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You may be thinking of gifts to buy for your little one. Maybe you’ve heard of Power Wheels, and you think this would be a great gift, but naturally, you are concerned about safety. Your first question might be, do these things have seat belts?
Not all Power Wheels have seat belts. Although they are designed to be a play feature, the seat belts included in some of the models are not designed for safety. However, with its maximum speed of 6mph, Power Wheels are safe as long as your child follows the recommended guidelines.
In this article, I will explain why Power Wheels are safe as long as your child follows certain guidelines, how much they cost, and what you can do to make them last longer. Let’s get into it!
Are Power Wheels Safe?
It makes sense that your primary concern when thinking of buying something like this for your child is its safety. Look at you, being a good parent.
Some Concerns You May Have
There have been debates concerning whether these vehicles are safe, and this comes from the fact that there were some safety concerns in the past. According to the US CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), in 1998, there were reports of electrical components failing and overheating. Some of these electrical failures even lead to fires, and there were some reports of vehicles not stopping.
According to CNN Money, in 2001, Fisher-Price (the manufacturer of Power Wheels) paid a $1.1 million fine to the U.S government because they apparently did not report some of these safety defects. At the time, this was the biggest fine a toy company had ever received in the history of the CPSC.
The good news is that after receiving this fine, Fisher-Price was forced to make significant improvements in its safety standards. Not only did they have to pay a lot of money as a result of these incidents, but they also got bad press, so their safety standards became extremely important to them.
Now, if you check out their “Why Choose Power Wheels?” page, you’ll find that they advertise safety as one of the reasons for which you should choose their product. It makes sense that they worked on this so much since their reputation and future success depended on it. So actually, all the defects which happened in the past lead to great safety standards today!
How Fast Do They Go?
Now that I told you that some of these Power Wheels don’t have seat belts, you may be wondering how fast these things go. The speed of Power Wheels can vary, but the maximum speed they can reach is 6mph (10km/h). One safety feature that they have is a parental speed lock. This feature allows your child to get used to steering the vehicle at low speeds – around 212mph (4km/h) before accessing higher speed.
Once your child is comfortable steering and using the vehicle, you can remove the parental speed lock, which allows the vehicle to go faster – usually 5mph (8km/h). Think of this speed as a fast walking pace.
Although I’ve stated these vehicles don’t go very fast, there are some safety guidelines you should follow to make sure your little one has no problems:
- Supervise your child. These vehicles are safe. Still, you want to make sure you keep an eye on what’s going on, especially at the beginning when he/she is just getting used to riding around.
- Do not allow your child to drive on a steep slope. Check that the area your child will drive around is flat since a steep slope could cause the vehicle to go at high speeds and possibly tip over, which could lead to an injury.
- Be mindful of the environment your child is driving the vehicle in. Make sure your child is not driving anywhere near roads, lakes (or any other body of water), or stairs.
- Only allow your child to use the vehicle in the daytime. using the vehicle in the dark could be dangerous since there may be obstacles that may not be visible.
- Allow a maximum of two children on the vehicle (or one if it’s a one-seater). Having more than two children on the vehicle means one of them will not be sitting in a seat and could potentially fall off.
If you follow these guidelines, Power Wheels will be totally safe. I suggest you also read the manual which will come with the vehicle if you choose to buy one.
How Much Do They Cost?
Now we’ve covered that as long as you follow some basic safety guidelines, these vehicles are safe. And you’re thinking of the huge smile on your child’s face when he/she unwraps it. But wait, how much do these things cost?
They range from $250 – $450, depending on the model you want and the extra features you may be interested in.
For example, some of the more expensive ones come with a voice-amplifying microphone and sound effects. They even have a model that opens from the back to reveal a kitchen and a pretend campfire & grill. But if you’re not interested in that extra stuff, you can get your hands on one on the cheaper end of the scale.
How Long Do They Last?
In addition to Mattel’s instructions for preserving the battery, you can go the extra mile (link pun intended) and do a few more things if you really want to extend the battery life. Here are a few things to consider:
- Remove the battery from the vehicle when it is not being used. This will prevent the battery from draining unnecessarily. According to Tech Battery Solutions, it’s best to keep the battery somewhere relatively warm, at a temperature of 55-70°F (13-21°C).
- Charge the battery once in a while even when it hasn’t been used. When a battery that isn’t being used does not get charged, it’s charging capacity will diminish due to the accumulation of sulfation.
What Are Some Alternatives?
Maybe you think $250 – $450 is a bit much, and you want to get something cheaper but with the same kind of idea. Well, you don’t necessarily need to get a car for your child to ride in. For ages 6 and upwards, you could get the YEZI Remote Control Truck. This truck can go up to 9mph (15km/h) and has shock absorbers, making it durable.
Alternatively, for the younger ones, you might want to go for the Forty4 Electric Race Car Toys. Since they are designed for younger children, they are straightforward to use, and it comes in a pack of two which creates the opportunity for a race head-to-head.
In this article, we’ve covered that although not all Power Wheels have seat belts, they are totally safe (as long as they are used correctly). Although they do cost a few hundred dollars, you might consider it a worthwhile investment when you think of how happy your child might be to have their own car to ride in!
Lastly, if you take care of the battery, it will last long enough for your child to make the most of it for several years. However, if it seems too costly, there are alternatives out there.