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How to upgrade power wheels battery

Power Wheels cars are a fun and exciting way to get your kids to enjoy the outdoors. After a period of use, the kids might grow wary of their slow pace and crave more thrills. Instead of buying a new set of power wheels, you can upgrade the battery.

You can upgrade a 6-volt power wheel battery to 12-volts or a 12-volt battery to 18-volt without compromising the motor. Be sure to install an inline fuse to safeguard the engine from overheating when upgrading the battery.

Upgrading the battery in a power wheel toy car improves its speed and performance. The rest of the article will dig deeper into the specifics of upgrading power wheels battery, including a step-by-step guide for:

  • Coupling a 12-volt and 6-volt batteries
  • Installing an 18 Milwaukee drill bit battery
  • Combining two 6-volt batteries
  • Replacing a 6-volt battery with a 12-volt

Power Wheels Battery Upgrade

The performance of stock batteries on power wheels often falls short of expectation in many quarters. They have a short lifespan and often come with overly sensitive circuits that mar their performance.

Perhaps the biggest gripe about the stock batteries is the super long charging times. On average, the lead-acid batteries take 12 to 18 hours to charge, and they deliver between 1 to 3 hours of playtime.

The long charging times become a liability when dealing with a child dying to take out the drivable toy for a ride. To this end, you may be forced to buy a spare battery and switch them out when one runs out of charge.

Instead of buying a stock replacement battery, you’re better off upgrading the battery. Your child will appreciate the improved performance and shorter charging times.

Currently, there are two popular options when upgrading power wheels batteries. You can opt for the mainstream sealed lead acid batteries. You can also use the smaller lithium batteries used in power drills.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries are problematic because they have a higher discharge rate, meaning they deliver too much power. The discharge rate of a power tool battery is 5X higher than an SLA battery’s discharge rate.

The additional power that comes from upgrading to a lithium power tool battery fries a power wheels car’s motor and strips the gears. An overheating motor poses a risk to both the ride on and your child as it might catch on fire.

Luckily, installing a 30 or 40-ampere fuse with a lithium-ion battery eliminates the risk of overheating.

Given the differences in connector mechanisms, installing a lithium battery in a ride on car might call for some modifications. Luckily, it doesn’t call for special skills as anyone handy with a few essential tools can get the job done with excellent results.

Sealed Lead Acid Batteries

Also known as SLA, these batteries comprise plates, lead, and a lead oxide solution with 65% water and 35% sulfuric acid. Ride on cars use the starting or cranking variety that provides a short burst of energy.

Sealed batteries are valued for their spill proof construction as it makes for trouble-free operation. They have a 3 to 5 years lifespan, making them an excellent choice for ride-on cars.

Sealed batteries come in a high impact resistant ABS plastic casing and will withstand that shock, vibration, and heat that comes with using a power wheels car.

Most parents prefer sealed batteries because they make for a hassle-free power wheels battery upgrade. They come with an inbuilt 30 to 40-ampere fuse and a 12-ampere rating in most cases.

An inbuilt fuse reduces the number of connections you must make when installing the battery, while a 12 amp rating increases the run time.

Can I Upgrade My Power Wheels Battery?

How to upgrade power wheels battery
Image via DadInASmartHome.com

With the right tools and a bit of research, anyone can upgrade a power wheels car battery. You don’t need special electrical or engineering skills to swap out a stock battery with a higher performance one.

Be aware, though, upgrading the battery in your power wheels voids the manufacturer’s warranty. Therefore, you’ll be liable for any damage that may befall the drivable toy after making the upgrade.

Most power wheels ship with one year warranty and a six months limited warranty on the battery. In most cases, the need to upgrade or replace the battery will happen long after the warranty has expired.

Is Upgrading the Battery Worthwhile?

Some parents have mixed feelings about upgrading the battery in a ride on, especially on the diverse opinions found on many online forums. While it’s true that upgrading the battery does have some drawbacks, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Most importantly, it’s possible to eliminate all the risks associated with upgrading the battery.

Upgrading the battery is cheaper than replacing a ride-on that your kid has outgrown. Kids quickly outgrow the slow pace of a 6-volt and 12-volt power wheels. Upgrading the battery increases the ride on car’s speed by up to 50% and drastically improves the performance.

That’s the equivalent of buying a brand new power wheels for your kids minus the huge cash outlay.

Is Battery Upgrade Safe?

Naturally, parents are worried about their kids’ safety and are wary about the safety of upgrading the battery of a ride-on car.

