As we slip further and further into the modern age of raising kids and buying toys, parents around the world are desperately trying to figure out how to use the latest technology and keep up with the times.
After all, none of us wants to be the parent that makes our kid feel left out of the loop, right?
With the modern era has come tons of electronic devices – one of the more popular segments being electric cars for kids.
If any of you are like us on the Backyartisan team, you’ve probably felt that pinch of jealousy, wishing you’d had cool toys like that as a kid.
But as awesome as your kid looks in that electric car, this truth remains: their safety is ranked number one in importance.
So how do you keep your child safe in these mini-motor vehicles? Check out our safety guide below for tons of helpful information.
Are Electric Cars Safe for Your Kids?
All of us on our team consider electric cars generally safe for kids. Most electric cars only come with two or three speeds, and even with these adjustments, they can only hit top speeds of 5 MPH.
For reference, that’s just over the speed that the average adult walks.
Additionally, electric kid’s cars have built-in safety features such as internal padding, seatbelts, and an adjustable seat.
As with any toy, an electric car is safest when used correctly and supported by parental supervision. But we’ll get into more on that later.
Whether your child has an electric car or you’re still considering buying them one, it’s always a good idea to check out a comprehensive safety checklist. These guidelines can help you keep your child from getting hurt.
Inspect the Car
As a parent, it’s always a good idea to do a once-over of a toy before you hand it over to your kid. A quick inspection will let you know if any missing or broken parts could injure your child.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to get to know how the toy works – especially if it’s a complicated electric one like these cars. If you don’t know how to operate it, you can’t expect to teach your child how to use it.
Get to know the electric car before you let your kid hop in. Make sure there are no exposed electrical components or sharp, jagged edges that could cause harm. Be sure to check that all the pieces, such as wheels, steering wheel, brakes, and seatbelt, are all in place and in working condition.
Create a Safe Riding Environment
It’s critical for us, as parents, to understand that safety goes beyond the electric car and our child inside of it. Safety extends to the environment around them, too.
By thinking about a few different things, we can create a safe environment for our kids to ride and have fun:
- Helmets and seatbelts
- Riding surfaces
Taking these three items into consideration is an essential step to worry-free fun.
Helmets & Seatbelts
Electric cars combine two different worlds: the great outdoors and vehicles – but for children.
The first rule of road safety is to always wear your seatbelt. That same rule applies when your child is driving this, albeit small, car of their own.
The second rule applies to all outdoor riding equipment, which is to always wear your helmet. If there’s any chance your child can hit their head, they should wear a helmet – just like they do on a bike, scooter, skateboard, or tricycle.
Helmets and seatbelts are both tools designed to protect those operating or riding in a vehicle, so let’s be wise parents and make sure our kid is thoroughly protected.
Electric cars for kids have certainly evolved to impressive levels these days, but they certainly still do not measure up to adult toys like four-wheelers or dirt bikes.
That being said, it matters what surfaces you let your child drive their car on.
The best overall options are concrete and asphalt. These surfaces are hard, flat, and easy to navigate. Because your kid will likely have a hard time with the concept of steering, it’s best to set them up for success with an easy course.
Short grass with firm, packed dirt may also be feasible. However, anything more than that, and your kid might find themselves getting stuck a lot.
Very hilly, bumpy areas should signal a red flag. The wheels on these cars were not designed to handle rough terrain, and areas like this can put them at risk of flipping their car over. I’ve seen a rough-and-tumble kid take a sharp turn going down a hill, and it can be a scary sight.
Depending on the size of the car and the size of your home, your child can even drive their car inside.
We’ll leave that decision up to you, though.
As long as you’re keeping an eye on your kid while they drive their car outdoors (and we’ll talk a bit more about parental supervision later on), then you shouldn’t be too concerned about whether or not you have fencing around your yard.
However, in some instances, this may be a significant point to consider.
If you live in a busy area where your street sees a lot of speedy traffic, you may feel safer with a fence around your property. Taking your eyes off of your child for a split second doesn’t make you a bad parent, but it could lead to some dangerous situations.
Additionally, those who have an inground pool in their yard may also consider fencing around it. The last thing you want to imagine as a parent is your child driving straight into that water.
