This post contains affiliate links.
Power Wheels function just like any other battery-powered item, in that careful charging practices can make a big difference in terms of battery longevity. In this article, you'll find helpful guidelines on how and when to charge a Power Wheels battery.
The manufacturer's recommendation is to charge the battery 10-18 hours before it is ever used and then to charge it for 6-18 hours after each riding session, regardless of ride length. Keep in mind that charge patterns vary depending on which type of battery you are using.
It is also of utmost importance to know how to avoid battery problems and how to troubleshoot a dead battery, since the culprit may not always be the battery itself. Read on to learn all about Power Wheels battery care.
How Long To Charge Power Wheels Battery for Good Results
The charging requirements for Power Wheels vehicles vary depending on the battery voltage. There are three different types of batteries: 6V, 12V, and 24V. Knowing which battery your vehicle holds will help prevent overcharging and undercharging.
Below is a handy chart showing how long you should charge each type of battery before the initial use and after each time the Power Wheels vehicle has been ridden.
|Battery Type||First-Ever Charge||After Every Use|
|6V||10 hrs.||6 hrs.|
|12V||18 hrs.||12 hrs.|
|24V||18 hrs.||18 hrs.|
Source: Mattel Power Wheels Instruction Sheets
How Long Does A Power Wheels Battery Last?
The type of terrain being driven on has a significant effect on battery range. A hilly backyard, for example, will tire the battery down much quicker than a driveway.
You'll notice that most Power Wheels vehicles contain a 12V battery since this offers a balance of adequate battery range and cost-effectiveness. 6V batteries don't take long to charge, but they do come with the drawback of a lower range, potentially cutting playtime short.
Before First Time Use
You'll need to charge your battery to full capacity before first use. The recommendation for this specific vehicle, the Fisher-Price Dunes Racer, is that you charge the battery for at least 18 hours. Any less than that, and you run the risk of a shortened playtime.
Is It Possible To Overcharge?
It is certainly possible to overcharge the battery in your Power Wheels vehicle. This manufacturer recommends that you never charge the battery for longer than 30 hours.
Overcharging the battery can lead to:
- Reduced battery lifespan
- Lower battery capacity
- Reduced battery range
- A dead battery
After Every Use
After your kids have used their Power Wheels toy for the first time, you'll need to make sure that you still plug the car in overnight after every use.
6-18 Hours After Every Use
This manufacturer recommends that you charge the vehicle for 14 hours after every use. This should be enough to avoid undercharging the battery while also preventing you from being overzealous and overcharging the battery.
Why Ride Duration Doesn't Matter
Even if your child only rode their Power Wheel for 10 minutes, you are still encouraged to keep the vehicle plugged in for the entire 6-18 hours after every ride. It can be hard to judge just how much battery capacity has been used during playtime, and there's no need to worry about harming the battery as long as you follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
If You Are Bringing Your Power Wheel Camping
Many families enjoy bringing their Power Wheels with them when they go camping or on vacation. It's a fun toy to bring to such outings, but remote campgrounds may present a dilemma when it comes to charging the battery. The good news is that there is a simple solution for charging while out on the road.
For this to work, the portable power station must hold more power than what the battery requires. You'll have to do a few quick calculations:
- Know the battery capacity in Watt-hours, found from multiplying voltage (V) and ampere-hours (Ah).
- Know the battery capacity of the power station.
- Calculate the power of the charger: output voltage x charge current.
- Find the output power of the power station.
The power station's battery capacity must be higher than the capacity in the vehicle battery. One power station that will likely work for these purposes is the FlashFish Power Station.
Is There A Way To Charge Your Power Wheel Faster?
Understandably, charging periods of 6-18 hours can be frustratingly long. Kids don't often have the patience to deal with these long wait periods. For this reason, there are upgraded chargers that deliver a more rapid charge versus the standard charger that comes with the factory settings.
The Power Wheels 12-Volt Quick Charger can charge the battery at a clip that is two times faster than the typical rechargeable battery. This model is also equipped with an automatic shut-off control to avoid overheating.
How Often Do You Need To Replace A Charger?
You are bound to have to replace a charger at some point during the lifetime of your Power Wheels vehicle. The charger itself usually comes with a warranty of around one year. Always hold onto warranty information, as you may be able to get a free replacement if the charger does not last through the warranty.
After the warranty coverage has expired, all bets are off. The charger may last a couple more years if you take good care of it, but it is likely to gradually deteriorate. When the time comes to replace the charger, you must remember to get a charger with the same output, as long as you haven't made any significant changes to the battery system.
How Often Do You Need To Replace A Battery?
A typical Power Wheels battery may come with a limited warranty of 6 months or so and is expected to last 3-4 years. This is the case as long as you can take good care of the battery.
