Wheelchair Maintenance Checklist
Whether you use your wheelchair intermittently or on a daily basis, regular maintenance is important to keep your equipment in good shape.
Specific parts of your chair are more vulnerable to wear and tear than others are, so will need more frequent checks. In order to help keep track of this, our team at Venhill have put together this handy maintenance checklist for you, running through everything from weekly tasks to annual maintenance jobs.
How Often Should I Check My Wheelchair?
Depending on the different parts, you’ll want to check more/less often. The general rule of thumb, however, is that your wheelchair maintenance should be an ongoing process. Nobody knows your chair like you. If anything feels off (particularly loose or stiff) then something’s likely wrong with your wheelchair. There are a bunch of different parts to check, so if you’re ever unsure or don’t feel confident, then it’s worth contacting a professional wheelchair service or supplier for support.
Wheelchair Parts Checklist
Now we’ll run through some of the key elements to check on your wheelchair. Many of these parts are relatively easy to maintain, but others can be a little more complex/inaccessible depending on the chair.
Perhaps the most important part on your wheelchair, we recommend a weekly brake check. However, you’ll likely pick up on any abnormalities in the brakes through your general usage. If your wheelchair feels slow to stop, or the brakes are stiff to apply, then it could mean that they’re ready to be changed. Do remember that your chair’s braking efficiency will be impacted by things like low tyre pressure or wet tyres, so make sure that you’re checking your brakes with pumped up tyres and in dry conditions.
Your brake levers are an important part of your wheelchair’s mechanism. The lever shouldn’t wobble about excessively, and should remain in place when it’s in use. If your lever is loose at all, then it might require a simple tightening of the bolt. If it’s still not functioning correctly after this, then you should look to replace it by talking to a parts specialist.
Ensuring that your front wheels’ fit and functionality are correct is key. Wheelchairs with malfunctioning front wheels might drift to the left or right, or might struggle to turn properly.
Both wheels should touch the ground comfortably and rotate easily. Take the time to adjust the play and angle of each wheel so that they’re flush with the floor. Front wheels can be damaged relatively easily by rough terrain, so if you’ve been somewhere with a particularly hard & bumpy surface, make sure to double check your front wheels afterwards to check they’ve not been knocked off centre.
Maintaining an appropriate tyre pressure is necessary to keep your wheelchair functioning properly.
Too high a tyre pressure and your tyres will be prone to burst, too low a pressure and it’ll require a great deal of effort from the user to propel the wheelchair. Most tyres will print the ideal tyre pressure on the tyre itself. Have a look for this if you’re ever adjusting your tyre pressure, and try to keep your pressure consistent.
Wheelchair inner tubes are quite similar to bicycle inner tubes. Before fitting new tubes, you’ll want to make sure that both the inner tyre and wheel rim are clean of any residue, then check that it’s fully flush inside of the wheel rim once fitted. You might need to double check your pressure, as inner tubes can impact this depending on their size.
If your footrests are loose, they might need a simple realignment. Do this by loosening the appropriate bolts, adjusting the alignment and then retighten the bolt. If the footrest is bent in any way, then it’s time to fit a new one.
The upholstery on your backrest and cushion is crucial to prevent soreness and to keep you comfortable while using your wheelchair. Take the time to inspect your upholstery for wear and tear, especially around rivets or screws that could cause issues. Damaged upholstery can cause deformities if left unchecked for a long time, so checking this monthly is recommended.
It’s not unusual for wheel spokes to become loose, damaged or broken through regular use. When checking your spokes, you’ll want to check that they’re all carrying similar tension. One loose spoke means that the other spokes need to pick up the slack, making the wheel begin to wobble. Check the tension by gently squeezing two spokes together. A well-tensioned spoke won’t give too much when squeezed. Perform this check monthly.
Wheel bearings will wear through regular use, so it’s quite normal for things to go wrong here. A malfunctioning wheel bearing will make a distinct knocking sound and/or a sharp squeaking noise. Check this monthly by lifting the wheelchair onto one wheel and give each wheel a good spin. They should spin relatively freely and come to an even stop. If the wheel comes to a rapid stop, then the bolt holding the bearing could be too tight. If the wheel starts to spin backwards after finishing its rotation, then the bolt might need tightening. Any unusual noises or wobbling means you’ll probably need a new part and should get in touch with a wheelchair maintenance expert.
Keeping moving parts lubricated with a small amount of oil will help extend their lifespan and keep them functioning as intended. Lightly oil any axles and the folding mechanism, using a rag to remove any excess lubricant to avoid build-up. We recommend doing this about four times a year, wiping old lubricant away before applying a fresh spray.
Most wheelchair manufacturers recommend that you should have a full service once a year. It can be easy to skip this step, but we strongly encourage you have one to proactively avoid issues down the line.
Bespoke Wheelchair Cables & Levers with Venhill
At Venhill, we work with both individuals and manufacturers to provide bespoke supply cables and levers. Sourcing spares can often be a problem, which is why we create high-quality parts for specific usage.
If you’d like to find out more about the cables and parts we offer, or if you’ve got any questions, click here to get in touch with us today.