Turn the driveway into a race course by souping up your child’s Power Wheels ride with a set of traction bands! For a quick and easy DIY project, you can add these traction boosting loops to amp up the quality of that drive.
In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about this project: what traction bands can do for your Power Wheels, how to successfully add them on, and a few troubleshooting tips too.
So, buckle up, and let’s get to work!
What Are Power Wheels Traction Bands?
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The term “traction band” may sound like an intricate engine piece, but really they are just loops of textured rubber that fit around your Power Wheels tires. We promise you don’t have to be a car mechanic to work on this project! Aptly named, these bands significantly increase the traction of your kid’s ride leading to better driving and a great performance boost!
Read further to learn more about the benefits of traction bands, what they can do for your little one’s driving experience, and how to add them to your Power Wheels car.
Why Traction Bands Are a Good Addition to Power Wheels
With enough “miles” on that tiny truck, those plastic wheels are sure to wear down. And just like shoes, when the tread wears off, you’ve got slippage! Tires with shredded tread will spin out, turn poorly, and lack speed.
Even the smaller motor 6-volt cars meant for indoor use can experience worn tread with enough use. For outdoor and indoor riders, traction bands can be a great solution for replacing slick treads.
Traction bands add a strip of fresh grip, resulting in better tread and function. Instead of needing to completely replace your wheels, using traction bands is a cheaper and much easier to install option.
The benefits of traction bands include:
- More responsive turning
- Faster braking
- No spin-out during accelerating
- Better performance over varied terrain, even wet grass!
- Improved recovery from stuck conditions
- Secure steering
- Prevents lateral movements
- If used indoors, the bands will not leave a black skid mark.
Before you decide to install traction bands, have a chat with your child. If they decide that the most fun thing to do with their Power Wheels is to skid out and loop donuts, traction bands will take the joy from the ride!
How do traction bands work?
A thin rubber loop is added around the outer circumference of your tire, essentially beefing up the traction that is or was there before. The rubber band sits tightly around the tire, set snugly in place. When the wheels are engaged, that added traction enables the car to respond more effectively to accelerating, braking, and turning.
Why are they so effective?
After installing traction bands, the difference is shockingly clear! Like adding rhino-lining to the bed of your pickup truck, traction bands provide a thick, durable, and grippy surface. They are easy to install, cheap, and effective. Without the need for power tools, this project is accessible to any adult-aged person.
There are different types of traction bands available. You’ve got plenty of options from simple rubber loops to treaded tire straps!
How to Add Traction Bands to Power Wheels Tires
Be sure to follow the steps listed below to ensure proper installation. Traction bands will add a lot of performance to your Power Wheels, but only if they are added correctly!
- A set of 4 traction loops
- Measuring tape
- Glue or tape
How to prep your tires for traction bands
First step, clean those wheels! Skipping this step can lead to faulty function of the traction bands.
- Dust off any large debris from around the Power Wheels tires.
- Remove any lodged gravel pieces from the tires.
- Use medium grit sandpaper to rough up the tire’s surface if it has been worn smooth from use. This will allow the adhesive to stick better.
- Using a mild detergent and cloth, scrub the wheels.
- Rinse them thoroughly with water.
- Allow to dry completely.
Should you fix cracks or other impairments in your tires before adding traction bands?
Yes! Before adding traction bands, fixable damage to the tires should be addressed. Issues like small cracks or dents can be easily corrected at home.
If an axle is bent or a large chunk is missing from your Power Wheels tire, that is a problem that traction bands cannot fix! Best to do a deeper dive and replace the wheels or axle.
How to fix small cracks in Power Wheels tires:
You can use plastic glue, putty sealant, a fiberglass repair kit, or epoxy to effectively fix small cracks in your child’s Power Wheels tires.
In a pinch, duct tape can also be used for crack repair. Whichever method you choose, ensure that the entire length of the crack is covered. Extend your glue or tape an inch or so past the crack on each side to prevent spreading damage.
- Lift the Power Wheels: use a box or trunk to lift the car and get all of the wheels up off the ground. It’s best to have the wheels at the height of your hands when you’re working. Alternatively, you can lay the car on its side, as long as the battery is securely in place and won’t come loose.
- Prep the traction band: give each band a good stretch with your hands.
- Place the traction band: while stretching a band, begin at the top of the tire and inch your way around until the band is completely around the perimeter of the wheel.
- Align the band: after the band is set around the wheel, make sure it is set evenly in the center of the tire surface.
- To check the band alignment you can use a tape measure to check the distance on either side of the band at several spots on the tire, or you can spin the tire to observe the placement of the band.
- Secure the band: using either strong tape or glue, you need to tack the band into place. For either method, you will gingerly lift one edge of the traction band and apply your adhesive around the circumference of the band.
After your adhesive is completely dried (refer to the product’s instructions for a specific time), give your Power Wheels an adult test drive. Have your child watch the test, so they get a view of how increased traction affects the car’s movement.
When your child is ready, prepare them for their own test drive. Let them know that the improved car will respond much more quickly to steering, accelerating, and braking. If you have a motor speed controller, you might want to set the limits lower, at least for the first few test drives.
Despite the simplicity of this DIY project, you might still encounter a few hiccups along the way. Use this troubleshooting section to help you problem-solve issues that may arise during installation or testing.
- Band is too tight to fit over the wheel: hold the band towards the ground, place a wrench through the loop and step on either side of the handle. Pull upwards on the band for a more significant stretch. Hold for a few seconds, then attempt to place the band again.
- Band doesn’t stay in place while driving: don’t skip adding adhesive tape or glue to the underside of your bands. Though the fit may feel tight and secure without it, bands can become displaced if they aren’t glued down under the stress of a little driving car.
- In this project, don’t just add a traction band to one tire. You’ll want to add a band to each of the four tires to keep all the wheels in the same condition.
Other options for increasing the traction on your Power Wheels car:
Adding traction bands is one of several methods you can use to increase the traction on your child’s mini car. For your knowledge, here are the other potential upgrades you can consider:
- Replace the plastic tires with rubber tires
- Use an old bike tire tread, cut to size and glued or screwed onto the Power Wheels
- Spraying on a traction material like rubber sealant spray
- Using skateboard grip tape – this option is likely to wear down quickly.
Traction bands offer one of the easiest installations compared to these other options, and some brands even come with 1-year warranties.
Adding traction bands is a quick and easy project that can add a lot of performance for a little bit of effort. They can extend the life of your Power Wheels tires, prevent excessive damage, and improve steering and responsiveness. So, if your tiny driver needs less spin-out and more skurt, traction bands are the DIY for you!