Should You Buy a Used Electric Scooter?
A devoted road and gravel cyclist and all-around gearhead, Josh has been riding and writing about electric scooters for the past five years. He’s generally happier on two wheels than two legs. When Josh isn’t writing or wrenching, he’s usually out on the road….
The Risks of Buying Used
Buying a used vehicle can be stressful. Inspections, test rides, trusting strangers….
When you’re buying a used electric scooter, there are more risks than you might expect, and you’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into.
Unlike cars or bikes, electric scooters don’t yet have networks of service centers and mechanics readily available around the world. Since getting a scooter repaired can sometimes mean shipping it through the mail to a service center in another city, you want to make sure you get what you pay for so you don’t end up paying double down the road.
Is it worth the lemon risk?
While we can recommend electric scooters as convenient, cost-effective means of getting around, we advise you to make some careful considerations before going used: Is the scooter safe? Is the battery in good condition? Tires? Brakes? What do you do if something goes wrong later?
We’ll explain more below and offer two of the best alternatives to buying a used scooter: leasing a brand new (or refurbished) one and finding the right sale and spending less for a budget model.
The Used Electric Scooter Checklist
The most important thing you don’t get when you buy a used electric scooter is a warranty. Although there might be some factory warranty coverage remaining when you buy used, there’s no guarantee that it will transfer over to you as the new owner.
When negotiating a deal on a used scooter, find out if there’s any remaining warranty coverage, and be sure to ask for proof of purchase if there is!
Having a receipt can go a long way toward redeeming remaining coverage. You’ll know when the warranty clock started ticking and you can get any major parts repaired/replaced if things go wrong before the warranty runs out fully.
Without warranty coverage, of course, you’ll be solely responsible for anything that goes wrong with the scooter, outside of the event you buy from someone who honors a personal return or partial reimbursement.
When buying a used electric scooter, you won’t have an odometer like a used car to tell you how many miles have been ridden on the vehicle. You’ll have to rely on a thorough, careful visual inspection to determine how much life the scooter has left.
Maybe it should go without saying, but the most important part of an electric scooter is the braking system. Without good brakes, you’re almost guaranteed to get injured.
Beyond checking whether or not the brakes stop the scooter, you should inspect them carefully for cracked parts, frayed cables, warped brake rotors, or worn out brake pads.
Scooters that use only electronic or a combination of electronic and drum brakes, such as the Unagi Model One and the Apollo Pro, respectively, require no brake maintenance and have no exposed brake parts to inspect.
Make sure the tires inflate without any issue, and look closely at the tire tread. Make sure there aren’t any worn or threadbare spots on pneumatic tires. If the scooter has solid tires, look for flat spots.
If you notice any of the above issues, the scooter will need new tires, and you’ll either have to take the cost of tires off the price, and figure out how to replace them, or look elsewhere for a safe ride.
Examine the scooter’s deck. If it has grip tape or a rubber covering, is this anti-slip surface in good shape? Look for evidence of splashes or discoloration from muddy water.
While many electric scooters are rated for bad weather, if you have the choice between two similar scooters, you’ll probably want to go with one that has stayed dry over its lifetime.
Nuts and Bolts
Some loosening of an electric scooter’s nuts and bolts over time is totally normal and can be resolved with a quick tune-up to get everything tight. But you’ll want to examine any loose fasteners you find to make sure they aren’t stripped or otherwise irrecoverable.
Look especially at the folding mechanism, stem latch, any folding handlebar parts, etc.
Nothing is more revealing than a test ride. Leave a deposit or ID with the seller and ride around at a few different speeds. (Bring a helmet!) Before exceeding 5 mph, make sure the brakes work, then find out if the scooter can hit its specified top speed.
You might want to research the model’s settings beforehand and have P-settings at hand. That way you can run through all the scooter’s parameters and make sure you like its different options.
Hitting the max speed tells you that the battery and motor controller are in good health. You might not want to try this on a scooter that goes over 25 mph since you don’t know how well the scooter has been maintained.
One thing you can do is ask the seller to fully charge the scooter before you check it out. (This will take a few hours!)
A healthy battery should show 100% charge or, if the scooter has a voltmeter, should display the maximum voltage on the charger (or within a few 10ths).
We have brands we like to ride at Rider Guide, and reasonable people can disagree about which brands are best. But the fact is that brands matter. They signal reliability, customer service, and quality control… or their opposite.
Trusted brands make products that stand up to years of use. Good brands also stand behind their products by making replacement parts and accessories available as often as they can and by educating their customers with lots of online content.
And good scooters get good reviews, simply put. As our expert reviewer, Paul, puts it, “if you can’t find a YouTube review of a scooter, it might be from a sketchy brand. If it’s only available on Amazon and you can’t find a website for the brand where you can order parts: run. away.”
Don't Forget the Charger!
And don’t buy a scooter without one.
While replacement chargers can usually be ordered from the manufacturer, you should only ever use the OEM charger for your specific scooter make and model, and sometimes getting one delivered can be more of a pain than you bargained for when you decided to buy a used electric scooter.
You should always plug the scooter in before buying it to make certain that the charger works, the charge port is undamaged, and the battery charges when the scooter is plugged in.
Transfer Ownership in the App
If the scooter has an app, you’ll want to make sure that the owner transfers ownership of the scooter over to you digitally — especially before you use any remote locking features!
Electric scooter apps are free, so you can download one for the scooter before you meet the seller.
Alternatives to Buying Used
Given all that can go wrong with a used electric scooter, you might want to take the safer option: riding a new or factory refurbished scooter that’s been professionally set up and comes with warranty coverage. Not only will this ensure that you’re covered if things go wrong, but you’ll have a lot more confidence when riding that the scooter doesn’t have hidden issues that could surface at the wrong time.
You don’t have to break the bank to buy an electric scooter, and if you think you can only afford used, think again. There are two great alternatives, subscription and buying a budget electric scooter on sale, that might even save you money over buying a used scooter.
Electric Scooter Subscription
Currently, the only company offering reliable electric scooter subscription plans around the United States is Unagi Scooters, and it just so happens that their Model One Classic and Model One Voyager are two of the most low (or no-) maintenance scooters on the market.
Subscription is a great option because it saves you so much money up front — you only need to pay a small setup fee and around $60/mo to have a new scooter shipped to you. There’s no contract and if you decide in the long term that you’d rather own, you can send the scooter back any time.
Budget Electric Scooters
Budget electric scooters have gone from disappointing in the past few years to really exciting, thanks to brands like NIU, Segway Ninebot, GOTRAX, and other manufacturers who are competing to make the best scooters at the lowest price.
These brands also compete against each other with coupons, holiday sales, and other ways to save. We recommend the best budget scooters in our recent Best Cheap Electric Scooters post, and we’ll post the best sales on our homepage.
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Some Final Thoughts on Buying Used
Ultimately, deciding whether or not to buy a used electric scooter comes down to what fits your individual needs. If you have a tight budget and looking for a reliable mode of transportation, then a used electric scooter may be a great option.
However, if you’re seeking increased safety features, a warranty for peace of mind, or the convenience of an electric scooter subscription, then you may want to invest in a new electric scooter.
Budget electric scooters are becoming more popular and widely available now, with many models boasting the same features of more expensive models.
Before making the decision to buy a used electric scooter, be sure to carefully consider your available options to ensure you’re getting the most value for your money.