Conclusion: Power Wheels Ford F150 Pickup Truck Rating:
After many hours of research and reading reviews of ride on cars for kids, I decided that the Fisher Price Power Wheels Ford F150 Truck was the best of breed for my oldest boy on his 3rd birthday.
Here are the primary reasons I chose the Fisher Price F150 truck over the other vehicles out there:
Two seats; we have two boys and this allows our younger boy to ride along with his big brother. The seats have velcro seatbelts that aren’t really intended to serve as a saftey measure, but they do seem to be holding up well enough to keep our 14 month old in the seat even though his feet are dangling. Another plus is that the head rest has a little ‘give’ in it soften the quick starts and stops for our little one.
Monster traction; one of the main complaints about ride on vehicles is that they are constantly loosing traction. The F150 Ford solves this by putting one electric motor on each of the rear wheels, so if one wheel starts spinning, the other takes over. It also has tires with deep traction grooves as opposed to the Cadillac Escalade power wheels – which looks like it is more suited for hard surfaces (asphalt).
Storage; the F150 has a truck bed with a working tailgate. My son loves to put his toys, pinecones, dirt, etc. in the bed and truck them around. I found that putting a heavy cinder block in the bed gives the truck considerable added traction around our bumpy back yard.
Secure Doors; some of the other ride-on vehicles I considered met my above requirements, but had open sides which make it easier to get in and out, but also make it easier for our one year old to fall out around corners.
A Couple Things worth noting:
Battery Charge Indicator: some of the product descriptions indicate that this truck has a working battery life indicator, and I had expected ours to have one only to find out that it doesn’t. I can see where it used to be, but it appears that they have removed that feature from the latest model – now there is just a sticker simulating a navigation screen where it used to be. You might be able to find an older model that does have it, but if this is important to you, then be sure to check w/ your seller first.
Seat Placement: the seats do allow for some forward/back adjustment, although it is not easy and must be performed during installation. By default, the seat is installed at the furthest-back position, which forces my taller-than-average 3 year old have to fully extend his leg and sit forward in the seat to depress the gas pedal. I recommend measuring your kid’s legs to take seat placement into account during installation. I haven’t adjusted the seat yet, but it looks like I’ll have to drill some new screw holes and make some other modifications to slide the seat forward.
Check out my detailed un-boxing and assembly photo essay below. Many Amazon reviewers complained about the assembly process. I’m fairly handy and have some tools and found that it was really pretty easy to put together. If you have any experience assembling Ikea furniture, you should be just fine. If not, you may want to call on your local handyman to help out.
I found the f-150 truck on Amazon for $319 with free shipping (summer 2010).
Fisher Price Ford F150 Truck Un-Boxing and Assembly Picture Gallery
Here is the giant box that arrived via truck freight free shipping from Amazon.
Five gallon paint bucket for reference.
The truck comes partially assembled.
Here are all the parts after they’ve been removed from the box.
There are two motors – one on each wheel – this is how the ‘monster traction’ works.
Here is the shifter – you have to move it over and up to shift gears similar to a real car.
Here is the dash before assembly.
It comes with a plastic key that is sortof tethered to the ignition with a plastic t-bar that extends from the end of it into the key slot.
Here you can see the two cupholders and the accelerator pedal that also functions as a brake when released according to fisher price.
Unassembled interior shot.
Here’s where the 4 size C batteries go for the radio – behind the radio face which is held down by 4 small screws.
The rear-view mirrors fold in like a real car – a nice feature I think.
Here is where the rechargable battery goes in the front, under the hood.
Here is the rechargeable battery and the charger cord.
Here is the battery with the charger plugged in.
The front with the grill assembly ready to be installed.
The front with grill attached.
Here is the hardware packet. Pretty small considering the size of the vehicle.
All the screws are philips and the same size which makes installation much easier.
Using a power drill can make a job like this go MUCH faster.
Be sure to set the drill to relase at the lightest setting so that you don’t strip out the plastic drill holes in the truck.
I noticed that two of the holes were filled with plastic on the grill – I guess they changed their plans at some point because the instructions act as if they aren’t even there.
