Power Wheels Only Goes in Reverse

Is your kid’s power wheels vehicle only going in reverse, even after you have switched to forward mode? Is the power wheels toy stuck on reverse mode and can’t switch back to forward mode?

Well, you’re not alone. Some power wheels tend to go in reverse when the reverse/forward switch malfunctions.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to solve this problem, and they always take it to a mechanic or sell it.

Why Is the Power Wheels Vehicle Going In Reverse?

These toy cars have a switch on the dashboard that allows your kid to put it either in reverse or forward mode. This switch shows the gear in which direction the toy car needs to go.

But when the button is damaged or not connected properly, the toy can only move in one direction. And in most cases, it’s the direction it was moving when it got damaged. 

This problem is quite common among parents who have purchased second-hand toys which have no warranty.

But if you bought a new one that only goes in reverse, then you can take the toy to the manufacturer’s service centers and have it repaired; after all, it is still under warranty.

You can also purchase a power wheels toy that only goes in reverse cheaply and repair it. But before you fix it, you may need to first find out the cause of the problem.

Unfortunately, there are numerous causes of this problem, which revolve around the reverse/forward switch. 

Some of the common causes of the problem include:

  • Damaged switch: a damaged switch can’t change the toy car’s direction, irrespective of how often you try to switch to forward mode. The problem may be too much dirt in the switch, or one of the springs has rusted or is bent. 

  • Bad shifter installation: the shifter is a unique device that allows your kid to pick gears, whether in a manual or automatic toy car. And when it’s wrongly installed, damaged, or with loose wires, it can malfunction, leaving the toy only going in reverse.

  • Disconnected reverse/forward switch wiring

  • Dirt or rust on the reverse/forward switch

At times the battery or the motors may be the problem, but the leading cause of the problem is the switch.

Luckily, replacing this switch or repairing it can be quite easy, and you don’t have to sell the toy at a low price or take it to the mechanic.

You can save some cash and get the replacement parts from the local store or online and install them in the power wheels. 

But make sure the replacement switch that you purchase can sustain the power produced by the battery. Get 24V switches for 24V batteries.

If you get a 12V switch for a car with a 24V battery, then the switch may get damaged again. 

Diagnosing the Issue

Before you even purchase the replacement parts, you should first diagnose the issue and find out the exact cause of the problem. Diagnosing the cause of the issue can end up saving you a lot of cash in the long run.

You may be surprised to find out that the cause of the issue was a loose wire, rust, or dirt and not the switch itself.

You should start the process by first removing the battery and putting it in a safe place for safety reasons. And make sure you have your multimeter nearby to help you find out which wires need to be replaced.

After all, the simplest method for identifying faulty wires is confirming if the current is flowing through the switch. 

The reserve/forward shifter is normally situated below the seats. For easy access, you can remove the seat and then take off the panel cover using a screwdriver.

From here, you can easily access the panel and confirm if everything is okay. To diagnose the problem, you should do the following:

Step 1: Check if the switch has some rust or dirt

At times, you may find that the metal part of the switch has some rust or dust. And this can make it almost impossible for you to shift the toy car to forward mode.

This process can take a few minutes, but you will be thankful if it works.

So, the first thing you should do is remove the switch and confirm if it has some rust or dirt. If it does, then you should disconnect its wires and remove the rust and dirt using vinegar.

Once it’s clean, you can reconnect the switch, install the battery, and test the power wheels toy. If the power wheels can go forward after you have finished cleaning the metal part of the switch, then you’re good to go.

But, if not, then you should proceed to the next step of the diagnosis. 

Step 2: Check if wires connecting the switch to the dashboard or the shifter to the gearboxes are loose

Power Wheels Only Goes in Reverse

The other cause of this issue is loose wires on the switches at the gear and the dashboard. The wire at the dashboard might have become loose while your child was driving, resulting in the car doing nothing every time you activate the forward mode. 

You can pop the switch out of the dashboard using a butter knife and confirm if the wires are connected. If they are all okay, then the issue might not be loose wires.

But if you find some loose wires, you should reconnect them and press the switch into the dashboard until it pops in place.

