Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

Feb 24, 2023

Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?


Why is my Kirby vacuum hard to push? You will agree with me that one of the worrying issues for most Kirby owners is a tedious vacuum that is hard to push and pull.

Here's a story...

There was this time a young mom popped up at our store, distraught with her child alongside a Kirby she had bought from us some 3 years ago. She complained that her vacuum has been giving her a hard time pushing it and was contemplating getting a new one.

At first glance, I thought it was a major issue, but the first thing I checked was the transmission. Was she engaging the right gear?

Apparently, she wasn’t engaging the drive gear, and that’s why her vacuum was hard to push. For nearly 3 years, she has been struggling with her vacuum, yet it had no problem.

I quickly took her through how the Kirby transmission works and showed her what she had been missing. Then, I switched the transmission to “D” (Drive) and asked her to try it, and she was baffled. She could now vacuum effortlessly.

Even though I had solved her problem, I felt for her and probably many others struggling with their Kirbys. This is the sole reason I decided to write guides, tips, and educational articles and share them with consumers.

The Power of Tech Drive Power Assist

Kirby boasts one of the most advanced transmission systems. Dubbed Tech Drive Power Assist, it offers simple operation. Pushing and pulling the vacuum is effortless compared to most vacuums out there.

Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push


You don't need Olympic strength to use a Kirby. You can literally vacuum with one finger courtesy of Tech Drive Power Assist.

Kirby Tech Drive Power Assist

But wait…

Kirby vacuum users do encounter problems, with most complaining that pushing and pulling their vacuum is hard. If you are almost giving up on your Kirby, that's proving hard to push or pull, we have the solution.

So, what makes a Kirby hard to push?

Several reasons could make a vacuum hard to push. It could be just a minor issue that you can sort out, for example, having not engaged the transmission properly or a problem with the wheels. A brush malfunctioning could also make maneuvering a Kirby a nightmare.

Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push? Causes and Fixes

Before exploring the common causes of why your Kirby is hard to push and the working fixes, there are some pertinent questions to ask regarding your troublesome Kirby.

  • Was this the case before, or it's a new problem?
  • Is it hard to push or pull when the vacuum is on and off? 
  • Is it hard to push or pull the Kirby in just one mode, or both?
  • Does your Kirby move in just one direction?

    Regardless of the scenario, we have the solution ☺️☺️☺️☺️

    Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push


    So, what possible causes can make a Kirby hard to push or pull? What are the solutions? Let's find out.

    If you are on a dead end with your Kirby, here are some things to check.

    1. Check Your Transmission and Components

    Vacuums pack a punch. When working, they seal the surface around the cleaning head to ensure minimal suction loss and, importantly, to guarantee that all dirt is sucked. This seal naturally makes them hard to push.

    But a Kirby in proper working condition shouldn't be hard to push.

    Here's why.

    Kirby vacuums come with Kirby Tech Drive ® Power Assist technology. This mechanism leverages a traditional transmission system to make maneuverability a buzz regardless of the vacuum's weight or the surface they are cleaning. 

    Kirby Tech Drive ® Power Assist

    Tech Drive ® Power Assist is an innovative transmission technology that makes pushing and pulling the vacuum easier. There are two controls; (D) and (N).

    Unfortunately, most users tend to ignore these controls, especially new buyers. 

    If the vacuum is not on the right gear, you will definitely be sweating the small stuff, trying to force the cleaner to move on your fragile carpet or polished hardwood floor. Remember, this is a risk as forcing the cleaner can damage carpet fabric or leave marks on your precious hardwood floor.

    What is D and N for in a Kirby Vacuum?

    The D and N are two key pedals on a Kirby vacuum that operate the transmission system. They are like the gear lever in your car. 

    Most Kirby vacuums, including the Kirby G4, G5, and G6, have the D and N pedals positioned below the unit, and are clearly marked.

    If you have just bought your Kirby or are new to it and find it hard to push or pull it, ensure you have engaged the right gear. Use the Drive switch to engage the Drive gear and the Neutral switch to bring the unit back to neutral.

    Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push

    How to Fix a Kirby Vacuum Neutral and Drive

    There's more to effortlessly pushing or pulling a Kirby than just engaging Drive or Neutral. Sometimes, you will still find pushing or pulling your vacuum challenging, yet you have engaged the right gear. 

    A fundamental question here is whether your vacuum is on or off.  Why?

    This is because the functioning of the gear is tied to whether the Kirby is on or off. 

    Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push When On

    If your Kirby vacuum is on, but you strain to push or pull it, the most probable reason is the Drive gear is not engaged.

    Kirby Drive Gear Engaged

    The Drive gear in a Kirby works when the vacuum is on, so power your vacuum first before engaging the Drive gear.

    Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push When Off

    Another scenario where the Kirby vacuum is hard to push is when it is off.

    Neutral Gear Engaged

    While the Drive gear works when the vacuum is on, the Neutral gear works only when the vacuum is off. That said, you need switch off the cleaner to shift neutral gear after finishing cleaning. 

    How to Adjust Gears in a Kirby

    Now, what's the step-by-step drill of engaging and disengaging gears in a Kirby vacuum?

    First, locate the gear pedals at the bottom. There are different types of gear pedals depending on the model. However, they all use the same principle: a Drive pedal and a Neutral pedal, clearly marked.

    Engage Drive
    • Step 1: Plug in and power on the vacuum cleaner
    • Step 2: Step on the drive pedal to engage the Drive gear

      Engage Neutral
      • Step 1: Power off the vacuum
      • Step 2: Step the neutral pedal to engage Neutral

          Kirby Vacuum Drive Switch Fell Off

          You need to engage the right gear to push or pull the Kirby effortlessly. However, you realize that the drive switch has fallen off. You could have also snapped the pedal when trying to engage or disengage the gears.

          I know you are disappointed, but it's not the end… 

          Kirby Drive Pedal Repair

          It is possible to fix a Kirby drive pedal in some cases. However, the process of repairing the pedal (s) varies depending on the extent of the damage. Some fixes are pretty simple, while others are quite complex.

          Most problems with Kirby gear pedals relate to the pedal becoming loose or falling off. In this case, you will need a screwdriver to tighten the screws. If it has fallen off, you have to assemble it again.

          For those who are rough on the pedal, there's a metal bracket that tends to snap often. The fix will be returning it and probably reinforcing it with adhesive.

          Repairing a Kirby gear pedal can sometimes be easy or a mountain to climb. As a precaution, don't try repairing your pedal if you are not the handy guy; you risk damaging it further.

          Instead, get a professional to do the job. At GreatVacs.com, that's among the services we offer. We have assembled tens of thousands of vacuum cleaners, so yours is a piece of cake for us. You can also opt for a new or refurbished Kirby vacuum here at GreatVacs.

          How to Replace a Foot Switch On a Kirby Vacuum Cleaner

          When you are not so lucky, and the pedal (s) is rendered irreparable, your only option is getting a new Kirby gear switch. So, what are some of the things that should be at your fingertips when buying a replacement?

          First is your Kirby model number.

          There are different foot switch designs, so make sure to get what is right for you. Second, ensure that you buy genuine Kirby parts. Luckily, GreatVacs is a one-stop shop for genuine Kirby accessories, including foot switch pedals.

          Spoiler alert!

          Just like repairing, replacing a Kirby foot switch is not easy. You need to be a handyman to change your foot switch successfully. This is because you have to disassemble several components and return them exactly how they were. But it is possible, and there are plenty of resources online to help you do just that.

          If you think you won't handle the replacement, get the help of a technician.

          Better still...

          Call us, and we will be glad to do the replacement for you!

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Moving in Just One Direction?

          You may also discover that your Kirby vacuum is moving freely in just one direction, yet you have engaged the right gear. In the other direction, you got to use a lot of power to push through. 

          In such a case, you don't have to get a new transmission system or a new unit altogether. The transmission needs a neutral cam bracket or adjustment.


          Kirby hard to push

          Repair or Replace Cam Bracket Assembly

          The cam bracket assembly is responsible for smoothly engaging and disengaging gears. If only one gear is engaging, it could be the likely culprit.

          But just like with the pedal system, the actual replacement can be tedious and require some technical skills. Luckily, we have a great team here at GreatVacs.com that can handle your troubles.

          What's more?

          We have all the replacement parts, including the neutral cam bracket assembly.

          Adjust or Replace Vacuum Pivot

          A Kirby vacuum can also start moving in one direction when there's a problem with the vacuum pivot or handle. If you find yourself in this scenario, you need to adjust the transmission or replace the pivot.

          But I'm afraid!

          Replacing the pivot may be easy but transmission adjustment is not. It's complicated, just like replacing pedals and transmission systems. 

          Below is a video on how to adjust or replace a Kirby pivot.


          2. Get a New Transmission System

          If you have engaged the right gear, and everything else is in order, but you still have a problem, you may have a faulty transmission system. You may have engaged the right gear, but you still struggle pushing or pulling it on carpets and bare floors. 

