Shark Self-Propelled Vacuum Not Working

If your Shark self-propelled vacuum is not working, there could be a few possible reasons as to why. It may be that the brush roll inside the vacuum is blocked by something, or it could be one of several broken components within the vacuum that are preventing it from running.

Self-propelled vacuums can refer to either robot vacuums or upright vacuums with powered wheels. Shark doesn’t actually make any examples of the latter, but they do produce a few self-propelled robot vacuums, including the Shark ION and the Shark IQ.

In either case, self-propelled vacuums are intended to make cleaning your home way easier. Robotic self-propelled vacuums can navigate your home all on their own, while upright self-propelled vacuums can move forward on their own but require you to actually steer them. 

Related: Shark Robot Vacuum Making a Loud Noise

Since Shark only produces robotic self-propelled vacuum cleaners, we’ll be taking a look specifically at the problems you might encounter with a vacuum of this type. In this article, we’ll explain why these problems happen and show you how you can deal with them.

Blocked Brush Roll

The brush roll is the component of the vacuum that spins around to dislodge debris from carpeting. Carpet fibers are great at trapping hair and dust, so a brush roll is often necessary in order to properly clean out your carpets.

In some upright Shark vacuums, the brush roll is actually powerful enough to move the vacuum forward on its own.

This is similar to how an actual self-propelled vacuum works, but the key difference here is that true self-propelled vacuums move thanks to powered wheels, not the brush roll. 

Why It Fails:

The brush roll can only do its job as long as it’s able to turn freely, and if something large enough gets caught in the brush roll it’ll prevent the vacuum from being able to run.

Related: Why Shark Vacuum Brush Roll Indicator Light Is Not On

This can also happen if enough hair gets tangled up in the brush roll, which will inevitably happen if you don’t clean your brush roll regularly enough.

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How to Fix It:

Fixing a jammed brush roll in a robotic self-propelled vacuum is, fortunately, a pretty easy task. You just need to remove the brush roll from the vacuum and clear out anything that is blocking it.

  • You should be able to access the brush roll by removing the cover in front of it. This is likely held in place by a couple of tabs that you can release without any extra tools.
  • Once the cover is off, pop the brush roll out of the vacuum and look for anything that might be blocking it.
  • To remove any hair that has wrapped around the brush roll, use a pair of scissors to cut the hair away and then pull it off.

Vacuum Is Stuck

Self-propelled robot vacuums can move under their own power, but they’re not exactly versatile when it comes to the terrain they can handle. Self-propelled robot vacuums generally move the best on flat, even surfaces.

Why It Fails:

If your vacuum is refusing to move from where it is, it’s entirely possible that it has gotten itself stuck. It may be that an actual piece of something is preventing the vacuum from moving, or the floor that the vacuum is on may be just a little too uneven.

Related: Shark Vacuum Suction Problems

How to Fix It:

If your vacuum seems to be stuck, pick it up and see if there’s anything under it that is blocking it from moving forward. If there isn’t, it’s possible that the floor itself is the problem. To test this out, relocate your vacuum to another floor, let it drive around for a while and see what happens.

If neither of these things work, there’s a chance that something is caught in the front wheel well that is jamming the wheel. Remove the front wheel and look for anything that could be getting in the way.

Brush Roll Is Worn Out

You already know what the brush roll is and what it does, so we’ll skip telling you the details a second time. All you need to remember is that your vacuum will be far less effective at cleaning surfaces without a working brush roll.

Why It Fails:

If your vacuum seems to be running normally yet it’s failing to clean your floors properly, there’s a chance that the bristles on your brush roll have worn out.

Normally, the bristles are supposed to be pretty stiff, which is how the brush roll is able to lift up dirt from deep carpeting, but over time the bristles can become soft and lose their effectiveness.

How to Fix It:

If your brush roll is indeed broken or worn out, there is, unfortunately, no way to repair or refurbish it, and you’ll have to buy a new one. The good news is that replacement brush rolls are cheap to buy and easy to install;

  • Just remove the brush roll cover, pull the old one out and stick the new one in. 

