Seeking Permobil F3 Wheelchair

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New member
Dec 9, 2018
Loved one DX
Oklahoma City
I am hoping to find a used Permobil F3 or F5 wheelchair for my father soon. His current wheelchair does not have a tilt or rise feature which he will soon need. I live in Oklahoma, but am able to travel for pickup.

I saw that soonerwife was selling one a few months ago, but I'm embarrassed to say that I cannot figure out how to respond to the thread or message her. I'd love to find out if this wheelchair is still available!

Thank you!
You can’t private message yet and thread was closed due to age. I messaged her for you. Good luck
Good to know that it wasn't complete user error! Thank you Nikki for messaging her.
I have experience buying used wheelchairs, having bought 3 used, 2 of which are Permobils.

Be aware that once you buy a used wheelchair, you will likely need to put a substantial amount of money into it to get it to fit your father appropriately. I typically buy used parts from ebay, except for batteries, which I buy new. I typically spend between $1,000 and $2,000 to get a used wheelchair fitted to me and fully operational. That is in addition to the purchase price of the wheelchair.

If I was to take the wheelchair to the Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider, such as NuMotion, the charge would be much, much more - probably $5,000 to $10,000.

Wheelchairs have a limit to their practical serviceable life. Be sure to get one with low mileage. Check to see how worn the tires are (though they could have been changed). On a Permobil, you can check the odometer to see how many miles are on the chair. The way you do this varies by the type of joystick controller. You can find the information in any of the user's guides, which are available for free download from Permobil.

I bought one used Permobil with 26 miles and another with 34 miles. Anything under 100 miles would be fine. Anything with more than 500 miles should be avoided (could need new motors soon).

You don't need to limit yourself to the newer F3 and F5 models. The previous generation C300 and C500 are very capable chairs. If you go with a C300 or C500, I would recommend one made in about 2013 or later, because Permobil made changes within the models over the years. The type of actuator for the power functions have changed. Reliability on the older chairs is not as good and spare parts could be hard to find. Permobil chairs have a manufacturing tag on the lower back frame, typically visible from the back. That will give you the manufacture date and serial number.

You can call Permobil and provide them the serial number. They will tell you what originally came with the chair.

One of my used Permobils came without a power seat elevate function. I was able to buy a used mechanism on ebay, add the necessary electronic control pieces, and reprogram the ICS system to make it all work. It cost about $250 and about a week's worth of research. I would not recommend that path for someone that is not mechanically inclined and a bit adventurous.

I have found all my used wheelchairs on craigslist. I paid $850 for a Permobil C350 with head array and power leglift, tilt, and recline. It did not have seat elevate.

3 years ago I paid $3,800 for a Permobil C500 with power tilt, recline, and seat elevate. It originally came with power leglift, but that actuator had failed and been replaced with a manual one. I was able to buy a used power actuator on ebay for about $150. A new one from Permobil was about $1,400.

A used C500 would go for much less today. I would expect to pay $2,000 to $3,500 for a used one with all power functions working correctly.

I don't know the current market for a used F3.

Used F5 VS (the stander version) seems to go for between $8,000 to about $15,000.

Be aware that the early F5 wheelchairs had an issue. I can't remember what it was, but it would keep me from considering them. I would buy one that was made in 2017 or later.

Please let me know if you have any questions at all. I have developed a bit of a passion for wheelchairs and would be glad to help you as I can.

I wish it was panda. I sold it about a month ago.
Steve, thank you for all the incredibly helpful info.
This is all very new to us, but gives me some ideas for other avenues to check and ways to go about it. It also makes me more open to some of the other, older models.
I had no idea that getting it fitted and ready for the individual was so costly! I’ll continue my search...

Soonerwife, thank you for letting me know. I knew it was a long shot!
When I saw Soonerwife's reply, I took a quick look on craigslist for Oklahoma City. I found 2 Permobils.

There is an M300 for a reasonable price, though I don't know its date of manufacture or mileage. I personally would not get an M300 because I don't like midwheel drive. Others love midwheel drive.

There is also a C500 for sale. They included a picture of the manufacturer tag in their listing, so I know that it was made in January of 2015. That is just a month or two later than my C500 was manufactured. The are asking less than $5,000, which is a very fair price for a standing wheelchair, if it is in good shape and has low miles on it.

Note that the C500 VS (standing) wheelchair is very complex. Adjusting the seating to fit might be more than some are interested in doing. The Corpus 3G seating system is much easier to work with and parts are more readily available on the used market, but is not as supportive and comfortable for me (I have both).

