Why Your RC Car Is Stuck In Reverse And How To Fix It

There are a few different reasons an RC car could get stuck in reverse. Sometimes, you might only need to reprogram the hardware. Worst case scenario, you might need to replace gears, but I’ll go through all the possibilities throughout this post.

Your RC could be stuck in reverse if the brake and throttle are reversed. Resetting the ESC or transmitter can solve this problem. If the gears are damaged, you’ll have to replace them. Shifting gears too quickly can also prevent them from changing. With nitro RC’s, the idle might be too high.

I’ll cover these and more while explaining how to resolve them.

Before we get deep into the problems and solutions, I recommend going through the warranty process if you believe there’s no physical damage involved. You should go through the basic fixes like a transmitter and ESC calibration, but you shouldn’t have to open the unit up and mess with the gears if it’s a new car.

Why Your RC Car Is Stuck In Reverse And How To Fix It
Close up of the back end of an RC car

Motor Wires Are Crossed

If you’ve connected your motor wires incorrectly, the RC will reverse instead of accelerating. Try swapping the motor wires to get it going in the right direction.

Please check out my related article if your RC car is faster in reverse

Diffs Are Backwards

If you put the RC together yourself, you might have installed the diffs backwards. If you get mixed up between a saddle pack configuration and a shorty, the diffs will be the wrong way around.

Open the RC and flip the diffs over in the cases they’re in to check if it resolves the problem.

Reset the transmitter

Resetting your transmitter is different depending on which model you have. Here’s how to do it with a Traxxas TQi transmitter.

  1. Press and hold down the Menu button for three seconds.
  1. The light will start flashing green in single intervals.
  1. Now press the Menu button once. The green light will now start blinking twice in quick succession.
  1. Press the Set button once. The green light will go back to blinking in single intervals.
  1. Press the Menu button again for the green light to blink twice.
  1. Now press the Set button, the light will blink red. Press the Set button again and the light blinks red.
  1. Power off and restart the transmitter.

Video tutorial on how to reset the transmitter

Reprogram The ESC

There may be a communication problem between the transmitter and ESC. Reset the ESC and calibrate it with the transmitter.

Check out this post: Why Your RC car wont go in reverse And How To Fix It

Check the manual for instructions on how to reset your transmitter or follow these steps if you have a Traxxas ESC.

  1. Connect a fully charged battery to the ESC.
  1. Turn the transmitter on with the throttle at neutral.
  1. Press and hold the EZ set button until the light turns green and then red. Then release the button.
  1. When the red light blinks once, hold back the trigger to the full-throttle position.
  1. When the red light blinks twice, push the trigger into full-reverse and hold it there.
  1. The light should flash green to show that the programming is complete.

Video tutorial on how to reset a Traxxas ESC

Shifting Gears Too Fast

If you shift gears too quickly, they could get stuck. When switching gears, first bring the RC to a complete stop. Allow one or two seconds to pass before shifting gears. Stop on a flat surface to prevent any load on the gears, as the next section explains in more detail.

Loaded Transmission

If your RC is getting stuck in reverse while you’re driving over rough terrain, it could be because the transmission is loaded with weight. This can happen while reversing over obstacles and then trying to switch gears while the RC is still on an incline. Only shift gears in flat, neutral positions to avoid loading the transmission.

Related post: Do RC Nitro Trucks Have Reverse? Let’s Find Out

Loose or Damaged Gears

Loose or damaged gears will usually make strange sounds and can definitely cause your RC to get stuck in reverse. Open the RC up and check the gears. If they’re loose and not damaged, you might be able to tighten them up again. This is how to do it.

  1. Loosen the motor screws.
  2. Push a piece of paper between the gears to space them properly.
  3. Push the gear’s teeth against each other with the paper spacing them out.
  4. Tighten the screws and turn the gears to eject the paper.

If the gears are damaged, like deformation or missing teeth, you’ll have to buy replacements.

(Amazon link)

Idle Too High

With nitro RCs, you could be stuck in reverse if your throttle is set too high. Lower the idle speed and try again. This is highly likely if the RC switches gears when the motor is off, but not while it’s running.

Here’s What A Die-Hard Enthusiasts Had To Say

So I asked ” How To Fix An RC Car Stuck In Reverse?” on RC Bashers & Crashers. RC Bashers & Crashers is a facebook group and their members are hardcore enthusiasts with years of experience. It’s well worth checking them out.

Heres what Allan Jensen © had to add:

“Three possibilities: If it’s an RTR, try changing the normal/reverse switch on the radio, If it’s equipped with a brushless (NON-sensored) motor, change two of the three wires leading to the motor. You can change any two, it doesn’t matter but DON’T do this if the motor has a 6-pin sensor wire attached.

In this case, you must change it using the ESC’s menu to avoid damaging the esc, If you have a brushed motor, just swap the two motor wires.

Fair warning if you’re a newbie: DO NOT attempt to swap the +/- battery wires. This will only result in damaging the esc, or causing it to stop functioning altogether.”

Read my article: RC car not moving forward? Here’s What To Do

In Summary

Don’t stress if your RC is stuck in reverse. There are a variety of reasons this could happen and most of the time you’ll be able to fix the problem without taking your RC anywhere. Having said that, if you’ve been through everything in this article and still can’t get your RC out of reverse, take it to a local hobby shop and they’ll get it going for you in no time.

Paul Good

This awesome hobby has something for everyone, whether you like to build your RC from scratch and keep modifying till you've got it to just how you want it, to track racing. You might be out with a boat, or perfecting your skills with a plane. Are you taking some cool pics with your drone? I'm sure my site will help you on your journey.

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