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If you find your little one is bored with their Power Wheels' snail-paced factory settings, you might consider increasing the speed. Rather than sending your expensive electric vehicle to gather dust in the garage, upgrading your battery may be an option. With an increased speed, your kids will get excited all over again, but you might wonder how much faster your power Wheels can go?
A Power Wheels can go up to 100 mph (160.9 km/h) with modifications, which is no child's play. For a safer ride for children, you may increase the speed to 6 mph (9.6 km/h) with a 24v battery and up to 10 mph (16 km/h) with a 36v for children nine plus.
Modifications on a 12v system are not as simple as a battery change; the higher power you modify your Power Wheels to, the more the original components need to be adapted and replaced. So, before considering a speed increase, the safety of your children should come first and foremost. If you would like to know how fast your Power Wheels can go, please read on as I answer this question.
How Fast Can Factory Power Wheels Go?
Typically you can expect Power wheels to come in the 6v and 12v variety. Power Wheels speeds vary greatly from 2 mph (3.2 km/h) to 6 mph (9.6 km/h). When you calculate an average adult walking speed at four miles an hour, you can see that Power Wheels are a fairly slow and safe option, even at top speeds.
Here are a few examples:
|Age Group||Model||Forward Speed||Reverse Speed|
|1.5-4 years||Hot Wheels™ Jeep® Wrangler (6 volts)||2.5mph (4 km/h)||2.5 mph (4 km/h)|
|2-5 years||Nickelodeon™ Blaze™ Monster Truck||2.5 mph (4 km/h)||2.5 mph (4 km/h)|
|3-7 years||Jurassic Park™ Jeep® Wrangler||5 mph (8 km/h)||2.5 mph (4 km/h)|
|5-10 years||Kawasaki KFX®||6 mph (9.66 km/h)|
What Model Powerwheels Is the Fastest?
The Power Wheels Kawasaki KFX is the fastest Power Wheels on the market in 2021, with a top speed of 6 mph (9.66 km/h) and a reverse speed of 3 mph (4.83 km/h) at factory settings. This quad-style Power Wheel is a single-occupant ride-on with the standard 12v lead Sealed Lead Acid battery and the two-speed pedal switch system.
To exceed a maximum of 6 mph (9.66 km/h) of the 12v factory settings, you’d need to increase the battery power. However, it’s not as simple as a battery change. You might get away with a 12v-18v upgrade with the factory wiring and components, although the added amperage might stress the factory components such as the gears and shorten the car's lifespan.
Furthermore, to create a substantial increase in speed to over the factory speed limits by modifying the factory 12v to a 24v, 36v, or 48v would require significant modifications of the existing components to prevent burning out the motor, or worse, risking hazards such as fire or even explosions. That’s not an ideal situation for your children, as you might have guessed.
Is Modification to a Higher Voltage Battery Safe?
According to Martell, it’s essential to remember that modifying your child's Power Wheels to a higher voltage battery makes your warranty null and void. Power Wheels are between $200 and $450, (some are under $200), so you stand to lose money should something go wrong. More importantly, unprofessional customization can be extremely dangerous if you do it incorrectly.
Martell warns that electrical modifications may lead to fire and serious injury, and using the wrong battery or charger could result in fire or explosion. Inadequately secured batteries may injure the child should the Power Wheels tip or roll, and poorly insulated wires could even cause electric shock. First and foremost, put your child's safety first when attempting any modifications to your Power Wheels' factory settings.
How Does Motor Voltage Determine Speed?
The voltage of your Power Wheels motor determines the power required to run your car's motor. Typically, Power Wheels come in the 6v and 12v variety, with the lower-powered 6v motor suiting toddlers of three and over. These 6v ride-on maxes out at a slow walking speed and typically struggle outdoors while working well indoors and on asphalt.
The maximum speed of a 12v is higher and averages out at about 4-6 miles an hour, depending on the driver's body weight and particular model of Power Wheels. The voltage of your stock motor determines what kind of battery the car requires to operate safely, and a higher voltage battery may cause the engine to overheat or burn out.
Amperage determines the run time of the vehicle, whereas voltage determines the speed of the car. The amperage draw of the stock motor determines how much power the motor draws from the batteries. When you replace a 12v with a bigger 24v battery, the stock 12v motor won’t handle the increased amperage draw and will typically fail.
However, safe upgrades with the necessary wiring and component modifications can increase your speed. Here’s how:
- 24V Upgrade: usually 6 mph (9.66 km/h)
- 36V Upgrade: usually 15 mph+ (24.14 km/h+)
- 48V Upgrade: usually 18 mph+ (28.97 km/h+)
Upgrading Your Battery for Speed
A simple battery upgrade, from a 12v to a 24v for more speed, sounds simple, but it’s crucial to modify the new battery to your Power Wheels existing factory components. With no clutch in a factory 12v Power wheels, the increased ‘punch' of a larger battery may burn out your 12v motor and strip your gears very quickly. The stock pedal system is just an on/off switch and will not cope with the increased amperage draw.
You need to place a modified electronic power wheels speed controller (ESC) to regulate the battery power to the motor. A variable-speed pedal would eliminate the factory settings' jerky stop-start motion, worsening with the increased power. SLA batteries are your best option as lithium-based batteries tend to overheat and do not offer the SLA battery type's slower discharge rate.
Upgrading Your Power Wheels Motor for Speed
If your Power Wheels has a lower draw motor, you may replace it to increase your overall power. However, moving above 24v is a risky undertaking and would not be safe without serious structural modifications. That’s because Power Wheels have a plastic frame, and fitting a larger motor may rip the car body into pieces. You’d also have to upgrade the mountings to house the new, more powerful battery as well.
It’s a safer option to stick to the factory motor and increase your battery (with the corresponding modifications). Although YouTube videos abound with adults riding Power wheels at furious speeds, if you look closely at the construction, the plastic frame is the only genuine part left of the original Power Wheels, with a totally transformed chassis.
What Is the Fastest Modified Power Wheel?
Grind Hard Plumbing Co managed to pimp their Barbie Jeep to an impressive 85 mph, and they have a great YouTube clip of them building their 85 mph (136.79 km/h) Barbie Jeep In 10 minutes full time-lapse:
And if that speed wasn't scary enough, they topped it off with another Power Wheels feat: A 90 mph power wheels monster modification:
However, you would hardly call these Power Wheels beneath the external shell, as everything beneath their colorful exteriors is raw power and welded steel. You’ll scarcely put your kids in one of these if you have any sense.
How Do I Modify My Power Wheels for Speed?
There are plenty of online videos and tutorials to guide you to increase your Power Wheel's speed. You could opt for the DIY route, which may be a bit more challenging if you increase your battery and motor capacity.
Otherwise, you can make use of plug-and-play kits with all the parts and advice you need to safely modify your Power Wheels up to 12/18/24 volts, such as the Eastcoast PowerUp 12/18/24 Volt Universal Variable Speed ESC Kit.
Although the novelty of the Power Wheels factory setting speed may bore a growing child, you must take care to modify your vehicle safely. A slight increase in speed is safer than a great increase that requires a range of modifications beyond a mere battery swap. However, if adult fun is your option, let's see if you can clock the 90 mph record for your pimped-up Power Wheels.