Motor Is Faulty

The motor in your vacuum is, of course, the part of your vacuum that lets it move on its own. There are actually a few motors in a robot vacuum; one of these motors generates the vacuum’s suction, one or more of these motors powers the vacuum’s side brush/brushes, and another motor is responsible for actually moving the vacuum around.

If any one of these motors fails, the vacuum’s functionality will be compromised.

Why It Fails:

Electric motors can fail due to age, but if your vacuum is not that old then this is probably not the reason why. Some other possible reasons include physical damage or contamination from dirt getting inside the motor.

Related: Shark Vacuum Suction Problems

How to Fix It:

Unfortunately, fixing a burnt-out electric motor isn’t really possible, and if one of the motors in your vacuum cleaner does go bad then you’ll have to replace it.

Unless you can source a new motor for cheap and unless you have prior experience with this kind of repairs, then it’s probably better in this instance to just buy a new vacuum outright.

Replacement vacuum cleaner motors can be pretty expensive, and installing them in a vacuum can be a complicated process.

Drive Belt Is Broken

Your vacuum contains a drive belt that helps the main motor transmit power to the wheels. This drive belt is small but is nonetheless an important part of your vacuum.

Why It Fails:

There are generally two ways that the drive belt in your vacuum can break. The first and more common way is if the drive belt gets stretched out, or if the factory installs the wrong sized belt (which does sometimes happen). If the belt is too loose, it can slip off of the rollers attached to the motor.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Shark Vacuum Is Making Noise

The second way is if the belt actually comes apart. The belts are made of rubber, and as you may know, rubber gets brittle when it gets old. If the belt gets too brittle, it may end up breaking when the vacuum is running.

How to Fix It:

You’ll have to replace your vacuum’s drive belt if it breaks, but fortunately, replacement drive belts are cheap to buy and also pretty easy to install.

  • To replace your drive belts, start by removing all of the panels on your vacuum that cover the motor.
  • Once you’ve located the motor and the drive belt, you should be able to remove the belt by just pulling it off the rollers (if the belt is broken it will already be off the rollers).
  • Then, all you have to do is slip the new belt onto the rollers, reassemble the vacuum, and you should be good.

Gears Are Worn Out

The gears in your self-propelled robot vacuum are another component that the vacuum uses to transmit power from the motor to the vacuum’s other components.

The gears ensure that the vacuum moves at the right speed and they also increase the torque that makes it to the wheels and brush roll.

Why It Fails:

The gears in a vacuum are made of plastic, and over time, these gears can end up grinding each other down. When this happens, the gears will start to slip, and power won’t be transferred within the vacuum.

There’s also the possibility of hair getting pulled into the gearbox, which can jam up the gears and stop the vacuum from moving.

How to Fix It:

Shark does make replacement parts for its vacuums, but replacement gears, unfortunately, don’t seem to be one of these parts. If your gears have indeed worn down too much, you’ll have to get a new vacuum.

If your gears are just clogged, however, you may be able to solve the problem by cleaning out the gearbox. Accessing the gearbox can be a little challenging, however, so if you’re not confident opening up your vacuum then consider hiring a professional to do this.


While self-propelled vacuums are intended to make it easier and more convenient to clean your home, it’s certainly not convenient if your vacuum stops doing its job all of a sudden. Luckily, in the majority of cases, fixing whatever has gone wrong with your vacuum is usually pretty simple and inexpensive.

Reader Comments (2)

  1. If shark makes an upright self propelled vacuum sweeper what is tge name if it. I love my 9 year old Shark
    Rotator but I ha e new carpet that is heavier and makes it hard to push. I am nearly 80 abd in great health but this sweeper is wearing me out!! I’m thinking of going back to Hoover as they make a self propelled that I used to have for years before I went to Shark. I went to Shark as I love the bagless!! Please let me know if Shark has a self propelled upright! I have a Robot my kids bought me and not impressed I have to keep watch on it as it gets hung up. So why bother with it if I’ve got to be up anyway?

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