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The battery to a Power Wheel is perhaps one of, if not the most critical components of the toy; after all, the entire concept is that it is a battery-powered ride-on toy that children can drive around in and have an absolute blast doing so. If you plan to keep the toy around for a while, you'll eventually have to replace the battery because it is rated to have a 3-year life expectancy. However, replacing your power wheel's battery is very, very simple, but where can you get one?
Fisher-Price sells replaceable Power Wheels batteries! You can pick up Power Wheels 12v Battery, and it will be the same one that the toy comes with. Simply replace it via the easily accessible battery compartment, and you are good to go!
Today, we are talking about Power Wheels batteries, how to replace them, what options are available to you, and how to charge them properly. If you'd like to learn more, we encourage you to keep on reading.
Overview of Power Wheels Batteries
Power Wheels have been around since the'80s, fueling childhoods for centuries and creating a cycle of kids growing up with Power Wheels finally purchasing one for their children. They are great fun for kids within the recommended age range of one to seven years old.
But before buying one of these toys that are fun, understanding the batteries that power them is essential to ensure that you have the most out of the product while ensuring that you are not accidentally causing a security threat.
To begin with, it's essential to know the type of battery that these toys use. Unlike your smartphone, which uses a lithium-ion battery, Power Wheels by default come with a lead-acid battery, which is an essential distinction for a single reason. Unlike Lithium-Ion batteries, lead-acid batteries may be overcharged.
Leaving a lead-acid battery to the charger for too long causes it to overheat and form hydrogen and oxygen gasses, which in turn causes pressure inside the battery.
Have There Been Any Recalls?
Yes, there have been a few recalls for Fisher-Price products in the past, however, not for the batteries themselves, so there is no need to worry on that account. But here are the scenarios.
The 18-volt Porsche riding car was the first recall for the company in the year of 1991. When a child would press the foot pedal, it would essentially lock and then make the toy accelerate without any means of stopping, obviously this is a huge safety issue.
Then, in 1998 Fisher-Price recalled around 10 million Power Wheels toys manufactured since the 80’s, specifically 1986.
The intention was to substitute and strengthen battery connectors to prevent the components from overheating and causing fires. The first “S” connector on the early models and the “H” connector was to be replaced with the larger “A” style connector.
All of these systems utilized a single six-volt battery or two 6-volt batteries connected in series to create 12 volts. Newer 12V versions made after this period most likely use one grey 12-volt battery and, more recently, the gray with an orange high 12-volt battery.
We should also mention that there was a recall for a prior Harley Davidson model that also had issues with its acceleration. But this was a smaller case.
As for recent examples (relatively speaking), there haven’t been any safety recalls, however, some models of Power Wheels seem to be built better than others, as in if you go to the official Fisher Price Power Wheels shop, you’ll see radically different customer ratings. Although this could just be chalked up to be bad/good luck.
Although we can’t be 100% certain of the future, considering how long these toys have been around, and given what Mattel / Fisher Price has learned over those years, there is a good chance we won’t see anything on the scale that happened prior.
But remember, if there is a safety issue with your Power Wheel such as a stuck accelerator, stuck gears, or a steering wheel that isn’t working properly, contact Fisher Price or seek the many helpful youtube videos on how you can solve the matter.
To keep safety in check in a Power Wheel, you'll need to practice battery-safety procedures, this is also important to ensure that the vehicle will last longer.
Power Wheels are made from sturdy materials. The Dune Racer, for example, has a body that is created from steel, meaning there is almost no way you will damage the vehicle under normal circumstances.
However, this doesn’t mean that the battery will automatically be secure. You can use a battery securer and fasten it into position, but there is always a possibility that it may fall out whether the toy flips over or the child hits a wall.
Regarding converting a Power Wheel to a different battery, that will cause extensive research and knowledge to do this properly without risking a fire hazard.
But if you want to stay completely safe, you'll want to avoid custom modifications that are not acknowledged by Fisher-Price themselves. Established third-party batteries that are essentially the same as the official Fisher Price lead acid battery are largely okay, just read reviews before making a purchase.
