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4 Wheelchair Maintenance Tips

Updated: Apr 3, 2022

Photo of a man in a workshop disassembling a wheel
John Benson does freelance wheelchair repair in Berkeley, CA – which has been his career for more than 30 years. Keep an eye out for a Wheelchair Maintenance Workshop series - coming soon to TheCIL.

1. Carry Tools It's really a good idea to carry some tools with you. A set of Alan wrenches these days are usually what the chairs are held together with. Plus a Phillips head screwdriver and adjustable wrench – that’s pretty much all you're going to need to have to grab something and tighten it up before it falls onto the sidewalk.

2. Clean Your Bearings If you find that the front wheel actually has some play side-to-side, it’s a good sign that your bearings are shot and need to be replaced. But they'll last a lot longer if you clean them out occasionally and lubricate them.

3. Use 3-In-One Oil I would recommend against WD-40. WD-40 is actually is a cleaning agent. It's a really good cleaning agent, but it doesn't mix well with the original manufacturer lubricant. It will actually wipe it away and clean it out. I use 3-In-One Oil instead.

4. Document Your Chair's History Keep track of the different parameters of your chair, like: How wide is the seat? How high off of the ground where the foot rests? Who is the last person to work on your chair? What's the name of the company? Where and when was the battery installed? That kind of information is very helpful when it comes to diagnosing what might be a problem.

“I came out to Berkeley, California when I was 19. I fell in with this group of disabled activists that had a vision of independent living, and they became my mentors. So, from the age of 19 until today - I just turned fifty-three - it's been a non-stop endeavor to try to figure out how to get people mobile by any means necessary.” - John Benson


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