Under The Hood – KITT Voice Car
Welcome to Under The Hood, where we open up our toys and see what makes them tick. We may even fix them from time to time. First up on the workbench is Kenner’s KITT Voice Car! These cars have a few problem areas, but the voice box is the main one so we’ll be tearing it down and explaining how it works.
Kenner’s KITT Voice Car is a large toy with a five inch Michael Knight figure. The figure has five points of articulation. KITT has an electronic component that allows him to say one of six phrases. Unfortunately there are no lights in the car as the red sensor bar at the front of the car is just a sticker.
The six phrases are:
“I shall activate the turbo boost”
“Engaging the infrared tracking scope”
“Your reflexes are slow”
“Call me KITT for short”
“Scanner indicates danger ahead”
“What is our next mission”
Starting off, just under the hood is the battery compartment. The door is a pain to open without a screwdriver. A single C size battery is all it takes to make the KITT Voice Car talk.
Once you have a battery in the car, you should be able to press down on the tab at the bottom of the license plate to hear the KITT Voice Car talk.
Let’s get into opening up the KITT Voice Car. Start off by taking out the 5 screws seen here with green arrows. There are 6 cavities for screws, but out of the two KITT’s I have, only 5 of those cavities are actually used. (I don’t know if earlier models may use all 6 cavities or not) You may also see a screw by the adjustable slider. (Red arrow) You do not need to take that out yet, it holds the voice box in place.
Once you have the 5 screws removed, there are four tabs that you have to pop apart here. These tabs latch the upper and lower chassis together. If you have doors on your KITT Voice Car, they may or may not fall out once you pull these apart as they tab into both chassis. They are usually pretty tight fitting when closed and may just stay attached to the upper chassis as you pull it apart.
Here is the underside of the upper chassis. You can see that the windows are one single piece that use the central screw hole to stay in place. You can also see why there isn’t a sixth screw in the cavity I talked about earlier, they don’t have a peg for the screw to go into!
The drive shaft in the middle of the lower chassis is a separate piece that can be pulled out. Each end has a tab so you can just pull the front of the drive shaft back towards the rear until the tab clears free and the full piece will come off. Here you can see the wires going from the battery compartment to the voice box
Along with the wires you can see two cream colored tabs (green arrows) this is one of the latches for the interior. You can also see a ball latch under the wires. (red arrow) This is how the dash attaches to the car. Honestly, this kind of attachment point is hard to unlatch without a high potential of damage so I usually will just leave this alone.
Since we’re not taking the interior off of the car, you can set the KITT Voice Car back on it’s wheels. Here you can see the voice box in the rear of the car.
You will need to lift the rear of the interior up to get the peg out of the shaft that holds it in place.
If you have the screw on the bottom of KITT that holds the voice box in place, this is when you should remove it. Once it’s been removed you can lift up the voice box starting at the side with the screw you just removed.
The other side of the box has two round tabs (green arrows) that latch under two slots on the lower chassis.(red arrows) When you put this back together, you’ll have to secure these two tabs first before setting the voice box down in the chassis.
On the top of the voice box, there are three screws. Only two of them are holding the box together. The third screw on top of the speaker is an adjustment screw.
Here is the inside of the voice box. You can see a small toy motor on one end. The rest of the voice box has a plastic diaphragm on top. This is your speaker. The spring piece in the middle of the diaphragm keeps it in place. The spring just sits there so don’t lose it when you open the voice box.
The diaphragm should lift up easily. The arms of the diaphragm are held in place by two pegs. This particular voice box had a lot of dried grease or something that caused the diaphragm to almost be glued to these pegs. Under the diaphragm we see a white arm. (this is a record needle) Under the needle, you can see part of the plastic record that has all six of the KITT Voice Car phrases.
So this is the order of what happens when you make KITT “talk”. The license plate is a lever. When you push it down, the other end of it pushes up.
That will press this peg on the bottom of the voice box.
Which will then push the diaphragm up. You can see a spring here that is constantly pushing the peg down. If this comes out of the notch on the peg or if the peg breaks, the voice box won’t work anymore.
The needle will slide under the diaphragm playing one of the six phrases on the record. The top of the needle has a bump that translates the grooves of the record to the diaphragm allowing us to hear the phrase.
Once the needle gets to the end of the phrase (Center of the record) a tab on the needle arm pushes a metal tab off of a metal bar. This disconnects the power to the toy motor that spins the record. This is the interesting thing about pushing the license plate. It doesn’t really start the needle playing, it actually resets the needle’s position in the voice box. The needle has a spring that is made to move the needle arm to the start position, but the needle arm gets stopped by the bottom of the diaphragm once the needle is at the center of the record. So when you press the license plate, you’re lifting the diaphragm up so the needle arm can now swing back to the start position. Also since the needle is in the start position, it’s no longer keeping the metal tab from making contact to the metal bar that allows the power to go to the toy motor. Because of this, you can press the license plate, let the car sit for days, then put a battery in and it should talk before you press anything.
On the bottom of the voice box there is one screw that holds the base plate on. You can also see the bar from the toy motor that moves the rubber band that makes the record rotate. If you do not see the rubber band on the toy motor bar, then it’s come loose and needs to be replaced or reset.
Here is the plastic record that has all of the phrases for the KITT Voice car. Make note of the placement of the rubber band in this picture. You will need the band against this tab in order to easily get the toy motor bar to slide in between the band and the plastic tab when you put the voice box back together.
When you go putting everything back together again, I find it helpful to have a battery in the car and try activating the voice box every time you screw in the top screws. In my case, I believe the motor doesn’t spin as fast and I have found that the simple act of tightening the screws holding the voice box together adds too much resistance for it to speak. What I did was tighten the two screws on top then try loosening them a half turn each, press the button to activate the voice box and see how it sounds. after a few tries you should have it sounding close to right and you can slide the box back in place in the lower chassis.
As you put the two chassis back together, I find it’s easier to have them loosely together, then slide the door pegs into place before squeezing the sides down.
Most KITT Voice Car doors will have a stress mark or full on crack just between the hinge peg and side mirror. The hinge of the doors can be pretty tight and most people try opening the doors pulling on the side furthest away from the hinge. This adds undue stress to the plastic. When opening the doors, it’s best to try grabbing around the hinge.
Once you’ve replaced all of the screws, KITT should be working fine again. I have found with mine (That again, probably needs the toy motor replaced) Sometimes it doesn’t seem to work when I’ve let it sit for a while. Typically a sharp smack on the bottom of the rear end gets the motor spinning again and KITT will speak once more.