How To Fix Non-Working GeoTrax Vehicles

When the Engine Lights Up But Doesn’t Run, or The Little Engine That Wouldn’t

If you have a GeoTrax train engine (or other remotely controlled vehicle) that seemingly has given up the ghost, you know how frustrating it can be both for you and your child. The toy that once chugged around the track now just sits there when you push the handle on the remote controller.

Whether the train is one you’ve had for some time or is one you recently acquired on Amazon, eBay, UniSquare, OnlineAuctions, or elsewhere, the problem and solution are the same.

There are several steps to take in trying to fix an immobile train. Let’s take a look at them in order.

Fix-It Step #1 -  Better Batteries 

Especially if the train won’t even light up, replace the current set of batteries both in the train itself and in the remote controller. If you put in new batteries fairly recently, you might be able to skip this step.

If, when you open the battery compartments, you see any signs of corrosion, use a little vinegar to get rid of as much of it as possible. If the points at which the batteries touch the metal contacts are clear, you’re probably okay.

When you insert the batteries, make sure you put them in the proper direction. As far as I know, the trains and remotes are all clearly marked. (That hasn’t stopped me from putting them in backwards on occasion though.)

Sometimes it looks like you’ve inserted the batteries all the way into their slots in the remote control, but upon closer inspection (especially in the older models) you really haven’t. Press the batteries firmly into place so they make proper contact with the metal parts of the remote.

Also, be sure you fill all the battery compartments. In most train engines (and similar vehicles) you need 3 AAA batteries. In all the remotes you need 3 more AAA batteries.

Fix-It Step #2 -  Steady Ready Light 

If the “ready” light on the vehicle won’t shine or doesn’t shine consistently, try loosening the screws just a bit. I’m not sure why, but sometimes fully tightening them causes the contacts inside to fail or to work intermittently.

Once the light is steady and the remote controller seems fine, you’re ready for the final big (and somewhat surprising) step.

Fix-It Step #3 -  Wham! Bam! Slam! 

What you’re about to read may at first shock you. You might think I’m joking, but I’m totally serious. I’ve tried this method several times and almost always have had success.

Get a piece of corrugated cardboard (or material of similar thickness and strength) and lay it on a flat surface. The floor, whether carpeted or not, might be best.

Grab your troublesome train (with batteries inserted) along the top, opposite the wheels and slam it down on the cardboard good and hard.

Seriously! It won’t break. These are really tough toys.

Then test the remote controller to see if the train now moves. If it doesn’t, try another slam. Be careful not to hurt your hand (as I’ve done). Often a slam on the train’s side seems to help.

If the train still won’t go after a few slams, you may have to give up on it, but this will probably be a rare case. I think this has only happened to me once in ten tries. I’ve had trains I was ready to give up on after a couple of dozen slams, and then they suddenly start to work!

Keep in mind that these trains still work fine as push vehicles, even if the remote motion fails.

As a commenter on the blog mentioned, you might try tapping with a hammer instead of actually slamming the engine. These are tough toys, but I’d be even more careful with a hammer than I am with slamming. A decent arm and hammer have more power behind them than you might think.

Now that you most likely have your train working again...

See what's new in GeoTrax at Amazon!

Why Does Step #3 Work?

This is only a guess, but I think this fix-it method works because the moving parts inside a train just get stuck and need to be loosened. A good, solid slam apparently does the trick almost all the time.

I have never tried to open up an engine to look for the problem inside. I’m no mechanic or electrician, so what I might find in there probably wouldn’t tell me anything anyway.

What If the Remote Controller Doesn’t Work?

If your remote controller won’t make any sounds, either on its own or when inserted into the Tracktown Railway Depot (for earlier remotes), you probably have a dead remote.

Sadly, for this I have no fix. I have encountered this situation and have decided just to throw out the remote controller and keep the train for pushing by hand.

If you know of a fix for this, please let us know. See the tip in the comments below by “Gary (not the owner)” about checking the infrared output from the controller. If you’re not seeing any output, it’s time to toss it out.

138 thoughts on “How To Fix Non-Working GeoTrax Vehicles”

  1. I seriously cannot believe this worked, but it did! Thank you so much! All 3 of our engines stopped working and this got 2 of them going again. Just about to toss, but so happy to have for another season. Thanks again!

    1. Cool! Glad to hear of another GeoTrax engine problem solved.

      Don’t give up on the third one too soon. I’ve had to slam an engine dozens of times in a few cases.

      Also, if you haven’t tried this, give it a slam on either or both sides, as opposed to the bottom, wheel side. That seems to work just as well and doesn’t hurt as much.

  2. Do you happen to know if there is a way to “add” a remote to an existing vehicle? I have a set that came with three vehicles and only one remote, and can’t find matching remotes for them (except at exorbitant prices!)

    Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure what you mean by “adding” a remote exactly. As far as I know, the only remote that will work with a given vehicle is one from the same set. That is, any Tracktown Railway (for example) remote with work with any Tracktown Railway engine. But a Tracktown Railway remote will not work with a Lightning McQueen car.

      Rather than continue this conversation on the Fix It page, please use the Contact page to let me know what you need.

      1. There may be more problems than just the gear itself. I would look for a whole new engine. It would probably save you some trouble in the long run.

  3. How could this be possible I don’t know, but it truly worked like a charm. I tried rule number 3 slamming the Toy Story 3 train in a cardboard once or twice then pressed the remote and “Voila” the engine is working like first day. Thanks

  4. I’m a grandma where grandsons (far apart) have loved these trains. But the last time I got them out, 3 of the 4 trains didn’t work!
    Your fix did the trick!
    Amazing what you can find when you google a simple question!
    Thanks!

  5. I was Trying to get track working for my nephew and found this online. I thought step three was crazy but it worked for both my train and fire engine! Thank you!

  6. we rolled with laughter when we read your wham bam slam method but thank goodness…it worked! One happy boy! Thank you!

  7. I just did this and the wham, bam, slam method fixed two cars that were not running! The remotes worked (sounds) and the light on the cars came on but would not roll. One of them ran after one slam and the other one took a few times but is now running perfectly!

    Strange but true!!!

  8. Thanks for this tip! We just acquired a huge bin full of tracks and trains/cars– the bam-slam method worked!!! Now on to figure out what pieces go together 🙂

  9. Wow. 2 bangs did it for us. I even took it all apart before hand to find nothing out of the ordinary, then found this post and gave it a drop then a moderate slam onto carpet and it started working!

    As for testing the remote, it’s infrared. You can turn on your phone’s camera and look at the screen with the camera lens pointed at the remote and see the IR emitter light up when you push the handle. If that doesn’t work, try your TV remote or one you know works to make sure your camera does this. Weird huh?

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the information on the remote. That piece normally isn’t a problem, but it’s good to know what you can try if needed.

  10. There is a solution for the dead controllers. If you open the controller there are a lot of wires.
    If you cut the blue and brown and white wires that are connected to the rev:02 part. tape the ends of the wires. Then close the controller. It worked with us.
    I have some pics if you want.

    1. Thanks for the great information, Esther.

      If you have pictures that you can link to from here, that would be cool.

      1. I would like these pictures too. Would love my boy to stop crying about his “new” train that doesn’t work. He just cries and cries. And it breaks my heart how happy he was when I brought it home.

      1. Hi Sara,

        I don’t know if Esther will return to see your post.

        Are you sure it’s the control that is the problem and the not engine? The control very rarely is the problem.

    1. If the RC makes noise and the light on the engine (or car) works, don’t give up. Keep slamming until they work or until you get too tired to try anymore. Slam on the left and right sides. That seems to work even better than when upright.

      If the light doesn’t work, even with new batteries, you can stop. Sometimes they do really die.

      1. A few times after you slam the engine, (especially when the light is still on and you’ve slammed for hours) sometimes just pushing the engine across the tracks or a smooth surface works as well. Worked for me, anyway!

        1. A slight twist on the standard formula. Good to hear that it works. A shining light on the engine is important.

  11. Any suggestion for the airplane? Ours stopped responding six years ago when we moved. Lights come on both the plane and the remote but no response.

    1. Hi Stacy,

      Same process really. The trouble is that there’s no flat surface like on an engine. Do the best you can but don’t hurt yourself. Maybe hold it in a towel or something while slamming.

      Sometimes loosening the screw on the battery compartment helps on these planes.

    1. Hi Mandy,

      I’m no electronics expert, but I don’t think there is. At least, it wouldn’t be easy. Someone else may know otherwise.

      The easiest thing to do, if you need a remote for a particular train, is to buy a new (used) one.

  12. Our geotrax have been packed for a few years. My boys hauled them all
    Out but we could only get half the trains working. Your slam, bam method worked wonders on the others. Thank you so much!!

  13. Thank you, thank you, thank you….

    Unbelievable but number 3 did it! I’m so glad! One thing even i can fix 😉

    Thanks a lot, from Belgium

    1. Hi Tony,

      It does happen once in a while that slamming doesn’t work. To have 2 of them would be really unusual.

      I assume you also did Steps 1 and 2.

      If you haven’t tried slamming each on their sides (both left and right), give that a shot too. If you really can’t get them going, even after dozens of tries, it’s time to get a new train.

