One of the most in-demand toys among children in America, Power Wheels — small, battery-powered, kid-sized vehicles — are available at Walmart. But they’re an unusual item, one-third toy, one-third electronics, and one-third powered outdoor device. Where do Power Wheels stand when it comes to Walmart’s return and exchange policies?
You can return your Power Wheels to Walmart stores within 90 days of the purchase date (or delivery date, if ordered online), preferably with your receipt. Exchanges are also permitted, or you can try to salvage your purchase via the Power Wheels dedicated repair hotline.
If you’re experiencing problems with your Power Wheels toy vehicle, this article will walk you through all your possible solutions, including returns to the store (though you may wish to avoid that option). We’ll also discuss the Power Wheels service line to help you better determine if you should return your Power Wheels toy or request service. Read on to find out all about the courses of action available when there’s a problem.
Power Wheels Has a History of Recalls
As may be expected from a toy as sophisticated as Power Wheels, the line of children’s vehicles has experienced wide-ranging mechanical problems in the past. Some of these issues led to market-wide recalls.
For example, in 1991, the “Porsche” model Power Wheel was recalled because the accelerator pedal could become electrically welded in the power position, causing the cars to be unable to stop. There were 12,000 vehicles in this group that were sold to retailers. So much for “German engineering,” huh?
Kransco Power Wheels of San Francisco emphasized that affected users should contact their tech support department to be sent a part that could be installed at home. They also gave consumers the option of bringing in the defective toy vehicle to a service center to have the repair done.
In 1998, a more expansive recall was initiated, which involved the battery connections of models built and sold since 1986. This recall involved nearly ten million toy vehicles. Power Wheels that weren’t repaired during the recall ran the risk of overheating during everyday use.
The third recall happened in the year 2000 when Fisher-Price (Power Wheels’ parent company) issued a warning for 218,000 Harley Davidson-model motorcycle ride-on toys because the throttle foot switch could get stuck in the on position.
A similar situation took place in 2019 with the Barbie Dream Camper model of Power Wheel. The throttle could get stuck, leaving kids no way to stop the toy vehicle.
Recall Experience May Have Helped Technicians
As of 2021, Mattel and Fisher-Price have a service department that comprises many independently owned service centers across the country that are authorized to work on Power Wheels. They are eager to send parts to consumers, along with instruction sheets for proper installation. But they warn, “some Power Wheels parts may only be installed by our authorized service centers.”
It may be a matter of pride that the makers of Power Wheels want to keep them “on the road,” so it stands to reason that they’d encourage repair over return. But that’s not the only way the toy giants try to keep you from returning your Power Wheels to Walmart.
Power Wheels’ Makers Encourage You To Call Them
In the Power Wheels “Dune Racer” model User’s Manual, for example, the text reads, “Do not return your vehicle to the store!” (Shop this model on Amazon here.) The manual encourages Power Wheels owners to contact them at 800-348-0751 with any reports of missing parts or other assistance you may need.
They offer a web address to use if you want to find an authorized service center in your area. A quick search on a local zip code revealed over 20 service centers within driving distance.
This is all to let you know that you have an alternative to returning your Power Wheels vehicle to Walmart. For instance, if you think your mechanical or electrical issue has to do with the Power Wheels battery, that seems to be a specialty of their designated repair people. If it’s some other issue, the chances are that you can find the right part to fix the problem with at the Power Wheels website.
Returning Power Wheels Toys Affects the Environment
You may be thinking to yourself, “Geez, having the thing repaired sounds like too much of an ordeal when I can just bring it back to Walmart.” But there are a couple of advantages to doing the repair or getting it done that you might not have thought of: first among those is the environmental impact.
Power Wheels batteries are the type that makes recycling necessary. To properly dispose of one, you must bring it to a convenience center that deals with 12-volt lithium-ion batteries. A fair amount of research could not confirm that Walmart observes proper lithium-battery recycling. So yes, you as the consumer have an obligation to preserve the metals in that battery as long as you can. Thus, repairs are preferable to returns in this aspect.
The second consideration is similar to the first. It has to do with the space in a landfill that a whole Power Wheels toy would take up. If only one small part is bad, it’s a shame to send all the plastic, circuitry, and rubber to the dump. It’s just a waste of too much material.
You Should Buy the Safest Power Wheels Toy
One way to sidestep any issues of recall or necessary repair is to invest in the toy for your kids that is least susceptible, that is, the safest. Those toys are out there. In fact, in some cases, Power Wheels are being used therapeutically with children who suffer from limited mobility.
Therapy facilities add custom safety equipment to the toys and let young patients get behind the wheel for the feeling of freedom it brings. So surely we can find a model that’s safe and reliable. I’ve done some research on the safest modifications that are standard issue on many Power Wheels, summarized below.
- Polycarbonate body. This material is tough enough so that if your child has a collision in his or her Power Wheel, the toy won’t crumple and endanger physical health.
- Seat belts. As may be expected, Power Wheels models that include functioning seat belts will grant your child that extra layer of protection in case of a minor collision.
- Remote control. Make sure to buy a model that includes parental remote control, allowing you to steer, stop, and turn off the vehicle.
If you’re an especially protective parent, you may also want to enforce a helmet rule when your kids drive their Power Wheels. Even the littlest bump can be dangerous, otherwise.
Now you know that Walmart will accept your Power Wheels return, but I hope I’ve also brought some other thoughts on the matter to your mind. Mainly, what I’ve tried to show is that you don’t have to be a part of “disposable culture,” where the amount of waste thrown away is simply unacceptable.
I’ll go out on a limb, too, and suggest that you may actually enjoy doing the repairs your child’s Power Wheels toy needs. There’s something pleasing about turning a wrench to make something work that didn’t work before. Your spouse or significant other will notice your handiness, too.
In any case, I wish you much fun with your family’s Power Wheels, whether you do the repair or the return. The freedom of the road awaits!