Have you been thinking of getting a Power Wheels or Powered Ride On Toy for your child to enjoy? If so, you may have found that there are a number of different considerations to weigh when choosing such a toy. For example, there are many different features that Power Wheels, Kool Karz, and other powered ride on toys can have, but not every model will have every feature. Further muddying the waters is the issue of varying recommended age ranges, as well as safety and durability issues. Therefore, to help you navigate the waters of buying a powered ride on for your child, the following buying guide will take a straightforward approach, weighing one aspect of these toys at a time until we give you all the tools you need to make the most satisfying selection for you and your child.

What are Powered Ride On Toys?

Powered ride on toys, of which Power Wheels and Kool Karz are 2 popular brands, are miniature vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, etc.) that really work (i.e., they drive around) and are designed and built for kids ages anywhere from 0 to 8+ years old to drive around in/on. These toys look incredibly realistic (if somewhat deformed due to their size) and can come with a multitude of different features and benefits for your child to enjoy. Such features may include seatbelts, working horns, multiple speeds, FM radio (with full onboard audio), parental override via remote control, heavy duty tires for all terrain driving, SD and USB media slots, battery level indicators, and many, many more. These mini vehicles are tough, durable, and in many cases can hold 2 children at a time. Many of these vehicles can also handle a weight of up to 120 or 130 pounds. Regarding their features, it’s important to realize that not all features will come with every individual powered ride on model, and it’s up to you to do the necessary research for any vehicle you’re considering buying. This way you can ensure that your child’s powered ride on comes with all the features that you and you child desire.
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Powered ride on toys are also sometimes customizable, meaning you may be able to select the features you like the most and have them added in, thus providing your child with a small, realistic looking car, truck, or other vehicle to drive around the yard in and have an absolute blast. Moreover, these toys are very safe and durable (as we will discuss in more detail later in this guide), so you can rest assured that your child will have untold hours of fun in a safe and secure manner under highly controlled circumstances.

What is the Ideal Age for a Powered Ride On Vehicle?

Depending on the particular Power Wheels or powered ride on model you’re considering, the recommended age for that toy may vary somewhat. In other words, there are different powered ride on toys available for children of different ages. Broadly speaking, the typical age ranges for these types of toys fall somewhere between 0 and 8 years old, but a given model may be intended for kids ages 1-3, whereas another model may be meant for kids ages 2-5, 5-8, and so on. It is therefore very useful to narrow your search for a powered ride on toy according to whatever age range your child falls into. Of course, there is clearly some overlap within these age ranges, so you’ll certainly want to consider multiple ranges in a case where your child’s age falls within the overlapping territory of 2 or more age ranges.
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You should also consider the size of your child (as well as his or her development for their age) when selecting which age range(s) to investigate. For example, you may have a 2 year old child, but if that child is already the size of most 3-4 year old kids, or has quickly developed beyond his or her years, you’re going to want to look at models that are intended for slightly older, and thus larger, children. Do keep in mind, however, that powered ride on vehicles for older kids will often have more (or at least more advanced) features. This can make a given model more expensive than its less full-featured counterparts, and in some cases a specific model may be a bit beyond the child in terms of what it offers. For instance, is a 2 year old child all that interested in a Power Wheels vehicle with FM radio in it? Likely not, whereas a 6 or 7 year old kid might enjoy such a feature immensely.

Common / Potential Features of Powered Ride On Toys

There are numerous different features available with today’s powered ride ons. It’s important to remember that not every feature is available on every model, so always check the specs carefully for whatever model you’re considering. Here are a few of the features you may (and likely will) find on a typical powered ride on:

