RC Power Wheels for My Son's 2nd Birthday!




About: I'm a father, husband, bartender, and Mechatronics Engineering student. I'm addicted to RC cars and have been building/modifying them since I was about 5. I'm slowly teaching myself to code using an Arduino,...

I've had a dream to RC-ify a Power Wheel since I was about 10 years old. A few months ago, a friend gave me an old beat-up, used-as-a-chew-toy, barely functional Power Wheel. I decided to make a childhood dream come true and completely overhaul the Power Wheel so that my 2 year old son can ride in it! The entire thing was rebuilt and modified. The best part is, permanent modifications were kept to a minimum so when he's old enough, I can put it back to stock so he can drive it on his own!

Step 1: Look at That Face... He's So Bummed That His Power Wheel Doesn't Work...

Poor little guy...

Step 2: Lol! Jk! He's Stoked Just to Be Sitting in It!

It's pretty beaten up though... I got it second hand from a friend. Battery won't hold a charge, paint is faded, decals are peeling, and dogs had used it as a chew toy.

Let's see what we can do to improve on it!

Step 3: First Things First. Let's Strip It Down for a New Paint Job!

Note where it had been chewed to bits. Entire sideview mirror is missing and there's a hole in the windshield.

The entire thing was stripped and cleaned with dish soap before a light buff in preparation for a new paint job.

Step 4: Painting the Seats

Krylon flat dark grey was used here.

Step 5: Now the Trim

Semi-gloss black for all trim pieces. I forgot to photograph it, but the grill and Ford logos all got some silver accents also.

Step 6: Main Body Painting

Candy Apple Red! Starting to look sharp!

Step 7: Fixing the Windshield

I needed extensive patchwork for the windshield. One corner was chewed to bits. I used Bondo and globbed it on. Then took a dremel to it and shaped it before painting. *Almost* can't tell!

PS: not sure why this photo loaded upside down....

Step 8: Bed Liner and Test Fit

Truck bed gets a few coats of PlastiDip spray. Here I also test fit the seats.

Step 9: Hey, How'd That Get Here??

I guess you need to stay energized with a project like this. My son thinks he's Cookie Monster....

Step 10: Interior Is Finished!

I also made some new seat belts. I took an old Husky ratchet tie and cut it to length. Added some "parachute clips" from Michael's. *Way* better and safer than the janky stock velcro straps. (My sewing machine HATED me after this part!)

Note the empty slot in the dash. Future mods include a custom radio pre-loaded with all of his favorite sing along songs! I'll also eventually add functional head light, talk lights, turn signals, and various buttons/switches with lights and sounds for him to play with!

At this point in the build I'm waiting on the final body parts to arrive, so let's move on to electronics!

Step 11: Now on to the Fun Part! Electronics!

I used an industrial servo from eBay. 12/24v and 180kg/cm of torque. I'm only running it at 12v so in order to turn the wheels the car has to be moving. Maybe in the future I'll upgrade to 24v.

Servo mount is made from a 1/8" x 1 1/4" piece of weldable steel beat in to submission on my bench vice. 4th picture shows the angle needed for mounting. It wasn't easy but with my wood working protractor I estimated the angle and it worked out pretty well!

Servo horn is a piece of 3/4" stainless square bar. holes were drilled and tapped to grip the servo shaft. (Bolts in the picture ended up being much to small and bent under the torque load. Current version uses 6mm 1.0 metric bolts. Seems to work so far.)

The opposite end of the servo arm is just a 6" bold with some rollers.

I was able to mount the servo in just the right place to use the existing steering holes minimizing permanent modifications. Only permanent mods are 4 holes drilled to run wires for the servo and ESC.

Step 12: Electronics Installed!

With the wiring run, I mounted the last of the electronics. I used an Axial AE5 ESC, Spektrum SR310 3 channel receiver, ESC runs off of a 2s LiPo and servo gets its own 12v lead acid. Motors are stock 34 turn brushed 550's (I think). I forgot to take pictures of it, but the stock motor wiring was chopped and 4mm bullet connectors added. This way when my son is old enough I can put it back to stock and let him drive it around. I also removed the stock battery connection. I plan to install proper connectors later on and get a new battery. (Pro-Tip: Power Wheels branded 12v 7.5Ah runs about $80, where as a 12v 9Ah battery is around $12 at Wally World.)

Step 13: She Runs!

And just in time for my son's 2nd birthday! He is going to be SOOO Stoked when he gets to ride in it! I can't describe how excited I am to share my childhood dream with my son!

Thanks for making it this far in my build! If you have any questions please, feel free to ask! This was one of the most fun projects I've done in a long time. Some day I'll upgrade it further but for now I think this will make a 2 year old the happiest and coolest kid in town!

If you don't mind, take a moment to vote for me in the "Make It Go" contest as well! Thanks and all the best!


Make it Move Contest

Participated in the
Make it Move Contest



    • Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

      Stone Concrete and Cement Contest
    • Sensors Contest

      Sensors Contest
    • Games Contest

      Games Contest

    6 Discussions


    9 months ago

    Your instructable was well done. I was impressed with the results you got painting plastic.

    You are making indelible memories for your little one. Best wishes going forward.


    1 year ago

    Very nice job. I love turning junk into treasure. I hate seeing stuff thrown away unless it has been completely used up. I watch Craigslist for free stuff and rebuild as a hobby and a little extra cash. You find a lot of electric toys with nothing wrong except the batteries are dead, or they are missing the charger. That and some sun damage.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    I picked up a free Power�Wheels off craigslist. It didn't run even after charging. Turns out the wire to the "gass" pedal wasn't connected. A quick solder and it ran fine.


    1 year ago

    Wow!! Featured with my first Instructable! Thanks anonymous Editor!!!


    1 year ago

    What a fun idea! Nice upgrades and a very good first instructable too :)

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! I had so much fun biding it and had a pretty decent response on Reddit so I decided to have a go at an Instructable too! I'm glad you liked it! :)