There are many potential causes for one wheel of your Power Wheel to begin malfunctioning. The following article will discuss some strategies you can use to troubleshoot the cause of this problem.
However, we do not encourage you to undertake any strategies that are beyond your mechanical capabilities as they may put your children in danger of injury.
Table of Contents
Solving the Issue:
Check what speed setting you have the Power Wheels set for
It is perfectly normal for some models of Power Wheels to rotate wheels separately when the vehicle is set in reverse or low settings. If one wheel is still not rotating in the highest setting then you definitely have a problem.
Check the terrain
If the vehicle is caught in sandy soil or snow the engine will focus all of its energy on one wheel instead of both. If your Power Wheels appears to be stuck, dragging it to more stable ground and brushing leftover sand/snow residue may fix the issue.
Check the wheels
It can be very easy for your children to damage the wheels of the car as they play. Checking that there is do visible damage is a quick and simple check that can save you from spending time and money on more complicated solutions.
To check the wheels, lift the car and check that there is no physical damage. You can buy new wheels here. You may wish to replace these yourselves as it is reasonably easy and will save you a load of money.
It is a great practice to check that your battery is fully connected and functional before you invest any further time exploring possible causes. You can do this easily by connecting an Ammeter and testing the battery’s current.
If the battery is not putting out at least 12V it’s highly likely the malfunction is due to the battery. Replacing the battery is a relatively quick, easy, and cheap fix. Rechargeable 12 V batteries can be found here for only $22!
If you are replacing the battery and have not already done so you should also consider upgrading the battery to an 18 or 24V version which will give your children more power to overcome the terrain.
Another good place to start is to check that your engine(s) are working properly as this could be another easier, cheaper fix. You can inspect the engine by removing its casing and looking to see if any of the wires or connections seem loose. If any wires or connections seem too loose you can check for movement by trying to wiggle them.
Another possible solution is the lug nut(s) (bolts that hold on the wheel) are too tight on the wheel which is not spinning.
You can generally loosen the lug nut using an appropriately sized wrench. If the nut does not budge you can apply lubricant or another form of automotive lubricant to help give you more movement.
Axel / drive pin
The drive pin is the bar that connects both wheels. It can quite often be installed incorrectly or even work its way free. You can test if it’s been connected incorrectly by seeing if you can insert it any further into the wheels. If you can push it further in, it’s highly likely that that was your issue and your Power Wheels should be working properly again.
If the bar is physically snapped or otherwise damage you may need to replace it in order to get your Power Wheels working again. You can create your own drive pin out of most metal rods cut to size (allowing room for both ends to be firmly secured in the wheels) so don’t feel afraid to create your own DIY solution.
Driveshaft / gearbox
Another possible cause for this lack of wheel spin could lay in your gearbox or drive shaft. If there is a constant grinding sound coming from your Power Wheels this is almost certainly your issue.
You should be able to find your gearbox near your engines. When you open the gearbox you should see 2-3 interlocked cogs. Try rotating one cog with your finger to test whether the gears are working at any capacity. You should also check that the tabbed endings of all cogs are roughly equal in size and there is so plastic residue floating freely through the gearbox.
What often happens is that if there is too much weight on the Power Wheels (especially if it’s going up an incline at the same time) the gears can be stripped or worn down and begin grinding. This will can make your Power Wheels lack the power to rotate more than one wheel at a time, and can also cause the grinding sound mentioned earlier.
You can purchase replacement gears and gearboxes here on Amazon reasonably cheaply and they are extremely easy to replace!
Alternatively, it may be worthwhile considering upgrading the gears to a more durable option. If this issue has already happened once it is highly likely to repeat itself and purchasing steel or aluminum gears like these to decrease the frequency that you need to repair the gearbox. You may need to make minor alterations (e.g. drilling slightly larger holes in the center) to these options but it is well worth the minor inconvenience to preventing near-constant repairs when the problem represents.
Throttle and other controls
If all else fails there is a possibility that there can be an issue in the power controls or wiring of the Power Wheels. While this is highly unliked to cause only one wheel to spin it is worth investigating before you take the Power Wheels to a repairman or replace it.
You can purchase switch replacements for most controls on Amazon relatively cheaply. You can also use an ammeter to check that power is circulating effectively in all of the wirings to eliminate this as an issue.
Calling a Professional
We highly encourage you to seek the help of a professional before attempting any of the above repairs if you feel that your mechanical skills are not sufficient. At the end of the day, it is your child’s life on the line, and paying for someone professional to make repairs is well worth the cost of your child’s safety.
Alternatively, you may find that the guide above does not solve your issue and maybe left scratching your head. If this is the case then we advise you to take your Power Wheels to someone who is more failure with troubleshooting and repairing the vehicles.
This site can help you locate an officially certified Power Wheels repairer based on your (US) postcode. Some local mechanical shops or bike sheds may also be able to help and it may be worth asking to save a little extra on your repairs.
How do I Prevent Further Issues?
How you prevent future issues is very reliant on what you have diagnosed as your initial issue, we have compiled a brief list of basic options to limit the number of issues and repairs you may need to troubleshoot in the future.
Traction: If you struggle with power uphill or on certain terrains you may be having a traction issue. To combat it consider upgrading your Power Wheels to rubber wheels to increase your traction.
Lack of power: This may appear alongside traction issues and again is simply an issue of considering an upgrade. Most Power Wheels come with a 12V rechargeable battery which does not provide a great amount of power.
You can easily upgrade this to an 18V or 24V set up to increase the power of the vehicle and decrease the stress on the engines and gears (particularly on difficult terrains).
Consider the weight the vehicle is carrying: Power Wheels are not designed to transport larger weights. Generally, you can find its weight limit in user manuals or by googling online. If the weight the Power Wheel carries surpasses this limit it can cause the gears to be worn, and other engine and body issues.
Consider how you can limit the weight of the vehicle’s cargo (e.g., removing toys or modifications) and potentially upgrading power, engines, and gears for more powerful and durable materials.
Avoid unnecessary damage: The product is a toy and it’s common for toys to become damaged in play (especially with younger children).
However, it may be worthwhile discussing the ‘rules’ of using Power Wheels if these problems persist and encouraging children to play gently with the product and be mindful of damage.
Terrain: This comes alongside avoiding damage. It could be worth considering the conditions that this product is driven in. If it is driven up steep inclines it can exasperate the weight issues and cause gearbox and power issues even if the cargo is under the weight limit.
Driving the vehicle over sticks, rocks, etc may also damage the undercarriage and axel of the vehicle. Being careful to monitor how the product is used will help you avoid further issues.
Electronics: Power Wheels are not designed to be water-resistant. If the issue appears to be involving electronics it’s highly likely that water damage plays a role. Be careful to keep the power wheels sheltered from rain and snow to prevent any future electrical issues.
There could be many issues that cause your Power Wheels to malfunction, we encourage you to either find the issue or consult a professional and consider how you may prevent the issue from occurring in the future.