          It could be just a small problem that can be sorted out or a bigger issue. Regardless of the case, we don't recommend having the transmission repaired.

          Truth be told...

          Kirby transmission systems are very complex, with multiple components. They are hard to repair, just like a vehicle's transmission system. So, who wants the back-and-forth hassles of visiting the service center? It can be draining.

          The only solution is to get a new transmission system. The good thing is that we have plenty of them here at GreatVacs.com at pocket-friendly prices. We also have a wide range of new and refurbished Kirby vacuums, so you can always consider an upgrade. 

          One thing you should remember when scouting for a replacement motor is your vacuum's model number. Kirby motors vary from model to model, so order the right motor. 

          Replacing Kirby Motor 

          Once you have received your new motor, the next step is to remove the old motor and replace it with the new one. Here again, we strongly recommend that you seek a professional to do the job lest you end up with a damaged vacuum cleaner. 

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          This is another instance where GreatVacs.com comes in handy. We won't just sell you the new motor; we have a team of experienced technicians who will put in the new motor and fine-tune the cleaner for optimal performance.

          What if you are the handy guy?

          Well, there is no problem in replacing the motor yourself as long as you know what part goes where. You can check out our video on how to assemble a Kirby vacuum.



          3. Check The Wheels and Axles

          Another reason your Kirby may be hard to push or pull is a fault in the wheel system. If you have engaged the gears well but still find pushing the unit hard, you could have tangles on the wheels, or the wheels could be damaged.

          Strings, hairs, and other stuff that can jam the wheels will definitely make it hard for you to push and pull the cleaner because of the drag.

           Also, inspect the wheels and make sure they are all in good shape. If there are wheels that have broken down or been deformed, consider replacing them to get your vacuum back in order. You can find the best deals on Kirby replacement wheels here on GreatVacs.com at affordable prices.

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          How to Replace Kirby Wheels

          Your Kirby vacuum relies on wheels for locomotion. Like your typical wheel, they are round-shaped for smooth movement. They are also large enough to climb small obstacles and find their way through thick carpet piles.

          There's a catch!

          Kirby wheels are designed to roll smoothly, but they can be damaged. Others fall off for no apparent reason. Whenever your vacuum feels hard to push or pull, and you have engaged the right gear, check the condition of the wheels. A deformed wheel will make that push or pull tedious.

          So, what do you do? 

          It would sound crazy to try and repair a Kirby's wheel. C'mon, it's not a car puncture. 

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          The best option is to buy a new wheel(s) from GreatVacs.com. Our catalog boasts a wide range of tires for different models at affordable prices.

          Still, you can take advantage of GreatVacs coupons and discount codes. Make sure you know your Kirby's model number when placing an order. 

          The next step is replacing the wheel.

          Below is a video on how to replace Kirby wheels.

          Keep Hair Tangling at Bay

          Another problem with a Kirby that is hard to push is hair tangling. If you constantly deal with long hairs, expect the wheels to get jammed often. 

          When vacuum suddenly becomes a heavy truck, check for any tangling and remove the hairs and debris that could make the soft roll a hill to climb.

          It can also be a clever idea to go for a brushroll that minimizes tangling. A good example is the Kirby Miracle Pet Hair Brush Roll which has been designed for effective pet hair pickup and to keep pet hair-related allergies at bay. There won't be any hair hanging around your axles and wheels.  

          Front Wheels Falling Off

          Just to mention, a lot of Kirby owners report that their front wheels keep falling off. So, what's the reason, and what should you do?

          Well, in most cases, your front wheels come off because of worn-out spline shafts. When these shafts are worn out, they allow for successive plays leading to the wheels falling off.

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          So, what's the remedy?

          Well, the best solution is to get a Kirby axle replacement. Here at GreatVacs.com, we have a wide variety of Kirby axles available at affordable prices.

          But if you are not ready to get a replacement, we found a first aid; applying super glue to the spline ends to reduce play. 

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          How to Change Kirby Axle

          If you want to solve the issue of wheels falling off once and for all, get a new axle replacement. You don't have to scout the market looking for one, as we have them in plenty here at GreatVacs at affordable prices. 

          What's more?

          Our experts are with you along the way, so you can get expert help if you need help replacing the axle. Just to mention, the procedure for replacing the front and rear axle varies slightly, but this shouldn't be a concern as we have plenty of video tutorials to help you out of the muck.


