You might be wondering what to do about your old batteries that have died or it might be time for an upgrade.
There are many ways you can upgrade your Power Wheels battery. You can
- replace a low-volt cell with a higher-volt battery;
- take off the battery from a Milwaukee drill and install it in your ride-on; and
- install a lawn mower battery in place of your Power Wheels stock batteries.
Some stores don’t stock Power Wheels batteries, or you might want something that will last longer than your normal Power Wheels battery, which is exactly what a lawnmower battery will do.
Though many are concerned about the safety aspect of installing a lawnmower battery into a Power Wheels toy car, there isn’t much to worry about if you’re aware of the following factors.
What to Keep in Mind Before Installing a Lawn Mower Battery into Your Power Wheels
Unlike the other two battery upgrades, this is a process where what you do before the activity is just as important (if not more important) as during it. Installing a lawnmower battery is the simplest of the three processes (so you won’t have to worry too much about the technical aspects), but only if you get the following things right.
Don’t use a lawnmower battery with a higher voltage than your Power Wheels ride-on. The only exception to this is if you know your way around cars and the mechanics.
If you own a 6V Power Wheels car, use a 6V lawn mower battery. If you have a 12V car, use a 12V battery—always use cells with the same voltage.
If you have a 24V battery and own a 12V Power Wheels toy, upgrade to a 24V Power Wheels motor first before proceeding with the process. A new motor will also ensure more torque in your Power Wheels.
If you don’t, the bigger battery might cause an upset in the wiring which will then disrupt the normal functioning of your vehicle. This creates a potentially dangerous situation for the kids.
If the voltage of your battery doesn’t match up with the voltage of your standard Power Wheels battery, use a Milwaukee drill battery or upgrade to another standard Power Wheels battery. Although it will take you longer (and is slightly more technical), it’s safer.
Though Power Wheels cars come in different models and sizes (meaning they also come with different-sized batteries), a lawn mower battery is almost always bigger than a standard Power Wheels battery.
But this doesn’t mean you should give up on the process. With a little creativity, you can ensure that your lawn mower battery is compatible with the battery compartment of your Power Wheels vehicle.
To do this, open the hood of your Power Wheels and measure the lawn mower battery against the compartment of your old battery. After finding out what size cavity you need, take a saw and cut through some of the plastic; be careful to not damage the hood or other parts of the car.
Finally, take the new battery and install it into your Power Wheels.
The process of connecting a lawn mower battery to a Power Wheels toy is different from connecting an original Power Wheels battery to the ride-on.
Whereas replacing an old Power Wheels cell with a new battery simply requires that you unplug the connector from the old one and hook it into a new one, using an external battery will, most of the time, require you to cut out that plug to begin with.
This is because you’ll need external connectors to connect the replacement battery to your Power Wheels vehicle.
You can find the connectors at your local hardware store, but if you’re an individual who fiddles with electronics, you probably already have them on hand.
Type of Battery
This is the most important element. Make sure to use the right replacement battery for your Power Wheels upgrade.
When deciding to upgrade your toy, you’ll come across two main types of 12V batteries in different tutorials – deep-cycle and SLI (starting, lighting and ignition) batteries.
You might find some tutorials implying that you can use a garden-tractor battery in your Power Wheels vehicle, but that is a bad choice.
Starting batteries, as per the name, are used to generate a lot of power over a short period of time—in most cases, to start an engine. Starting batteries have low internal resistance due to the thin plates.
Because of this, they’re not a good option for when you need a cell that withstands hundreds (or thousands) of discharge/recharge cycles. Running a starting battery through the cycles ruins it because it was not made for this purpose.
As you might already know, Power Wheels batteries need to be recharged hundreds of times. And though the two look similar, deep-cycle ones are more appropriate for this situation.
The name, once again, says it all. Deep-cycle batteries withstand several recharge/discharge cycles.
They don’t generate nearly as much energy as the starting battery, but then again, Power Wheels don’t need that much power.
Deep-cycle batteries provide just enough power and over a long time—longer than a regular Power Wheels battery. This is both in terms of short-term longevity (during playtime) and long-term longevity (the battery’s life span over the years).
You can’t replace a deep-cycle battery with a starting battery (and vice versa), so confirm that you’re using a deep-cycle battery before starting the conversion process.
How to Convert Power Wheels to a Lawn Mower Battery
If you’ve gone through the previous section and confirmed that you have the right resources, these are the tools you’ll need to start the activity:
- a power saw (in case the battery won’t fit into your Power Wheels);
- wire strippers/connectors;
- a screwdriver; and
- Open the hood of your Power Wheels (at the front for most cars) and unscrew the screws holding the battery cover in place. Unplug the connector and take out your battery.
Keep the battery in your garage or somewhere the kids won’t tamper with it.
- Now that you have an empty compartment, take your lawn mower battery and see how it measures up against it. If it slots right in, connect it as per steps 3 and 4.
If it doesn’t, saw out some of the plastic as described before. This will hopefully create sufficient space for the cell.
You can also use a battery box for the lawn mower battery.
- Going back to the plug connecting the old battery to the vehicle, you’ll find that there are two wires attached to it. Cut the individual wires at the top and throw the plug away.
- Now for the heart of the process – connecting the new battery to the toy.
Strip a little casing off your wire strippers/connectors. You need to do this to attach the vehicle’s terminal connectors to the wire strippers.
The car’s engine has positive and negative battery terminals. The positive terminal is white or red while the negative terminal is black.
Hook the positive end to the positive terminal and the other end to the negative terminal. Secure the replacement battery and ensure that it fits into the cavity with the new connections in place.
- Finally, take your Power Wheels out for a test drive to ensure that the new battery generates enough power. Do this on your own and with the kids.
An area with different terrains (tar, grass, etc.) is best for testing out the speed with the new lawn mower battery if you want a solid verdict on the success of your DIY project.
Something to note here is that you shouldn’t overcharge the battery. Even when using a deep-cycle battery, pushing it over its limit is never a good idea.
How to Convert a Power Wheels Charger Into a Lawn Mower Battery Charger
When done with the above process, you might feel like you also need to convert the original Power Wheels charger into one the lawn mower battery can use.
If so, here’s what you need to do:
- Once again, you’ll find a connector with two wires leading to it. Cut the wires where they attach to the plug and throw it away.
- Take off half an inch of casing from each wire and hook the wires to a connector.
- Connect the wires to your new battery – the positive wire to the positive terminal, the negative wire to the negative electrode.
Plug it in and voila! Your lawn mower battery can now be recharged with a standard Power Wheels charger.
The good thing about Power Wheels cars is that you can modify them a bunch of times. Installing a lawn mower battery is one way you can make use of your resources instead of going out and buying new stock for your Power Wheels.
This is even better as lawn mower batteries last for an average of about four years. An original ride-on battery, on the other hand, lasts for three years at most.
The whole process takes about an hour, so you don’t have to worry about it being too time-consuming either. Your little one will be happily riding in an upgraded vehicle in no time.