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Wheels are an essential part of any wheelchair, but they don’t come without their fair share of problems — the biggest one is squeaking tires. Not only is squeaking noisy, but it’s also embarrassing when it happens in public.
In this post, we’ll learn about the different types of squeaks you might hear, what causes them, and how to stop a wheelchair from squeaking. If you like DIY projects like this, check out our guide on how to paint a wheelchair.
Cause of the Squeak: What causes the wheelchair to make that “annoying” squeaky sound?
As a wheelchair user, you might have noticed that specific wheels and tires may squeak. It’s not a severe malfunction, though. Usually, this is caused by negligence on the part of the user.
Squeaky wheels (or, in this case, chairs) are a common problem that comes from old or poorly maintained wheelchairs. A squeaky wheel is not a good sign. It means that your wheelchair needs to be repaired or adjusted.
Squeaky wheels indicate an obstruction to the bearings, which are the small balls that allow the axle to spin freely. This obstruction can be caused by dirt, debris, or even water.
Wheelchairs become squeaky in a few different scenarios. Here are some of the reasons why your wheelchair may be squeaky. These squeaky wheelchairs can cause discomfort for the person sitting in them and embarrassment when others hear them.
1. Rusty Bearings
One of the most common reasons why your wheelchair squeaks when it moves is because the bearing around the wheels is rusty since they’ve not been adequately lubricated or worn down from age or use.
2. Loose bolts and screws in the wheels
A loose bolt or screw in the wheels is a big problem for any vehicle. A loose bolt will lead to vibration and an unstable ride. Since they are “wiggly,” they make a lot of noise during motion.
3. Faulty Brake Pads or Cable
Brakes are designed to rub against the wheel to slow it down or stop the wheel completely. A tight brake pad may be one of the reasons why your wheelchair squeaks during motion. The brake cables can rub against the wheel rims and make a loud squeaking noise as they pass over them.
4. Tire Pressure
Tires that are underinflated or overinflated can cause a squeak noise for people who use wheelchairs, especially during sharp turns. This is because the wheel of the wheelchair is rotating faster than the tire, and it’s rubbing against the rubber.
This causes tires to deform, slide sideways and squeak.
5. Old Wheels
Sometimes, the squeaky sound made by the wheelchair is because the wheels are worn out and need to be replaced. Even though they look good and useable, they will make squeaky sounds because they’ve aged well beyond the manufacturer’s designated lifespan.
How To Get Rid Of Squeaky Wheelchair Tires
If squeaky wheels are caused by poor maintenance, then the best way to stop a squeaky wheelchair is to ensure that your wheelchair is properly maintained will not only stop your wheelchair from squeaky and guarantee long-term use.
Here are some of the best ways to ensure that your wheelchair is in proper working condition.
1. Oil The bearings
Wheelchair wheels have bearings inside them that allow the wheels to spin freely and silently. These bearings need oiling periodically to keep them running smoothly and without squeaking. An adequately lubricated wheel will never make a sound.
Lubricate your wheelchair’s wheels with a silicone-based lubricant, spray oil, or WD-40 spray oil at least once a month, and it will never make a sound. The easiest way to lubricate a wheelchair is to lay newspaper down underneath the wheels, then pump the oil directly into the bearings on the side of each wheel and move the wheel back and forth to spread the oil around inside.
2. Tighten All Loose Bolts and Screws
If lubrication of the wheel bearings doesn’t work, tightening loose bolts and screw around the wheelchair frame and wheels will stop your wheelchair from squeaking.
Loose screws and bolts around the wheels are one of the causes of a squeaky wheelchair. If your wheelchair squeaks, there’s a chance that the screws on the wheels have become loose.
There’s no need to go out and buy new wheels if the ones on your wheelchair or walker are loose. Tightening them will make your wheelchair more comfy and quiet.
3. Remove All Foreign Materials From the Wheel
Wheelchairs can become squeaky if the brake pads, cable, or other foreign materials like a sheet of metal or rubber prevent the wheels from rotating properly. Some squeaks are caused by pieces of gravel or dirt becoming lodged into the tiny grooves on the wheels, so removing them will solve this problem.
You can wipe them off with a piece of cloth or scrub away with the large particles with a stiff brush. We recommend checking your brakes in addition to your wheels because if they aren’t working correctly and they start squeaking while in motion, your chair may not be able to stop as quickly as it should when going downhill or over bumps in the road.
4. Use the Manufacturer’s Recommended Tire Pressure
If your wheelchair tires are squeaking, chances are they may be underinflated. Check the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and make sure it is at that level by using a hand pump or go to a local gas station and use their air hose to inflate your tires to the proper pressure.
Check for proper wheel alignment by looking at the front casters behind the chair. They should be perpendicular to the floor; if not, have them adjusted by an authorized dealer or repair facility.
5. Replace All Worn Out Wheels
Worn-out wheels can be a problem. If you have a squeaky wheel and do not like the sound, it is time to replace that wheel. The squeak may originate in the casters if they begin to wear out and need replacement. Casters are made of rubber or plastic, so they will not last forever.
Most of us don’t consider that wheelchairs, like most moving parts, are bound to make some noise. The squeaky wheel is a problem that most manual wheelchair users encounter at some point.
A squeaky wheelchair may not seem like a big deal. But if you add up all the time you spend pushing someone around in a wheelchair, it can get irritating fast.
Wheelchair wheels can be notoriously noisy, which can be pretty annoying for other people. Thankfully, there are numerous ways to reduce the squeaking sound that’s not only surprisingly simple but also cost-effective.