Maintenance to keep your chair happy

Rolling Inspiration
By Rolling Inspiration
8 Min Read

With a little attention and love, you can add years of use to your wheelchair’s life. MARISKA MORRIS investigates the best ways to care for your chair

Wheelchairs are expensive, but incredibly essential. Fortunately, it is easy to extend your chair’s life by ensuring you service, repair and clean your wheelchair frequently. In addition, wheelchair maintenance can ensure that your chair performs at its best at all times.

A wheelchair might seem harder to push or veers off course. Unless your health has been impacted, this is most likely due to a fault on the chair – some of which can be fix with a simple service. With some maintenance, your chair will run smoother, which also removes strain on your arms, wrists and shoulders. Less injuries and a more reliable chair!

So, where do you start? Well, there are a few wheelchair maintenance tips to consider. Some of the parts will need to be checked yearly while others might need to be checked more frequently.


“Follow the user’s manual when inspecting and servicing your wheelchair.”


If you use your wheelchair on a daily basis, it is worthwhile to do a daily or weekly check of the condition on some of the important elements, such as the wheels. If you don’t require your wheelchair every day, you might consider checking it once a month.

Follow the user’s manual that comes with the wheelchair or the manufacturer’s instructions when inspecting and servicing your wheelchair. But, here are a few general things to consider:

Front castor wheels

The front wheels provide stability and assist with turning and propulsion. They should spin freely and smoothly. If this is not the case or they turn slightly right or left, the wheel alignment is most likely off. Simply adjust the angle or replace the bearings.

The forks that attach the castor wheels to the chair should also move easily from side to side without hitting the footrest. If they wiggle, consider wrenching them tighter. Be careful of fastening them too tightly as it could result in them turning difficultly.

Rear wheels

The rear wheels propel and steer the wheelchair. They should be easy to push and spin freely. If they wobble or make a noise, the ball bearings may need repairing or replacing. It is also important to check the spokes, replacing any broken spokes and tightening those that are loose.

Tyres and inner tubes

The tyres are essential to ensuring a comfortable ride. A flat tyre will make it difficult or impossible to push the wheelchair. A flat or deflated tyre can also impact the brakes. A worn tyre can cause the brakes to slip. An overinflated inner tube, however, is at risk of bursting. While you should keep your tyres fully inflated, avoid overinflating.

Keep your tyres at the recommended pressure as per the wheelchair manual. You can inflate your tyre using a bicycle pump. The tyre should be very firm to the touch.

Regularly inspect your tyres for punctures and ensure the thread isn’t worn. If there is something stuck in the tyre, like a nail, don’t remove it until you are able to replace the tyre. A patch from your local bicycle shop can offer a temporary fix, although the tyre might be prone to deflating. You can replace it or simply check the pressure more often.

Fitting a wheelchair tyre is similar to that of a bicycle. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If those aren’t available, search for the instructions for replacing a bicycle wheel online.

Braking lever

An essential element, you should check your brakes, ideally, on a weekly basis. It might not be performing correctly if you have wet tyres or the tyre pressure is incorrect. If the wheel is deflated, the brakes are likely to slip. They will also be inefficient if poorly placed or incorrectly adjusted.

Push rims

Used to propel the rear wheels, push rims are often banged against door frames or furniture. This can cause rough or jagged areas on the metal that can bruise your hands. Be sure to file away an pieces that stick out and have the potential to cut your skin.

Upholstery and footrest

Even with many relying on wheelchair cushions, the chair’s fabric sustains quite a bit of wear and tear. Fortunately, the fabric can be replaced. This can also be a good opportunity to check whether your wheelchair cushion needs replacing, and re-evaluating your seating needs.


The most integral to the structure, the frame of a chair is the most durable, but still prone to dents, cracks or rust. A visual inspection weekly can help identify any impurities.

Cracks are of a particular concern as it can cause your frame to break. Depending on its severity, cracks can be welded back together. If you live near salt water (for example the ocean) or in high humidity, you want to check for rust more frequently.

It is also important to check screw points for any loosened bolts or joints. These can easily be fastened at home.


Keeping your wheelchair clean is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you keep your chair in a good condition. You can wipe down the chair with a damn (not wet) cloth on a daily basis with a more thorough wash once a week. Use this as an opportunity to inspect your chair.

Use a mild detergent when cleaning your chair. You can use soap and water when cleaning the upholstery. Depending on the material, you can polish fabric.

Give your chair a thorough wash if you’ve been in a sandy or muddy area or in contact with salt. Make sure the wheelchair is dried well.

Applying oil on the moving parts can assist with motion and disassembling the chair. Apply oil every couple of months. The frame can also be waxed.

If you are not planning on using your chair every day, be sure to store it in a safe space, preferably away from direct sunlight and with a waterproof covering. When using it again after a long time, be sure to check the essentials – especially the tyre pressure.

If you find something more substantially wrong with your chair, or you are unsure of how to service it yourself, it is best to contact a wheelchair provider or manufacturer who can assist with servicing the chair. There is a cost involved, but for the ease of a smooth ride, it might just be worth it!

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