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Mods allow you to transform Power Wheels into custom, completely one-of-a-kind vehicles. This is a growing trend among parents who often see their kids quickly grow bored of their Power Wheels vehicles after a few rides. While there are some great benefits to using them when compared with the standard battery-operated toy, the number of customizations available can be somewhat overwhelming, especially if you are new to it all.
Batteries and motors and gearboxes? Your kid is looking for more excitement from their ride-on cars, but you have no idea where to start. Well, I've got you covered. Below, I've put together a list of the top custom options for Power Wheels, as well as some ready-to-drive options for those who aren't the DIY type.
Battery and Motor Upgrades for Speed
If your Power Wheels is still running at two mph, your kid may no longer be impressed. Vehicles at these speeds are typically suited for boys and girls who are around two and three years of age. Maybe your kid has grown past that age, but that does not necessarily mean that your ride-on car is now useless.
Most Power Wheels come fitted with a 6-volt or 12-volt battery and reach two mph to 3mph. By carrying out some simple modifications, you can get your Power Wheels to go as fast as six mph.
Upgrading the Battery on Your Power Wheels
Depending on which model of Power Wheels you bought, your battery may have come in the form of a 6-volt or 12-volt battery. The strength of the battery will affect things like how often you need to recharge the toy and how fast it works. If your kiddo is asking to go faster, it may be time for an upgrade.
Upgrading the batteries gives the vehicle more speed. However, you need to make sure to match the right battery to the right motor if you want the car to last. Using a battery with a higher voltage or amps can cause the motor to overheat and quickly stop working.
While some owners of ride-on cars use lithium batteries to increase the speed of their Power Wheels, lithium batteries are problematic because they deliver too high of a discharge rating. Ride-on cars are designed to function with slower discharge for safety purposes.
Upgrading the Power Wheels Motor
Changing the motor is a great way to get more speed and torque. Remember, you need to match the battery to the motor. If you have upgraded the battery, you will also need to upgrade the motor, or it could burn out.
The stock 550 motors that come standard in most ride-on cars are only designed to handle up to 12 volts. Upgrading to 775 motors, on the other hand, is built to handle speeds up to 36 volts.
However, it is important to note that upgrading the motor to a 775 motor and leaving the 12-volt battery will not increase the speed of your car. This could make it run slower. If you are looking for the best speed increase, pairing a 775 motor with an 18- or 24-volt battery is your best bet.
Upgrade to Hardened Steel Gears
Upgrading the gears may not sound exciting, but this step is essential if you are making modifications to your car. Most modern ride-on cars use a 7R gearcase with five gears:
- Pinion Gear
- First Gear
- Second Gear
- Third Gear
- Final Drive Gear
If you are upgrading to a 775 motor or 18-volt battery or higher, hardened steel gears are a must! The stock plastic gears on Power Wheels will tears up with the increased speed and power.
If you have noticed recently that your Power Wheels seem to be moving slower, it could be that one of the gears is worn out and needs to be changed. Make sure to check the first gear, as it is the weakest in the gearbox and has the most contact with the pinion gear.
Make Your Own Custom Rims
This is a project that definitely takes more effort. However, if you are up for the DIY challenge, creating custom rims is a great way to personalize the appearance of your Power Wheels car.
While there are several different techniques for customizing tires, the most popular method is to create a “deep dish” style rim using a metal cake pan.
You will start out by measuring the diameter of the face and then the diameter of the entire tier. This will give you an idea of what size cake pan you will need for your tires. You will then pull off the stock faces, mark the tires, and start cutting.
For a full tutorial on how to personalize your wheels, check out this video.
Customize the Seats for Maximum Comfort
If your goal is to make your Power Wheels feel like a luxury car, then you cannot forget to customize the seats.
If you have felt the basic Power Wheels seats before, they aren't very comfortable. Creating a cushioned pad with some foam and fabric would make the seat much more enjoyable to sit in and allow you to add some customization to the interior of the car.
Add On Custom Lights
Adding lights to your ride-on car is a really easy way to add more excitement to your vehicle.
To add lights, you will need LED strips or individual LEDs. A voltage step-down converter, a distribution, block, a toggle switch, and some basic tools. You may also want to consider purchasing a dedicated 12V battery and installing it just for the lights so that they don't take away from the regular run time of your car.
If your Power Wheels car is running above 12V batteries, it is best to use a voltage step-down converter between the battery and the distribution block.