Front yards, back yards, and driveways with fences are especially convenient for younger children who haven’t quite grasped street safety yet. If you don’t feel comfortable letting them ride in the yard without a fence, they’re probably not ready for this toy yet.
The easiest way to learn how to maintain your kid’s electric car is by reading the manual. As DIY dads, we know how difficult it can be to give in, admit defeat, and finally read that darned manual.
But we do these things for our kids!
The main components to keep an eye on for an electric toy car are:
If your kid is a big fan of this toy and drives it a lot, you will quickly start to notice the wear and tear on the wheels. It helps to oil the wheels whenever you think about it. You should also inspect the alignment regularly.
Most of these cars have replacement parts available, so you can change them out when the wheels become very worn.
The body will probably take some hits as well; 5-year-olds tend to run into a lot of walls. Do your best to prevent too many collisions from happening, and teach your child to respect the car to avoid scratches and dents.
Finally, the battery is the heart and soul of this machine. It is literally what keeps it running.
You’ll have to recharge the battery every so often, but remember not to overcharge it. You should only leave it plugged in as long as it takes to reach a full charge. Otherwise, you’ll drain the battery.
For more on maintenance and common issues to look out for, read our guide on electric kids car repairs.
Do your best to keep the car clean. If your child is on the older side – maybe eight years or older – you can make this a part of the deal: they can have the car, as long as they remember to clean it after each use.
Cleaning entails wiping down the body, cleaning out the wheels, and taking out any snacks or drinks that went along for the ride.
If you want this electric car to last a long time, do not keep it outside. Rain, snow, moisture, and curious critters are all threats to this toy and will easily damage it; this goes for the battery as well.
We like to keep ours in the garage. Not only does it keep the toy safe from damage, but your kid will feel all grown-up with their car stored safely away next to mom and dad’s cars.
You can also keep the car inside wherever you have space. This can be in the basement, in your child’s room, in the playroom, or even in the living room (if you don’t mind showing it to all of your guests).
Where you keep the car also depends on your child’s age and level of experience with the toy. If you don’t want your kid to use it alone, keep it where they cannot access it without your permission and supervision.
We totally understand that an electric toy car is nowhere close to a real car, but we also understand that 4-year-olds don’t particularly know how to steer or avoid people and objects.
Parental supervision is a must when it comes to driving safety.
It’s okay to let kids be kids and have fun. It’s even okay if they run into things or fall over now and then. But letting them hop in their car in the front yard while you watch TV inside is a definite no.
The best advice we can give here is to be smart. It’s better to be overprotective than under-protective.
As your child ages and learns, use your best judgment. A 4-year-old needs more hands-on supervision than a 9-year-old, and you know your child best.
Age Appropriateness & Weight Limits
Different electric cars are made for different ages. In general, electric cars are made for kids anywhere from one to nine years old.
Very simple, small vehicles work best for younger kids, while more complex, larger cars are better for the older end of the spectrum.
It’s challenging to speak specifically on weight limits because each individual model will have a different limit, but we can break most products down into the following age groups:
- 1-2 years old
- 2-4 years old
- 5-7 years old
- 8-13 years old
- 14 years and older
The best way to find a vehicle suitable for your child is to look for cars that fall into their age group.
However, every child is different as well. Your 4-year-old might be ahead of their peers in growth and may weigh too much for a 4-year-old car, while a 5-year-old might not be ready to size up.
Be sure to check out all the features and limitations of a car before buying it to ensure its age and weight are appropriate for your child. If you’re interested in the Power Wheels brand specifically, head to our Power Wheels age ranges guide.
Common Safety Features to Look For
Every brand of electric car is different, but as a safety-focused parent, there are a few features you should look for:
- Parent remote control
- Adjustable seat
And, of course, you should always make sure you have a helmet on hand.
Watching your kid grow up can be hard, but it can also be fun and exciting. The older they get, the more you get to do with them.
Electric cars for kids are fun and safe toys that can improve motor skills, get your kids outside, and boost independence.
Questions about safety or other aspects of electric riding vehicles for your kids? Let us know, always happy to help.