Maybe you’d like to buy an electric scooter but don’t have the funds to get a brand new one. Especially that awesome scooter you really covet! What if you found a seemingly good electric scooter on Craigslist or Facebook for a much cheaper price? Should you go for it?
Honestly, unless it is incredibly cheap or you plan on doing some upgrades or repairs I would not advise you to go for the used scooter. That being said, there are still good reasons to buy used. This article will go into both so you can decide for yourself if buying a used electric scooter is the right thing. First, let’s look at how to evaluate a used scooter if you’re thinking of buying one.
Evaluating A Used Electric Scooter
If you have your heart set on a particular electric scooter that you saw in an ad and you really want to get it, there are a few things that I recommend you do. First, know the price of the electric scooter if you were to buy it new. Don’t go into a negotiation on price without having an idea of what the seller probably paid for it. That might give you some leverage in negotiations.
Always make sure that you test drive the scooter before you choose to buy it. If you’re expecting that this particular electric scooter is gentle used (especially if it says so in the ad), it should look and run like that. Don’t just ride it for a minute or two. Take it out for a 10-15 minute cruise. That will help you to identify problems that may not be evident initially. Check the brakes multiple times when going at top speed as well as a much slower speed. Do the brakes make noise? Does the scooter not brake very fast? You may not get a true sense of how well (or bad) the brakes work until you’re 10 minutes into a ride.
Further down in this article there is a discussion of the common parts of the scooter that can be trouble. Right now you just need to make sure that the electric scooter you’re looking at appears to match the one that was advertised.
If the electric scooter has a phone app that can store data such as mileage, average speed, etc, then ask to see that on the seller’s phone. If they are unwilling to show you it could indicate that the scooter has been ridden a lot more than what was claimed.
Check the underside of the deck (usually this is where the battery is stored) and look for damage. If the scooter has been ridden too roughly or on surfaces it should have, then there may be excessive scratches or even dents.
Ultimately, I highly recommend that you know something about the scooter you want to buy before you agree to purchase a used one. Know what this model of electric scooter is capable of doing and be prepared to pass on buying it if there are potential concerns. Electric scooters can have serious issues that may not be detectable at first but that can cause an injury to you later. Just look into the issues facing the electric scooter rental market and see how people are getting hurt on scooters that malfunction.
So now that we’ve discussed how to just check out a used scooter, let’s dig into the reasons why you shouldn’t/should buy one in the first place.
Reasons Why A Used Scooter Is A Bad Buy
- Poor condition
- Poor Money Investment
- Lower Quality
Used Scooters Can Be Unsafe
Unless that used scooter is owned by someone you know, you just have no idea what kind of punishment that scooter has been through in its lifetime. It could have been left out in the cold for weeks on end. It could have been left out in the rain regularly. What if it’s been ridden harshly over some bad terrain?
A good used electric scooter could be a safe buy, but you need to have it checked out prior to actually riding it. Treat it like you would a used car. Before it turns into something you’d use frequently, take it in to someone who knows what they’re doing to evaluate it. For most people that’s going to be a local electric scooter retail shop. If you don’t have one of those around, see if a local motorcycle or auto shop can take a quick look at it.
If you’re the one with the mechanical knowledge, be thorough. Drive a hard bargain. Know what you’re getting into before you even think about taking it for a ride.
Poor Condition Of The Scooter
There are so many potential things that can go wrong with an electric scooter. Let’s just start by naming the most likely culprits:
- Battery – You have no true idea how many times the battery has been charged. While it’s true that most batteries can take hundreds, if not thousands, of charges, you just don’t know if those charges were done correctly. A battery that has been sitting in the garage for months could easily have a fault battery. A charger that is going bad won’t be fully charging the battery. This could result in a premature stop to your ride. Do you want to end up on the side of a road far from home with a dead battery?
- Brakes – What kind of condition are the brakes in? Are all the brake connections clean and tight? Any indicators of excessive wear or corrosion? Do you know how to look for those things?
- Tires – Tires are easily one of the most common things to have problems on an electric scooter. Have they ever had any punctures? Have they had to be replaced or are these original tires? What is the current air pressure in the tires? Does the owner keep track of how much air pressure they need?
- Belts – Are the belts to the motor loose? Do they look worn? Have they even needed to be replaced?
- Deck – Any cracks in the deck that could indicate rough riding? Scratches or dents on the underside?
These are just a few, but the most common, problem areas in a scooter that has seen a great deal of usage. You should know what to look for to spot an electric scooter that may have issues.
Poor Money Investment
A good new scooter can be acquired for as little as $100 dollars at Walmart or Amazon. Granted, you’re limited with what you can buy for $100 and you may not want those limitations. However, if the price of a new scooter and a used one is pretty close, I’d highly recommend the new electric scooter.
When you’re buying a new scooter, you know what you’re getting: an electric scooter in pristine condition that can be returned easily if there’s the slightest issue with it. You won’t be able to do that with a used scooter.
I’d like to use an example to illustrate the financial issues that can complicate buying a used electric scooter.
Let’s say you want to purchase a used Razor E200 electric scooter for $60 on Craigslist. Right now you can get a brand new one on Amazon for $170.
