Wheelchairs, just like cars, have tires” that need to be replaced in order to maintain optimum efficiency of your wheelchair performance. Replacing the wheelchair wheels may sound like a daunting task, but in actuality, replacing wheelchair wheels is fairly simple.
Below you will find a series of ‘how to’ guides for replacing various wheels from your wheelchair. These step-by-step instructions are designed to give you confidence and insight needed, to tackle a wheel change on your own. Please bear in mind though, if you’re struggling, it’s better to consult a professional.
Do I need to change the front casters on my manual wheelchair?
- You do not need to change the caster if:
- The tire is flat or worn. Instead, you may just need to change the tire rather than the whole caster.
- The caster is making a screeching noise but everything looks good, you may need to change the caster bearings only.
- Your chair is not rolling straight, your caster forks may be bent, rather than a bad caster, causing a mis-alignment during mobility.
- You need to replace the caster if:
- The caster tire is worn,
- The caster wobbles when spun freely,
- The caster does not spin freely when in the chair during wheelchair propulsion.*
* There may just be a build up of dirt and hair which is preventing your casters from spinning freely. Check first to see if removing this dirt and hair alleviates the problem.
How do I replace the front caster wheels on my manual wheelchair?
It is always recommended buying official parts because there are a lot of options available for purchase, so you need to make sure you order the correct caster for your chair. Beware of off-market brands, official parts are recommended. See: ‘Wheelchair Casters: Types, Their Importance, and How to Choose the Right Pair’ for more information. Once you’ve found the correct brand of caster, you need to also examine the following:
- Look at the type of caster (two piece rim with tire versus one piece rim with tire versus one piece total).
- Look at the material of the caster (rubber, urethane, a pneumatic tire with inner tube, foam filled…)
- Pick the correct size of caster, paying attention to the size of your hub width, overall caster height, bearing inside diameter, and tire width.
How do you remove old wheelchair casters?
In order to remove the old casters, you will need to do the following:
- Find and use a properly fitting wrench and socket (or two wrenches), one on either set of the caster in order to remove the old caster.
- Loosen the bolt, remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey.”
- Remove the bolt, washer, and caster from the wheelchair. Put them somewhere safe so that you don’t lose them.
How do you install new wheelchair casters?
When you’re ready to replace your wheelchair casters and fit them back onto the chair, then you are going to want to follow these simple steps:
- Put the bolt through the fork.
- Install a washer.
- Align the new caster wheel in between the wheelchair forks and put the bolt through the caster.
- Install a washer.
- Push the bolt through the other fork.
- Add the nut and tighten.
Do I need to replace the rear-wheel drive wheels from my wheelchair?
Much like with the caster wheels beforehand, there are a number of scenarios where changing the wheel might not be entirely necessary. These examples include:
- If the tire is flat or worn, you may just need to change the tire rather than the whole wheel.
- If the wheel or hub is making a screeching noise but everything looks good, you may need to change the hub or bearings.
If your chair is not rolling straight, your wheel spokes may be bent, causing a mis-alignment during mobility.
When might you need to replace the rear-drive wheels of a wheelchair?
Sometimes there’s no option but to change the wheels on your wheelchair. In situations such as the following, those changes may be necessary:
- the wheel tire is worn,
- a spoke is loose or damaged,
- the wheel wobbles when spun freely,
- or does not spin freely when in the chair during wheelchair propulsion.
How to replace your rear wheel drive wheels on your wheelchair
As with the caster wheels, there are a number of considerations to bear in mind when seeking to replace the rear wheels of your wheelchair. These things include the following:
- Again, it is always recommended buying official parts because there are a lot of options available for purchase, so you need to make sure you order the correct wheel for your chair. Beware of off-market brands, official parts are recommended.
- Look at the type of tire (pneumatic versus rubber versus plastic – solid tires vs flat free tires).
- Next, it is recommended to look at the type of wheel from an official manufacturer (spoke versus mag).
- Finally, pick the correct size of wheel, paying attention to the size of your hub width, overall wheel height, bearing inside diameter, and tire width.
How do you remove the old rear wheel from your wheelchair?
Most modern day wheelchairs have a ‘quick-release’ function for the rear wheels on the chair. This means that you simply need to press a button in the centre of the wheel, pull, and the wheel should just pop straight off accordingly. The button that you’re pressing is the top of what’s called the Spindle, and is a piece of metal which connects the wheel with the main frame of the chair.
These spindles are interchangeable, and can be replaced if needed. Sometimes, however, your wheelchair may have rear wheels which are attached using nuts and bolts. Much like with the caster wheels, the following instructions apply:
- You will need a properly fitting wrench and socket (or two wrenches), one on either set of the wheel in order to remove the old wheel, and a flat-head screwdriver.
- Step one is to remove the center hub, usually using a flat-head screwdriver under one part of the hub will allow you to pop it right off.
- Then remove the nut and slide out the bolt and remove the old wheel. Remember, Righty Tighty Lefty Loosey!
How do you fit your new rear wheels?
If the wheels are quick-release then it will simply be a case of taking the new wheels, pushing the spindle through the centre of the wheel and then pushing that spindle into the hole which attaches the wheel to the main frame of the wheelchair.
However, if (as in the previous section) you require tools to fit the new wheel, then the following applies. You will need a properly fitting wrench and socket (or two wrenches), one on either set of the wheel.
- Put the bolt through the hole where the wheel is positioned and connected to the frame of the chair
- Replace the nut in order to screw the wheel back in place.
- Replace the wheel hub for protection of the wheel
The hardest part of changing out your wheelchair casters or wheels is choosing the one for you and your chair. Click here for Invacare’s catalog and price list to help with your selection. Remember, wheelchair maintenance is key to ensuring that it stays in the best optimal condition so you can enjoy the best of it!!Please, after replacing a wheel, always make a functional check before use.