How to Make Rubber Band Powered Vehicles

by Andrea M. Zander

They won't be adopted as an alternative fuel source any time soon, but rubber bands do have the power to propel a small, lightweight vehicle. The distance achieved will ultimately depend on the tautness of the rubber band, the vehicle's weight and the smoothness of the surface on which you release it. Experiment with different factors and see what kinds of results you get.

Items you will need

  • Empty cardboard box
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • 2 finishing nails
  • 2 lengths of stiff, lightweight plastic tubing, 15 mm in diameter and 1 inch longer than the width of your cardboard box
  • Hammer
  • 4 compact discs
  • Rubber bands
  • Electrical tape

Rubber Band Car

Step 1

Cut four holes in the cardboard box with scissors or a utility knife. The holes should be in pairs on opposite sides of the box so the plastic-tubing axles can slide in one side and through to the other. Cut one pair in the front and one pair in back. Make the holes slightly larger than 15 mm in diameter to facilitate rotation.

Step 2

Poke a hole in the center of one axle with a finishing nail. Don't leave the nail in place yet, since you'll have to put the axle in place first.

Step 3

Slide the axles in place through the holes in the cardboard. The axle with the hole should be in back. Put one CD on each end of each axle, leaving some space between the CD and the cardboard box.

Step 4

Place one nail in the hole you made in the axle. Push the other one through the front of the cardboard box. Secure both with electrical tape.

Step 5

Loop a rubber band over one nail and stretch it to loop over the other nail. Wind the rear axle backwards to stretch the rubber band further, set the car on the floor and release.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your rubber band won't stretch far enough, chain several together.
  • For added traction, criss-cross extra rubber bands over the CDs.
  • The nails may come loose and become projectiles if not securely fastened.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images