August 23, 2007
by: jovial_cynic
I vaguely recall my wife saying something like "wow - look at this huge load of laundry I just ran through the washer." That was the second-to-last thing she mentioned about the washer. The last thing she said was "honey, something is wrong with the washer." It seemed that the spin cycle wasn't working -- the motor ran, but the tub refused to move.

Of course, the fact that we go through nearly a load of laundry every day (we have three kids in the house) probably put more stress on the washer than the manufacturer had in mind. Or maybe they did have it in mind, which would explain why every appliance store carries a good supply of belts and drive couplers. Belts and couplers are cheap (roughly $13), and are expected to wear out. One might suggest that they're designed to wear out, but only if one is a conspiracy theorist.

I only recently discovered that my washer isn't belt driven, but is rather a direct-drive system, where the motor connects to a transmission by way of a drive coupler. Until yesterday, I was unaware that direct-drive washers even existed, so when I peered under the washing machine to see what was going on, I assumed that I had a belt-driven washer. I was even more convinced of this because I saw what appeared to be a loose belt dangling down from the tub. However, after poking around for quite some time, I couldn't find anything on which the belt was supposed to attach.

I found a couple of forums online (,[$5/year membership]) and figured that I might as well register and see what turns up.

According to user: applianceman18007260692 on, the washer is a direct drive machine, and the drive-coupler is the cause of this problem "99%" of the time. Additionally:

This is a fairly easy model to work on. you literally need a pair of pliers and a screwdriver or 2 to work on this model.

flip the control panel,pop the hold downs and the case comes off this washer

once the outer case is out of the way it is a snap

The pump is held to the motor by clips and the motor is too. then the drive coupler is right there. just line em all back up and snap em back and is fixed

And according to user: Budget Appliance Repair on the same forum:

"That thing that you are calling a belt is just a sound deadening band, (wouldn't make a very good belt for anything - it's soft and mushy). It originally lived around the brake drum, (the stationary part just above the silver spinning clutch)."

So the belt isn't a belt. It's just a band to reduce the noise; it's only a coincidence that it isn't connected at the same time the coupler failed.

I looked around online and found an online appliance store that carries the part for $18, shipped. They carry and upgraded part (metal, instead of plastic), but it'll take 3-5 days to get here. I found a plastic one on eBay for $5, but that'll take even longer to get here, and the wife really wanted to have the washer running sooner than later. After making a few calls in town, it turns out that a local appliance shop carries the part for $13, and they have some available. When I got there, I discovered that they also carried an industrial coupler for just two dollars more, which made me wonder why they didn't just charge people the extra $2 in the first place for the beefed up part.

Here's the beefed up coupler.

When I got home, I figured I'd get online and do some more research and figure out how to actually get into the machine to change out the part. After a bit of reading, I figured out how to take the washer cover off (two screws up top, two clips, one screw in the back, and pulling the plug on the lid switch), and then how to pull the motor away from the transmission (two screws, four clips). After pulling the lid switch, I had to use some electrical wire to use as a jumper, so the washer was tricked into thinking that the lid was closed.

I changed the coupler out, only to find that the stock coupler was in decent condition.

Just to be sure (I have no clue what the actual tolerances on these things are), I threw the commercial grade coupler on and flipped the machine on.

No change. But at least I know that the coupler isn't going to fail any time soon.


I did some more reading to find out what else the problem could be. While I was digging around, I came across this handy page that had a fantastic exploded diagram of the washer (you can hover over the image to see the parts in detail).

And with a little more reading, I quickly ruled out the transmission as the problem:

Remove the cabinet and jumper the lid switch. Put the unit in spin and watch the shiny metal clutch disc that is on top of the transmission where the shaft comes out. If the machine starts and runs in spin, check to see if the disc is spinning. If it is, then problem is in the basket drive or the tub drive block.

I ruled out the basket drive after pulling out the agitator, and went to scope out the tub drive block. It's more expensive, but it comes in parts which be purchased more cheaply than buying the whole drive system.

In order to get to the drive block, I had to drop the transmission down (three bolts on the bottom, one bolt from inside the agitator).

Up above on the tub itself, the drive system itself looked just fine.

Down below on the transmission, it was a different story.

Apparently, the sound deadening band got pulled into the lower clutch system, which turned it into powder and goo (that dark sludge in there), causing the clutch ring to free spin inside that disc-shaped casing.

I pulled the ring out and tried to clean it and the inside of the casing, but I couldn't get it to stop slipping.

I ran out and picked up a new clutch assembly ($36), swapped it out with the old one and bolted it all back together. Here's the shiny new clutch assembly.

I now have a working washer. Hooray!
np category: DIY


Kendra said:
I'm SOOO proud of you, for figuring out the problem AND fixing it. I'm on my third load of laundry... yeah for washing machines. :)
August 24, 2007

Kristen said:
Congratulations! Isn't it fun fixing something yourself?
August 28, 2007

jovial_cynic said:
Indeed! And when you consider the $60/hour labor cost that's involved in having somebody else do it, it's even more fun! :)
August 28, 2007

Repair-man said:
I've got a fairly decent help forum for your appliance problems as well. Feel free to stop by!


May 19, 2008

Al said:
In trying to repair my washer, I dropped my transmission down but can't figure out how to get it to go back up so I can fasten it back into replace. Any advice?


January 25, 2009

jovial_cynic said:
Al -

It's been a while since I had to do this, but if I remember correctly, the transmission shaft has splines that have to me matched up to the ones up in the washer unit. You may have to rotate the shaft a bit to get it to mesh properly.

