Belt Keeps Coming Off Washing Machine

Drive belt Sometimes the drive belt comes off. If it does, examine it for excessive freying or wear. If it’s a belt with several track grooves in it check they are clear and not worn down badly or covered in rubber. The belt might need replacing (buy new washing machine drive belt) but occasionally the belt looks fine and you can wind it back on, which gets it up and running again with no further incidents.

How tight should the drive belt be on a washing machine?

Fairly tight. You should be able to pluck the belt and get a nice resounding "ping". The belt shouldn't be over tightened though. Roughly speaking there should be some sideways play, you should be able to move the belt from side to side roughly a quarter of an inch. Many belts are now fitted with no adjustment possible, so when a belt stretches you have to buy a new one. Crafty eh?

If the belt comes off again

If there's another problem then the belt will come off again, usually straight away or even whilst you are trying to wind it on. For the belt to stay on it must run true. The two parts it runs on are the shaft of the motor, and the drum pulley. If either is out of line the belt will just wind straight off.

The first thing to check..

.. is the most likely cause, which is the drum pulley. The pulley should not be able to be moved, apart from obviously round and round. It should be bolted firmly to the drum spider with no play in it. If the drum pulley bolt has worked loose the pulley can move forward and backwards and will not run true. Sometimes the pulley itself can be worn where it fits over the drum spider so that even with a sufficiently tightened pulley bolt it won't be held in place tightly enough and will wobble. You can buy drum pulley’s here at 4Washerhelp

Do not over tighten the drum pulley bolt because if it shears off you are in trouble, and unless you can remove it with special tapping tools or other methods you might need to buy a complete new drum or even entire tub as some manufacturers only make sealed tubs.

Other possible causes of drive belt coming off if it looks in good condition

  • The motor could be loose, or even have one of it's bolts come off altogether
  • The motor could have one of the arms on it’s casing cracked or broken causing the motor to not be fixed securely to the tub. It’s rare but even hairline cracks can do it.
  • The drum bearings could have worn, or one even collapsed, so that you can lift the drum up and down from the front near the door seal. If there is excessive up and down play there it will allow the drum pulley to wobble and not run true, which you should be able to observe with one person checking the pulley at the back as the other lifts the drum. We aren't looking for minute movement, only obvious movement . (You would expect excessive noise on spin though if this was the case)
  • Maybe the belt isn’t damaged, but has stretched enough to be quite loose on the pulley and is slipping off

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Comments

  1. I have a belt that keeps coming off as described. There is some movement in the drum when I lift it from the front, but I am not sure how much movement would be considered “excessive”.
    If the bearings have worn out, does that mean we need a new machine?
    Thanks!

  2. There should hardly be any movement. If there’s enough movement to cause the pulley at the back to run untrue and throw the belt off either there’s a problem with the drum spider or bearings have started to collapse. It’s commonly not worth repairing with most washers these days because if bearings have collapsed they often seize onto the drum shaft. If bearings have collapsed it should have been making a rumbling noise for a while.

    Sometimes one of the spider arms gets a crack in it which may be able to be replaced but it’s a big job stripping it down and not all washers have them available as spare parts.

  3. Hi
    I have a hoover oph machine and the belt is moving against the drum and rubbing.
    Ihave replaced the belt but it is still doing it, does this mean the bairings have gone.

  4. Hi Paul. It sounds like they could be. The list at the end of my article describes how to check the drum for play to see if bearings or drum are the problem.

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