Your son gets into his super-fast monster ready for another episode of his thrilling backyard driving adventures only to discover that the engine won’t start!
And so you’re suddenly looking at two problems you least expected:
- An extremely disappointed young man (he needs consolation, right?).
- A potentially outrageously expensive replacement battery bill.
Well, we may not help you soothe the alarmed youngster but we can help you find out if the power wheels battery is really dead and whether you’ll indeed need to spend on a new battery.
Read on to learn how to test a power wheels battery.
How to test a power wheels battery
Follow this method to check if your kid’s power wheels’ battery is damaged:
Check Your Battery with a Voltmeter
A digital voltmeter will suffice for this test (you can use any other voltmeter).
Also, have a working battery charger with you (you’ll require it for the preliminaries).
You want to be sure of everything and it is important that you first try to charge the battery for about 8 hours.
Note: To be sure, only use the power wheels charger that was packed with your vehicle. Otherwise, a replacement charger having the same specifications should efficiently charge your ride-on car batteries.
What to keep in mind:
Fully charged 12v power wheels batteries should, under normal circumstances, register at least 12.6 volts.
This is the value you’ll be hoping for if your toy’s battery is good and healthy.
As you likely know, the battery contains sulfuric acid (electrolyte) and you must be careful when handling it.
Procedure for testing a power wheels battery
Now, testing the battery with a voltmeter is quite a simple process.
Here are the actual steps:
- The first thing you need to do is ensure you can access the two battery prongs (positive and negative).
- Next, whip out your voltmeter.
- To measure the DC voltage, set the voltmeter dial to 20. This will let you capture voltages between 0-20 more precisely.
- Place the red probe (positive) onto the + prong, and the black probe (negative) onto the – prong.
Tip: Some users place the probes on the opposite ends. Know you’ve got your probes set the wrong way if the voltmeter shows a reading with a – (minus) in front, for example, -12.8 instead of 12.8. Correct this and move on with step 5.
- While ensuring that the probes are touching the prongs solidly, read the voltmeter again.
So, what value do you get?
As we’d earlier discussed, the voltage must ideally be not less than 12.6V.
You’re a lucky parent if this is what you get as it means the battery may not be dead after all and was perhaps suffering from winter hangovers (you had let it fully discharge).
If this is the case, there’s a likelihood if it now working.
The other possible outcome is the battery doesn’t register 12.6 volts yes but it’s more than 11.8 volts.
What this probably implies is that your battery is aging and has gradually lost its charge retaining powers.
Look for a smart charger (you could borrow a friend as they’re quite pricey) and try to charge it once more.
They sometimes breathe new life into power wheels batteries with this behavior and it’s worth taking the gamble.
Finally, anything under 11.8 and it’s just plain hopeless. Just budget for a new battery.
Testing 6v power wheels Battery with a Voltmeter
Some of these electric cars come with a 6 volts battery and the voltage test is slightly different when it comes to interpreting the readings.
Of course, you must charge the 6V battery first then repeat steps 1 to 5 as elaborated above.
After that, make your conclusions depending on the reading as explained below:
Is the reading about 6.6 to 7 volts?
If you get this, the battery could have been harmed by being kept uncharged for one or two seasons. Retry starting the car with it and see what happens.
Sadly, readings below 6.6 volts are mostly bad news.
You should particularly be worried if it reads below 5 volts even after charging for the instructed time because it is very unlikely that you will get it to power the toy any more.
How to test a power wheels battery: Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
How long do power wheels battery last?
With proper maintenance and care, power wheel batteries last between 2 and 4 years.
For the most part, manufacturers suggest you observe these guidelines:
- Charge it for the recommended duration (18 hours for the first time and never exceed 30 hours).
- Avoid short-circuiting the battery’s terminals under any condition whatsoever.
- Do not run down the battery completely before charging. This ruins it in the long run.
- Always charge the power wheels battery before storage of the vehicle and at least once every month in winter or periods during which it is not being used.
Your owner’s manual has all the care instructions.
How do you revive a power wheels battery?
As we had told you, a smart charger could do the trick if you own one.
Simply leave the ‘dead’ battery plugged into your charger for 24 hours (or the hours described) to have it get fully charged.
Your battery will come back from the dead if all goes well.
An alternative method to rescue dying batteries is using parallel charging.
Here is how to implement this:
- Get a separate 12V or 6V battery (fully charged) and hook up the + and – spade connectors on the power wheels battery onto the + and – terminals on the ‘loaded’ battery.
- The weak power wheels battery will start to hungrily draw energy from the other battery. Go ahead and connect your charger into the system.
- Keep an eye on things- you want to disconnect the ‘support’ battery as soon as the light turns green. As you do this, transfer the charger heads to the power wheels battery.
- Wait for some hours so that the power wheels battery becomes fully charged. The light turning green is again your cue to stop charging.
- Test if the battery now works.
You have learned how to test a power wheels battery using a voltmeter and this is arguably the easiest and most accurate test if you fear that you have a dead battery.
There are other less formal methods out there and some have reported getting confirmation of their battery status with them as well.
All in all, exhaust all viable tests before going ahead to order a replacement battery.
You don’t want to burn your cash purchasing a battery when the current one still has some mileage remaining.