How To Know If Your Washing Machine Belt Needs Replacing

The washing machine is probably the most labour saving appliance you own. It saves you time and energy and makes laundry days much easier than they were in our grandparents’ time.

Sadly, like all appliances, the washing machine gets put under a lot of pressure which causes wear and tear. Over time, some parts can become faulty.

One of the more common faults with older washing machines is a worn out drive belt. This is because the belt on the washing machine is working for almost the entire time the machine is operating. Once the belt begins to wear out, it can cause multiple issues.

In this article we look at the common signs that the belt is worn out, how to identify the problem and more importantly what to do if your washing machine belt needs replacing.

What Does The Drive Belt On The Washing Machine Do?

The drive belt is connected to the motor and the drum of the washer. Every time the drum on your washer rotates, it’s because the drive belt transfers rotational power from the motor. The belt is constantly moving during the wash, rinse and spin cycles on the washing machine.

How Can You Tell When The Belt On The Washer Needs To Be Replaced?

A person putting clothes into a washing machine

Due to this constant movement the belt wears over time. There are a few tell-tale signs that the drive belt is wearing and likely to break which include;

  • Washing Machine Won’t Spin Or Agitate Properly
    If the belt is worn it can become stretched and doesn’t fit on the drum pulley or motor pulley as tightly as it should. This leads to the belt slipping which means the drum doesn’t spin as it should or in some cases at all.
  • Clothes Leaving The Machine Excessively Wet
    Unless you sit and watch your washing machine as it washes your laundry, excessively wet laundry leaving the machine after the cycle has completed might be the first sign you have that the belt is defective. If the drum isn’t spinning properly (or at all) the water will not get spun from the laundry during the rinse and spin cycle.
  • Clothes Not Cleaning Properly
    Without proper agitation, the laundry will not get washed properly which could lead to clothes leaving the machine dirty or covered in soap suds. In some cases, some items might not even be wet.
  • Washing Machine Making Strange Sounds
    If you can hear strange squealing or screeching sounds coming from the washing machine when it’s running, the most likely cause is a worn drive belt.
  • Washer Vibrating Excessively
    Another sure sign of a worn out drive belt is if the washing machine is vibrating far more than is normal.
  • Burning Smell
    Due to the friction caused when the pulleys spin and the worn belt slips, there is often a smell like burning rubber associated with a worn drive belt.

How To Check The Belt On A Washing Machine

It’s fairly easy to check the belt on a washing machine and can be done by any competent DIYer. As soon as you suspect that there’s something wrong with the belt on your washer you should check its condition.

Doing so could save you a great deal of time and money in the long run. To check the belt all you need to do is;

  1. Disconnect The Washer From The Power Supply
    Whenever you’re working on any electrical appliance it’s always good practice to disconnect the power supply first. You can do this by removing the plug from the wall socket or flicking the circuit breaker to the off position.
  2. Gain Access To The Belt
    Washing machine belts are typically located at the bottom of the machine behind a panel. You’ll need to remove the back panel first by removing a few screws or clips. On some washers there is a belt cover that will need removing before you can access the belt. These covers are typically held in place by a few screws. You should then see the belt and the washing machine motor.
  3. Inspect The Belt For Signs Of Wear
    Once you’ve located the belt, inspect it for any signs of wear and tear like cracking, fraying or any damage. The belt could also be stretched which could be the reason for the laundry not cleaning or spinning correctly.
  4. Check The Tension Of The Belt
    The belt on the washing machine should be tight but with a small amount of movement. If the belt is too tight it can damage the bearings, pulleys and other components. Too loose and the drum won’t turn correctly.
  5. Check The Position Of The Belt
    The belt should be aligned correctly on the pulleys otherwise the drum could vibrate or wobble.

Can The Drive Belt On A Washing Machine Be Replaced?

person looking at washing machine

Assuming that you’ve checked the belt and have noticed tell-tale signs of wear and tear, you’re going to need to replace it. The good news is that you’ve already done most of the hard work simply by locating the belt and gaining enough access to check on it.

How To Replace The Washing Machine’s Belt

This is a relatively easy task to perform and shouldn’t take too long. All you need to do is;

  1. Ensure The power Supply Is Disconnected
    You should always ensure that the power supply is disconnected before attempting to replace the belt on your washer.
  2. Take A Photo Of The Old Belt
    Before removing the old drive belt, take a photo so you can see how the new one should look once fitted.
  3. Remove The Old Belt
    You might need to gently stretch the belt to remove it from the first pulley or you can prise it off using a flat headed screwdriver. In many cases, the old belt has stretched enough that removal is easy and it will just slip off the pulleys. Once the old belt has been removed you can check the code number on the back of the belt and make sure it corresponds with the code on the replacement belt. If yours doesn’t have a number or it has worn off consult your user manual for the correct replacement belt.
  4. Place The New Belt On The Drum Pulley
    Place the new belt over the drum pulley making sure that the flat side of the belt is pointing outwards and the ribbed side is facing the pulley. Hold the belt onto the pulley using a zip tie to keep it in position.
  5. Place The Belt Over The Motor Pulley
    Place the other end of the belt around the motor pulley, this might take some effort as the new belt will have far more tension than the one you just removed. 
  6. Align The Belt
    Reach through the door of the machine and turn the drum in a clockwise direction slowly. This should align the belt onto the pulleys. Keep turning until you have completed one full rotation. As you turn, you might notice the drum becomes more difficult to turn. This is normal and is a sign that the belt is aligning itself.
  7. Check The Belt
    Remove the zip tie and turn the drum once again to check that it spins freely. Then replace all of the parts and panels that you removed before reconnecting the power and running a spin and drain cycle to check your work.

How Long Should It Take To Replace The Belt On A Washing Machine?

Washing Machine

Replacing the drive belt on your washing machine shouldn’t take more than around 1 hour from start to finish and in most cases, the only tool you should need is a screwdriver.

If you really can’t face doing any kind of repairs, you can contact a technician to do this job for you and they will probably take around 30 minutes or so.

We hope this guide has been helpful in showing you how to identify when the drive belt is defective as well as how to fit a replacement belt. If you have any questions or tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

SEE ALSO: Belt Keeps Coming Off Washing Machine? (here’s why & what to do)

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the washing machine spin if the belt is broken?

If the belt is broken on the washing machine, the drum will not be able to spin. There’s a possibility that it might still agitate and make some noise, but the drum will not spin.

What does a broken washing machine belt sound like?

If the washing machine belt is broken you might hear a squealing or screeching noise. You might also smell a burning rubber smell as well.

Is it easy to change the washing machine belt?

It is a relatively easy task to change the washing machine belt and should take no longer than 1 hour at most.

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