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You wouldn't be the first person to think that understanding the wiring of any electrical toy is beyond your skills, but you'd be surprised how easy it is, especially with a popular toy like the Power Wheels. These popular ride-on vehicles can be a pricy investment, and understanding their wiring can help you fix any electrical problem the toy might have to ensure your investment lasts for years.
A Power Wheels ride-on vehicle is typically equipped with a 12V battery, a 6-pin toggle switch, and two motors. It boasts a parallel circuit and a series circuit that allows the vehicle to accelerate forward, drive in reverse, and high-low gears. The flow of electricity through the Power Wheel's wiring depends on the mode the vehicle is in.
Luckily for parents and anyone who owns or intends to fix a Power Wheels vehicle, their wiring and components within these toys are fairly simple. In this article, I will walk you through the process of how electricity flows through a Power Wheel's wiring depending on its operative mode. I will also depict diagrams for visual assistance.
Components of Power Wheels Electrical Wiring
Before I get into how the wiring works on a Power Wheels vehicle, let's cover the basics in terms of these vehicles' components and circuits. This will help you better visualize the wiring and connections later on and where the vehicle ultimately acquires and transfers power.
The main components necessary for a Power Wheel's wiring and electrical functionality are:
- A parallel circuit
- A series circuit
- A 6-pin toggle switch
- A throttle switch
- One 12V battery (this might vary by Power Wheels model)
- Two motors
The Power Wheels battery is located towards the front of the vehicle underneath what would be the hood of the car. Towards the back of the Power Wheels vehicle are the two motors. These are typically located underneath the vehicle's seats, connected to adjoining gearboxes and, ultimately, the rear wheels.
Between the battery and the motor is a 6-pin toggle switch responsible for your forward and reverse modes. This is then connected to the throttle switch or pedal switch where the vehicle's pedals are connected. Finally, the throttle or pedal switch is connected to the 12V battery to complete the circuit.
In between the 12V battery in the front and the two motors in the back is the Power Wheels wiring that runs two circuits, a parallel and a series circuit. Each transfers energy differently in order to allow the Power Wheels vehicle to enter various modes.
Electric Wiring of a Power Wheels Vehicle Based on Mode or Gear
I've mentioned a few times now that the wiring and circuit type a Power Wheels vehicle uses depends on what mode or gear it is in. These toys can ultimately drive in three modes: forward, reverse, high-low gear.
A parallel circuit will run 12V from the Power Wheels' battery to the motors for high gear, and a series circuit will run 6V to each motor from the Power Wheels' battery for low gear. Driving forward or in reverse is achieved by the switching polarity of the 6-pin toggle switch.
In its simplest form, this is how the wiring of any Power Wheels vehicle works. However, if you intend to fix or alter your Power Wheels' wiring, you might want to know how everything works in a little more detail. Therefore, I've listed each of the Power Wheels' modes below and how power is transferred differently through its wiring for each.
Electric Wiring for Power Wheels High-Low
Describing how the Power Wheels functions differently from high to low gear is arguably the best way to detail the wiring differences between a parallel circuit and a series circuit.
Parallel Circuit for High Gear
The first circuit within a Power Wheels' wiring I will discuss is the parallel circuit which allows the vehicle to travel in high gear.
A parallel circuit will run 12V of power from the battery to both of the Power Wheels motors located in the back of the vehicle. Each battery has a positive terminal and a negative terminal, as well as each motor.
The parallel circuit will connect the positive terminal of the battery to both positive terminals on each battery using two different wires. It will then repeat this for the negative terminals on both the battery and each motor.
This creates a sort of X-shape with an additional two wires bordering each side of the X. The result is that both motors receive 12V of power from the battery in order to function in high gear.
Series Circuit for Low Gear
The primary difference between a parallel circuit and a series circuit, apart from their wiring, is the amount of power each motor is provided from the battery.
In a series circuit, wiring runs from the battery's positive terminal into the first motor. The wiring then continues into the second motor (effectively connecting both motors) before it travels through the second motor and eventually connects to the battery's negative terminal.
The result is that each motor only receives 6V of power each instead of 12V, as is the case with a parallel circuit. Therefore, the motors cause the vehicle to travel in low gear because they receive significantly less power.
Electric Wiring for Power Wheels Driving Forward and in Reverse
Now, let's move on to how a Power Wheels vehicle can travel forward or backward by focusing on the wiring within its 6-pin toggle switch.
As the name implies, a 6-pin toggle switch has a toggle switch on one side and six pins or terminals located on the opposite side. Each pin is connected to its wire, which is then connected to various components within the Power Wheels' system.
When the toggle switch moves up, it will connect the top two pins in the system, causing the vehicle to move in reverse, and when it moves down, it will connect the bottom two pins, causing the vehicle to move forward. Of course, it is really the wiring connecting these pins to other components that allows this to occur.
The wiring of your 6-pin toggle switch is as follows. The battery's positive terminal is connected to the middle pin on the toggle switch's positive terminal side, and the battery's negative terminal is connected to the middle pin on the toggle switch's negative terminal side.
A jumper wire is then connected to the bottom pin on the positive terminal side of the toggle switch and runs all the way around to the top pin located on the negative terminal side. This jumper wire allows the Power Wheels to switch to a series circuit when entering low gear.
The same wiring occurs on the opposite side connecting the bottom negative pin to the top positive pin. The bottom positive and negative pins are also connected to the two Power Wheels motors through a series of wires that create parallel or series circuits depending on the vehicle's operative mode.
And there you have it. That is the simple and in-depth descriptions of how your Power Wheels can move in high-low gear, forward, and reverse. Now that you understand its internal wiring, you can fix or rewire your Power Wheels with confidence, considering you know how it all worked in its original state. This will allow you to save money on repairs or even alter your Power Wheels to be more efficient with a different battery, motors, or any other electrical elements you desire.