Wheelchair Parts & Repair Tips

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What steps can I take to prevent having to do wheelchair repair?

Five Easy Ways To Prevent Wheelchair Repair

You can easily end up paying hundreds of dollars to repair your wheelchair. In order to avoid having to spend a large sum of money, read our guide to five easy ways to prevent wheelchair repair:

  • Make sure your wheelchair tires have an optimum level of air to assist your movement. A flat tire can wear out your battery or cause you strain when pushing your wheelchair.
  • Clean your wheelchair on a regular basis to keep the parts running smoothly and avoid rust.
  • Check to make sure the axle and axle plate on your wheelchair are tight. This will ensure the axle doesn't become damaged during movement.
  • Check the nuts and bolts to make sure they're tight and that no wheelchair parts will come loose.
  • Exercise caution when going through very steep inclines. There is a possibility that your wheelchair may flip over.

How do I know if a wheelchair repair company is qualified to fix my wheelchair?

Wheelchair Repair Certification

A wheelchair repair technician must follow the laws of his state which may require certain levels of wheelchair repair certification. Some of the larger wheelchair companies offer courses on the diagnosis, maintenance, and repair of their products. Their courses help a wheelchair repair technician troubleshoot and repair a problem with their equipment in the most efficient manner possible. The coursework also includes wheelchair repair certification. If you want to know if a wheelchair repair company is qualified, check their technicians meet the minimum requirements as required by law in your state to repair wheelchairs. Also look for any education and certification they have taken in repairing a model of wheelchair specific to the one you own.

What do I put in a wheelchair repair kit?

Be Prepared With A Wheelchair Repair Kit

Whether you're planning on traveling for an extended period of time or being away from home for a few days, it pays to be prepared. A wise idea for when you're leaving the comforts of home, is to take a wheelchair repair kit with you. A wheelchair repair kit is a simple solution you can create yourself with items around the house or an easy purchase from the local store. Pack a tire-changing kit, a screwdriver, an adjustable wrench and a pair of pliers. Those items are all you need, in case you have problems with your wheels, need to change a tire, or want to clean out your casters.

How do I get thread and other materials out of my caster axles?

Do It Yourself Wheelchair Repair

One common problem with wheelchair maintenance involves the caster axles. It's easy for materials like hair and thread to get caught in the caster axles, impeding normal movement. This is a straightforward wheelchair repair task you can likely do on your own. In order to get these fibrous materials out, you'll need to remove the caster from the fork by using two wrenches. Use one wrench to hold the axle bolt in place and use the other one to unscrew the nut. When you remove the caster, be careful to keep track of two small spacers located on either side of the caster wheel. You can use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe the caster clean. Replace the caster onto the fork when complete.

Note: If you don't feel you can handle this wheelchair repair task on your own, get the help of a friend, relative, or neighbor.


Five Easy Ways To Prevent Wheelchair Repair

Take the time to do a weekly maintenance check to ensure you avoid the need for wheelchair repair. If you don't feel you can handle simple wheelchair repair preventive maintenance yourself, you should always ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to help you.

Is there an organization that makes wheelchair repairs and donations?

United Spinal Association Makes Wheelchair Repairs and Donations

On Dec. 4, 2004, the United Spinal Association partnered with Hope Haven International Ministries to make wheelchair repairs and wheelchair donations for the Wheels For Humanity Mobility Project. Volunteers have donated their time in repair shops throughout the Iowa area to make wheelchair repairs. Volunteers have included inmates in South Dakota and men and women in Minnesota and Iowa who give up their free time. Throughout United Spinal Association's work with Hope Haven International ministries, they have repaired and made wheelchair donations for individuals and hospitals throughout the New York City area.

How do I know which of my wheelchair parts are faulty?

Common Problems Caused By Faulty Wheelchair Parts

There are some common problems wheelchair users experience that can be attributed to faulty wheelchair parts. These often affect the movement of the wheelchair itself. If you're looking to troubleshoot your wheelchair parts, these are some of the common problems.

  • If the wheelchair has a tendency to tip over backwards, your wheelchair might have broken or unused anti-tippers, an incorrectly installed seating system, or a bent frame.
  • A wheelchair that doesn't fold may indicate a bent frame.
  • If the wheel locks do not function, you may have a problem of loosened hardware, broken wheel locks, or worn tires.
  • When you have a wheelchair which is difficult to push or move, you may have flat pneumatic tires, a bent frame, or misaligned wheel axles.

