How to Build a Motorized Pedal Car




About: Husband, Father, Woodworker,

A Walk through guide on how I converted a 1980 Reproduction metal pedal car into an electric power wheels

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Step 1: Sourcing Parts

I found the pedal car in pretty good shape for $100

I then found a non working yamaha raptor power wheels for parts. $FREE

The rest was stuff I had around the shop or bought locally for pretty cheap not all build will be the same.

Step 2: Testing the Wiring and Motors

After pulling the entire wiring harness out of my donor power wheels I needed to test why it was not working.

At this point I found two reason

First the pedal was rusted and one of the pins was not making contact in the switch

Second they had previously changed the end to use with an after market battery and the splicing was loose in the crimp connector.

After all of this was fixed and bench tested I was able to get Direction (FORWARD)(REVERSE) Speed (HIGH)(LOW)

I added a coupe short videos of the progress

Step 3: Adding the Motor

I have to apologize but I do not have any footage or video of this step.

The process was:

  • first cutting the original pedal car axle out of the way.
  • Sliding the solid axle through the motor and welding back into the original configuration
  • Building a metal cog for the plastic hub of the power wheels motor to sit in
  • welding the cog into place.
  • welding a few motor supports

Step 4: High Low Wiring Issues

I made a few simple video of the basics of how the wiring of a power wheels works.

Learning a ton myself in this process and some oversight on my part in the build.

I hope the video helps explain my issue and how I have completely lost my low gear in this build.

Any questions please comment I will be happy to answer anything I can.

Step 5: Test Run

I tossed the harness together and place the battery on the seat just to test everything was moving and rolling smooth.

Step 6: Wiring Layout and Test Fitting the Battery

Here was just a quick layout of the harness and trying to see how much and what else was needed in moving the battery to the front supports.

Step 7: Building Shaping a Floor Pan

All this is a custom build and using the tools I have on hand this was the best I could come up with.

Using a jigsaw a 4x4 and hammer here is the out come.

Step 8: Test Fitting Height and Final Placement of the Floor Pan

Brought my little man out to help get an idea of placement.

After checking height I drilled and added hardware.

Step 9: Covering in Undercoating

Step 10: Switch Box

Took some metal bent to a 90 and cut the holes to fit the switches.

Simple design and worked great painted black and fit perfect

Step 11: Finishing Touches

Here I ran the harness zip tied hot glued and secured everything to the best I could

I built a wooden platform for the pedal and attached it with hot glue I do not expect for this to last or be permanent fix but I wanted it to also be adjustable.

Step 12: Time to Ride!

My little dude as you can see in the steps above is still a bit young.

Ran over to a friends and his girl gave it the maiden ride.

Step 13: Test Ride Videos

Step 14: The End

Feel free to ask any questions.

I love input positive and negative.

And please give me a follow on Instagram @handcrafted_by_trey if you like what you saw here.

Thanks again for stopping by!

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    21 Discussions


    8 months ago

    Not everyone will be lucky enough to find a free Powerwheels but they do turn up sometimes. My stepdaughter found one for her son when he was about 8~9months old, I stored it and kept battery charged until he was closer to 18 months and could use it. LOL at pictures of baby 'trying it out' I'll vote for it

    wanna beco

    9 months ago

    I for one love this build. These cars are poorly designed as someone else pointed out clearly. I even bought one with a plastic body and the kids still weren't strong enough to get it moving. I applaud you because nothing looks cooler than these old-style machines, and you made it more practical. Thanks for detailing your good work.


    10 months ago on Step 14

    Well, I change the oil in my vehicles, wash my own vehicles, and I've done all those other things mentioned. But I have reasons. Don't trust others to change the oil, can't afford to pay someone, etc. I've built my own shop equipment. A great 2" x 48" belt sander/grinder for one. I built it because I didn't have the money to buy one. And I already had all the parts. Probably saved $800. I expect I've built more of my own stuff than the author or the people who replied have together. But I don't reinvent the wheel so to speak. There is no way in my lifetime I can build all that I want to build, so I budget my time. It's a waste of time to build something that can be bought for the same price.

    wjf123, by making assumptions about people you are showing something about yourself.

    jones424 you said in the instructable your little boy was too young to use the car by himself, yet you denigrate my suggestion of a remote control.

    jones424 by the time you get to be as old as I am, you'll be budgeting your time better! You're obviously quite capable.

