How to Fix Washer With Burning Smell | Washing Machine Repair
REPAIR > WASHER > BURNING SMELL

How to Fix A Washer With A Burning Smell

About this repair:

  • Rated as EASY
  • 2506 repair stories
  • 19 step by step videos

Drive Belt Or Spin Belt

Some models of top loading washers use a belt to drive the transmission. If the washing machine stops agitating, then the belt may be at fault.

How to tell if the drive belt in a washing machine needs replacing:

  1. Disconnect your appliance from the power source before beginning.
  2. To remove the drive belt, you will need to remove the clamps that are holding it in place. The drive belt will be found attached to the drive motor. You will need to remove the rear panel or cabinet to access it.
  3. Once you have removed it, inspect the belt for signs of fraying, cracking, burning, or any other damage.
  4. If you find any issues with your belt, you need a replacement drive belt.

Pump Belt

Some top load washers use a belt to operate the drain pump. This belt is normally a standard V-shaped belt that is coupled from the drive motor to a pulley on the drain pump. There may also be an idler pulley assembly to provide tension on the belt. If you experience a burning rubber smell from your washer, you should inspect the pump belt.

How to tell if the pump belt in a washing machine needs replacing:

  1. Disconnect your washer from the power source and open your washer’s cabinet.
  2. Locate and remove the pump belt in order to inspect it. It will be attached to the drive motor pulley, and to remove it you will need to remove the clamps holding it in place.
  3. Looking for any signs of burning, wear, fraying, or damage, visually inspect your pump.
  4. If your belt shows any of the symptoms above, you will need a replacement pump belt.

Motor Pulley

The drive motor uses a pulley to turn the drive and/or pump belts. The motor pulley is designed to provide the maximum contact with the belts and may be made of metal or a synthetic material. If the pulley becomes worn or rusted, it may create excess friction and overheat or damage the belt, causing a burning smell.

How to inspect the motor pulley on a washing machine:

  1. Unplug your washing machine before starting this inspection.
  2. Locate and remove the motor pulley in order to closely inspect it. You will need to remove the cabinet to do so, as well as removing any belts attached to the motor pulley.
  3. Visually inspect your motor pulley for any buildups of grease, dirt, or other materials, as well as for signs of damage, wear, or burning.
  4. If you find that your pulley is worn or damage, you will need a replacement pulley.

Drain Pump

The drain pump on a washing machine is used to pump the water from the wash tub before and during the spin cycle. The pump may be belt driven, motor driven or have its own electric motor. A burning smell coming from the washing machine during or after the spin cycle can indicate that the drain pump has become seized, preventing it from turning. On belt driven models, the burning smell normally emanates from the belt slipping on the pump pulley. On models that use an electric drain pump, the smell would be related to the pump motor, and may be more of an electrical motor smell.

How to inspect drain pump the in a washing machine:

  1. Disconnect the power source from your appliance and then remove the front panel or cabinet.
  2. Once you have located the pump, begin by inspecting all the connections and hoses coming off the pump to determine if it is the source of the leak. If any issues are found, replace that connector or hose.
  3. If the leak is coming from the pump itself, you will need a replacement pump.

Idler Pulley Wheel & Idler Pulley Arm

Some models of top load washers utilize an idler pulley assembly to provide tension on the drive or pump belt. If the idler pulley becomes seized or if the idler arm does not pivot freely, then proper tension on the belt cannot be achieved and excess belt slippage or friction will occur and cause the belt to overheat and create a burning smell.

How to inspect a washing machine’s idler pulley wheel and arm:

  1. Verify that you have disconnected your washer from the power source before beginning, and then open your washer’s cabinet.
  2. Locate and inspect your idler pulley wheel and arm. You are looking for any signs of damage, wear, cracking, or burning. The drive belt will be attached to the pulley and you will need to disconnect it in order to inspect the pulley. To remove the belt, tilt the idler pulley towards the drum to decrease the tension on the belt enough to slip it off.
  3. Inspect the pulley wheel to ensure that it turns smoothly with minimal resistance and does not wobble.
  4. If you find any issues when performing the checks above, you will need a replacement idler pulley wheel or arm.

