This post contains affiliate links.
Driving Power Wheels toys is a fun and exciting experience for many children. These ride-on vehicles often look like tiny versions of everyday cars and have various features for kids to enjoy. What you may not have thought about is what kind of battery these oversized toys need and how long they last.
On average, most power wheels ride-on-cars have a 6-volt or 12-volt battery. Some cars meant to carry older kids or multiple children have a 24-volt battery, enabling them to reach higher speeds and carry more weight. These batteries can last up to six years, but lifespan often relies on how it is charged and how it is kept when not in use.
Ride on cars rely on the battery to give your kids a safe and fun ride. Pulling out your Power Wheels for a ride and realizing the battery has no charge is never a fun experience. Read on for everything you need to know about Power Wheels battery life and how to get the most out of your battery.
Power Wheels Battery Life Out of the Box and Over Time
In total, with good maintenance, most Power Wheels batteries should work for 4-5 years, and many times up to six years. Even if the vehicle is not being used in the winter, it will still need care and attention during that season to make the battery last.
That being said, many Power Wheels owners only get about 2-3 years out of their batteries. So, what's going on?
Well, this is where things get tricky. The life of your battery is going to depend greatly on how it is used and how it is cared for.
How Long Does a Battery Last While in Use?
How long the battery will last depends on many factors, such as voltage, incline, and speed.
Power Wheels with a 6V battery typically last for 40-60 minutes at full speed. For cars using 12V or 24V batteries, usage time is typically between 2-4 hours. While this is the average, things like terrain, speed, and frequency of use can also have an effect on usage time. The faster your kid rides and the rougher the terrain, the more power will be required to keep the car going.
For instance, most 6V Power Wheels are designed for children aged 2-4 years with an average speed of 2-3mph. Driving on a flat paved road at two mph is going to result in a longer usage time than if your kid was trying to go full speed up and down hills. Power Wheels with 12V and 24V batteries are better designed for bumpier terrain and higher speeds. However, the usage time of these cars will be affected by these factors as well.
How to Increase a Power Wheels Battery's Lifespan
Does your ride-on car battery die too quickly or just not last as long as you're hoping it will? Though the average life span of a Power Wheels battery is up to six years, most Power Wheels owners are only getting about half of that from their battery.
Carefully maintain your Power Wheels battery is a great way to increase the duration of it and get more enjoyment out of the toy. While we can't help make your child's Power Wheels go on forever, we've got some tips and tricks that will allow them to stay on the go for a longer time. Furthermore, you can extend the battery capacity and running time of the power wheels by four times.
Taking a Look at Battery Chemistry
Battery chemistry varies depending on the type of battery. For example, lithium-ion batteries require a different chemical composition than lead-acid batteries.
Power Wheels run with sealed lead-acid batteries (unless they've been altered to run with a lithium-ion battery). These tend to be more cost-effective but lack the energy capacity, depth of discharge, and lifespan that lithium-ion batteries have. However, knowing what your battery can handle and how to care for it based on its chemistry can help you can the most out of your investment.
Power Usage and Battery Capacity
A battery's power usage and battery capacity each affect the amount of time it will last before running out of juice. The capacity of a battery is measured in Watt-hour and tells you how much energy can be stored within the battery. The power usage is calculated based on the average speed, the type of the terrain, and whether or not it is driven on a slope.
A Power Wheels car that is driven at its maximum speed on bumpy terrains will consume more power. With this, the battery will run out after a short time. If your kids are planning to ride for long hours, it's good to have a spare battery on hand.
The Battery's Depth of Discharge
A battery's depth of discharge is the percentage of its charge that you can safely use. It's important to check which percentage your battery can withstand. Lead-acid batteries should not be discharged past roughly 50 percent, as doing so negatively impacts the lifetime of the battery.
The life expectancy of a lead-acid battery is highly dependent on the State of Charge (SoC) that it's been cycled at. For example, if taken from 80% SoC and cycled to 20%, the battery would not likely last as long as cycling that is done between 100% SoC and 50% SoC. These properties primarily change due to the alterations of the crystalline structure that occur as battery charges.
How Long Does It Take to Charge a Power Wheels Battery?
There is more to ride-on toys than just the quality of the product. For instance, how long does it take for your battery to charge? It's a common concern for parents that this process may take a while, so you should consider this when deciding which toy is right for you.
