For grownups that love to tinker, a Power Wheels car can be just as fun as it is for a kid! You can test your electrician skills without the risk of busting a circuit in your home and ruining the crockpot dinner you had planned for the night.
A great project that gives you some wiring practice and improves the ride of your Power Wheels is replacing the motor! Ride-on cars are very popular toys with kids and will likely see their fair share of “miles.” A motor could need replacing due to poor performance after years of use. Or maybe you want to do it for fun?
Whatever the case, this guide will help you along the way. Replace your Power Wheels motor for better use and more juice!
Benefits of Replacing a Power Wheels Motor
Swapping out motors on your Power Wheels car won’t necessarily give you more speed (that would be the battery), but it will provide you with a better ride, improved performance, and longevity. And the longer that car lasts, the less money you have to spend replacing it repeatedly.
When a motor in a ride-on car goes wrong, there are a few signs to let you know it needs replacing:
- Power Wheels only works in high speed
- Only one wheel spins
- Manually spinning a wheel is very easy – it should be difficult to spin due to plunger resistance.
Here is an example of what a Power Wheels motor looks like:
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One motor will be located behind each wheel (though your model may only have two wheels with motors).
Step-By-Step: How To Replace a Power Wheels Motor
Though this project is relatively straightforward, it’s best not to move forward if you are unsure about any step in this process. We are dealing with electrical wires, and you should be confident in your ability to work with them safely. When in doubt, consider hiring professional help!
Supplies You Need
Take a look at the steps below to decide which of the following tools you will need for your project. Power Wheels models can vary, especially if they are older varieties. You may or may not need specialty tools, like a soldering iron!
Supplies to gather:
- Needle nose pliers
- Flathead screwdriver
- Blow torch or soldering iron
- 7/16” drive socket
- Replacement motors, two or four, depending on your model – read more below!
- Wiring, if needed
- Pinions, if needed
Before Replacing a Power Wheels Motor
You may choose to replace the little motors themselves or the entire gearbox that encases them. You can’t just replace the motor with any old thing you find online. You need to make sure it is compatible.
- Ensure the pinion gear has the same pin count and diameter before purchasing a new separate motor. The pins are what engages with the gearbox and allows the wheel to spin! If you use a pinion with a different tooth count, you will strip the gear and render the wheel useless.
- You can upgrade the stock 55-volt motor to a 775-volt one.
- Power Wheels specific motors will be labeled as such.
- A motor may come with or without the attached wiring (positive and negative wires with plug)
How many motors will you need? Some Power Wheels models have only two, while others have four. Knowing what you need ahead of time will expedite your project when you get ready to work.
Now that you know what you need and how this project will roll, it’s time to get to work! Follow these steps in order and heed the Test and Tips sections at the end of this article.
Deactivate the Battery
Do NOT skip this step! Access your battery compartment and remove the positive wire from its terminal. Alternatively, you may choose to remove the battery altogether. This ensures that your battery cannot turn on while you are working on replacing the motor – a crucial step in working with electrical items.
Some Power Wheels models do not require you to remove the wheels to access the gearboxes and motors. Yours may be accessible under a hood or compartment.
If you do have to remove the wheels, read on:
- Removing the wheels can be a mini-project all on its own. Be gentle with this step, as damaging pieces will set your timeline back considerably.
- First, use a flathead screwdriver or a paint can lid opener to pop the plastic cap off the center axle.
- There is a small “push nut” underneath that encircles the axle. You’ll need to use a pair of needle nose pliers to remove it.
- It is delicate and may be damaged in the process. You can hammer it back flat to replace it afterward if it remains uncracked.
You can also use this opportunity to thread the axles with a die-cut and use nyloc nuts for easier removal in the future. This will eliminate the need for the pushpin. Many DIYers choose this route, especially if they plan on doing more upgrades to their Power Wheels later.
Remove the Motor
Directly behind where the wheels sit are gearboxes. Attached to the gearboxes are the motors. Take a view of the diagram below for a visual of this setup! Some Power Wheels models have only two motors, while others have four.
Here is a view of the setup of wheels, gearboxes, and motor for a Power Wheels car:
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From the factory, the motors come with their wires soldered on. Use a pair of pliers and a small blow torch or soldering iron to remove the old wires.
Here is an example of the motors attached to the black gear boxes.
You can leave the gearboxes attached to the car, or remove them if they slide off easily. You do not have to take the gearboxes apart to replace the motors!
Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the motor from the gearbox. There should be two small screws. If you see a set of three screws on the gearbox, ignore them. As mentioned, you don’t need to access the inside of the gearbox for this project. Set the old motors to the side.
Install New Motor and Reattach All Pieces
Pinion: The pinion may not be pre-installed on your new motor. If not, slide it onto the motor shaft and tighten via the small screw shown on the outside of the pinion.
Motor: Slide the new motor into its port on the gearbox, aligning the teeth of the pinion with the gears. Reattach the two small screws to secure the motor into place.
Wiring: Your new motor may have the positive and negative wires already attached. If not, you’ll need to use the old wires. In this case, pay attention to the direction of your wiring, or your wheel may turn in the opposite direction when powered! Reference our Power Wheels wiring diagram for some helpful charts.
Gearboxes: If you removed your gearboxes from the axles, replace them before putting the wheels back on.
Wheels: Replace the wheels via push pin (gently hammer back into place using a 7/16” drive socket) or threaded axle. Refer to the Owner’s Manual for your Power Wheels model if you get stuck here. All manuals should be available online if you’ve misplaced the paper version.
Raise the Power Wheels above the ground so you can test the spin of the wheels. You can use a mini-jack or a simple box, as long as the wheels remain free from the ground and obstructions. At this point, you can replace the positive wire on your battery to complete your circuit!
Give the accelerator a test push. The wheels should spin in unison and at the same speeds. All wheels should spin counterclockwise.
Does one wheel spin in the opposite direction? If so, you likely have your wiring on that motor reversed! Go back through the above method to access the motor and switch the wiring.
A Few Extras…
Install heat sinks to keep your new motor from overheating! This is a great preventative step to increase the longevity of your motor. It’s not completely necessary, but if your Power Wheels is up for heavy use, it may be a nice addition to keep things running longer during play.
A few tips:
- Opt for quality to ensure the longest-lasting motor
- Keep it clean: wiping off the motor of excess debris a few times a year is a good idea. This will help prevent overheating.
- Always keep your Power Wheels stored in a dry garage – never left out in the elements.
Now you know how to replace the motor on your Power Wheels car. We hope this guide has helped assist your DIY project. Here’s to many more sidewalk laps and backyard explorations for your little drivers!