    6 replies

    Reply 10 months ago

    “It’s a waste of time to build something that can be bought for the same price”.

    That’s possibly the most shortsighted thing I’ve read in 2018. That’s the kind of attitude that makes it so difficult for everyone in the industrial engineering and machine design business to find employees.

    Knowledge of how to do something and the ability to do something are wildly different things, but the best people I hire take both of those elements and combine them to create solutions to complex challenges that have never been faced before.

    The only way to develop the skills to do something and the ability to tie skills and knowledge together is by doing things. I’ve yet to meet anyone in the machine design industry who doesn’t have endless stories of their successes and failures in projects they’ve undertaken just for fun.

    Rampant consumerism is dangerously naive, destined to fail, offers no intellectual value, imparts no skill and is simply no fun.


    Reply 10 months ago

    I have to agree with everything you have said. Basic way of learning is to see how things work I have personally learned a few things from this build and if thats all that comes out of this then great.

    Thank you for your comment Irritable_Badger


    Reply 10 months ago

    People have a tendency to misunderstand the learning process. People rarely just do something, they’re actually combining individual nuggets of knowledge they pick up in the process of countless experiences. If you could look back at a persons life you could see where they actually acquired the knowledge to just do something; even if they don’t realize it.

    It’s a huge problem in complex technical fields. Kids graduate college with their mechanical/electrical/materials engineering undergraduate degree but they don’t know how to actually do anything. Bruises, cuts, burns and trashed tools and equipment are the most important things in someone’s tool chest.

    Keep up the good work!


    Reply 10 months ago

    I hate to say it but you are coming across as old and grumpy. Hey if building and modifying stuff isn't your thing then more power to you. I enjoy it and I can take pride knowing its truly one of a kind.

    I hope you have a great day!


    10 months ago

    Sorry, I find myself more in the camp with yrralguthrie. Those original pedal cars were always very poorly engineered (not enough room for child with leg strength to actually push the pedals, sloppy steering, top-heavy balance, poor wheel bushings, etc.) and the replicas were no better. I think your effort would have been better spent on refurbishing the free electric Yamaha Raptor which should have been relatively easy to do since you ferreted-out the electrical problems anyhow. Or create a completely new, better-engineered kids vehicle from the Raptor drivetrain.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 months ago

    To each their own. The design isn't flawless and never meant for it to be. It is truly one of a kind and was happy to share my work if someone else was incline. Not only was this how to reuse the electronics and motors but a break down of how it worked and some issues i ran into. That is all I do not see tons of people running out buying old pedal cars to just re-purpose them they are getting tougher to find. this one was much better than some of the originals for this project as all the fittings are ball bearings.


    10 months ago on Step 14

    I know this is a build it forum, and some folks just enjoy building stuff, but on this build I ask myself, Why?
    I just looked on Amazon and a battery operated kids car can be had for $139.00 with shipping. This one also had a remote control feature so a very small child could be put in it and the parent could control the car.
    And no sharp metal corners to hurt the kid.

    5 replies

    Reply 10 months ago

    I am not one for ordinary. Kids have been using pedal cars from the 50's so I do not find it unsafe that I wouldn't trust a child in it. The remotes are pretty new we all grew up without them so not to focused on that part.


    Reply 10 months ago

    This is so cool, and anyone who has to ask "WHY", wouldn't understand the answer anyway. That being said, the only thing I'd change are the nuts on the inside. I'd use cap nuts, but that's me. Keep up the great work.


    Reply 10 months ago

    You are correct on the cap nuts and that is something I can and will prob change these!


    Reply 10 months ago

    The builder has already responded, but I’ll tag along. Why do I change my own oil, wash my car, change out the float valve on my toilet, install my own closet organizer, bake my own bread, play the piano (badly), etc?

    I can buy any of those things, but I can buy none of those experiences nor the joy and self sufficiency of creating.


    Reply 10 months ago

    ccferfun, I too like to build, but if I want the joy and self-sufficiency of creating, I'll actually create sometime.


    10 months ago

    Very cool! Wish I could make one :)