One common problem that can put your top-loading washing machine out-of-action is a broken motor coupler. If your washing machine fills with water and drains, but won't agitate or spin, then you should suspect a broken motor coupler as the cause. Fortunately, repair is well within the reach of many do-it-yourselfers, and it can save you literally hundreds of dollars.
What a motor coupler does
The motor coupler fills an important role inside your washing machine by transmitting torque from the electric motor to the geared transmission. Made from three interconnecting parts, a motor coupler is designed to shear or break if unexpected forces are placed on the washing machine. While this may be annoying if it happens, the motor coupler serves a vital purpose by absorbing shock and preventing expensive damage to the transmission.
What you will need
Replacement involves only a few basic hand tools and the purchase of a new motor coupler for less than twenty dollars. Here is what you need:
- Prying tool – a thin, flat prying tool or a flat metallic putty knife is helpful for reaching into crevices and unlatching chassis clips.
- Flat-blade screwdriver – this is used to loosen clips on the motor and pump.
- Phillips screwdriver – if your front panel and chassis are screwed together, then you will need this for taking them apart.
- Rubber mallet – use this to remove stubborn motor coupler pieces and to install the new coupler.
- Replacement motor coupler – be sure to verify that you purchase the right coupler for your particular washing machine model.
How to replace the motor coupler
1. Unplug the washing machine from the wall outlet; never attempt to perform work on your washer with it attached to a live circuit.
2. Remove the trim pieces from the front panel. The front panel contains the control knobs and switches, and it is connected to the main washer chassis via clips or screws. Screws are often hidden by pieces of plastic body trim on each side; these can be pried loose with your prying tool or pulled away with your fingers.
3. Unfasten the front panel. Once you have removed the trim, take out the screws on each side of the washer and push the front panel back. Alternatively, if your washer uses clips to hold the front panel and chassis together, slide the prying tool underneath the front panel to push down the clips. When the clips are unlatched, you can push the panel back. After unfastening the front panel, unplug any wiring harnesses that connect the chassis to the front panel. Be sure to pay attention how they are connected together.
4. Pull the chassis from the washer. Grasping both top sides of the chassis firmly, pull backwards so it pivots at the bottom toward you and slides away from the rest of the washing machine.
5. Remove the pump from the motor. At the front of the washing machine near the bottom, you will find the pump attached to hoses and the motor. It will be held in place to the motor with two metal clips that can be pried loose with a flat-blade screwdriver. After prying them free, pull the pump straight out and be careful not to disconnect any hoses.
6. Remove the motor. Once the pump is removed, you will see one end of the motor shaft extending toward you. There will be additional metal clips that hold the motor assembly to the direct-drive transmission at the bottom of the washer basin. Pry the clips loose with a screwdriver and set them aside. In addition, one or more screws will hold the motor in-place; remove them, as well. Pull the motor straight out from the transmission.
7. Locate the motor coupler and its components. On the back end of the motor, where the shaft extends toward the transmission, you will see one end plate of the coupler. It will consist of a round, white disc with three coupling pins. A black coupler plate will be sandwiched between that and another identical end plate attached to the transmission. If the coupler is broken, you will probably see one or more coupling pins that sheared away from the end plates.
8. Remove the broken motor coupler. Use a screwdriver to pry the broken coupler end plate from the motor and from the transmission, as well. If it is stubbornly attached, use a rubber mallet to pound the plate loose. Just be careful not to strike anything else or damage the transmission or motor.
9. Install a new motor coupler. Install new coupler end plates on the motor shaft and transmission. Use the rubber mallet to firmly tap them into position. Slide the black middle coupler plate between the end plates so the pins are inserted and the three components are held together.
10. Reassemble the washing machine. Following in reverse order, reattach the motor and pump with the clips and screws you removed earlier. Slide the chassis back in place, reconnect the wiring harnesses and fasten the front panel in its previous position.
For more information, contact a specialist like Appliance Service Co Inc.