Technically, many things can go wrong with your upgraded battery setup, but you can nip the problems right in the bud. Here are some potential issues that you’re likely to encounter:

  • Overheating. Installing an 18-volt battery is likely to fry the standard motors on power wheels. Luckily, installing a 30 or 40 ATF fuse protects the motor and extends the unit’s lifespan.
  • Wrong connectors points. Upgrading a power wheels battery calls for metal wires and connectors, all of which must be attached to the right terminals. Getting the polarity wrong leads to ride on short-circuiting or catching on fire. Therefore, you need to be extra careful when on this step of the upgrade process.
  • Loose connections. Upgrading a battery entails cutting and making several wire connections. If your joints aren’t secured firmly, the shock and vibrations of the moving power wheel might shake them loose. Crimping or soldering the joints ensures a strong mechanical bond that won’t shake free.

Ensuring Child Safety After Battery Upgrade

Upgrading a power wheels battery improves its speed by up to 50% and boosts its performance. Naturally, higher speeds correspond to a higher chance of your child getting into an accident, toppling, rolling, or doing a wheelie.

To avoid all these unfortunate incidents:

  • Ensure your child’s driving skills are up to par
  • Install a speed controller
  • Weigh down the front part of the power wheel with additional weight
  • Limit the ride on usage to the right terrains

With proper tools, skills, and adequate precautions, anyone can upgrade a power wheels battery and watch their child delight in the improved speed and performance.

There are two ways of converting a 12-volt power wheels battery to an 18-volt battery – coupling a 12-volt battery with a 6-volt or installing an 18-volt battery.

Adding a 6-Volt Battery to a 12-Volt Battery

Coupling a 12-volt battery with a 6-volt one is the fast and cheap way to boost the power and speed of your kid’s 12-volt ride on.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Crimping pliers
  • A 6-volt battery
  • Wire strippers
  • Jumper cable
  • An inline fuse holder with a 30 amp removable fuse

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Open the hood. Remove the current 12-volt battery from the power wheel you wish to overvolt. You can use the current battery if it runs okay or replace it with a new battery pack.
  2. Match the 6-volt and 12-volt batteries. Ensure that both batteries have the same amp-hour (ah) rating as they need to have the same discharge rate. Since amp hour is a measure of capacity, batteries with a higher Ah rating make the best options as they come with longer running time. Aftermarket sealed lead acid batteries are better than the stock brand batteries, which often feature highly sensitive internal thermal fuses.
  3. Wire the batteries in a series. You have two options when wiring the two batteries – series and parallel. Wiring them in a series combines the voltage, resulting in higher speeds. Parallel wiring the batteries combines their amp hour, leading to longer run time.
  4. Connect the 12-volt’s battery positive terminal to the smaller battery’s negative terminal with a jumper wire. For the best results, fit the jumper cable with a terminal ring on one end and a female spade terminal to connect the terminals on the batteries. This enables you to create a strong mechanical joint on the terminals, robust enough to withstand the vibrations and moment when the car is in motion.
  5. Connect the inline fuse holder. Connect the fuse holder to the positive terminal of the 6-volt battery. Then slide in the 30 amp fuse into the holder.
  6. Connect the battery to the vehicle connections. The previous connection leaves the 6-volt battery positive and the 12-volt battery’s negative terminal open. Use bullet connectors to connect the cables to the vehicle connections to close the circuit. You’re now set to fit the batteries into the power wheel.
  7. Fit the battery pack into the vehicle. Depending on the power wheel’s size, you might have to tinker with the larger battery pack’s positioning. Test fit the pack in a variety of positions to get the best fit. The orientation doesn’t matter so long the batteries fit safely and securely. In some instances, you might have to enlarge the cavity by cutting out small parts of the body.
  8. Secure the battery pack in place. Fit the batteries in the newly cut cavity and ensure they’re firm and secure. It’s advisable to use an additional strap to hold down the pack to ensure it doesn’t move even with a jarring impact. If the battery pack moves, there’s a likelihood of the connections coming apart when the car is in motion.
  9. Hook up the battery pack. Once you’re done securing the battery pack, hook up the terminals to the factory wiring and connect the leads for charging. Your supercharged super wheel is ready to go.
  10. Install heat sinks. Juicing super wheels increase the amount of heat the motor generates, increasing the chances of failure. Installing heat sinks keeps the engine from burning up. Bending the heat sinks before installing them on each motor ensures a firm grip. They won’t dislodge when the ride on is in motion.
  11. Test drive the power wheel. Take out the supercharged ride on for a test ride to see how it runs.