January 25, 2009

Kevin said:
Great job on the webpage! I ran across it Googling for no-spin solutions. I am having the same issue right now. I checked every part on the washer including taking apart the gearbox to inspect the spin gear. I also noticed that the drive block was wearing out and had slipped down on the shaft. I thought this was the issue at first, but after I repaired that problem it happened again. Since I had read somewhere that a sticking brake might be the culprit, I then tapped the brake parts with a screwdriver on the brake assembly thinking that perhaps the brake was sticking, and I got the tub to spin again. Now that I have read your webpage, I am thinking that perhaps it is the clutch assembly. I am glad that you put this page together as it is a great help to us DIY people out here. - Kevin
January 29, 2009

jovial_cynic said:
Kevin -

Thanks! I'm glad it was useful.

In recent news, I had another no-spin problem, but this one was caused by a long narrow bolt that I left into my pocket that made its way into one of the drain-holes on the bottom of the basin. It was long enough to actually hook the basin to something underneath it, causing it to get lodged. So... always check inside the basin to see if anything in there is causing a no-spin problem first!

January 30, 2009

Beshia said:
Thank you for your helpful article on Whirlpool repair. My washer won't spin or drain. Motor runs (agitates) continuously through the cycles but won't drain. I'd like to try to fix it myself before going out and buy a new washer. Did you have to tip it up side down to replace the clutch assembly? Mine is a LA580M model. I was not able to remove the casing around the tub, so I could only see the motor from the back.

January 31, 2009

jovial_cynic said:
Beshia -

I did *not* set the machine upside down to get to the clutch. I simply tipped the machine backwards to get under it, and made sure that it wouldn't fall on me while working on it. If your machine won't drain and water is currently sitting in the basin, you may have mold growing inside of it. If/when you get it fixed, you'll want to run a few cycles with hot bleach-water to clean it out, or your clothes will forever smell like mildew.

February 02, 2009

Beshia said:
February 11, 2009

Desmond said:
Sir Jovial Cycic,

This was an outstanding tutorial on this particular challenge....I was able to complete the repair(just the coupler, my cost in Spokane $20.72) start to finsh in about 2 hours, this includes the trip to the part store. My wife is very happy to have the sacred clothes washer at 100%. Many thanks, I'll keep watching your site, pretty interesting....Thanks again.

March 09, 2009

jovial_cynic said:
Desmond -

I'm glad that I could be of help. I just document stuff that I do, and I figure that somebody might find it useful in the future. :)

March 09, 2009

Steve said:
Thank you for all the info but unfortueatly the transmission is out in my washing machine. I'm still open to advice!!!
April 21, 2009

Jim Campbell said:
Good job on the clutch description. I always enjoy it when people learn to be more self-sufficient. My motto is:

It's only expensive if someone else does it for you!

April 24, 2009

darnell said:
Great post you really go into detail and illustrate very well
July 14, 2009

Woody said:
My Whirlpool washer will not spin all the water out of the clothes except that it performs a little better on the "normal" cycle. I replaced the coupler which did not solve the problem. Does this sound like a failure in the clutch assembly. Would like to hear a comment from someone who has experienced this before I tear into it again. Thanks for any advice.
July 22, 2009

Carla said:
My washer won't spin and will only drain 90% of the water out. Is is worth me calling a repair man and if so what am I looking at as far as price for repair. Please help.
September 01, 2009

jovial_cynic said:
Carla -

Well, you need to find out *why* the washer won't spin. If you're not able to get under the washer safely to determine what is causing it not to spin, you'll likely need to have someone else do it for you.

It might help if you can figure out if the motor is doing anything (characterized by a whirring sound). If it's just humming, the motor might be bad. If it's whirring, it might be spinning, but not engaging either the transmission or the tub itself. That could be a transmission failure, a cluch failure, or a coupler failure.

September 01, 2009

Stevie j said:
What a nice write-up for DIY project.
My washer right now is not working it only giving a loud whirring sound and
agitator is not moving. Any way thumbs up for you.

March 17, 2010

jovial_cynic said:
Stevie j -

Thanks! Did you get yours fixed?

March 30, 2010

charles said:
well mine wont spin unless i give it a jump start when it hits the spin cycle i reach in spint the tub and wALA IT STARTS TO SPIN DO YOU THINK THE CLUTCH IS BAD EVERYTHING ELSE WORKS I TOOK IT APART THE COUPLER LOOKS GOOD but how do you tell any advice is appreciated
April 01, 2010

jovial_cynic said:
charles -

If the coupler is good, but it isn't spinning, you have to find out if the clutch is free-spinning (like mine was), or if the motor isn't doing anything, or if the transmission is bad. Those are really the only options.

April 02, 2010

Amber said:
Thanks sooo much for posting this! My husband and I do not know how to fix anything and we were able to figure out the problem thanks to your post!

May 16, 2010

jovial_cynic said:
Amber -

No problem, Amber. Glad my post was helpful. :D

May 16, 2010

mary said:
whirlpool washer #lbr5232iq1 the tub is loose and when it spins it makes a banging noise. what could be wrong?
April 22, 2011

Brian said:
Good morning I have a Kenmore Washer model 110.4766292 I have taken apart the gear box and replacing the gear & pinon, however I can not find anywhere what type and how much oil/grease I put back in when sealing it up. Any help much appreciated.
August 26, 2011

janet said:
replaced the coupler in my whirlpool washer but i took the bolts out of the transmission to look but i cannot get the transmission back in place to bolt back in. any ideas?
November 23, 2011

Patrick said:
I'm having the same problem. I've got the agitator out and it seems to be going all the way up against the brake, but the bolts don't reach the holes... Any wisdom to share?
December 10, 2011

SWehman said:
Is it possible for any of the things listed above to be "going bad"? My washer spins most of the time, but if I do more than 4 loads in a row it won't go on it's own. If I reach in and turn the drum a little and then start the spin cycle it spins. There are no other problems.
April 10, 2012

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