The John Deere Gator Ride-On by Peg Perego is a battery-operated (12 V) toy built to resemble the full-sized diesel-powered John Deere Gator utility vehicle. The gator ride-on toy has two speeds, 2.25 and 4.5mph forward, and 2.25mph in reverse. It has four 14-inch wheels that will roll over pavement, grass and rough terrain, a horn and a dumping bed with a tailgate. The HPX model claims to have increased traction over earlier models. The toy is intended for children ages 3 to 6 and will carry up to 59 Kilogram. A child owning this toy will need to learn to be patient during battery charging, and battery changing, and when waiting for replacement parts to arrive. Problems develop within the first eight months and sometimes directly out of the box.
Out of 26 customer reviews, nine mentioned that battery installation was difficult or that battery life was limited; 14 commented on tire wear or loss of traction; 14 complained of the gears stripping or ceasing to function; while flimsy construction of the tailgate and plastic parts, such as the windshield connections snapping off, was cited in four of the reviews. Perhaps most serious of all, two of the customers pointed out that the lack of seat belts or sides allows small passengers to fall out and be driven over, especially in hard turns.
The first thing purchasers have generally confronted is a battery life on full charge that extends from 1.5 to three hours of steady normal use. Various problems developed within six months in most customer reviews. Gear troubles appeared anywhere from two days to eight months after first use. Tires showed worn tread between two weeks and eight months as well. Various plastic bits breaking off happened within two weeks. And by four to six months, "everything" appeared to break---the horn, end tailgate, handles, dumping action, pedal and gear shifter.
Customers with sloping yards, even a mild rise of one foot every 10 feet, indicated the gator riding toy had difficulty powering up the hill. Traction was an issue on gravel and wet grass. Riding on pavement did not impede speed or turning, but resulted in quicker tire tread loss.
Traction can be improved with adding weight over the rear wheels, such as a breeze block. Customer John Colby, of Northfield, Conn., said he fixed the traction issue by screwing strips of a rubber doormat to the gator riding toy's tires, at the same time extending the life of the tires. As a replacement tire costs £29 each in 2009, he felt that was an inexpensive solution to both issues. Mr. Colby pointed out that gear stripping could be avoided by teaching the children to stop the vehicle completely before switching gears from forward to reverse, and that this is a problem common in all ride-on toy vehicles. Loss of power, especially when going uphill, may be caused by the overheat circuit breaker installed to avoid the battery overheating.
The gator riding toy weighs approximately 40.8 Kilogram and could easily injure a small child who falls out during operation.