What do noisy drum bearings sound like?

Drum bearings

When the drum bearings have gone in a washing machine they make a rumbling sound. Many people are unsure if the noise their washing machine is making is really worn drum bearings – or something else.

This article gives advice on how to detect worn drum bearings, and gives two great examples of how easily you could misdiagnose them.

So be warned, even if you know what they should sound like, (as this article explains), there are other faults that can sound exactly the same.

As an experienced engineer, even I once totally misdiagnosed worn drum bearings (and never made that mistake again). In my defence, I was with another engineer, and you tend to be less thorough when responsibility is shared. We were called out to a very noisy washing machine. We expected it to be the drum bearings. I opened up the door, spun the drum by hand, and we both heard what sounded exactly like worn drum bearings.


After quoting the customer, it later transpired that the noise was actually coming from the motor bearings, which is quite rare.

That taught me that the only true way to diagnose them is to take off the drive belt. Then, when you spin the drum, you are only spinning the drum – and not hearing noise from the belt and the motor too.

I’ve also come across one instance when another engineer ordered up a complete new drum and bearing kit for a customer after he’d done the same thing.

I was sent out to fit them. As soon as I took off the back panel, I could see the drive belt was in a bad way and the rubber had started to melt.


When I took off the belt and spun the drum – the drum bearings were fine, so was the motor. Believe it or not, the rumbling noise was caused by the damaged drive belt. It just needed a new belt. This last case is very unusual, but don’t be too hasty to diagnose worn drum bearings. This belt sounded just the same as rumbling drum bearings.

What do noisy drum bearings sound like?

It is a big help to know what sound to listen out for. This video shows a washing machine drum being spun when the bearings are clearly worn –


Is there play in the drum?

If the drum bearings are rumbling, that’s one thing. But if you pull the lip of the drum towards you, can you lift it up and down on the shaft? If so, then either the drum bearing at the front has collapsed, or the drum spider may have a crack in it or be corroded. In both scenarios, it will complicate a repair and may need an entire new drum kit at great expense. It may well be beyond economical repair.

More on noisy washing machine and worn bearings

I have other articles giving advice about noisy washing machines, and all the many possible explanations, which also includes more information about the symptoms, and further help on how to diagnose worn drum bearings in the links below.


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21 thoughts on “What do noisy drum bearings sound like?”

  1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello zahir. In all honestly I would say if a washing machine is over 10 years old and needs the drum bearings replacing I would buy a new washing machine. Unless by any chance it is a real high quality washing machine, but even then it may not be worth repairing because a high quality washing machine would have extremely high bearing replacement costs.

    The average life of a washing machine these days is officially only six or seven years. They don’t last very long but in real terms they are actually very cheap. In fact funny enough I’m just writing a new article about this where I have discovered that a Zanussi washing machine 36 years ago was £300. You can still buy a Zanussi washing machine today for £326. If you check on the Bank of England’s inflation calculator it shows that £300 36 years ago is the equivalent of £930 today. This shows how ludicrously cheap washing machines have become since they used to last 10 to 20 years on average, and why they don’t last very long any more.

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