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Manual Wheelchair Maintenance

If you rely on your wheelchair for your mobility, you realize a lot is riding on those wheels! If you’ll invest a little time and energy towards regular maintenance, your wheelchair will give you years of dependable service.

It’s important to save your owner’s manual, write your wheelchair serial number on it, and keep it handy. Make a list of maintenance items to remind yourself what needs to be done, and put together a small maintenance kit that contains the tools and supplies you’ll need to use, to save yourself time and simplify the job.

  1. Clean your chair. Wipe down all the metal parts with a clean rag dampened with a mild detergent. Do the same with the armrests, the seat and back upholstery and the footrests. It’s amazing how much dirt accumulates around the caster wheels, wheels and footrests. Keeping them clean will keep you rolling. A stiff brush will help get it out of tight places.
  2. Check for loose nuts and bolts, and retighten any loose parts. Keep an Allen wrench, an adjustable wrench and a couple of screwdrivers in your kit. It’s a lot easier to tighten a bolt than try to replace it once it’s gone missing.
  3. If your chair folds, make sure it still opens and closes easily, and apply a light lubricating oil if it doesn’t. Your owner’s manual should tell you what type to use.
  4. Check the frame for signs of any cracks, particularly along weldments. If you see any cracks don’t delay, check the owner’s manual for the frame warranty and get your chair in for repair or a frame replacement.
  5. Check your axles, wheels and casters and keep them clean. Particularly the axle housing (the wheel part right around the axle bolt) and the caster housing (The part that holds the small caster wheel on and allows it to spin). These parts really attract dirt, carpet fuzz, pet fur, you name it. When they get full of debris, they will begin to bind and not roll so easily.
  6. Make sure your tires are in good shape. If you have Pneumatic (air) tires, check your pressures and add air if needed with a tire pump. It’s a good idea to have a spare tire and tube on hand for emergencies, and a patch kit on board.
  7. Be sure to check your brakes. As tires wear and brakes are used they can loosen up and not hold securely. Your owner’s manual will show you instructions on making brake adjustments on your particular chair. 
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