Wheelchair Maintenance 101

It’s no secret that wheelchairs are a big investment! Between the price and their importance for maintaining your mobility and independence in everyday life, you want to make sure that your wheelchair is comfortable, safe, and works for a long time. 

But, without the proper maintenance, your wheelchair can encounter a lot of issues, from broken parts, to increased risk of accidents, to even causing injuries! With all that in mind, we wanted to give you some tips and tricks to help you take care of general maintenance on your chair, letting you extend its lifetime, ensuring that it remains safe & secure for you, and making your chair more comfortable for your everyday use!

We know that working on your chair can be scary because it is such a big investment! You don’t want to make a mistake that could require a professional to step in and correct it, costing you potentially hundreds. But our tips and tricks are easy to follow and can help you take control of maintaining your chair. By following along, you can keep your chair working for you for longer!

Weekly Maintenance:

Keeping your chair in proper working order starts with regularly keeping it clean and making sure that your brakes are working properly. On a weekly basis, you should do the following:

  • Check the condition of your brakes to make sure that they are operating properly. By ensuring that your wheelchair’s brakes are in good condition, you can avoid potential accidents and injuries.
    • If you notice that your tire pressure is low and need to adjust it, make sure to also double-check your brakes after correcting the pressure issue, as your tire pressure can impact your brake’s performance.
  • Keep your wheelchair clean by using a damp cloth to wipe away dirt, residue, or other imperfections. Keeping your chair clean not only can prevent additional issues from arising but can also help you notice and take care of any additional issues with your chair, allowing you to address them before they become larger problems.
    • When cleaning your chair, keep an eye out for hair or other debris that may be trapped in your chair, and use the proper tools to remove this debris.
    • Keep in mind that you should always avoid allowing dirt & water to come in contact with the bearings in your chair’s wheels as this can cause issues with the bearings inside.

Monthly Maintenance

On a monthly basis, you should dive in a bit deeper with your maintenance, looking over your chair, making corrections where needed, and doing a deeper clean. Here are some suggestions for how to take care of your chair on a monthly basis:

  • Check your wheelchair’s tire pressure to make sure it is within the suggested range (if you don’t know your chair’s suggested pressure recommendations, check your owner’s manual). Low-pressure tires can cause a variety of problems, including requiring you to exert more energy to travel, increasing wear & tear on your tires, and impacting other aspects of your chair such as the brakes. Similarly, high pressure can also cause issues including permanently damaging your tires.
    • Always use a hand or bicycle pump to inflate your tires. Using other pumps such as an air compressor designed for automobiles runs the risk of damaging your tires.
  • Check your front tires’ alignment. Your front tires should be able to rotate freely, and if they are unable to, you may notice some issues with maneuvering due to the chair veering off course.
    • To check your tires’ alignment, get some help and have the chair placed on a flat surface without anyone sitting in the chair. Give the chair a push forward, if the chair veers left or right instead of traveling straight, you’ll need to realign your tires.
  • Check your wheelchair's adjustable parts. If you notice that any of these have shifted from your desired setting, adjust them back to your comfort level. If you notice any pieces that repeatedly or quickly fall out of the preferred setting, it may be worth looking into getting a replacement part or taking it to a repair shop for professional servicing.
  • Apply oil (we recommend silicon-based sprays) to moving & modular parts to ensure your chair continues to move smoothly. Without proper lubrication, your wheelchair can potentially lock up, become hard to maneuver, or have increased amounts of wear and tear due to friction. Make sure not to use a degreaser (such as WD40) as this will break down the grease that helps parts, such as your bearings, operate.
  • Wash your wheelchair, using only soap and water on the upholstery and mild detergent on the frame, tires, and rims - be careful to avoid getting water on your tires’ ball bearings. You may have to wash your wheelchair more frequently if your chair comes into contact with an abrasive material like salt or sand. Check out this blog for more information on how to properly clean your wheelchair. 
  • Finally, you’ll want to look over your chair for any additional issues. Here’s a list of some issues to keep an eye out for:
    • Loose or missing screws. Be sure to tighten any loose screws or bolts to keep your chair from becoming damaged, squeaking, or functioning improperly. Please note that your caster bolt should be tight but not too tight, as if tighten too much you may reduce your ability to maneuver the chair.
    • Signs of rust. If you notice rust, it could be due to your chair being stored in poor conditions. Make sure that if you are storing your chair, do so in a dry area where it will be sheltered from the weather.
    • Signs of wear and tear on the upholstery, footrests, and tires. If you do notice that any part seems to be wearing out, you’ll want to be proactive about replacing the equipment before it becomes an issue later on.
    • Sharp and jagged edges. These can not only damage other parts of the chair that they come in contact with but can also hurt you or your caretaker. If you notice a sharp edge, take your chair to your local repair shop to be taken care of by a professional.

Annual Maintenance

While there’s a lot you can do to maintain your chair on your own, at the end of the day there are some things that are better left to a professional who can keep an eye out and take care of problems that you may not notice or be equipped to correct. On an annual basis, you should take your wheelchair in to be serviced professionally. Having your chair professionally serviced on an annual basis can ensure that it will continue to operate properly and extend its lifetime.

Additional Tips

Now that we covered what you can regularly do to take care of your wheelchair and keep it in good shape, we also wanted to take this opportunity to share some additional tips that will help you maintain the well-being of your wheelchair.

  • Even if it has not been a full year since your last annual servicing with a professional, if you notice any serious damage or issues with your wheelchair, be sure to take it in. While it can be tempting to ignore issues or come up with temporary solutions, you’ll avoid potential accidents, save money and time, and prevent injuries by getting issues professionally addressed.
  • Be sure to keep your wheelchair owner manual, it can provide you with information, recommendations, and contact details that may come in handy later. Having your manual also means that if you ever have questions about how to maintain your chair you’ll have an easy to refer to source.
  • Avoid riding your wheelchair in the rain when possible. Wheelchairs are not waterproof, and water can cause serious issues for your chair. If your chair does get wet, make sure to dry it thoroughly and avoid using it while still wet. 
  • If you notice a part of your wheelchair becoming damaged or worn out, be proactive about replacing the part. Preventing that part from becoming an issue later can prevent further damage and accidents from occurring.

Every Detail Counts

Regular maintenance isn't just about preserving your wheelchair; it's about safeguarding your independence and safety. By following these tips, you not only extend your wheelchair's life but also minimize the risk of accidents and malfunctions. Avoid losing time, energy, and money to a poor maintenance plan by following our recommendations.

If you're in the market for a new wheelchair, consider our FLUX Daily Living Wheelchair Collection. With its stylish design, lightweight build, narrow frame, and maneuverability, it's a perfect fit for your everyday needs. Invest in your mobility with Troy Technologies, and experience the difference firsthand. To learn more about our chairs and how to find your perfect wheelchair, check out this blog! Remember, your wheelchair is more than just a piece of equipment—it's your key to freedom and independence. Let's keep it rolling smoothly together!