Why is my wheelchair seat and/or frame wobbling?

Whole Lotta Shaking Going On

You're shaking, rattling, and rolling. It's not an earthquake, a cracked sidewalk, or an LA nightclub. The crossbraces on your folding wheelchair have come loose. The crossbrace is the center frame of the wheelchair just below the seat. In folding wheelchairs, you have twice the opportunity to shake, rattle and roll, since there are two crossbraces. If the crossbraces come loose, say if you're jostling over wooded terrain, you need to tighten them with a Phillips screwdriver.

While crossbraces are a relatively easy wheel chair replacement part to install, it's best to keep up your wheelchair repair and tighten those croosbraces. That way, when you really start shaking, you'll know it's not your chair...it's the Big One.

Can you tell me some wheelchair problems I can easily look for?

Wheelchair Problems You Can Check Yourself

When you first purchase your new wheelchair, become familiar with it so that when changes occur, you can easily spot them. For a rundown of easy wheelchair problems you can check yourself, take a look at this list.

  • If your new wheelchair goes from operating smoothly to folding with difficulty or no longer moves in a consistent straight line, you could have wheelchair problems with the frame.
  • Check the adjustable straps on your chair backs if you have them. They become loose over time and need regular adjusting.
  • If you have sling seat upholstery, it may sag over time. A sagging seat affects your posture and may damage a seat cushion by bending it. You can fix the sag on some types of sling seat upholstery by removing one side from the frame and pulling the material tight before replacing the sling seat.

Can I upgrade my wheelchair tires?

All Tire-d Out

As Michelin says, "So much is riding on your tires." This is true whether you're driving a stick-shift truck or an electric wheelchair. In fact, tires are even more vital as wheelchair parts. Tires can make your ride smoother, or they can slow an electric wheelchair until you feel like you might as well have chosen a manual. Flat tires run the motor down.

Your pneumatic tire just went flat when you bumped over a tree root in the woods. Sad to say, pneumatic wheelchair tires puncture just like other air-filled wheels. You're considering going airless during your next wheel chair repair stop. There are three types of airless tires:

• Polyurethane foam-filled (drawback: like foam cushions, could lose shape due to wear and tear)
• Semi-pneumatic with a circle of air running through the center (flats still a possibility)
• Solid (heavy molded plastic or rubber, can cost more)

Many tires also are fortified with Kevlar for durability. You want long-lasting tires. You've chosen solid Kevlar-reinforced tires—after all, this may be the most important wheel chair replacement part you'll ever buy, and worth the expense. Make sure that the tires are designed for your particular wheelchair. You can even snap on your rubber tires, American Airless manufactures snap-on tires.

Whether you choose conventional or snap-on, air-tires or airless (also called "flat-free"), test your tires in the store—you may have the best electric wheelchair part for your motor, but if your tires don't work with your wheelchair, you're stalled as surely as if you had another flat. Michelin is right. So much is riding on your tires...too bad Michelin doesn't do wheelchairs!

Do I need to replace the anti-tip devices if they've been removed?

A Tip About Anti-Tip Devices

Your used wheelchair has everything except anti-tip devices. Too bad, you think, but I got a bargain. Or when your neighbor gave your wheelchair the once-over, she removed the anti-tip devices to lighten your load. Wheel as fast as you can to your wheelchair replacement part and wheel chair repair store. No wheelchair should be without anti-tip devices. One bump and the hospital bills will wipe out the money you supposedly saved with a used wheelchair. It's never a good idea to skimp out on buying wheelchair parts that are important for safety.

If you can't find anti-tip replacement parts where you live, order online and choose rush delivery. The safety and peace of mind are worth the extra expense. After all, you don't want to lighten your load now only to have the added weight of a splint or cast later. Anything that increases your safety is a bargain, no matter the cost.

What parts can I replace on my wheelchair?

Replacing Wheelchair Parts

Like any other piece of operating equipment, you may find wheelchair parts will wear down or break. However, you can replace many of the components. Here's a guide to some of the wheelchair parts you can replace:

Wheelchair casters – The wheelchair casters positioned at the front of your chair will help provide the appropriate direction for your wheelchair. They're available in a wide range of sizes from 3” to 8”.

Rear Wheel Assemblies– The rear wheel assemblies are also important wheelchair parts. You can select a wide variety of types to suit your needs including economy and high performance type wheel assemblies.