          4. Check Your Height Adjustment

          If your Kirby is hard to push, especially on carpets, you could be on an inappropriate height adjustment. If the head is too close to the carpet fabric, it creates some drag, ultimately making it hard for you to push your Kirby.

          What's the solution? Adjusting the height.

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          How to Adjust the Height of Kirby

          Make sure your Kirby height is set correctly. As much as you want maximum contact with the surface, don't go too low, as your head will create resistance with the surface. 

          • Step 1: Locate the toe-touch control, which consists of two pedals. It is at the top of the front wheel. 
          • Step 2: Plug the vacuum into the mains and turn it on 
          • Step 3: Step the toe-touch upper pedal continuously until the power head is down (lowest setting)
          • Step 4: Step the toe-touch lower control in clicks and watch the power nozzle raise with every step. 
          • Step 5: Find your perfect height setting that doesn't drag the unit.

          Here is a video on Kirby's height adjustment to help you out.

          The table below illustrates the best setting for different purposes.

          Number of Clicks

          Best For

          1 Click

          High pile carpets, area rugs, Flokati

          2 Clicks

          Long fiber carpets

          3 Clicks

          Low pile carpets, hard floors, pet hair pickup

          4+ Clicks

          Hose and attachments


          Please note there are two height settings. One is numbered, while dots denote the other. The former setting is for carpets and floors, while the latter is for hoses and attachments.

          Check the Brushroll

          Another Kirby vacuum hard to push fix is checking the brushroll. If your height adjustment is okay, but you still feel some drag on carpets, inspect your brushroll. An improperly set brush could be why you must push your Kirby harder. 

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          If you have just recently changed the vacuum belt or replaced the brush, you should check if you correctly aligned the brush and if it is in the right settings. Many Kirby owners don't realize that there are some numbered settings on a Kirby brushroll. 

          What's the right brushroll setting?

          A Kirby brushroll has 1, 2, or 3-notch settings that determine the reach of the bristles. The higher the notch setting, the further the bristles extend. As you'd expect, when the bristles extend further on carpets, they might create some drag which makes it hard to pull or pull the vacuum cleaner.

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          But it's not just about the brushroll setting. Alignment is paramount. Some users set the brush on a higher notch on one end, and the other is left loosely attached or on the wrong setting.

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          The misalignment means one end of the brushroll will be lower, pushing the plate downwards, and in the end, creates some drag.

          Remove the brush and make sure the number settings on both ends match. Return the brush and check whether the problem is fixed.

          Kirby, Indestructible But Not Invincible

          A Kirby vacuum is indestructible but not entirely invincible. You may encounter some problems from time to time, including finding it hard to push or pull it. 

          Why is My Kirby Vacuum Hard to Push and Pull?

          But this shouldn't stress you much as the problem could be you are in the wrong gear or your wheels are jammed or broken down. You could also have the wrong height adjustment or brush setting.

          But now you know the fix. 


          Kirby Vacuum Still Hard to Push - What Next?

          The above article solves the dreaded Kirby vacuum hard to push problem. If things are still not working, consider getting a new vacuum. Remember, you can always take advantage of our discount codes and coupons. At GreatVacs.com, we roll out plenty of promotions so you can snap a new vacuum deal and forget about your problems. That's it for now, have a fantastic cleaning experience!


          Frequently Asked Questions

          1. Why is vacuuming so hard? 

          Even though we now have reliable vacuum cleaners, vacuuming is still hard as it involves transferring weight to the front and back. Besides, there's some bending and lifting.

          2. How long do Kirby vacuums last? 

          Well, it all depends on how you use and maintain it. But on average, a Kirby vacuum should give you up to 20 years of service. But I wonder if you can last for that long without getting one of the latest kids on the block now that Kirby has several new models.

          3. Is buying a refurbished vacuum a good idea?

          Yes and no. A refurbished vacuum cleaner is not new, so you definitely can't expect it to perform like a new vacuum. However, top brands like Kirby are known for high-quality refurbished vacuums that offer reliable service and are available at lower prices.

          4. What does a refurbished Kirby mean?

          Refurbished Kirby vacuums could be units returned by customers under warranty or returns from customers who claimed a refund policy. Either way, they have been revamped with new parts where necessary. Here at GreatVacs, we have a comprehensive catalog of refurbished vacuum cleaners.

          5. Are Kirby vacuums still a thing?

          Yes. Even though Kirby is among the oldest vacuum brands, the company is still winning the hearts and trust of consumers. It boasts top-of-the-range models that deliver excep[tional cleaning and offer excellent durability.