I appreciate your help and input, Steve! That was very informative. I went ahead and reached out to the individual selling the M300 (they are very close by) to get some additional information on it, but haven't heard back. I'm not sure if the standing would be helpful for long as my dad has just about lost all function in his legs and can only stand for a few seconds. Out of curiosity, what are the cons or what do you dislike about the midwheel drive? Do you think it could be fitted for a 6'3, very slim man? Thank you again!

As an aside, I'm realizing that my username was different in my previous reply. Apparently I was responding on a different computer from an account that my husband created while trying to help me with technical difficulties. Sorry for the confusion!
Panda, I have been using a mid wheel drive wheelchair for the past 2 months and prior to that used an F3 on trial from the loaner closet.

The mid wheel drive has a tighter turning radius and will be more nimble for navigating tight turns indoors. The front wheel drive will perform better outdoors when going over rocks and uneven ground, but will have a wider turning radius.

So the decision may come down to whether your dad wants to do a lot of treks outside and whether or not his home has a lot of tight turns and corners to navigate.
I am 6'3" and weigh 170 pounds. I know from personal experience that any of the Permobil wheelchairs we are discussing can be adjusted to fit someone that size. Doing so may mean replacing parts, and new parts can be very expensive.

The depth (front to back) and width of the seat bottom is adjustable. There are different plates that can be purchased for different ranges of adjustment. Likewise, the seat back plate can be replaced with one of the appropriate width and height range. The width is fixed for a given back plate, but the height is adjustable within a pretty wide range for all except the ultra short back plate, which is not adjustable in height at all.

Of course, if you adjust the seat depth, width, and/or height, you will need new seat cushions as well.

Wheelchair fit is absolutely critical for properly supporting your PALS. Don't skimp in this area!

You can also purchase arm rests of different length to suit your PAL's needs. I typically set mine up with a shorter armest on the drive side and a longer one on the non-drive side.

Don't overlook the headrest. I have had trouble getting the stock Permobil headrest to adjust to fit my posture. I have a very expensive Stealth-brand headrest on my primary wheelchair (almost $2,000 new). I have modified a Corpus 3G headrest to better fit me on another wheelchair (longer bolts in a particular section with some custom-cut aluminum tubes for structural support).

I also need lateral thigh supports, which are probably around $1,000 new, but which I buy for about $200 used. Stealth swing away lateral thoracic supports I use are probably about $1,000 new and $250 used.

If your PALS can still transfer, you might consider one or more transfer handles as well (about $175 used).

There is a possibility you will need to replace the batteries. This is easy for an able-bodied person to do. The C500 and F5 use group 24 batteries. You want good, deep cycle batteries. I recommend MK brand gel batteries, which are just under $500 from a reputable supplier on the internet and about $1,000 from NuMotion.

If you need new tires, be aware that NuMotion likes to swap out the entire wheel, including the very expensive rim. The exact same new tires are available for about $100 online, but must be installed. It is a very straightforward process for an able-bodied person and there are youtube videos that show you the trick to doing it easily (leverage rather than brute strength).

Permobil makes their wheelchairs with a base (the bottom part with the batteries and motors) and a seating system. The C500 VS I mentioned that is on craigslist uses the VS seating system. All the other modern permobils (F5, C500 non VS, F3, C300, M3, C350) use a Corpus 3G seating system.

The Corpus 3G seating system is very easy to work with and parts are readily available new and on the used market. So far, I have not been able to configure the Corpus 3G seat to support me as well as I can with the VS seat. The main issue is that the Corpus 3G seat uses Stealth lateral thoracic supports, which are just not as supportive for me as the ones available on the VS (which were made by Permobil).

I am in the process of ordering a new wheelchair because I have worn out the one insurance paid for about 4 years ago. The new wheelchair will have a Corpus 3G seating system on it (I am trying to get approved for a Permobil F5 VS, which will have a list price of just under $100,000). That is not the price insurance pays, of course, but that gives you an idea of just how insane the new wheelchair market is in the US. A new F5 VS wheelchair in the United Kingdom apparently goes for well under $20,000 British Pounds.

I find the standing feature helpful. The wheelchair has devices that lock my shins and thoracic areas in place, so that I don't really use much muscle standing. Standing helps stretch things in my leg and seems to help a bit with blood flow. Regardless of the details, I do know that it makes me feel better. But, your needs could differ from mine.

The standing wheelchair has a bit larger footprint, because there are little wheels that come out the front. They make contact with the ground when standing to stabilize the chair.

I would not recommend a standing wheelchair if your PALS need to access tight spaces. If the house has large hallways and wide doors, then the stander might be a reasonable choice.

