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Can You Push a Power Wheelchair ?

While having a power wheelchair implies that its owner can move it electronically, you may also need to push the chair someday to transport yourself. To make sure that your power wheelchair is in its best condition for you to use whenever you want, and to deter possible issues, you must develop some benefitting habits and treat your mobility device with the utmost care, if you wish to push it manually as well. 

So, the short answer to the frequently asked question “can an electric wheelchair be pushed?” is yes. Your power wheelchair is made with a manual freewheel button that is mounted on both motors. They are easily seen because of their bright yellow tips. These buttons enable you to disentangle the drive motors, allowing you to push your power wheelchair manually.

Utilizing the freewheel levers comes with a little bending down, as well as pulling and pushing. You may need help if you plan to disengage and reengage the freewheel levers. You will also need a loved one or a caregiver to help you operate the freewheel levers and even push the wheelchair while you sit on it.

Operating The Manual Freewheel Levers

Before you disassemble both freewheel levers, it will be wise to turn off the power of your wheelchair, or else you could get an error indication on your controller. If an error code shows up, you can get it removed by switching off the controller and leaving the power chair in drive mode. Once the controller is turned on again, the error code will be gone. If the error code does not go away even after switching on the controller again, then there could be a problem with your power chair and should be fixed by a wheelchair repair company at once. 

After finding the bright, yellow freewheel levers and ensuring that the wheelchair’s power is completely off, you can freely push down the levers to put your power wheelchair in a freewheel mode. This will imply that the drive motor function will no longer work and at this very point, you can move or push your wheelchair manually. When you are done moving or pushing the power wheelchair and want to enjoy the drive motors again, simply pull up the freewheel levers to put your power wheelchair back in the drive mode.

However, bear in mind that when using a power chair manually, a caregiver, friend, or family member will be needed to push the chair from behind. These wheelchairs cannot be propelled by its users but can only be pushed from behind by someone else. Most power wheelchair users use the freewheel mode when their chair has a power failure, battery failure, or malfunction.

Things To Remember

When disengaging the motors of your power chair, ensure that your wheelchair is on a leveled ground. If the motors are not disengaged on level ground, it might cause your mobility device to roll on its own and cause severe accidents.

It is very crucial to know that whenever your power chair is on freewheel mode, the chair’s braking system will be disengaged. For safety reasons, when disentangling or re-engaging the freewheel levers, make sure you stand on one end of the power wheelchair and not directly behind or in front of it.

Please be very gentle with those freewheel levers, as applying too much force could cause harm to the freewheel levers and brakes of your power chair. This means not utilizing your feet to shift the freewheel levers to the position you want, or standing right on top of those freewheel levers.

It is not advisable to use the handles of the freewheel lever as a tie-down point in securing your power chair, as this can also cause damages to the freewheel levers, or your wheelchair’s motors or brakes. For more information on how to use your power chair’s freewheel levers and push your wheelchair, please read the owner’s manual of your power chair thoroughly. 

As a key rule for electric wheelchairs, power wheelchairs should never get wet. But as we all know it, life happens. Sometimes it may rain unexpectedly, and maybe the only option you will be left with will be to drive your mobility device through a puddle.

Even though the power wheelchairs have all the needed testing for the ingress of liquids, it is advisable to avoid long exposure of your mobility device to extreme conditions like rain and moisture. Prolonged or direct exposure to dampness or water could lead to mechanical and electrical malfunctions of your chair. Water can cause electrical units to wear and the wheelchair’s frame to rust. Power chairs should be checked from time to time for signs of damages caused by incontinence, water exposure, or body fluid exposure. Damaged parts should be treated immediately or replaced.

Basic Safety

When transferring in and out of the seat, turn off the power of the chair. Armrests and footplates are not made to bear weight and should never be used to take your weight during a transfer. This can cause certain damages to your chair and even injure you in the process. 

The joystick of a power chair is “equal.” This means that the more you push a joystick will not affect the speed of your mobility device. Once the joystick is pushed all the way, it won’t go any faster – don’t put extra energy on the joystick. Most power wheelchairs are made with speed control which helps in limiting the top speed of the chair. The speed and other essential features of the wheelchair can be customized to suit your personal needs. Contact your wheelchair dealer for help with adjusting the speed of your chair.

When the chair stops moving, the breaks automatically get activated. The breaks will stop the wheels from moving, even when the chair’s power is off. You cannot push a power wheelchair manually unless the motors are released. Releasing the motors must only be done when there is an emergency. A power chair with wheels has a lot of weight and you can easily lose control of your wheelchair if you’re pushing it manually. Just like we said earlier, you can push your power wheelchair by releasing the freewheel levers. Most chairs have one lever on each side, while a few others only have one lever. If you don’t know how to disengage a chair’s motors, call your wheelchair dealer at once.

Steps To Follow When Your Power Wheelchair Come In Contact With Water

When it comes to disinfecting and cleaning your power chair, use a mild, damp cloth and a soft cleanser in cleaning the metal and plastic parts of your mobility device. Your power chair has a painted acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic body shroud which enables it to be easily cleaned with a damp cloth. If need be, get your power chair cleaned with an approved disinfectant. Try your best in ensuring that the disinfectant is good and safe to be used on your power wheelchair device before application. Never use any harsh chemicals to clean your vinyl seat as such chemicals may cause the seat of your chair to dry out and crack or become slippery. Use soapy water and ensure that the seat is dried thoroughly. Never place your power wheelchair in direct contact with water or hose off your power wheelchair. 

Start Slow

Ensure that you drive the chair on only smooth, even surfaces. Any bump above ½” can make a power chair to lose control. Also, take note of slopes as the chair might tip over if you do not go through inclines with care. When going down on steep inclines, you may want to tilt your seat back (if your chair comes with the feature) slightly as this will make the drive more comfortable. Bear in mind that some power chairs could “lockout” when tilted too far. Powerchair users should be careful with cross slopes – these are slopes that slope from right to left – as power chairs are not made to navigate through the cross slope.  

As you use your mobility device, you will have to form a regular charging habit. The chair must be charged whenever the battery indicator is below 50% charge. If you leave your chair unused, unattended to, or not charged for a long period, it will lose its charge. If this ever happens (although rare), the only option you will be left with is to get the batteries replaced, which is very expensive. When in doubt, plug the chair to its charger!


If you are new to power wheelchairs, take your time to get used to the wheelchair and how it works. A power chair has powerful motors, and this means that it can be pushed manually from behind. Always remember that a well-maintained wheelchair is always the best to keep. When power chairs are well maintained, they can easily get transformed and pushed. Whenever a wheelchair malfunctions, quickly get it fixed by yourself or ask for help from friends or other trained personnel.

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