Some of the lights you could add to the vehicle include:
- Fog lights
- Cabin lights
- Underbody lights
Install A Four-Point Safety Harness
Customization does not just mean adding in the cool stuff. You can also personalize your car to add extra safety for your child.
Most Power Wheels ride-on cars come with a simple across-the-lap seat belt to keep your child securely in the vehicle while it is moving. However, this might not be enough, especially if you are adding upgrades to the battery and motor to make the car go faster.
In this case, installing a four-point safety harness is something you will want to consider. Since all ride-on car models are different, no one harness installation is going to be the same, so you may need to make some adjustments as you go.
Here is a great tutorial on how to install a four-point safety harness.
Add Realism with a Key Start
Adding a key start switch is a great way to bring another level of realism to your Power Wheels. With a key start switch, the vehicle will not turn on until the key is inserted and turned. This is something your kid will surely enjoy!
To install a key start, follow these steps:
- Measure the distance between the battery lead and where you want to drill a hole for most cars. Drill a hole to fit your key switch and insert it into place. Then tighten the nut securely on top.
- Unplug the battery and cut either the positive or negative lead. Make sure not to cut both.
- Strip 1/4″ of insulation off the end of the wires, insert the wires into the housing, and crimp.
If you need a visual, here are video instructions on how to install a key ignition switch.
Give It a Cool Theme with Paint and Stickers
Whether you have thrifted an old Power Wheels or are looking to revamp one with a style you aren't a fan of, a bit of paint and some stickers can do wonders for your vehicle. And this isn't a job that requires a professional.
When repainting your ride-on cars, you first want to make sure you choose a child-safe paint that can also stand up against any play your kid will put it through. Fast-drying, chip-resistant spray paint is going to be your best bet.
Next, prepare the vehicle by sanding down and washing any rough parts and taking the whole thing apart. Then lay each piece out in a prepared space. Spray each piece with 2-4 layers on each side, letting each coat dry completely before adding the next.
Add a Trailer Hitch
It's inherent for our kids to want to be just like us. If you are often pulling something behind your vehicle (boat, trailer, etc.), adding a trailer hitch to your Power Wheels might make your kid's day.
Keep in mind that the vehicle is going to move slower if it is dragging extra weight. However, just like the key ignition switch, a trailer hitch has the potential to add another layer of fun and realism to the car and even teach some helpful life skills.
If you want to add a hitch, this video might help you.
Throw In Some Tunes
While some ride-on cars may have a radio system, they don't typically work very well and require their own power source. Personalizing your vehicle with a new radio is a simple and cheap way to increase excitement.
Many radio systems today have Bluetooth capability and auxiliary cords, so your kid can listen to their mp3 play or stream whatever music they want.
You may have to get creative in finding a way to mount the radio since radio sizes and Power Wheels models can vary. This also takes some electrical experience or knowledge, so keep that in mind.
Here is a video of one Power Wheels owner installing a radio to give you a general idea of what to expect.
Ready-Made Custom Options to Consider for power wheels
While creating their own customization can be fun for many parents, others may lack the time, knowledge, or desire to modify their Power Wheels independently. Luckily, there are various options online for completed, ready-to-use Power Wheels.
Below, I've put together some of the top custom options for Power Wheels:
- 12v Kids Ride-On Truck: This ride-on pickup truck features a two-person leather seat, a parent remote to control speed, an MP3 player with Bluetooth, and a detailed finish.
- Range Rover SUV Ride-On Car: This custom kid's SUV has a 12V charge, parental remote, LED lights, an MP3 player, and custom black rims.
- Ride-On Lamborghini: Your kid will really feel like they are in a luxury car with butterfly doors and leather seats. It also has LED lights and an AUX cord MP3 player.
- Mercedes G Wagon: This ride-on car comes in three colors and sports 4-wheel drive. It also has real leather seats and a working stereo for your kid to enjoy while they play.
Made To Order Cars
If you aren't able to find the personalizations you were looking for and aren't willing to make the modifications yourself, you could always get your custom ride-on car made to order.
While the price for engineering a completely exclusive and unique design isn't cheap, it is an option if you do want to go this route.
Power Wheels are a unique and fun way to customize your car while also making it easier for your kid to use and for you to maintain. Whether you're looking for something affordable or want to pick up a new challenge, I hope these modification options can help transform your ride in new and exciting ways.
As you modify your car, remember to keep safety in mind, and don't forget to make it an exciting experience for both you and your kids.