Power Wheels are fantastic vehicles that give children the capability to explore their world in a whole new way. However, being powered by an electric battery presents some disadvantages to their use.
Power Wheels cannot go in the snow. The main issue with the product is that they are highly susceptible to water damage, meaning they can’t be driven in wet or snowy conditions without making some major modifications.
Why can’t Power Wheels be Driven in the Snow?
Most Power Wheels are run by simple 12V electric batteries. The cases for these batteries aren’t typically designed to be waterproof or resistant, meaning that if the vehicle is operated in snow water will penetrate and damage the battery.
This will make you constantly replace the 12V battery increasing the cost of running the Power Wheels. Furthermore, the casing of the batteries is also not equipped with insulation like the ones on a typical car.
This is because Power Wheels were not designed to be operated in cold, wintery conditions.
Operating the vehicle without insulation will cause the battery to quickly lose its charge, and potentially decrease its effectiveness in future causing further replacements.
As mentioned earlier, Power Wheels were not designed to be driven in wet conditions. As a result, although most of the wiring and electronics are hidden from sight for safety’s sake, the housing for this wiring is not necessarily waterproof.
As the vehicle is driven in the snow, light layers of the snow may melt into the electronics, making them unusable in the future.
The tires of Power Wheels are often made of plastic and not rubber like a traditional car tire. This means that they have very little traction in wet and cold conditions.
Without proper traction the Power Wheel will easily lose control, which is very unsafe especially considering how heavy some of the frames can be and how young its riders are.
Even rain can damage the interior and exterior components of the Power Wheel through corrosion and rust on the body and electronics. Therefore, driving a Power Wheel in the snow as it is sold is costly, unsafe, and unsustainable in the long run and we highly advise against it.
How can You Modify your Power Wheels to Drive in the Snow?
There are modifications you can make to your Power Wheels to make it drivable in the snow. These modifications can be somewhat expensive, and would be best done by someone with reasonable mechanical skills.
For someone willing to invest the time, patience, and money it would be an awesome project to help you get the most out of your Power Wheels all year round.
Before you begin the modifications, it would be worth your time to consider purchasing a Power Wheels with 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive capabilities.
This will give you a better starting point for your modifications as Power Wheels with 2WD and 4WD will have better traction and generally a little more power in the engines.
This can help your children navigate snow more quickly and safely and will help you get the most out of the winter months.
1. The first modification you will want to look into is upgrading the tires of your Power Wheels. Most Power Wheels will come with tires made from hard plastics as this is cheaper to construct, and generally sufficient for the conditions they are designed for.
However, in snow and ice these tires will cause the power wheels to skid and skate which can seriously injure your children. You need to upgrade your tires to rubber ones to increase the traction and the safety of the vehicle.
Alternatively, you can recycle the rubber from old bicycle tyres and attach it to the plastic wheels using screws for a potentially more cost-effective strategy of increasing your traction.
2. Snow can create a lot of resistance as you drive due to its consistency. This becomes a problem with driving Power Wheels because they are deliberately designed to have very little power to increase the safety of your child.
It is relatively easy to convert the battery of your Power Wheels. Power Wheels batteries can be upgraded using a drill battery, a lawnmower battery, or just a bigger battery.
It would be advisable to upgrade to at least and 18V battery, these should be easily found in your local hardware store and may even be used in your name brand rechargeable drills.
For maximum power you can also choose to fit a 24 V battery for maximum power and effectiveness in the snow.
3. You will also need to address the issue of waterproofing the electrical components of the vehicle. Although most of the wiring is hidden from sight in order to decrease the risk of your child electrocuting themselves, the housing of the electronics is rarely designed to be waterproof or water resistant.
The battery itself is a key concern as without being properly waterproofed it is most susceptible to water damage. You will need to make or source waterproof housing for all of your electronics; however, you may also need to consider how your children are going to operate the vehicle.
If you encase all electronics in plastic you will need to consider how children are going to switch between speed settings, and forward and reverse. Of course, you could always use the parental control that comes standard with most modern models however this may decrease the enjoyment for your child.
4. To ensure that your newly fitted battery lasts the longest possible time to increase your value for money you may wish to look into the various options available to insulate the battery. Without insulation the battery will lose its charge in severely cold environments.
This will decrease the amount of time your child has to enjoy their play and can have an extended impact on the health of your battery. To prevent both temporary and permanent loss of charge in your battery you will need to incorporate insulation in the housing of the battery.
There are plenty of insulation options available, the most common two are thermal cases and auto blankets both of which aim to keep the battery warm to optimise battery health in the long run.
5. You can also convert your power wheels so that it is not powered electrically but rather through gas/petrol/diesel products. This will decrease you time in designing insulated and waterproof housing for the electronics.
HOWEVER, it is not advisable for those with limited existing mechanical knowledge to attempt as the results can be quite dangerous if it is done incorrectly. This option is not strongly advised unless you have thorough experience with similar projects.
6. As a final suggestion for modifications, it may help to attach a snowplow to the front of the Power Wheels. This will help children clear their own tracks in the snow to decrease resistance and strain on the engines as they play.
As an added bonus it can decrease the amount of shoveling you need to do to clear your own paths and driveways!
Storing your Power Wheels Over Winter.
For those unable to make the modifications above, you may wish to consider how you are going to store your Power Wheels over the winter months. The best practice is to find somewhere indoors (e.g., in a storage shed or in the house) where the vehicle will be hidden out of the way.
The battery is the most important component that you will want to bring inside so that it is not damaged by cold weather.
To get the most out of your battery health it’s best to charge the battery completely after bringing it inside, and then recharging it at least once a month during the period it is not being used.
This will improve the longevity of your battery and minimise power loss over time due to lack of maintenance.
It is also good practice to wash the body of your Power Wheels before storing it over the winter to decrease corrosion and deterioration of the body.
Wiping the body with a damp cloth with cleaners can remove unwanted grime and help you keep the high quality of the body.
Be careful not to get the body too wet due to the issues surrounding waterproofing explained previously in the article.
When storing your Power Wheels inside you may wish to look into storage racks or wall mounts that can help you keep them from getting underfoot.
You can buy heavy duty racks which are perfect (especially if you have multiple Power Wheels) online to help you keep your floor space clear and functional.
You can also build your own racks or create your own wall mounts to save money, however, it’s best to test the strength of these solutions before you begin your DIY journey to avoid disasters in the future.
If you do not have the storage space indoors to keep your Power Wheels over the winter it is best to try and find some area under at least partial cover (e.g. under a deck or outdoor table).