Poor wiring between the gearboxes and the shifter can also prevent the car from shifting to forward mode. Once you confirm that the connections to the switch are okay, you can proceed and check if the wiring between the gearbox and shifter is okay too.

If one of the wires is loose, you can tighten it, attach the battery and confirm if the problem has been solved. If the toy car moves forward and backward as per the selected mode, then the issue was the wire.

If it still doesn’t shift to forward mode, the issue might be with the shifter installation.

Step 3: Check the shifter installation

If you have purchased a new toy car and it only goes in reverse, the shifter might be the issue. Even second-hand power wheels could have an issue with the shifter installation if the previous owner tried to fix it.

Power wheels have sound shifters that are sometimes installed wrongly. And when this happens, the toy may only go in reverse or forward. The shifter may also be attached using the wrong terminals.

Other times the wiring between the motor and the shifter may have been done wrongly.  

If the shifter is attached to the wrong terminals, you can remove it, install it correctly, and see if the forward mode will start working. If it does, you have saved yourself a lot of cash on buying replacement parts and hiring a mechanic. 

If it still doesn’t work, you should confirm if the connection between the motor and shifter was done correctly. Make sure you check if the wires are tightly connected to the motor and shifter. 

If the car is still not moving forward after making sure that every connection was done correctly, then the issue might be with the shifter or the switch.

You can test the car using a shifter from another toy car that’s functioning properly. If it works, then the issue is with the old shifter. 

If the toy car isn’t working even after replacing the shifter, then the issue might be with the switch itself.

Step 4: Confirm if the switch is damaged

If you have confirmed that every connection in the toy car is okay, the switch might be damaged. Remember, the switch can be damaged while your kid reverses the power wheels car and remains that way.

You should try and find out if electricity is passing through the switch using a multimeter. 

If there is no electricity passing through the switch when you flip it back and forth, you need a new switch. Fortunately, many replacement parts are available in the market, and installing a new switch is not a complicated procedure.

How to Repair a Power Wheels Car That Only Goes in Reverse

Replace the Switch

If there is no rust or dirt on the switch metal parts on the dashboard, no loose wiring, and the shifter is working properly, the issue might be a damaged switch.

You can purchase a new switch for around $10 online or at the local store. Remove the wires attached to the old switch and reattach the corresponding parts to the new switch.

If the toy has three wires where the switch should be, you should ignore the orange wire and use the others.

Once you have installed the new switch, you can test it and confirm that it’s working perfectly.

Repair a Damaged Switch

If purchasing a new switch is not an option at the moment, then you should try and repair the old one and continue using it as you look for cash to purchase a new switch.

To repair a damaged switch, you should:

  • Disconnect the switch from its wires
  • Open the switch by simply removing the upper button.
  • Empty the content of the switch on your workstation.
  • Clean its contacts and housing using a spray lubricant.
  • Inspect the spring and confirm that both of them are straight and none of them has rusted. After all, the spring is the leading cause of this problem.

If the forward spring is damaged, you can replace it with a new one, reassemble the switch and reconnect the wires and then confirm if it’s working.

Replacing the springs or cutting them into half always works. But, sometimes, this can be a temporary solution. Make sure you purchase a new spring after a few weeks and install it.  

Replace the shifter 

Power Wheels Only Goes in Reverse

The shifter is one of the most crucial parts of both manual and automatic power wheels. It is responsible for giving you an excellent riding experience while allowing you to shift gears.

But if it stops working while the car is in reverse, you may not be able to switch to forward mode. Luckily, replacing the shifter isn’t hard, and anyone familiar with these toy cars can do it.

After installing a new shifter, make sure you confirm if the car can shift seamlessly between reverse and forward modes.

Other solutions 

Other than a damaged switch, shifter, or loose wire, this issue can also be caused by rust. If parts of the switch or the wires connected to the switch are rusted, you should clean them using a mild acid.

Make sure you tighten all the loose wires and reconnect the detached wires before concluding that the toy car is damaged. 


Power wheels only going in reverse is a common problem that affects all these toys at some point.

Therefore, instead of panicking and taking it to the mechanic or selling it at a lower price, you should try and find out the leading cause of the problem and fix it.

Remember, even a well-maintained toy car can be affected by this issue. Therefore, it’s crucial that every parent knows how to solve this problem.

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