PowerWheels have been around for over 30 years. So you would think that during that time someone would have figured out a way to make the tires last longer.
This can cause a delimina for parents who figure out the cost for replacement wheels runs about $20 per tire. Obviously the markup on these is huge, as these things are stamped out of some injection molded machine in china. After replacing the original tires with some upgraded ones, and noticing that after only 6 months of use, they were already starting to show their age, I was determined to find a solution, as I didn't want to pay $80+ for new tires.
Unfortunately due to the way PowerWheels drive trains are engineered, the wheels are designed to be the weak link in the whole system, meaning they will wear down rather than your motors or gear boxes. If the rear wheels didn't free spin, this could put all the stress on your motors and gear boxes. Being the gear boxes are plastic, there are limits to the amount of stress they can take before the gears will be shreded. New Gear Boxes cost more than new tires. Its important to note that if you do upgrade your rear tires with something that gives them better grip, you are transferring the stress to your gear boxes. Use caution with this upgrade as there is the risk of reduced life in your gear boxes. I chose Gorilla tape as it gives another layer to wear on, and increases the grip a little, but not too much.
Above you can see the Rear Tire on our Artic Cat with holes. Keep in mind these are not the stock tires. I upgraded our vehicle with much larger and wider tires. But still after about 6 months of abuse on concrete they are showing their age.
The front tires are doing just a little better. But due to a defect in the front suspension that causes excessive toe in the fronts still wear quickly.
Rear Tires before wrapping with Gorilla Tape
Duck Tape is the universal solution to everything. In this case I wanted to wrap my tires with something to help increase their life. A trip to Lowes, and the purchase of a 30 yard roll of extra wide Gorilla Tape was the solution. The roll cost $14, not cheap, but way cheaper than $80 for new tires.
On the front tires I wrapped a single piece a tape around the center of each tire. Later I added 2 more warps to provide coverage to the sides. On the back wheels I did the same thing, except I spaced the outside strips a little wider to help provide coverage for the wider wheel tires. The photo above is of the rear tires after a spirited drive down the street. You can see even after 1 drive the gorilla tape is showing a little wear.
Both Rear tires after 1 drive with the gorilla tape.
I plan on updating this blog in the future with a progress report on how the gorilla tape is holding up. Thus far it seems to be doing well.
Well my initial fears about doing this were correct. One of the gear boxes has now been stripped. Not sure how bad it is, as I have not yet taken it apart. From the sound it sounds like one of the gears is now in pieces. Unfortunately I was not watching my son when this happend, so I am not sure if this was caused by normal driving habbits, or something more abusive, like driving forward then slamming the shifter into reverse which I have warned him about in the past. However please keep in mind that my gear boxes are stock, but my motors are not, so unlike most factor powerwheels setups, the gear boxes in mine are having to deal with a lot more torque. So this mod still might be doable for people with factory setups.