Upgrading a 12-Volt Super Wheels Battery to an 18-Volt Tool Battery

Super wheels ship with a big and bulky, 12-volt lead-acid battery that takes a long time to charge. Therefore, it makes sense to switch them out with a smaller, more powerful battery if looking to cut the charging times and improve a car’s performance.

Switching out a stock battery with the Milwaukee drill set’s battery pack is the best way to go about this upgrade. The drill uses a smaller but more powerful 18-volt lithium-ion battery with shorter charging times.

Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide for replacing a 12-volt battery with an 18-volt power tool battery.

You’ll need: 

  • A Milwaukee power drill 18-volt battery 
  • Wire cutters 
  • Crimping pliers 
  • Connectors 
  • Inline fuse holder with a 30 amp ETF fuse
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Wire stripper 

Then, follow these steps.

Modify the Connection Interface

You must modify the 18-volt Milwaukee drill battery’s connection points before you can hook it up to a super wheel. You have two main options to get this done:

Strip the Dead Super Wheels Battery

You can retrieve the battery connector from a dead 12-volt battery. If the connector is connected to the battery by a pair of wires, cut them at the same length.

If the connector is recessed inside the battery, you’ll have to pry it out. Take a flathead screwdriver and insert it gently into the seam at the top of the battery. Slowly pry away the plastic layer to expose the connector’s wiring. Lift the connector to expose as much of the wiring as possible, then cut them one at a time.

Strip away the plastic covering on the ends to expose the wire about half an inch. Connect a female blade terminal to the negative terminal and crimp it in place. Crimp a butt connector on the positive terminal of the battery connector.

Modify a USB Battery Adaptor

These handy adaptors slide over the drill battery, turning it into a USB port to let you charge your phone on the job site. Pry open the adaptor to reveal the battery connection points. Flip it over and hook two wires to the connection points coming straight out the back. Drill two holes at the back of the plastic covering and run the cables through them.

Follow These Succeeding Steps

  1. Get an inline fuse. Installing overload protection is crucial when upgrading power wheels battery as it safeguards against fire. Without an inline fuse, the motor can overheat and set the vehicle on fire. Best to use a removable 30-ampere automotive type fuse (ETF). If the system overheats, the fuse will blow, safeguarding your battery and vehicle. You can then replace the fuse, and you’re good to go.
  2. Hook up the inline fuse. Cut the wire on the inline fuse holder into two (if the cable is connected on both ends. Connect the side with the fuse to the positive terminal of your connector and crimp it.
  3. Cut the plug (if using the battery adapter). The USB battery connector isn’t compatible with the super wheel's plug, so you must cut it out. Beware that cutting the plug voids your warranty. Skip this step if using a connector retrieved from an old battery.
  4. Get a motor speed control. An 18-volt battery increases the speed of a ride on by 50% and improves performance. Installing a motor speed control helps to tamper the intensity until your child can handle the supercharged ride safely. The controller goes between the motor and battery and comes with a dial that controls the motor's power.
  5. Install the motor speed control. Hook the wiring from the vehicle to the motor terminals and the battery's wire to the input terminals. The connections are clearly labeled to ensure that you get the polarity right.
  6. Mount the battery mount. You’ll need to mount the new battery holder inside the hood of the power wheel. Drill holes on the plastic covering and fix it to the side compartment with long screws. Once the mount is secure, go ahead and insert the 18-volt battery.
  7. Mount the speed controller. You can use straps or an industrial-grade adhesive tape to mount the speed controller next to the battery mount.
  8. Test drive the supercharged ride on. Test the super wheels and use the speed controller to set your child's safe and ideal speed.

Can You Convert a 6 Volt Power Wheels to a 12 Volt?

It’s possible to convert 6-volt power wheels to a 12-volt without damaging the vehicle or setting it on fire. Although these drivable toys use a 6-volt battery, most of them are outfitted with a 12-volt motor. As a result, they can handle the increased voltage without sustaining any damage.

You have two options when upgrading a 6-volt ride to 12-volts – create a battery pack with two 6-volt batteries or install a new 12-volt battery.

Naturally, installing a new 12-volt battery is the easiest of the two options as it requires fewer connections and doesn’t take up too much space in the toy.

As a safety precaution against overheating the motor, you should install an inline fuse when upgrading from a 6-volt to a 12-volt battery. Failing to do so can ruin the battery or set the power wheel on fire.

Here are two detailed step by step guides to help you upgrade a 6-volt battery to a 12-volt.

