Switch wiring is the root cause of Power Wheels going in reverse, but you can fix that yourself. Other causes are a bad switch, poor installation of the shifter switch, and rust or dirt on the button. You can access the shifter switch by opening the panel that is beneath the car seats.
Overall, you don’t need a mechanic to tell you why your Power Wheels only go in reverse. The answer is that the shifter that switches the car from reverse to forward mode isn’t working, leaving your car in reverse mode. All you have to do is find out the problem in the shifter system and fix it.
All you need to fix the switch is a screwdriver. You can use it to disconnect the battery, remove the switch, connect a new one, and open and close the panes where the switch lies.
Before we dive into the diagnosis and repair, let’s understand how Power Wheels forward/reverse mode works.
Table of Contents
How Do Power Wheels Go Forward?
Power Wheels have a switch accessible on the dashboard to put the vehicle in forward or reverse mode. The switch indicates to gears which direction the toy car needs to move.
However, when the switch isn’t connected or is damaged, the vehicle will be stuck moving in one direction, either forward or reverse.
You can receive a new Power Wheels that only goes in reverse. The first six months are under warranty, and you can request the manufacturer to handle the repairs. You will have to pay for the repairs if the problem starts after the warranty period.
Parents who choose to buy Power Wheels second hand may encounter the problem more often than those who buy new ones. Some parents don’t know how to fix the problem and opt to sell the toy vehicle at a throwaway price. You can purchase second-hand Power Wheels that go in reverse and fix the problem with a few dollars.
Power Wheels Only Goes in Reverse
Several issues may cause Power Wheels to go in reverse only. Most of the fixes revolve around the forward/reverse switch. Common problems include:
- Disconnected switch wiring
- Bad shifter installation
- Damaged switch
Sometimes the motor or battery may have an issue, but the forward/reverse switch may cause the problem. You can do the repairs without calling the mechanic and save a few dollars in the process.
Replacement parts are available at your local store, or you can choose to buy your replacement parts on Amazon. Please make sure the parts can sustain your battery output voltage so that they don’t get damaged.
Buy 12V switches for 12V battery toy cars and so on if you want the new parts to last long.
Diagnose the Problem
Start by disconnecting the battery for safety reasons. Please remove the battery and place it in a safe location.
Check out the forward/reverse switch on your toy car, usually below the car seats. You can remove the car seats for easy access to the switch and create a working space if you have to replace anything.
Keep a multimeter close by to help diagnose faulty wiring that needs replacement. The easiest way to identify faulty wires is to check the current flow through the switches. It might also save you from buying switches that you don’t need.
Option 1: Clean the Switch Metal Parts
Sometimes the metal parts of the forward/reverse switch on the dashboard may have some dirt or rust, making it hard to shift into forwarding mode. You can pop out the button, disconnect the wires, clean the metal parts with a mild acid like vinegar to remove dirt or rust. Reconnect the wiring and test the button.
Sometimes the problem is as simple as dirt or rust disrupting the performance of a switch. It will only take a couple of minutes, but you will be grateful you tried it if it is the source of your problems.
Option 2: Check for Loose Wiring
You need to check for loose wiring at the switch on the dashboard and the switch at the gears. Sometimes, a wire on the dashboard swing may have come loose, so nothing happens any time you flip it to forward mode.
Use a butter knife for popping up the switch on the dashboard and see whether the wires are connected, and you can redo them if one is still disconnected. Press the button into the dashboard until it pops back into place.
Check the shifter at the gearbox to see whether the connections to the motor are okay. Lousy wiring to the engine will interfere with the shift from reverse mode to forward mode.
You can tighten any loose wires, attach the battery, and test the car to see whether that solves your problem.
Try to switch the car from forward to reverse and watch how it behaves. If it was a loose switch wiring, it will move forward and reverse as per the mode you choose.
Option 3: Check Shifter Installation
Sometimes a car has a sound shifter, but the installation was done wrong. Sometimes the wiring between the shifter and the motor is done wrong. Other times the shifter is attached using opposite terminals.
You can disconnect the shifter, turn it, and reattach it to see if the car will function right. If your vehicle only moves forward after the change, you can opt to keep it that way or buy a replacement.
Buy a new shifter on Amazon or your local store to replace the one in your toy car. After the replacement, everything should work as it should. Test the car to see whether the shift between forward/reverse modes is seamless.
Option 4: Damaged Switch
Use a voltmeter to determine whether electricity is flowing through the switch connecting the forward and reverse modes. A switch can get damaged when the vehicle is in reverse mode and stays that way.
When there is no movement on your voltmeter when you flip the dashboard switch, you need replacements.
Replacing a switch is easy since you will only remove wires from the old switch and attach them to the new switch’s corresponding parts. If your Power Wheels has three wires where the switch is located, ignore the orange one and use the other two.
The dashboard switch is one of the common reasons a Power Wheels only goes in reverse. Sometimes a wire is loose, but the switch has seen better days, and you need a good one.
Overall, it takes a couple of minutes to do the replacement and get your Power Wheels going forward again.
How Long Will the Repairs Take?
Unless your toy car has other underlying issues, you should be able to complete the repairs in about 30 minutes. Parents who aren’t familiar with Power Wheels may take longer to do the repairs, but it is okay.
You can look at videos online to help you with the visual aids on what you need to do to get your Power Wheels moving forward.
Are Replacement Parts Expensive?
No. You may need some new wires or switches, but it won’t be hard for you to get replacement parts. Parents who buy Power Wheels that go in reverse at a low price will save a lot of money once they get the toy car working.
Overall, there is nothing expensive about the spare parts you need for the repairs.
Are Power Wheels Handymen Expensive?
Yes. Generally, handypersons charge a lot compared to the cost you would incur to do minor repairs. You will find the average fee for a handyman is twice or triple the amount you need for replacement parts.
Significant repairs are expensive when you take the toy to an auto shop, and that’s why some parents opt to sell the toy cars and buy new ones instead of paying for repairs.
Power Wheels Maintenance Tips
You need to inspect the vehicle and look for loose or damaged wires every few months to keep your Power Wheels in top condition. Inspections allow you to notice issues in advance and do repairs before the car breaks down.
Also, clean the metal parts frequently and look for signs of rust or corrosion on the metal parts. Rust or corrosion can cause a problem in the performance of the toy vehicle.
Please take a look at the battery’s power output when it is full to ensure it is in good condition. A lower or equal reading to the voltage of the battery is an indication of an issue.
You can even apply a different color when your little one grows older and doesn’t want soft colors. Overall, periodic inspections will let you know the toy’s status and whether or not it needs some repairs.
If your Power Wheels only goes in reverse, you probably have a switch wiring issue or a faulty switch. The good news is that you can repair yourself and spare parts are readily available. Replacing a defective switch requires you to attach the correct wires to the switch, and you are good to go.
If you are lucky, you will find that a loose wire at the shifter or the switch on the dashboard is the source of your troubles. You need to tighten the loose wire and test the vehicle to see whether you can switch between reverse and forward modes seamlessly.
Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with toy cars. There are many videos online that show switch replacements and how to check switch wiring.
Kevin is the founder of RCRideOnCars. While watching my children drive around the yard on Ride On Cars with big smiles on their faces, I decided to start this Power Wheels site to help out everyone to make sure they get exactly what they are looking for.
You can see more of my RC RideOn Cars on YouTube and Pinterest, links below. Read all about us.