  14. OH my goodness!!! It works now!!! We got the GeoTrax Christmas train for my daughter when she was 1. Last Christmas it wouldn’t work so the little ones just pushed it. Well..my son is 2 now and just saw the train in our storage building. Anyway…I pulled it out and he was just thrilled but it still wasn’t working UNTIL I found you! I cannot thank you enough! Why don’t they make these sets anymore?!?!

    1. Hi Nicole,

      What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

      Who knows why Fisher-Price decided to discontinue these cool toys. They do have what I consider a replacement in their EZ-Play line, but I don’t think they are as good as GeoTrax. The new line doesn’t have remote controllers!

  15. I have the christmas train and it gets stuck on 3 parts of the track (mostly the up hill and down hill) like it falls off the track any suggestions. Otherwise this is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

    1. Hi Denise,

      I guess just make sure your tracks are put together correctly and tightly. That’s all I can think of. Maybe someone else will have better ideas.

      Glad you have found GeoTrax to be so much fun!

  16. Any suggestions- engine works great on flat surfaces but can’t climb the hills. 2 other engines have no problems. All new batteries. Thanks

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Batteries was going to be my suggestion. Sorry, I can’t think of anything else. Maybe someone else here will have an idea.

    2. I have the same problem. The train will not take hills even with brand new expensive batteries. I tried the slam method with no avail. Had another train that would not work even with the slam method. I had bought this one used online. With slamming not working, I opened it up. Was able to use tweezers to pull the carpet, thread, hair, etc from around the running wheel on the bottom. While putting the train back together, two wire came unattached. With that, I gave up. So now I have one that will not work, one that works only on flat surfaces and one that does’t work at all.

  17. Hi there,
    We have 4 trains where the ‘guide’ wheel (the beige wheel on the bottom) spins freely (no resistance when you try to turn it like on the ones that work), like it’s been disconnected from something. We’ve tried slamming, running along carpet, etc., but no luck. I’m thinking if slamming the train helps to free up whatever isn’t moving, then the guide wheel on the bottom would’ve been stuck as well, so not sure if I should even keep trying.
    Does anyone -for whomever the slamming method worked – remember whether their guide wheels were stuck or spun around like ours? Starting to feel a little doomed…

    1. Hi Tammi,

      First, just note that comments require my approval before they are posted. 🙂

      The geared wheel on the bottom should spin freely.

      If you already have new batteries in the engine and the light on top is lit (both of those are important), then just keep trying to slam good and hard.

      If it still doesn’t work after a few dozen attempts from all sides, you may just have to give up and look for a new one. It happens.

  18. I can’t believe #3 worked! 😀
    We’d just setup our Christmas Train around the tree and feared the worst when BAM! Works like new again. Thank you so much!!!

  19. I randomly came across this when searching for answers for non working GeoTrax cars. You are a genius! I was laughing so hard when this worked on both of my cars! So glad I found this! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Ashley,

      I don’t know about the genius part, but this is pretty much the go-to site for GeoTrax these days. Glad you found it and that it helped.

  20. What about when the wheels keep slipping and the train struggles to move forward. Any cures for that? I have tried cleaning the wheels and this did help a bit but any other ideas? Is there replacement wheels for when the rubber on them wears out? Thanks

  21. Gary, I just got two out of three trains to work following your steps and step three was the winner. Sadly, can’t get the Christmas train to work. Remote functions, train has light and can hear the motor, but wheels will not move. I’ve been giving it some serious #3. Keep trying? It’s my daughter’s favorite for underneath the tree!

    Thanks though — as you SAVED 2 others!!! SO glad I found this site!

    1. Hi Ann,

      Good to hear some of them are working. If the engine sounds like it’s working inside but the wheels and the gear on the bottom aren’t moving, it sounds to me like a piece is broken inside. If that’s the case, I think you now have a push train. 🙁

      1. Appreciate your insight and that is what I was thinking — but your advice is great and thanks for helping me save 2 of 3. Take care! Ann.

  22. Hi!

    It took some time, but this worked! I put in all fresh batteries and the light was steady on. I was wondering why I didn’t feel any motor resistance when I tried to spin the wheels by hand.

    Then I gave it some good whacks with the bottom of a screwdriver on all sides without luck. I didn’t even hear the motor run. That, and not feeling resistance on the drive wheels worried me. Then I tried running the locomotive on my leg in the forward direction a few times while continuously sending the forward signal from the remote. After a few strokes the engine started turning again! Second locomotive worked exactly the same way.

    I hope this addition helps.

    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      Sometimes a slam will get the light to shine. If not, that’s when I normally consider the train dead and start looking for a replacement.

  23. Step #3 is amazing! It actually worked. I’m sad I didn’t find this solution last year because I got rid of one of our trains that was no longer working. Thank you again!