  • A Powerful Battery – Today’s powered ride ons feature powerful batteries for long lasting play at speeds that are both fun and safe for kids. Small powered ride ons generally have a 6 Volt battery, while it’s not uncommon for larger models to have a 12 Volt, 10 AMP battery.
  • Multiple Speed Options – Larger powered ride ons typically offer 2 or 3 different gear, or speed, options. This not only makes your child feel like he or she is driving a real car, but it also makes driving a whole lot more fun when your child can shift gears for him or her self.
  • Parental Override Via Remote Control – Many of the top powered ride on toys today offer a parental override feature for additional safety. How this works is that there’s a remote control for the parent to use to make sure the child always drives safely. In some cases, the remote control provides access to an additional (third) gear, so the parent can allow the child to go faster when conditions are safe for doing so. If you’re concerned about the safety of your child when it comes to a powered ride on, this is a great feature to look for.
  • Onboard Audio with FM Radio – If your child is old enough to appreciate their own radio, some powered ride ons today do provide this feature. In fact, there may even be a full onboard audio system through which they can enjoy their FM radio feature, so it’s almost like having a real car.
  • Pre-Loaded Music – If FM radio doesn’t cut it with your child, many Power Wheels and similar powered ride on vehicles come with their own pre-loaded music. Let the party begin!
  • 4 Wheel Suspension – Nobody likes a bumpy ride, and kids are no different. If you’re getting a powered ride on for your child, make sure it has a solid 4 wheel suspension system to smooth out the bumps and potholes in your back yard.
  • Rear Shock Absorbers – Of equal importance to the 4 wheel suspension system is the inclusion of rear shock absorbers. In fact, these 2 features work hand in hand to help smooth out every sweet ride.
  • Gradual Acceleration – Just like a real automobile, powered ride ons (or at least the best ones) have gradual acceleration, making them easier to drive (since they won’t just take off from a dead stop). This is actually a useful safety feature for times when you don’t want your ride on to suddenly lurch forward or backwards.
  • Forward and Reverse – And speaking of forward and backwards, any powered ride on that’s worth its salt is bound to have this feature. However, it’s certainly not guaranteed, so be sure to check those features carefully when shopping for your powered ride on (if having reverse is important to you).
  • Towing Capacity – As strange as it may seem, some of the more powerful powered ride on vehicles actually include towing capacity. Even if your child never uses this feature, the mere fact that it exists should give you a pretty good idea of how powerful these vehicles are. For example, some models feature 2 x 35 Watt motors. If you want to get your child a powerful little machine, these are among the key features to look for.
  • Themed Vehicles – Some powered ride on vehicles feature special themed designs that make them extra fun for kids to play with. Pictured below is a Power Wheels jeep based on a vehicle from the Jurassic Park film series. If your child likes to role play as a dinosaur wrangling park ranger, now he or she can have the proper equipment to work with. In other words, some powered ride ons bring a whole different level of imaginative play to the game. 
  • Working Head and Tail Lights – While it’s doubtful your child will ever be cruising the backyard streets late at night, it’s really cool that many powered ride on vehicles today offer both front and rear lights. It certainly adds to the realism of driving one!
  • Leather Seat Covers – Some powered ride ons have the ability to put your child in the lap of luxury. Any model featuring a leather seat cover (and they do exist) pretty much has this covered.
  • Seatbelts – Yet another safety feature—just as you’d find in a real life car or truck, is either the across the lap or the down the shoulder safety belt. This is certainly a key feature to look for with any powered ride on. If your child learns the importance of seat belts early on in life and gets into the habit of wearing one, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll continue the practice throughout their entire life. Moreover, a seatbelt is sure to keep them safely in place whenever the road gets bumpy.
  • Battery Level Indicator – To keep your child’s battery from running out unexpectedly, a battery level indicator is included with most (if not all) powered ride on models. Of course, a battery charger will be included with your Power Wheels (etc.) vehicle as well.
  • A Working Horn – It may not seem like much, but no car is a real car without a working horn, and your child is sure to have serious fun beeping you out of the way!
  • Additional Sound Effects – These may include realistic automobile sounds or other sound effects that fit into the particular theme of the vehicle, such as the Jurassic Park jeep mentioned above having dinosaur chase sounds.
  • Media Plug-In Slots – SD, USB, and other media input slots are available on the top Power Wheels and other powered ride on vehicles.
You may find that some Power Wheels, Kool Karz, and other powered ride on vehicles offer additional features that are not listed here. If so, consider them a bonus and enjoy. As for the features that are listed, look for the ones that appeal to you the most when making your vehicle selection.

Power Wheels / Powered Ride On Safety

If you’re concerned about the safety of a powered ride on vehicle, fear not, because these miniature vehicles offer a variety of excellent safety features. Chief among these are the parental override feature (via remote control) discussed in the features section above. For a better understanding of this feature, simply think of the way you would control any other RC vehicle and you should have a pretty good idea of how this works and the benefits it provides. If you, as a parent, are in full control of what the vehicle is doing and where it’s going, you’ll surely rest easier thinking of your child cruising around in it. Just keep the speed down and keep them on the right path and all will be well.
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In the event of a bumpy ride, many powered ride ons also offer real working seatbelts (as shown in the image above). These belts, in combination with the excellent shock absorption and suspension systems of many of these vehicles (not to mention the gradual acceleration feature of some models), make them as safe to ride in as they are fun.

Powered Ride On Durability

Plastics, metals (steel), and carbon fibre are among the materials lending durability to the most tough and capable powered ride on vehicles. You can rest assured knowing that these vehicles are durable enough for serious and long lasting play. You also might like knowing that you can shop for your powered ride on by ‘Material’ on the Best Buy Canada website.

Take the next step

Remember, the key to buying the right Powered Ride On Toy for your child is taking the time to do your research, and learning what features are available in a model that’s age and size appropriate for your child. Only when these steps have been taken can you be fully assured of getting a vehicle with your must have features and the right specs to provide your child with the ultimate powered ride on experience.
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