To avoid disappointments, make sure that before you buy a Power Wheels toy for your child, you know how long it takes to charge the battery and how long it will last. This will extend the life and effectiveness of your battery, so you can get out and about for a reasonable amount of time without recharging.
When it comes to charging time, some toys will be quicker than others. Factors like the battery size, charger, and the duration you've had it for will come into play.
How long does a battery take to charge, and how long does it last?
Charging Times for Each Voltage Type of Battery?
The battery size plays a big part in how long the battery will take to charge.
- 6V Batteries: 6V is the lowest voltage power wheel battery available. You need to charge it for a minimum of 10 hours for its first charge, but then you can charge it in a shorter time after that—usually about 6 hours.
- 12V Batteries: 12V batteries are mid-range voltage batteries. They take about 18 hours to charge when new, but after that, they can be charged in 12 hours.
- 24V Batteries: 24V Power Wheels batteries aren't as popular and are more appropriate for toys best suited for older kids. They store a relatively higher voltage, with a charging time is 18 hours of the box and a standard charging time that is also 18 hours.
What Happens If You Overcharge a Power Wheels Battery?
Overcharging the battery can create unstable conditions, increase pressure, and lead to a thermal runaway. While it is recommended to charge your Power Wheels battery between 10 to 18 hours straight out of the box, you should avoid charging it longer than the recommended amount after that first charge. This will ensure that the battery stays in good working condition and extend the overall life of the battery.
Power wheels batteries usually have an LED that shows when it is currently charging and another to show when it is ready to use. This light may be on the dashboard of the car or at the charger. If it is not, check that you have it plugged into an outlet & make sure the battery is being charged. The LED charge lights allow you to know whether your power battery is charging or not.
Is It Okay to Undercharge a Power Wheels Battery?
Following the manufacturer's instructions is a good way to make sure that your battery will continue to work optimally. The obvious consequence of undercharging your battery is that it will begin to deteriorate. Eventually, its performance will decrease, and it could even stop working altogether.
One handy tip to keep battery life in your toy going for longer is that 18-hour charge before its first use. If you do not charge your Power Wheel battery for up to 18 hours right out of the box, it might permanently lose its ability to store a charge. This will help your Power Wheels running smoother and much longer, so it's a good idea to invest in an extra battery for downtime.
Is It Safe to Leave a Power Wheels Battery Charging Overnight?
When you charge the toy as directed by the manufacturer, you can be sure that your child is getting the best quality and will get to enjoy it for a long time. Leaving your Power Wheels charging for more than 24 hours will kill the battery life and reduce its efficiency. Charge it before going to bed but unplug it when you go to sleep.
One thing you can do to improve the lifetime of your car is to not charge it again after using only a small amount of juice. Wait for the battery to run out before charging it back up. That way you'll save energy and money in the long term.
Preparing Your Power Wheels Battery for Storage
If your Power Wheels vehicles will be sitting untouched for an extended period of time, it is important to understand how to store it properly to extend the longevity of the battery.
One of the biggest culprits of a battery with a short lifespan is not charging it before putting it in storage. Storing an uncharged Power Wheels battery can cause a decreased lifespan on the battery. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of a dead battery, leaving many parents to seek out a new battery after only one or two years of use.
If you store the battery uncharged, it's likely to die before you can pull it out again in the spring. So how do you avoid this problem?
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Storing a Power Wheels Battery
When getting ready to pack up their Power Wheels for the colder months, many owners will make some of these common mistakes:
Don't Over Charge Your Battery
It is not recommended to leave a Power Wheels battery on charge for longer than 12-15 hours after that initial charge. The Power Wheel battery charger doesn't have an automatic function that knows when your battery is fully charged and shuts off automatically. Instead, it will continue charging your battery until it surpasses its full charge level.
Leaving the battery on charge for a long period of time may subject it to excessive heat and lead to damage. Leaving it on for too long can cause the battery pack to swell in size and eventually crack open.
Avoid Leaving the Battery Hooked Up to the Charging Unit
Most Power Wheel models don't use much battery power when not in use. However, typical storage time can range between two and five months. If there is any battery draw during this time, that could kill the battery.
It is always a good idea to check the batteries periodically to make sure they can function properly for the duration of the storage period. Power Wheel batteries typically lose their charge gradually over time, so it is important to monitor the charge level. If the battery gets too low, your charger will not recognize that it's hooked into a battery and won't start charging.
Don't Put Your Power Wheels Away with a Dead Battery
Many who store their Power Wheels during the winter sometimes forget that it needs to be charged before putting it away.