If you are curious about Fisher Price’s official safety guidelines, the official manual will tell you everything:
“Use of the wrong type battery or charger could cause a fire or explosion resulting in serious injury. – Use of Power Wheels® components in products other than Power Wheels® vehicles could cause overheating, fire or explosion. • The battery must be handled by adults only. The battery is heavy and contains sulfuric acid (electrolyte). Dropping the battery could result in serious injury”
“Never allow children to charge the battery. Battery charging must be done by adults only. A child could be injured by the electricity involved in charging the battery. • Read the safety instructions on the battery. • Examine the battery, charger and their connectors for excessive wear or damage each time you charge the battery. If damage or excessive wear is detected, do not use the charger or the battery until you have replaced the worn or damaged part.”
How Do You Charge a Power Wheel Properly?
The batteries used in Power Wheels are safe, but like any product, improperly using it will damage it. Power Wheels use a 12-volt 9.5 amp lead-acid battery which is different from lithium batteries.
If you notice that the battery always ceases to function even under ordinary conditions, try contacting Fisher-Price concerning the issue.
Charging the battery is simple; when charging it for the first time, it requires at least 18 hours, but don't charge it for over 30 hours.
In the box, You will get battery charger connectors in the box as well as the chargers. Begin by plugging the charger into a wall socket and connect the battery to the cables.
As we said above, when you go to charge the battery for the very first time, do it for at least 18 hours and no more than 30.
When recharging your battery in the future, 14 hours is the proper charge time. After that, remove the connectors from the socket and unplug the charger.
How To Know When the Battery Is Charged
It is important to remember, as we stated earlier, that Power Wheels take some time to charge compared to the majority of your other battery-operated devices, such as your smartphone.
To charge a Power Wheel from the dead to complete, it's going to take approximately 14 – 18 hours, which, as you probably know, is nearly a whole day.
Additionally, you have to avoid overcharging the battery since lead-acid batteries can be overcharged, unlike lithium-ion batteries, which can be left on a charger indefinitely (it is why “desktop replacement” laptops and the Nintendo Switch may be left on the charger without any harm).
Fisher-Price encourages you to never charge the toy for more than 30 hours at a time, which will allow you breathing space if you forget to unplug the toy after daily use.
But how can you know that your Power Wheels battery is charged? Well, to put it simply, you would like to leave it on the charger for the recommended amount of time, using the default option charger it came with.
However, a Power Wheel isn't always going to be used until the battery is dead; a child may use it for 15 minutes and then hop out, where case you need to still hook the toy onto a charger, but for how long?
If the toy has been charged fully and used for a quarter-hour, you'll want to put it back on the charger for at least 5 – 7 hours to ensure it is topped off although not overcharging. These toys drain their batteries much faster than they charge up, and so 5 – 7 hours after a quick session is not unreasonable.
If this does become a huge inconvenience, stick around because we will be going over a solution that will drastically improve the way you charge your Power Wheel later in the article (hint: lead acid batteries aren’t the only type of battery that is compatible).
How To Know if You Have a Bad Battery
Digital voltmeters are utilized to test whether something has power, and they are incredibly useful when troubleshooting a variety of problems. In this case, a voltmeter can help you tell if the battery is really dead.
To check the battery by means of a voltmeter, the very first step you need to do is make sure the battery was on the charger long enough to where it ought to power on. Bear in mind; Power Wheels take a very long time to charge – up to 18 hours often. If you have confirmed it has been plugged in for a suitable quantity of time, then you can follow these steps to check the battery with your multimeter.
To test if the battery is bad, you can follow these steps:
- Have access to the two battery prongs – positive and negative.
- Take out your multimeter and set the dial to 20 to allow you to capture voltages between 0 – 20 precisely.
- Put the positive (red) probe onto the “plus” prong and the negative (black) probe onto the “minus” prong.
- If the probes are touching the prongs solidly, you should get results if the battery is functioning.
