How to Add Tire Treads to Power Wheels and Ride-on Toy Cars
Add traction and off-road capability!
A Power Wheels is the dream toy of any child. I’ve watched my older daughter enjoy countless hours in a Power Wheels, but they do have one flaw: their tires are plastic. They provide no traction and minimal off-road capability.
The problem was particularly apparent in our backyard where we have a fairly steep hill. The Power Wheels had no trouble going down the hill, but the plastic tires had no traction to get back up the hill. This never deterred my daughter from going down, but it did mean I was always the one who had to carry the Power Wheels back up. So I went about figuring out how to add some tire treads to a Power Wheels.
The newly added tire treads were an instant success! The Power Wheels could go uphill, and I was told they made the ride smoother and more comfortable. If you’re also looking to add tire treads to your Power Wheels (or similar ride-on toy car), this step-by-step guide will walk you through the process.
Materials and Tools
You’ll probably need four bicycle tires – one for each Power Wheels tire – but may be able to get away with two or three depending on the circumference of the Power Wheels tire. There’s no need to get costly bicycle tires – find the cheapest treads you can buy. Aim for something around $20/tire.
Note that some bicycle tires have protective layers inside the tire that provides more strength and extra puncture resistance. You don’t really want to buy these types of tires for this project because you’ll need wire cutters (instead of scissors) to cut the tire tread and they’re much more difficult to wrap around and screw into the tire of a Power Wheels.
Since the Power Wheels will be driven outdoors, I like to use outdoor screws (stainless steel or galvanized). It’s also nice to try to match the color of the screw to the color of the tire if possible (here, black on black). Screws that are around 1 inch long are ideal for this project.
You’ll need to drill pilot holes for the screws since the plastic that the Power Wheels tires are made of is very tough. These particular screws are number 8 in size, which means they are 5/32 inch in diameter. I use a slightly smaller drill bit size for the pilot hole – in this case, a 1/8 inch drill bit.
As I mentioned earlier, if scissors can’t do the job then a pair of wire cutters will.
Step 1: Measure the circumference of the Power Wheels tire
When measuring, give yourself a little buffer – you can always cut off more bicycle tire if you have too much. If you’re a little short, though, there will be a gap in the tire tread. If large enough, this gap can cause bumps in the ride (your children won’t appreciate this). Avoid any issues and give yourself a bit of leeway. You can see here that the tire circumference measures 35 inches, so I’ll give myself an inch buffer and cut 36 inches of bicycle tire.
Step 2: Cut the bicycle tires
Using the circumference (plus buffer!) you just measured, cut the bicycle tires with the scissors. You should have four equally long pieces of bicycle tire.
Step 3: Drill two pilot holes into the Power Wheels tire
Using the width of the bicycle tire, drill two pilot holes in the center of the Power Wheels tire. This will be the start of where you add the bicycle tire tread.
Step 4: Begin to screw in the bicycle tire
Screw in the bicycle tire tread onto the Power Wheels tire. The screws should go in the rim of the bicycle tire tread, not the center part of the tread.
After the first two screws have been screwed in, I repeat another set of screws about an inch away. This helps keep the tread in place and starts the tread in a straight line so it stays in the middle of the Power Wheels tire.
Step 5: Continue to screw in and wrap around the bicycle tire
With the bicycle tire tread started, proceed to wrap it around the Power Wheels tire. From here on out, you can screw it in about every 4 inches.
As you continue around the Power Wheels tire, make sure the bicycle tire tread is staying centered.
Step 6: Trim any excess bicycle tire and place the final two screws
Before placing the final two screws, do a quick alignment check to see if you need to trim off any excess bicycle tire. Ensure the transition between the ends of the bicycle tire tread will be smooth, then screw in the final two screws.
Step 7: Repeat for the remaining tires
The process is the same for the remaining tires, so now that you’ve gone through it once the rest should be easy.
Step 8: Have your children take it out for a test drive!
You’ll have no trouble convincing your children to see how the new treads perform.
Hope they enjoy the new ride, and you enjoyed this project!
Did you find this guide useful? Have you added tire treads or other upgrades to a Power Wheels? Let me know in the comments below!
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