Here is a view inside the front wheel well where I had to put one of the screws – a little tricky to reach, but not too bad.
This shows where the screws go into the top of the grill piece.
Next comes the dash control panel stickers.
The instructions are clear and the stickers are numbered, but be sure you get them in straight the first time because the ridge around them makes it near impossible to peel them off.
Next we assemble the steering column.
Simply slide it through the steering wheel and align the hole for the metal rod to slide in through the side.
All the way in there.
Now snap the steering wheel cover into place.
The the cover has a piece that covers the metal rod and keeps it in place – pretty clever.
Time to snap the steering column assembly into place. Make sure the wheels are straight and the bent part of the column is pointing down. After that just slide it in and it should click into place. Simple.
Next we move on to the bed assembly stage.
We have to line up the tabs on the front of the bed with the holes pictured here.
Here it is just before being situated into the slots. Once it is in place, fasten the screws as indicated.
The instructions tell you to flip the truck upside down, but I chose to prop it up on a sawhorse like this to prevent scratching up the windsheild. Plus it was easier to do by myself. Having it hoisted up made fastening the screws under the bed easier.
Next we prepare to attach the rear wheels. Notice that they come with a little strip of cardboard stuffed in the ends for saftey I presume. You’ll want to remove those.
The rear axle slides from one side to the other easily, so it’s a little tricky to get both wheels all the way on without a person pushing on each side. I did the equivalent of a bear hug to get them on.
This picture shows how the axle was sticking out too far on one side at first.
The wheels are held on by cotter pins. Here is how they should look when clipped on correctly.
View from the rear with bed and wheels installed.
Next we hoist up the front end to attach the grill support piece and secure the steering column.
Here are the hub caps and steering column cap.
This is how the steering column cap looked after I slid it over the end of the steering column and fastened it with a screw.
The grill support also serves as a skid plate and has tow hooks that slide through two slots at the bottom of the grill.
I use rechargeable batteries for everything. Here they are in the working radilo.
Radio cover plate is now installed and the radio works! It scans the channels just like a regular car one would. The reception wasn’t great in the garage but it did work.
The hub caps snap on with ease.
The chrome wheels look pretty cool!
Next we prepare to attach the seats. The seat belts come in a little plastic bag.
Here are the seat belt straps laid out on the floor – they are nylon ribbing with velcro on the ends.
The seat belts finish in a little ‘T’ that holds them in place after they are inserted from the bottom.
Here is a shot from underneath showing how the seatbelts look after they’ve been installed.
Seat belts are now fully installed.
Here is where the seats will be installed.
Tabs on the back of the seats fit into the chassis.
There are a mounting holes in the bottom of the seat on either side – pictured here.
It was a little tricky to line up the tabs but it is relatively flexible plastic, so I could bend it a little to make it work. Once the tabs are in place, fastening the screws was easy.
The hood was the easiest thing to install – there are t-shaped plastic insterts on each side that just go into slots near the windshield. done.
Here is the battery compartment – just slide the white plastic bar forward and carefully place it in.
The white bar snaps over the battery somewhat snugly, but there are no screws or fasteners other than that. I’m sure it will stay in place if the truck flips over (I hope!).
Plugging in the battery was easy.
Assembly is complete! Now I just have to apply the rest of the exterior decals. I tapped the gas pedal and it gave a mighty lurch, so we are in good shape. Total assembly time was probably something like an hour for me. I think it was easier than most Ikea furniture projects.
Here are some shots after assembly was completed.
shiny chrome rims.
Stickers on the sides.
Working tailgate and realistic tail light stickers.
Stickers on the hood.
Another shot to get an idea of scale.
Here is the birthday boy cruising around in his new Fisher Price Ford F150 Power Wheels truck:
I am the proud forty-something father of two young boys.
I spend a lot of time researching childrens products and parenting tips as I navigate my way through trying to be the best Dad that I can be. I hope this blog serves as a useful parenting resource and buying guide for other Dads (and Moms). Let me know how I can make it better in the Comments! - Steve