What are the outcomes we are looking for? Basically, we are searching for a reading which informs us the battery isn't functioning at under 11.8 volts, meaning that the battery should be swapped out as it is either aging or faulty, with the former being far more likely because, as we mentioned above, the batteries used in Power Wheels do not endure for a lengthy time.
Furthermore, if you're able to, try charging the battery with a smart charger; often, this may breathe fresh life into a Power Wheels battery.
We mentioned earlier in the article that the batteries for power wheels last about 3 years, depending on how often the toy was used. You'll notice a significant reduction in battery life when the battery has been put through its paces, and that’s already on top of the short battery life of 45 to 90 minutes.
It’s not uncommon for older Power Wheels to experience only 15 minutes of usage if the child is constantly using the pedal, so for the sake of fun, it’s best to keep an eye on the age of the battery.
Power Wheels: Too Slow?
Some users have reported that their power is functioning at a slower rate than promoted. This does happen, and it can be fairly obvious when you can keep up with one just by walking normally.
To be clear, most versions operate at a maximum of 5 mph, and on most models, the speed can be adjusted to go as low as 2.5 mph, which is more acceptable for kids closer to the minimum age requirements. Ensure you don't have the speed lock engaged by looking for the switch.
It's also likely that the battery is defective and does not deliver the full quantity of power to the toy; this is a very infrequent event, but it is possible. In this instance, you can contact Fisher-Price to inquire about a replacement battery.
However, 5 mph might just be slower than you or your child thinks.
If your child is 7 or older, we recommend looking into faster ride-on toys because they are likely to outgrow a Power Wheel very quickly and want faster experiences. But which toys? Razor makes electric scooters developed for children ages 8 and up. Additionally, the company also makes the Crazy Cart designed for children ages 6 and up, which has a maximum speed of 8 mph and enables children to pull off drifts easily!
If your child still wants something nearer to a Power Wheel, you can start looking in the Razor Dune Buggy, which has a maximum rate of 9 mph and is designed for ages 8 and upwards. And since the chair is low to the floor with a minimal design overall, it's going to feel much quicker than a Power Wheel.
Lastly, Razor makes electric dirt bikes like the MX350 that are an absolute blast. They do state that they are developed for ages 13+; many parents have discovered they are also suitable for especially responsible children of 8 years old, or in some cases, slightly younger due to the small size.
How Do You Replace the Battery?
In fact, to do this, due to the relatively short lifespan of lead-acid batteries, they made it easily accessible.
For starters, you should handle this yourself, not the child. While lead-acid batteries are relatively safe, they must be handled with care. And besides, your child is probably much more interested in using the toy rather than maintaining it!
Where the battery is located will differ depending on the model, but models such as the Jeep Wrangler Power Wheel have the battery located under the front “engine cover.”
On the Wrangler, the battery will be under another cover, secured by a few screws. You simply need to take a Phillips screwdriver and remove these screws. Here are all the steps you need to follow:
- Unhook the white clip that connects the battery to the rest of the system.
- Remove the screws that are securing the battery cover.
- Gently lift the battery cover and thread the battery connector through the cover.
- Lift the battery out of the vehicle.
- Place the new battery in.
- Reverse the process and connect the battery connector, and secure the battery cover.
That's it! And the process is mostly the same for Power Wheels with the battery in the back. Refer to the user's manual if you are unsure where the battery is located in your particular model.
But before doing any of this, you need to make sure you are buying the right battery replacement.
Make Sure You Are Buying the Right Battery
The vast majority of Power Wheels that are sold today use the same 12v battery. However, older models may require a different battery, so it is essential to make sure you are buying the right one. But how do you know what battery you need? The owner's manual has all the answers. If you don't have the physical manual, you can find a PDF online.
Are Third-Party Batteries Safe?
You might have noticed a considerable price difference between an official Power Wheel battery and a third-party one, and you might be wondering if the cheaper option is okay to get.
It depends, but mostly it is.