You go and look at the scooter and notice that it’s quite a bit dirty. The owner says he’s had it for a year and has ridden it fairly frequently while he was in college but the scooter has been sitting in his apartment gathering dust for the past 6 months. Oh yea, and he’s lost the battery charger in the move from college.
Since the battery has been sitting uncharged for months, you’re going to need a new battery. Even if he tried charging it before you showed up and it somehow took a partial charge, that charge is temporary and won’t hold up to much use. A new replacement Razor E200 battery costs roughly $40. The battery charge will cost you another $25.
If you’re lucky, simply replacing the battery and the charger will be all you need to do. That puts you back a total of $125. However, it possibly won’t stop there. Replacing tires could cost $15 each. What if the belts are loose are damaged? What about the motor cogs? You can see how this can just eat away at your budget.
On the other hand, if that electric scooter looks fairly pristine and the owner says he never really used it after the first few months, that might be a really good deal. You can still just replace the battery and hope that the electric scooter holds up well over time.
Lower Quality Scooter
When you buy a used electric scooter you are locking yourself into yesterday’s model. Every year there are better models with faster and more efficient riding. A $200 scooter today could get you so much more in 6-12 months. If you can afford to save up a little more money and get a scooter that is a more recent model I would do it. You’re going to get so much more for your money with a newer model.
However, if you’re really limited on funds and a used electric scooter is your only option at this time, let’s start digging into why it could be a good investment.
Good Reasons To Buy Used
In spite of all the negatives I’ve been throwing at you in this article, there are some good reasons to purchase a used electric scooter. For some people, the challenges presented by an electric scooter are exciting and a chance to learn. As long as you know what you could be getting into, a used electric scooter can be a great bargain.
If you can get an electric scooter super cheap, then upgrading or fixing it won’t be such a financial burden. If you can purchase and fix up a used electric scooter for less than half of what it would cost brand new, then I’d say you got a really good deal.
With the cost of electric scooters going up as newer models come on the market, it’s getting harder to find a good scooter with great features for under $200.
Let’s say you really want one of the cool upper-end electric scooter models like the NanoRobot D4+. That runs roughly $1,000 new on Amazon. If you could find a used version for half that amount and it’s not been used too roughly then that could be a great buy.
Repair Knowledge Or Motivation
Maybe you’re the kind of person that enjoys learning how an electric scooter works. There are actual some people that can build electric scooters from spare parts. If any of this interests you, then purchasing an electric scooter should pose little to no problem.
There are so many sources online now for fixing up an electric scooter that virtually no repair is impossible. YouTube hosts many videos on several different scooter models that show you how to do things like replace a battery, how to replace a motor belt, or even redo the braking system. Just make sure you are watching a video that is focused on the exact same scooter model as the one you have.
You can also find the owner’s manual for just about any electric scooter model on the manufacturer page. Usually those are quite helpful and provide great illustrations for how to do specific repairs on that scooter model.
If you are the highly motivated type, buying a used electric scooter can be a great project. If you want to learn how to replace various components of an electric scooter, doing it on a cheap used scooter first is a great idea. Maybe you also want to just buy used electric scooters and fix them up, selling them at a higher margin than what you bought it for. That could become a great side business in a college town or on a college campus.
You could even advertise your services as someone who can upgrade scooters. For a price someone can bring you the basic electric scooter that their parents bought for them, and you can do some inventive things like add a second battery, install some cool deck lights, or even upgrade the handlebars to something more stylish. Practicing first on used scooters will help you build that skill set and give you the kind of experience that will come in very useful.
Buying A Used Rental Electric Scooter
You know how you can buy used cars that previously had been used in a car rental place like Hertz and Enterprise? You can get good deals on these cars and, for some people, it’s a great buy. However, I would greatly caution anyone looking into buying one of these rental scooters.
With the massive influx of electric scooter rental businesses into cities all across America, there are tens of thousands electric scooters being used and abused daily in this country. In some of these cities, there has been a harsh backlash against the emergence of these companies. In many cases, the electric scooter companies are literally just dropped off hundreds of scooters in a town with little to no guidance on their use aside from the rental app.
The problems lie in that these scooters are cluttering up sidewalks, bike racks, and being left in public places. It’s been a very haphazard emergence of rental electric scooters in the public eye. Because of that, local opposition has been quick and severe. Some outraged locals are tossing scooters in the garbage. Some local authorities have dozens of impounded electric scooters in their possession daily waiting on the rental company itself to pay for their release.
Some of these scooters get returned back to the rental companies, but many are not if the companies refuse to pay. For them, a fine may cost more than the scooter itself. So what are these cities that have hundreds of impounded electric scooters going to do eventually? I would guess public auction or something similar.
We might even see eventually these rental companies selling their own used rental scooters back to the public as well when demand decreases. So, when that day comes and maybe you’re looking at a really really cheap electric scooter that’s for sale from one of these places, what should you do?
I’d say run in the other direction. Rental electric scooters are heavily abused by new riders every day. People are far more likely to do more irresponsible things with a rental vehicle than they would their own. It’s just not worth taking that chance.
If you’re looking to buy a used electric scooter, know what you may be getting yourself in for. They can have many issues that could cause you personal injury or cost more money out of your pocket. On the other hand, the cheaper cost and the ability to learn how to fix up your own electric scooter may be worth it for someone willing to learn. In any case, consider all your options before you buy that used electric scooter.