Creating a Battery Pack With Two 6-Volt Batteries

This method works best with super wheel batteries with a connector that’s not recessed inside the battery. Ensure that the new battery has the same specs as the 6-volt stock battery in the ride-on.

You’ll need:

  • A pair of 6-volt batteries
  • Wire cutters
  • Crimping pliers
  • Butt connectors
  • Duct or electrical tape

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the battery. Open the super wheels' hood and disconnect the battery connections and lift it out of the car.
  2. Place the two batteries side by side. Since you need to increase the battery pack's voltage, you should join the two 6-volt batteries in a series. That entails joining the positive terminal on one battery with the negative terminal of the next one. It’s easier when the batteries are sitting next to each other.
  3. Cut off the connector from one battery. Disconnect the connector from one battery by cutting both wires, leaving enough of an overhang to connect to the other battery.
  4. Cut the negative wire on the other battery. Cut midway the wire leading to the negative terminal on the second battery.
  5. Join the opposite terminals. Using the appropriate connectors, join the negative terminal on one battery to the second’s positive terminal.
  6. Connect the open negative terminal to the connector. Insert the remaining loose wires inside a butt connector and crimp them together to complete the circuit.
  7. Fasten the two batteries together. The final setup should have a wire that runs from the positive terminal on the first battery to the second's negative terminal. And a wire that runs from the positive terminal of one battery to the connector, and another runs from the second battery's negative terminal to the connector. Hold the two batteries together and wrap them in a duct or electrical tape.
  8. Install the new battery pack in the super wheel. The larger 12-volt battery pack might be a tight fit in the ride on compartment. Experiment with various orientations until it fits snugly. Sometimes you might have to cut out some parts to fit in the bigger battery.
  9. Hook up the battery. Since you’re using the standard power wheels battery and motor connector, the connection is straightforward. Slide in the connector and close the hood.
  10. Test drive the supercharged vehicle. Start the super wheel and take it out for a spin to see how it rides.

Installing a New 12-Volt Battery

Rather than buy a new 6-volt battery, you can opt for a new 12-volt replacement battery altogether. Installing a new 12-volt battery is the better option since it allows you to replace the stock battery with a sealed lead-acid battery.

A sealed lead-acid battery is the safer alternative for ride on as it eliminates the spillage in the unfortunate event that it topples or rolls over.

For this battery upgrade, you’ll need:

  • A 12-volt sealed lead-acid battery
  • Inline fuse holder with a 30 amp fuse
  • Connectors that match your new battery
  • Crimping tool
  • Wire cutters
  • Electrical wire

Then, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the 6-volt battery. Open the hood of the power wheels and disconnect the battery from the vehicle.
  2. Cut off the battery connector. Use the cutters to snip off both wires that connect the old 6-volt battery to its connector.
  3. Cut a length of electrical wire. The piece of wire should equal the size of the cables on the inline fuse holder.
  4. Strip the ends of the wires. Strip about half an inch off both ends of the inline fuse, connector wires, and the wire piece. That makes it easy to join them together.
  5. Align the wires. The wire with the inline fuse should connect with the positive terminal of the battery connector. The wire piece goes on the negative terminal of the connector.
  6. Connect the wires. There are several options for joining cables. You can twist them together and cover them with tape, use crimp connectors, or solder the wires together. You’ll get good results with any of these methods, but soldering forms the strongest bonds.
  7. Insert the end connectors. Crimp connectors on the open ends of the new battery connector and ensure they’re firm and secure.
  8. Join the battery connector to the battery. Connect the wire with the inline fuse holder to the positive terminal and the other wire to the negative terminal. Ensuring proper polarity is crucial to the success of the project.
  9. Connect the new 12-volt battery. A 12-volt battery is considerably bigger than a 6-volt. Hence you might need to get creative when inserting it into the power wheel. Experiment with various positions until you get one that fits.
  10. Test drive the supercharger. Test the upgraded 12-volt ride on to see how faster it goes. You should get up to a 50% speed boost with this battery upgrade.

Conclusion

Typically, you can upgrade a 6-volt battery to 12-volt and a 12-volt battery to 18-volt without damaging the drivable toy.

You must install a 30 or 40 removable Automotive Type Fuse (ATF) to keep the motors from overheating and setting the ride on ablaze. It might also ruin the battery.

Lithium-ion power tool battery or aftermarket Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) battery are both excellent choices. Lithium batteries are smaller, lightweight, and have shorter charging times.

Be sure that your child can handle the additional speed that comes with upgrading power wheels batteries.