This Is Not Your Father’s Power Wheel

If you had a Power Wheel vehicle as a kid you may have been the envy of the neighborhood. Even as fun as they were you probably out grew them. Lucky for a few youngsters, [Bob] hasn’t. Not only does he have several Power Wheels for his children to use, he does some pretty cool mods to make them even more fun.

Changing the stock motor out for a cordless drill is one of the first things that gets done. A few brands have been used but the  Ryobi 18v Cordless Drill is the favorite. The entire drill is used, including the reduction gearbox. The gearbox is switched to LOW gearing so that the drill has enough torque to move the combined weight of the vehicle and child. As much as it may sound odd to use a drill in this manner, the Power Wheel can get up to about 15 mph. A stock Power Wheels maxes out at 5 mph

The stock Power Wheel ‘gas’ pedal is a simple on/off switch and may have one or two speeds. It’s replaced by the variable speed trigger switch from the drill giving the tiny driver full control of the speed. In most cases the batteries that came with the drill are responsible for supplying the necessary electrical power.

Plastic wheels aren’t going to cut the traction mustard. These are upgraded to rubber tires and metal wheels like the ones you would find on a rider lawn mower. Not only are the rubber tires much quieter than the originals but they give superior traction that can handle rain, snow and steep hills.

So how do all these mods hold up over time? [Bob] says some of his modded Power Wheels are still working after 2 years of regular use. There are several different conversions on his site so head over and check them out.


36 thoughts on “This Is Not Your Father’s Power Wheel

    1. Compared to a regular Power Wheel I’d say so. I can see why the commercial ones went no where near that speed. I mean kids in fast little cars, what could possibly go wrong?

        1. There actually isn’t a brake… There’s only 1 pedal on all of these.

          I DID install a “brake” pedal on my siblings’ jeeps where it shorted the motor leads and effectively created a motor-brake.

          1. My son’s Power Wheel has electronic braking that kicks in when he takes his foot off the pedal. We certainly didn’t get one of the “high-end” models, so I guess I assumed it was standard these days since it’s such an easy thing to do.

    1. I replaced the drive on my kids’ Powerwheel Jeep. IIRC, it’s a rear-wheel differential system. But everything is plastic, so it’s easy to break if the kid is too big (like a larger cousin/neighbor who bullies his way into it).

    1. If you’ve got the know-how or source for a motor controller that adjusts rpms to match turning there’s nothing stopping you. There’s quite a scene thanks to the power racing series and the previously linked to chibikart so it shouldn’t be hard to find a controller that does this. You of course need a sensor in the steering wheel now too.

      1. In some Power Wheels ride-on toys (mainly the 12 volt version) they use two motors to drive the rear wheels; one for each wheel.

        Speed (high or low) is controlled via a clever (see the patents for detail) switch arrangement that connects the motors to the battery in either serial or parallel fashion (I forget which manner is high vs low speed).

        Differential control is largely passive, and given the standard plastic wheels with a lot of slip, there isn’t much stress on the motors or gearboxes. With rubber tires and such, though – it might be a different story.

  1. Besides the variable throttle, is there any advantage via this route (drill power) vs. simply upgrading the batteries? I’ve seen a few impressive 24v mods to these, with a bit less work…

    1. Using a drill has a lot more torque and better gears than just upgrading the batteries. And upgrading from the stock 12v battery to 24v is asking for trouble with a burned out motor, stripped gears (they’re plastic), or both.

  2. I attempted to use a drill as a steering servo to modify my daughter’s car for radio control. I failed. It would work for a minute before the drill chuck shakes itself loose. Any ideas how he is using the drill chuck reliably here?

  3. I wish I had time to get one of the cars, do some mods and make a rather large RC car out of one. Manual for the kid, then when he decides he doesn’t want to come in, OVERRIDE!

  4. The rubber tire mods are nice, but the drill isn’t that much better than stock. I picked up brand new 2014 corvette stingrays with 2 motors in the rear axel and with the stock 12v gel battery at wal*art for 150 with free delivery on cyber Monday. Top speeds are good enough for my 4y.o. Variable speed from drill could be a nice mod. Will need to find some at a yard sale.

  5. You forget that you get in trouble most places when you drive unlicenced motor vehicle on a public street. They don’t frown so much when it’s a power wheel with a sleeper upgrade under the hood.

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