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Power wheels won't reverse

It's quite crucial that a ride-on toy has reverse gears for safety reasons and convenience. All Power Wheels have two gears and two-speed modes, but most people take for granted these gears functioning as they should, and problems arise. Some people have found that their Power Wheel won't reverse, which is indeed an odd issue, but it happens. 

If your Power Wheels won’t reverse, this could be due to a specific wire breaking off. It could also be because one of the wires has become disconnected. If you want to do a DIY fix yourself, you can open up the toy and check/clean the wires.

Alternatively, you can call Mattel/Fisher-Price about the matter if the car is still under warranty. You have six months of coverage, and so if the toy is still relatively new, you should be able to get it fixed. In this article, we will be going more in-depth on why a Power Wheel won't reverse, so keep on reading if you want to learn more!

How Does a Power Wheel Work?

Power wheels are nearly big RC cars that children can drive; they come with remote control for parents/guardians to intervene or “drive” around for a child that is too young to control the vehicle.

They are powered by lead-acid batteries, which are different from lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones. If you ever wondered why these toys take so long to charge, it's because it is an older battery technology that has been used ever since Power Wheels debuted in the '80s.

Next, wires, the motor, and switches work together to enable the toy to be driveable; if someone goes wrong with said wires and/or switches, then the car won't function as well as it should. 

Here is an excellent video describing exactly how these vehicles work, and it is critical to know this if you want to repair the toy yourself:

Notice that there is a physical shifter; this controls the forward and reverse gears as well as the two speed modes.

The wires that connect the shifter to the motor are essential for keeping everything working smoothly; that's what we will focus on today. 

How To Evaluate a Power Wheel When It Doesn't Reverse

It's best to get this fixed even if other aspects of the toy are working fine; the reverse gear is there for safety and convenience.

Fixing Power Wheels is actually relatively easy; they aren't very complicated at all, so don't worry about not being a mechanic; they are much simpler than trying to repair a Tesla! 

Step one: Take the battery out for safety reasons. 

Most models have the shifter and wiring located underneath the seat. Simply unbolt it and use a screwdriver to take off the panel cover. From there, you can access if any wiring has become disconnected, broken, or needs cleaning. If any wires have come to unloose, firmly plug it back in and test the toy. 

In some cases, the shifter itself will give out, and you'll need to replace it, but don't worry, this is an easy swap. The shifters themselves are very cheap; you can find a Power Wheels Shifter on Amazon. If you would like a visual guide on how to do this, we've linked a video below:

Knowing how to repair Power Wheels is also very advantageous if you want to shop used, which we frequently encourage if you are on a budget. In fact, seeking out “broken” Power Wheels might land you an easily repairable toy for peanuts. 

My Power Wheel Won't Go Forward

If you have the exact opposite problem and your Power Wheel won't go forward, the cause is mostly the same; the shifter has either become faulty and can't switch gears or the wiring has become loose or damaged. 

In addition, you can check for a shorted switch that is located under the wheel. It's an on and off button that can be restored by running a jumper wire between the contacts. Replace the switch if you are able to restore power; if not, you can use a voltmeter to test if it's getting any power. 

My Power Wheel Won't Go at All

If you have left your Power Wheel on the charger for an adequate amount of time (about 14 hours to charge it from dead to full), but it won't move at all, you can follow the above troubleshooting steps. Furthermore, you can test if the battery is powering the toy at all with a voltmeter.

If you are receiving a reading that is less than 12, or none at all, then there is something wrong with the battery itself, which is a topic we will get into below for another common issue people have with ride-on toys. 

But one more thing, it is entirely possible that the charger is broken and the Power Wheel isn't charging at all. It's also entirely possible that the AC outlet doesn't even work, so ensure that both of these things are working before proceeding to more drastic troubleshooting.


It is frustrating for both the adult and child when a Power Wheel isn't working properly, the child just wants to use the toy but can't, and adults have to scratch their heads and try to figure out what is wrong and how to fix the problem. 

However, we hope we were of help today, and of course, consult others if you are still having problems with the reversal mode. Message boards are a great way to get lots of advice on a problem with potentially those people resolving the same issue you are having.