CAUTION! This article could potentially create a safety hazard and get you in trouble with your significant other, although your kids will love it! Replacing the 8 volt battery on a Power Wheels with an 18 volt power tool battery will turn a kid’s toy into an 11+ mph plastic go-cart!
I’d heard about swapping the battery on a Power Wheels, but never gave it much thought until I inherited one with a dead battery. After a little research, I decided to upgrade the battery and see what happened. This is my experience…
Working in the automotive industry and being a “do-it-yourselfer” I have several battery powered tools. For me, it was much easier replacing and charging a lithium tool battery than waiting 18 – 24 hours for the original 8 volt lead-acid battery to charge. Aside from quicker charge times, when the battery dies you can easily change it out and keep fun going! This alone is a big plus.
Something that could be viewed as either an asset or liability is the increased power and speed that comes with the upgraded power source. What I found is that Power Wheels generally travel between 3 – 4 mph and are fairly safe for most kids. After almost doubling the power applied to the electric motor you would be surprised what these little “toys” can do. Spinning tires, drifting around corners, and excessive speed is not an exaggeration. To control the power to the wheels a voltage regulator can be added. This allowed me to turn it down when our youngest was driving and turn the speed up when it was my eldest’s turn. Adding this feature also made my wife happy and kept me out of the doghouse.
One thing I learned the hard way is that when a power tool battery completely dissipates, it dies. If unchecked, this cool kid toy can cost you a $200.00 power source. Most power tools have a low voltage limiting/protection switch that keeps the tool from working when the battery voltage drops to a predetermined value, thus protecting the battery from damage. The same kind of switch can be used here.
You are probably wondering if your tool batteries will work and where you can get the parts to do this conversion. One word, Amazon. Search “Power Wheels Upgrade Kit” and several options will appear. These kits are made for many different brands, and although all the parts can be sourced individually, ordering the kit makes it easier. Make sure it includes: battery adapter/mount, inline fuse, low voltage limiting/protection switch, and a voltage regulator.
Once you have received your order, it’s time to assemble! For this I will refer you to YouTube. Search “Power Wheels Battery Upgrade” and watch a few of the videos. This will do two things. First, you will see what you are in store for. Second, the three Power Wheels I have converted were all set up a little differently. Watching a few videos will help you find a good mounting place for the new battery and circuit. The original batteries are not always mounted in a convenient position for rapid battery swaps. There are many ways to build the circuit and mount your new parts. I used solder and shrink-wrap for the circuit and a little spray adhesive to stick the parts to the plastic making it quick and easy. After a few years everything is still in place.
So, if you are up for an afternoon of fun and have a few dead Power Wheels taking up space, consider this an exciting option for the kiddos. Remember, Safety First!