When it comes time to replacing the battery, make sure that you do so with one having the same rating. Some owners attempt to make upgrades from single 6V or 12V batteries to 18V or 24V setups, but you have to know what you're doing. Otherwise, such alterations pose a hazard where the leakage of acid may even occur.
How To Avoid Damaging Your Battery
If a battery is suddenly unable to hold a charge and has a shorter-than-expected lifespan, then there may be a chance that battery care was a culprit. It's easy to forget guidelines, such as the need to fully charge the battery before storage each year.
You should find the battery care tips in the section below helpful. Of particular importance is that you continue to charge the battery routinely, with the frequency mentioned below, regardless of whether your child has ridden the vehicle or not in the last month.
Consider Purchasing a Smart Charger
You can damage your battery by overcharging it repeatedly. Eventually, the battery may lose its ability to hold a charge at all. This problem can easily be remedied if you upgrade to a charger that will automatically shut off once the battery has been fully charged.
The stock charger that comes with the Power Wheel will generally be a dummy charger, which will feed a constant voltage to the battery, regardless of charge level. Smart chargers are also surprisingly affordable, as is the case with this Noco Genius battery charger.
Don't Leave the Battery Uncharged During Winter Storage
Another mistake that will kill the battery is leaving it unattended during long-term storage periods, such as the winter months. During times of storage, the battery continues to discharge. The battery may be completely dead or unable to hold a charge when you take it out for use in the spring.
This can be avoided if you fully charge the battery before winter storage. Consider removing the battery from the vehicle if you plan to store the Power Wheel in a storage unit or anywhere else that you don't plan to visit regularly.
Also, be sure to periodically charge the battery if it's being left unused for a period longer than two months. To avoid overcharging, you may also consider the value of a trickle charger, which keeps the battery fully charged while also shutting off automatically when full capacity has been met.
Charge The Battery At Least Once Per Month
Even if your kid didn't play with the Power Wheel at all for the last month, you should still adhere to the routine of charging the battery to total capacity at least once per month. This will help ensure that the battery maintains its expected lifespan.
Adhere to Temperature Guidelines
Storing the battery in extreme climates can contribute to its decline. The manufacturer's recommendation is to always store the battery in a place where the temperature is never above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and never below -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means that you should store your Power Wheel (or at least the battery) in a room where the temperature is regulated.
If The Battery Dies
If the battery has died during use, try charging per the manufacturer's recommendation before troubleshooting. There are many potential reasons that the battery has died, and it may seem that it is not holding a charge.
Before you write the battery off as a culprit, you are encouraged to use a voltmeter to troubleshoot the issue in a series of steps discussed below. A voltmeter is cheaper than taking a wild guess and purchasing a battery or charger that you don't need, not to mention a waste of your time!
Do Not Leave A Dead (Or Almost Dead) Battery In
Exhausted batteries can cause acid leakage and result in corrosion damage in the battery compartment. Any time that a battery is dead or struggling to hold a charge, you should remove it from its compartment and proceed to troubleshoot the problem.
Be vigilant of any changes in battery performance so that you can remove and replace a battery before it dies. This is also why it's recommended that you charge after every ride. If you let the battery die before you charge it, then you will sacrifice the battery's life expectancy.
Determine if It Is a Broken Charger Cable
You'll be lucky if a broken charger cable is the cost because this is an easy fix. Use a voltmeter to see if the charger is the culprit. As long as the voltage registers within the expected range, as described below, then you can move onto the battery.
To test the charger using the voltmeter, do this:
- Touch the black (negative) test lead to the negative terminal on the charger.
- Touch the red (positive) test lead to the positive terminal on the charger.
If you are testing a 6V charger, you can expect a voltage reading of around 7 volts. The voltage reading on a 12V charger should be within the range of 13-14.5 volts. Any reading less than this indicates that the charger is failing to adequately charge the battery.
Test The Battery
You can also use a voltmeter to check the charge status of the battery. Touch the positive test leads to the battery's positive terminal, and the negative test leads to the negative terminal on the battery.
The reading on the voltmeter should register within the range of 10.5-13 volts for a 12V battery. A reading lower than this indicates that the battery is not holding a charge anymore and needs to be replaced. The same goes for a 6V battery, which has a voltage threshold starting at 5 volts.
Look for Loose Connections
Loose battery connections could be the culprit. If you ever have trouble getting the battery to charge, be sure to check all the wires and connectors in the vehicle. Ensure that the battery connector has been plugged in tightly to the motor harness connector.
Power Wheels batteries need to be charged even before they are used for the first time. The initial charge recommendations are 10-18 hours. After that, you will need to charge the battery 6-18 hours after every use, and at least once per month if the vehicle has not been used for the last month.