seeing the chair in person and perhaps trying it out.

Remember, don’t be afraid to negotiate or afraid to say no. Never feel pressured into buying a chair, and take time to research it before making a commitment.

In your local area, you can look for second-hand wheelchairs at:

  • Thrift stores
  • Auction houses
  • Goodwill
  • Yard sales
  • Medical Equipment Liquidation sale
  • Classified ads in newspapers

Where to Buy a Used Wheelchair Online

When buying a used wheelchair online, be sure to look out for scams.

For instance, never transfer money for a chair advertised on Craigslist without seeing it first. Also, beware of sellers who want to organize a courier themselves. 

Preferably always go see the chair yourself. If this isn’t possible, request photos of all parts of the chair, including batteries and wheels, and study them carefully before deciding.

There are several options for buying second-hand wheelchairs online:

  1. Amazon sometimes has an “open box” option available for wheelchairs on the product page. Sometimes these are brand new chairs that have either been lightly damaged or returned. This can knock a chunk out of the original price. There are also resellers available. Even bathroom wheelchairs can be found here.
  2. American Wheelchairs has all its mobility equipment checked by staff and offers a six-month warranty on most equipment.
  3. eBay
  4. Craigslist
  5. Letgo
  6. OfferUp
  7. Facebook or other social media pages
  8. The Equipment & Services category of Carecure Online Medical Forums.
  9. Mobility Market USA.

FAQS About Used Wheelchairs

How much is a used wheelchair?

A simple manual wheelchair can be found for around $150. Pre-owned power wheelchairs can go for between $1000 and $2000, while barely used, newer motorized wheelchair prices might reach $5000.

Should I buy a used wheelchair?

A second-hand wheelchair is a more affordable way of accessing a mobility device that your insurance may not cover. It is also a great way to get an extra. However, you may need to have your wheelchair custom built to meet your individual needs, and this can sometimes be difficult to find on pre-owned markets.

What can I do with an old wheelchair?

The best thing to do with an old wheelchair is to donate it to a local hospital or Goodwill. Alternatively, you can sell it on sites like eBay, Craigslist, or specialist sites such as Mobility Market USA.

Where can I get free used wheelchairs?

Wheelchair users without insurance can get free wheelchairs through programs for seniors or the disabled, medicare, or Medicaid. They can also use foundations such as the Wheelchair Foundation or the Free Wheelchair Mission.


Finding the perfect pre-owned wheelchair to suit your needs might take a bit of research and patience. However, used wheelchairs are mostly a fraction of the cost of their new counterparts. 

You might not find something as ideal as a personally customized, new chair. Still, there are enough options available that can something functioning to suit your needs.


  • “How Long Do Wheelchair Batteries Last? (and Battery Life Tips!).” n.d. Scootaround.com. https://scootaround.com/en/how-long-do-wheelchair-batteries-last-and-battery-life-tips.
  • “Used Medical Equipment.” n.d. Www.americanwheelchairs.com. Accessed June 22, 2021. https://www.americanwheelchairs.com/used.shtml.
a navy blue manual wheelchair

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About Author

Nicole is a former CNA with a background in caring for seniors in assisted living facilities and more than a decade's worth of experience writing about healthcare issues.

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