Direct Drive Motor Coupling

Some top load washers use a direct drive motor coupling instead of a belt, to transfer power from the motor to the transmission. The drive coupling connects the motor to the transmission and consists of 2 plastic drive forks with a rubber coupling between them. One of the drive forks is attached to the drive motor shaft and the other is attached to the transmission input shaft. As the motor shaft rotates, the rubber coupling between the drive forks absorbs the torque to prevent the forks from breaking. Normal use will create wear on the coupling and eventually, the drive forks may slip and cause a burning smell.

How to inspect the direct drive motor coupling in a washing machine:

  1. Similar to many other inspections, begin by verifying that you have disconnected your appliance from the power source.
  2. You will need to remove the coupling from your washer in order to closely inspect it. To access it you will need to remove all or part of your washer’s cabinet and depending on your model you may also need to remove the drain pump and/or the motor.
  3. Visually inspect your motor coupling for cracking, damage, wear, or burning
  4. If you find any issues with your motor coupling, you will need a replacement direct drive motor coupling.

Clutch Assembly

Some models of top load washers use a clutch assembly to drive the wash basket during the spin cycle. A burning smell in your washing machine can be a result of a worn clutch, and your machine will likely be making a loud scraping noise during the spin cycle. Another common sign of a worn clutch is brake dust or shavings found underneath the washing machine.

How to inspect the clutch assembly in a washing machine:

  1. After disconnecting the appliance from the power source, open your washer’s cabinet in order to locate the clutch assembly.
  2. To closely inspect the clutch assembly, you should remove it from the appliance. It will usually be found below the outer tub, attached to the basket drive assembly. Depending on your model, you may need to remove the drive motor and/or transmission to access it.
  3. Inspect your clutch assembly for any signs of damage, burning, fraying, or wear.
  4. If you find any of the above symptoms, you will need a replacement clutch assembly.

Glide & Spring

Some models of washing machines use a spring and glide arrangement on the drive motor for belt tensioning. Typically, the drive motor will have a pivot mount to the base frame and a spring to provide the tension. A lubricated plastic or nylon glide is attached to the bottom of the motor to allow it to slide on the washer base frame. This will allow the drive belt and/or pump belt to slip a little when the motor starts and acts like a clutch. If the glide does not slide freely then the belts can become overheated and create a burning smell.

How to inspect the glide and spring on a washing machine.

  1. Unplug your washing machine before beginning.
  2. Remove the front panel of the washer in order to locate the glide(s) and spring(s). The drive motor spring and glides are normally located on top of the base frame and can be found by removing the front panel.
  3. Verify that the motor pivots properly, that the springs are not stretched and that the surface is free of any dirt or rust.
  4. Inspect the glide(s) for any signs of burning, wear, or damage, lubricating them if needed.
  5. If you find any issues or broken parts while performing these checks, you may need replacement glides and springs.

Drive Motor

In most washers, the main drive motor is used to operate the mechanical functions of the wash cycles such as agitation or tumble and spin. It may also be used to operate the drain pump. When a defect or problem occurs in one of the motor-driven components it may cause the drive motor to overheat and create a burning smell. If the problem is severe, it may also overheat the motor enough to cause it to fail. A common symptom associated with a failing drive motor is a humming or buzzing noise when the motor is starting.

How to test the drive motor in a washing machine:

  1. After verifying that you unplugged your washer, remove the cabinet of your appliance.
  2. Remove the drive motor to test it. There will be multiple wires attached to it, remove them by pulling on the metal connectors and not the wires themselves.
  3. You will be testing the motor for continuity as well as testing the ground connection. Your multi-meter should be set to Rx1 for both tests.
  4. To test for continuity, touch the probes to the terminals of the motor. This should produce a reading of nearly or exactly zero. To test for the ground connection, keep one probe on the terminal and touch the other to the bare metal housing, you shouldn’t receive any reading from this test.
  5. If your multi-meter readings do not match those above, you need a replacement drive motor.

More Repair Parts

Still not sure which part is broken? We can offer you custom troubleshooting help if you search with your model number.

Enter model or part number

Need help finding your model number?