The reason I do not like mid wheel drive is because they can be pretty useless on rough terrain, which is where I put a lot of miles on my wheelchair. Mid wheel drive wheelchairs have 6 wheels. There are 2 drive wheels in the middle, 2 caster wheels in the front, and 2 caster wheels in the rear.

On rough terrain, it is possible for the wheelchair to wind up with the drive wheels in a depression. Thus, most of the wheelchair's weight is supported by the front and rear caster wheels. That means the wheelchair is stuck, because the drive wheels don't have enough weight over them to get traction and simply spin in the air.

Most mid wheel wheelchairs also suffer from caster jerk. That means that the casters jerk from one side to another as the wheelchair is significantly changing direction. I find that very distracting while driving.

When making a turn, wheelchairs with two drive wheels pivot about a point that is midway between the drive wheels. The advantage of a mid wheel wheelchair is that pivot point is in the middle of the wheelchair. Obviously, with front wheel drive, that pivot point is toward the front of the wheelchair and in rear wheel drive wheelchairs it is toward the rear.

I believe mid wheel drive is more intuitive for many to learn and many find it much easier to use. Front and rear wheel drive chairs are still pretty easy to learn for someone that is not cognitively impaired.

Good luck, and continue to ask questions as you have them.

Thank you Karen and Steve for your helpful replies! I didn't realize how little I knew about the many aspects to take into consideration - with mid wheel vs front wheel being one.

My dad will likely be getting most of his use inside their home, so being able to maneuver in semi-tight spaces will likely be important due to the layout of their house. I'm starting to think an F3 may not be what he needs, though I haven't completely ruled it out.

Steve, I appreciate you mentioning lateral thigh supports and well-fitted head rests - I can see how important they would be. I will look into these as well. I hope you get approved for an F5's clear that you know enough about wheelchairs to know what you need and want!
I encourage you to consider the potential of buying a new wheelchair through a good Durable Medical Equipment (DME) company. I use NuMotion and in my area, their technical and sales folks are very good. The administrative folks are very kind, but have difficulty wading through the immense amount of paperwork needed to get anything done.

If your father has insurance (medicare and/or private insurance), he can get a new wheelchair if his needs have changed and those changes, along with a corresponding need for a new wheelchair, are documented by appropriate medical professionals.

Getting him an appropriate wheelchair seems like the priority right now. If his current wheelchair is not appropriate, getting a new one through insurance is the most likely path to getting the right wheelchair. Doing so depends very much on the quality of the sales person you work with. Look around and find the best salesperson. It will make a big difference.

My salesperson is a former physical therapist. She knows a tremendous amount about wheelchairs, how to fit them, and how to work with the insurance providers to get them paid for.

It took me 4 months to get my first wheelchair through NuMotion. From your post, it sounds like your father will need a more capable wheelchair soon. I encourage you to start now if you decide to go through insurance.

If a wheelchair is acquired via insurance, then insurance will also pay to maintain that wheelchair (new tires, batteries, bearings, motors, control modules, seat backs, headrests, etc.). I know, because I have been through this.

When you get another wheelchair, regardless of the way you get it, I encourage you to keep the old wheelchair as a backup. Wheelchairs are complex things and do break. When they break, it can take a very long time to get them repaired.

My insurance-provided wheelchair was in the shop once for 4 months while waiting for insurance approval and parts. That repair cost about $12,000 and was paid for by insurance (minus deductible). I was very, very glad to have a backup wheelchair during those 4 months!

In total, that wheelchair has had $45,000 to $50,000 of repairs done to it in less than 4 years, all covered through insurance. If I had not had insurance, I would have done the repairs myself (well, my friend would have, but I would have supervised:)) It would have cost a small fraction of what the DME billed insurance.

Not all wheelchairs will need as extensive and expensive repairs as mine do. I do not abuse them in any way, but I do use them extensively. You can check out a few of my threads to get an Idea of how I use a wheelchair. Certainly I am not a typical user:).

If you go the insurance route to get a wheelchair, be aware that most insurance will balk at paying for the seat elevate function. There are ways to get that function at reduced to no cost. Let us know if you run into that dilemma.

Let me know if you’ve found one or not. I have a Permobil Corpus F3 that was my husbands’s
I have two different seating systems available that come with it, a Roho cushion, seat elevator, AND attendant driver control (that does need repair/ a new handle).I live in Central PA.

I’m in Denton, Tx and have a 2016 Permobil F3 brand new. I think it has 2 miles on it. I believe I have a ramp that goes with it for driving inside a van. I know next to nothing about these chairs or what all it can do. I do have a file on it though.

If you are still interested in a chair please contact me ASAP.


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