Batteries have been around for ages, and making them safe has mostly been figured out. However, that doesn't mean you should pick up any battery that you see. For starters, avoid anything that appears to be generic, as batteries that come from those sellers are generally sketchy when it comes to build quality.
If you want a third-party battery, we would recommend going with this Interstate Batteries 12V Battery since they have a good reputation for good quality. And this battery is much cheaper than the official one, which is helpful if you are trying to save money. And speaking of saving money, we wanted to discuss used Power Wheels for a bit.
Buying a Used Power Wheel: Why You Should Replace the Battery
Power Wheels make excellent used toys if you know what you are doing. Many parents have them lying around after their child grows out of them and would appreciate someone taking them off their hands for a little bit of money.
But like most used things, you need to check for quality to make sure that you are buying something that works. Power Wheels can get pretty beat up, so checking things such as the tires and general signs of damage is crucial.
But what is just as important is being prepared to replace the battery. As we stated earlier, they don't last very long, and the battery included with the used toy has likely either reached the end of its life or is going to very soon. Why replace the battery? You want to replace the battery because the toy won't be able to hold a charge for very long.
But as we stated above, you can buy a third-party battery for relatively cheap if you want to save as much money as possible. You could very well end up spending under $140 for the toy itself and a new battery which is significantly cheaper than buying new, with models often costing upwards of $300 or more.
Converting to Lithium: Is It Safe?
As we've stated in this article, Power Wheels use lead-acid batteries, which are different from the lithium batteries found in smartphones and pretty much all modern electronics. But did you know that some people convert their Power Wheels to lithium batteries? It's true! Power wheels aren't compatible with just one type of battery; generally, they will function if the toy receives power.
But is this safe? Well, Fisher-Price is not officially acknowledged, but if you know what you are doing and buy batteries from a reputable company, we don't see why not.
The first step is ensuring that the batteries contain enough “juice” to power the toy and have it last for a reasonable amount of time.
To stay safe, we will use an established example of how this works. We linked a video below on this topic:
Basically, you need a couple of Gforce 5400 mAh lithium batteries, which are meant for RC cars. However, since Power Wheels are essentially RC cars that children can drive, the situation works out.
It's still worth noting that this doesn't dramatically increase the toy's battery life, but you'll see some improvements.
If you will do this, watch the video above or at least watch a different video / follow a guide. As we said above, this is not an official thing that Fisher-Price endorses; it's the equivalent of jailbreaking an iPhone.
You might be wondering about a lithium battery's lifespan compared to a lead-acid; it's about the same: 2-3 years of expected usage with 300 – 500 charge cycles. What happens over time with lithium batteries is that the battery starts to hold less charge over time.
Speaking of iPhones, you may remember the controversy and lawsuit over Apple throttling the iPhone 6 because old iPhones hold less of a charge, and whether it was right or not, they gimped the SoC to preserve the battery.
What are Lithium's advantages if the lifespan and battery life are almost the same as lead-acid? You will see significantly faster charging times, and you won't have to sweat about accidentally overcharging a lithium battery.
The charge times of a Power Wheel are perhaps their biggest flaw, they take literally a day to charge from dead to full, which means a day where your child can't use the toy, and when they do use it, it will only be approximately an hour and a half on a good day, 45 minutes if the vehicle is being pushed to the max.
If there are advantages to Lithium batteries, why doesn't Fisher Price use them in Power Wheels? It's likely due to cost reasons; lead acid batteries are less expensive, which results in a lower-cost toy. Most other Power Wheels alternatives also use lead-acid batteries. It's an older, less advanced form of battery technology, but people are still buying ride-on toys, so they don't feel the need to change.
If you are willing to go through the process, converting a Power Wheel to a Lithium battery will make the charging situation a lot less frustrating and high maintenance; just follow the steps correctly and don't do anything that isn't part of the guide.
That was essentially all you needed to know regarding the battery that powers a Power Wheel ride-on toy. There is a very good chance you'll need to replace the battery at some point, but the process is straightforward and only takes a few minutes at most, and third party batteries are about half the price of the official.