  24. I’m one of the many who stumbled upon your posts on how to fix this. My issue was just that the batteries had leaked. I tried to scrub the contacts but it never worked. Then I read your suggestion to use vinegar to clean the contacts which had leaked battery content on them. I used a Q-Tip and cleaned all of the contacts and loaded it up with fresh batteries. I gave the remote a push and away went the train! Thank you for maintaining this information.
    I wish FisherPrice would make a new set similar to this one. It’s very cute and the kids love playing with it (again)

    1. Glad the vinegar worked.

      Fisher-Price makes the EZ Play Railway which seems to be their GeoTrax replacement. Many of the 13 or so (currently) sets are very similar to some of the GeoTrax sets. The biggest difference is that there are no remote controls. Personally I think this is not a good thing. I’m also not certain if the tracks are compatible with GeoTrax.

      Someday I may add EZ Play Railway sets to this site.

  25. I am shaking my head and laughing!!! This really worked. I had two that stopped working and was thinking of buying new ones because my grandson loves them. Thanks so much for saving the day!!!!
    Joe

  26. I can’t believe it worked. Thank you. My 11 year old is very happy. We just set up train around xmas tree. Wow who would have thought of such a high tech solution.

  27. Hi! So I came across this thread to learn more about Geotrax! We bought a huge used set from a garage sale thinking we scored the big jackpot! Well we either completely clueless or have been scammed! Looking to see if you can share some insight! We have 3 remote controls and many train sets but we are unable to figure out how to get the trains to move! There’s nothing that resembles a battery. I have a feeling they gave us the EZ trains not the remote controlled ones. Are you able to give us some advise!? Desperate mom here.

  28. Who would have guessed! We have two trains that haven’t worked for YEARS! Tried step 3 with both of them…IT took a good 6 slams on the cardboard, but both are working like new now. Thank you!!

  29. Thanks to your post, 9 Geotrax trains were brought back to life. I had some corrosion issues due to batteries gone bad. Once I had cleaned them properly and had the red light, they still wouldn’t go. Your #3 suggestion worked like a charm. Thank you again for taking the time to post.

  30. Have you gotten any more info on remote controllers that don’t work? I bought the item used and found battery leakage and corrosion in the battery compartment but that seemed to clean up fine with vinegar and elbow grease. Inserted brand new, high quality batteries and still no infrared beam.

    Thoughts?

    1. Hi Leah,

      I don’t have any more info on this type of thing. I can’t recall having a remote that didn’t work. (It’s usually the engine.) If I would come across one, I would try to buy a replacement instead of trying to repair one. Someone else here may have more information.

  31. I suspect moisture plays a part with the motors becoming stuck during storage. Years ago I read that wrapping electric trains in newspaper instead of plastic would be a better choice because the paper would absorb the moisture better. Makes sense to me. Also remove all batteries when storing any toy trains to prevent battery leakage problems. And sometimes I use rubbing alcohol instead of vinegar to clean battery contact points with a Q-tip and/or a small flat blade screwdriver. Love my Geotrax!

  32. Amazing! #3 worked for me with 5 engines!! I slammed the first one and then switched to a rubber mallet ???? Thanks for the tips!!!

  33. Can’t believe it, but about 7-8 firm hits on the side with a hammer brought my grandchildren’s two engines back to life. How did you come up with this incredible troubleshooting tip? Thanks

  34. Selling a set at a garage sale. My engine wouldn’t run. Thought it was bad batteries, but that didn’t work. Hooked for a fix and found your post. Gave step 3 a try and shore enough it worked. Simply amazed something so simple. I have to admit I had my doubts thinking that maybe this was just a spoof, but it worked like a charm.

  35. I, also, was a skeptic; But this totally worked! I was about to give up on our train, because it still didn’t work after a few good hard whacks. Then I hit it a couple times on the sides also and after letting it sit for a few minutes, IT WORKED! Happy 3 year old. Happy mom! Thank you!

    1. Congratulations, Beth!

      To any other skeptics, it doesn’t hurt to give it a try, as long as you’re careful with your hand or use a rubber hammer (as mentioned in another comment above).

  36. I have one HAPPY 5 year old on my hands. THANKS so much, the slamming fixed not only the used train we just bought through Mercari but the one we had that broke a year ago. Simply amazing 🙂

  37. Thank you for the info. I had 4 trains not working. Thanks to you they are all working now. I also had a remote that wouldn’t work . I thought what the heck nothing ventured nothing gained. I wacked it on the floor a few times and its working also.

  38. Oh my gosh, step three legitimately just worked on Finn McMissile. I could hug you! I thought he was a goner! My kids are going to be thrilled when they get home from school! #whatidowhiletheyreatschool

  39. So I have opened an engine up to figure out the slam method is dropping a gear that is getting stuck (dirt,hair,etc) out of place instead of freely dropping into its line of other gears.

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