Tires – Tires come in a variety of options, including pneumatic, urethane, and foam filled.

Wheelchair battery – For powered wheelchairs, you'll need to replace your wheelchair battery every so often. You can expect to get one to two years of use from them.

Front Riggings – Front riggings include footrests and elevating leg rests on your wheelchair. Though they're not vital to the operation of your wheelchair they are an essential part of ergonomics.

Can I upgrade my electric wheelchair motor to a gearless one?

Gearless Electric Motors

We've come a long way, baby, from the manual wheelchair with an outboard motor. The electric wheelchair part has become more powerful, and is even going gearless. Gearless? What's that? And what wheelchair parts do I need to upgrade to get one? You have a two-pole or four-pole electric wheelchair motor. A quick reference for those who don't know:

• Two-pole--for standard lightweight wheelchairs, burns out faster than four-pole
• Four-pole--meant for heavy-duty motors that handle varied terrain, doesn't conk out as quickly

All those electric motor wheelchair parts are bound to fail rubbing together all the time, even if you're rigorous about wheelchair repair and maintenance. You're considering going one step further and getting a gearless, brushless electric wheelchair motor, which has fewer mechanical parts rubbing together. The question is, can you upgrade your existing motor?

Say you drive a Pride Go-Chair or Jet 3 with two-motor design. Can you upgrade? Actually, Invacare has introduced the Gearless Brushless Motor, so your best bet for an electric wheelchair part upgrade is on an Invacare chair (ask your wheel chair repair specialist if you drive a different wheelchair brand). The Gearless Brushless Motor has gained popularity in the world of wheelchair parts. Star requesting upgrades. After all, you haven't taken no for an answer yet, and look where you are today! Yes, we've come a long way, baby, and with luck, the rest of the electric wheelchair market will catch up to us.

I have an older style Invacare wheelchair, can I get parts for it?

Tracking Down Invacare Belts

You're not ready to give up your old Invacare power wheelchair, no matter what your doctor says. You just had the tires and cushions completely redone. You've added every wheel chair replacement part and upgarde you can think of. You are ready, however, to give up on finding a belt for your Invacare wheelchair or your E & J wheelchair. You feel out of luck because you happen to love any of the following models:

• Invacare Rolls 12" Standard
• Invacare Action Arrow (before Arrows went beltless)
• Invacare Recliner
• Invacare Rolls 10" Standard

Fortunately, all is not lost. If you surf the Net to find specialty shops, you can find that elusive electric wheelchair part for wheel chair repair. Buying wheelchair parts that you want isn't impossible with the Internet. Edmond-Wheelchair.com offers drive belts for older Invacare and E & J power wheel chair models.

After all, you and your wheelchair are old friends. But you might want to listen to your doctor when she tells you to lose weight and get more exercise.

Can you tell me how to maintain my power wheelchair?

Four Power Wheelchair Maintenance Measures

If want to keep your power wheelchair running smoothly, make sure you adhere to its upkeep on a regular basis. From some ideas on power wheelchair maintenance that will prolong the life of your equipment, follow these simple measures.

  • Every month, practice good power wheelchair maintenance by checking the drive belts. Drive belts that are too tight will damage your bearings and result in expensive repair costs. Drive belts that are too loose may come off or result in ineffective power due to slippage.
  • Check the electrical connections on your power wheelchair several times a year to make sure they are grime and corrosion free. You will also want to make sure your electrical connections are firmly in place as well.
  • If you live in colder climates, you'll want to make sure salt corrosion doesn't affect your power wheelchair. Use a wire brush to remove any salt build-up on your electrical connections. Remember to remove the cable from the connection first.
  • Do a spot check every once in a while on frequently used parts. These might include footrests, adjustable backs, tilt mechanisms, and adjustable armrests.

How do I upgrade my joystick?

Joystick Junkie Upgrade

Yes, it's true—you're a joystick junkie, with your XBox or PS2. You love the feeling of power and control when you play Quake. Sadly, you feel your Jazzy joystick won't obey. If only you had an alien to shoot. But fantasy is fantasy and you're stuck with the joystick you have, whether left- or right-handed.