Always, always give your Power Wheels a good charge before packing it up for storage. Leaving your Power Wheels in a discharged state will greatly shorten battery life and might leave you having to buy a new battery next spring.
What Happens to the Battery During Storage?
Power Wheels battery life will vary depending on a number of factors. The discharge rate is a natural process that can't be completely stopped even if your Power Wheels are not used. It is important to note that the natural discharge of a battery will still happen even if it was charged fully and stored away.
Typically, a lead-acid battery will lose around 5% of its charge a month without needing to use the battery's power. This is common with any type of rechargeable battery, including that for Power Wheels. The typical battery will discharge itself without being used, so it should be changed periodically.
If a battery is left in a discharged state for too long, sulfation will start to build upon the inside of the battery and lower its capacity. To avoid this, make sure to charge your battery once a month, even if it's in storage.
When to Replace Your Power Wheels Battery
Generally, it can be hard to know if your battery is ready to be replaced, but you can determine this by looking at how long it takes to charge and how long it will hold the charge. Signs that the battery might be bad are a long recharge time or short usable time.
A completely drained battery is another sign that it is time to be replaced. Remember, batteries gradually lose charge over time. Even if you charge the battery before storing your power wheels, the natural discharge rate decelerates and drains the battery over time. It will eventually drop to zero charges, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is dead.
If you have a battery that is almost fully drained, you can try parallel charging to revive the battery, or you may need to replace the battery.
How to Change the Battery
Accessing the battery area on each Power Wheels model maybe just a little different. However, the steps for replacing the battery are pretty much the same. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of what needs to be done when it is time to change the battery.
- Locate and unlock the fastener to access the battery. This could be located at the back of the vehicle, at the front, or under the seat.
- Unplug the battery connector. This should come right out of the battery by squeezing the two sides of the connector.
- Remove the battery cover. Now it's time to access the battery by removing the battery cover. Most Power Wheels require a Phillips head screwdriver for this step. When removing the cover, you'll want to make sure to pull the battery connect through the opening in the cover.
- Remove the old battery. Removing the old battery from your car is as easy as lifting it out of the machine.
- Install the new battery. Set the battery into position inside the battery compartment.
- Replace the battery cover and battery connector. Thread the new battery connector through the opening in the battery cover and then replace the battery cover fasteners. Replace and tighten the screws with your Phillips screwdriver but be careful not to over-tighten.
And that's it! If you are more of a visual learner, here is a great video on how to change a ride on car battery. You should also take a look at your model's manual for more specific instructions.
How to Dispose of a Dead Power Wheels Battery
Power Wheels batteries are sealed lead-acid batteries which can't be disposed of as regular trash. They need to be recycled or dealt with in a responsible way that makes it, so they don't contaminate the environment.
Recycling your Power Wheels batteries also creates less waste that would normally end up in our landfills and helps the environment. These batteries have components like copper, nickel, and zinc, which can be reclaimed and reused, providing a reliable source for raw materials to make new products.
Quick Tips for Optimal Battery Care
Here are some simple battery care tips that you should keep in mind to increase the life of your batteries:
- If the battery is running really low, plug it in to prevent complete discharge.
- To avoid draining the battery while in storage, charge the vehicle's battery at least every month. Ensure that it is fully charged before wrapping up any storage so as to prevent the battery from going flat.
- Always make sure to remove the battery when it is exhausted. This ensures that corrosion won't damage your car battery and make it unusable. If the battery acid leaks, avoid contact and put it in a plastic bag.
- Storing the battery in high temperatures or extreme cold could lead to a breakdown. Avoid storage temperatures above 75° F or below -10° F.
- Disconnecting the power wheel battery when it's not fully charged will shorten its lifespan. Consider buying one or two extras to avoid using your battery when it's not fully charged.
The life expectancy of a Power Wheels battery is unpredictable and different across each car. That being said, to get the best performance out of your toy car, you'll need to know how long a Power Wheels battery lasts and what to do to ensure its lifespan is extended.
With proper use and maintenance, you can expect your battery to last a lot longer and keep your children happily entertained. When it comes to how long a battery will last, it can vary depending on the model and the speed modes since there are many models with different specs. Similarly, the lifetime of a battery will depend on how much use you put it through.
Regardless, as long as you make sure to give it the correct charge time and always check on it while in storage, your battery should last your kids for hours of fun.