Ah, but as your cheat codes tell you, there's always a solution. You can choose from many joystick models. Other than the motor and batteries, the joystick is surely the most important electric wheelchair part. Your options include:

• Joystick extension handle with ball knob--check to see what brand it fits (they fit the major ones)
• Joystick extension handle, brake tip style
• Joystick extension handle, U-Bar or T-Bar style (allows for a firmer grip)
• Joystick extension handle, U-Bar or T-Bar with spring (more flexibility and responsiveness)

Try the joystick wheel chair replacement part on for size if you can, either in the store or by test-driving a friend's wheelchair.

Everyone says video games are a waste of time, but they've just taught you a lesson in ingenuity and wheel chair repair. Just don't go crashing through any walls with the power of your new joystick.

Can I repair my wheelchair on my own?

Do-It-Yourself Wheelchair Repair?

You flunked out on automotive repair and can't program your VCR/DVD player. Unless you're twelve, if you're a kid in a wheelchair or a kid with a relative in a wheelchair, you were born in a high-tech world and nothing fazes you. Now it's your turn to give your aunt or uncle some good advice.

Every kid knows that if you don't keep your skates and bikes working, you'll crash sooner or later. You don't need replacement bike parts. You just need to tighten a bolt here, a screw there, and keep your skate wheels from wobbling. The same is true with wheel chair repair. Some tips that even the technologically challenged can use:

• It costs less to maintain than to replace wheelchair parts. Check your chair weekly or several times a week.
• If you don't keep that axel and axel plate tightened, you'll have to order the dreaded wheel chair replacement part.
• Keep an exercise pump or hand tire pump around the house and carry it in your wheel chair carryalls.
• Keep backrest and seat from wobbling or shifting around.
• Clean your room and clean your wheelchair too. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away dust from the road.
• Don't let Mom or Dad be stubborn. Ask a friend or neighbor to give the wheelchair a checkup.
• Don't attempt to replace an electric wheelchair part on your own. Don't let your dad do it either.

Above all, don't let Dad or Mom feel as though you don't need their help any more. While they respect your maturity, they'll be secretly pleased when you ask them to check your algebra homework. If you're the adult in need of help or if you're lending a hand, take a cue from your children. They have that try-anything spirit. You might even feel so accomplished you can program the outgoing voicemail message on your cell phone without help.

How do I know when my wheels need to be replaced?

Pushing It with Push Rims

Your gloves are burning up faster than your face. You've been pushing for five minutes and your manual wheel chair is stalled because you're treating the wheels gingerly. Putting your hands on the push rims hurts you. It may be time for wheel chair repair.

The push rims are the ring on the rear sides of a wheelchair where you place your hands to shove your chair forward. They can be durable aluminum, they can be coated with smooth plastic, or they can even have "projections" that allow you to grab the rims more easily.

If the plastic's damaged or worn down, or if you're experiencing pain when you push, it might be time to order push rims wheelchair parts or it might be time for a wheel change. Make sure your wheels fit your wheelchair correctly. The wheel is among the easiest wheel chair replacement part to order—just make sure it fits your chair and your tires.
If you've had the wheel replaced, but your hands are still sore, a mechanic can repair and refinish the metal alloys.

You know you're hot. You just don't want to blush or sweat, not a cool free-wheeling hipster like you!

Why is the front of my wheel chair slowing down?

Casters and Wheel Chair Repair

The front of your wheelchair isn't taking the corners on a tear the way it used to, and when it does, it skids a little. Your reputation as a demon on wheels is in jeopardy now that your wheelchair is acting sluggish. If you didn't know better, you'd say the kid reading Harry Potter put a curse on you.

Relax. You don't have to deal with spell casters, just wheel chair replacement part casters. FYI, the casters are those two small wheels at the front of your wheelchair, although with six-wheel drive, you'll often find them at the rear too. If you have front wheel drive or rear wheel drive, faulty casters can cramp your style and spoil your rep.
Chances are, your casters may be flat or loose. If they're flat, it's time to get pumped, and if they're loose, it's time to tighten. Besides, wheel chair repair savvy just makes you the guy or girl in the know.

If the casters are rusted or the tire is punctured, get a wheel chair replacement part before the rumor hits the cafeteria that you've lost your edge. You upgrade your software, so upgrade your tires from air to flat-free—buying wheelchair parts is always a good idea, they need to be replaced regularly. Once you've replaced the manual or electric wheel chair part (get a teacher to help, it's less humiliating than losing your rep), you can roar into the cafeteria like you own the place. You're baaaack!

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Jolyn Wells-Moran