How to Troubleshoot and Repair a Washer That Has a Burning Smell

If you notice a burning smell while your washer is operating, it usually indicates that there is too much friction between parts in the machine. Noticing the point in the wash cycle when the smell happens can also help you narrow down the cause – is the burning smell happening during the spin cycle, or when the washer is trying to drain?

Using our repair guides, 3D renderings, and instructional videos can help you determine if your washer has a burning smell due to user error or because a part has failed. If you need to replace a part in your washer, we offer step-by-step details for accessing, removing, and installing the different parts.

Using This Page, You Will Be Able to Troubleshoot the Following Symptoms

  1. The washer has a burning smell when running, but drains properly
  2. The washer has a burning smell and won’t drain

Inspect These Common Issues First

If you notice a burning smell coming from your washer, be sure to check these common problem areas first. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then move on to inspecting the individual washer parts, using our parts pages.



Remember, when troubleshooting any washer symptom, start by unplugging it from the electrical outlet or turning off the breaker.

Is There a Fault Code?

Depending on your washer model, there may be a fault code or flashing light displayed. If there is a fault code showing up, this is the first item you should inspect. Your user manual will be able to tell you what the code or light means. If a part has failed, this can help point you in the right direction.

Is Your Washer Overloaded?

If your washer is overloaded with too many clothes, or heavy items like towels, it can put strain on the various components of your machine. Pumps, pulleys, and motors have to work harder when the machine is heavy and overloaded. This can cause those components to wear out faster than usual and may lead to a burning smell when they need replacement. Be sure not to overfill your washer and keep heavier items to a small load size.

Check out this video on how to properly load a washer:

Common Parts You May Need to Replace

The parts listed below are the most common causes of a burning smell in your washer. More resources – such as part descriptions, 3D images, videos, and installation instructions – are available on the individual part pages.

  1. Drive Belt
  2. Also known as a spin belt, this part helps to spin the basket in your washer. When a belt fails, there may be a burning smell and your tub won’t spin.
  3. Pump Belt
  4. Some top-load washer models use a belt to operate the drain pump. If the pump belt fails, there will be a burning rubber smell and your washer may not drain.
  5. Idler Pulley Wheel and Arm
  6. The idler pulley assembly applies the proper tension to the drive and/or pump belt in your washer. If this assembly becomes seized, the belt(s) will overheat and cause a burning smell.
  7. Glide and Spring
  8. Some top-load washer models use a glide and spring arrangement to provide tension for the belts. If the glide(s) wear out, there will be too much friction and the belt(s) will overheat, which causes the burning smell.
  9. Motor Pulley
  10. The belts in your washer are wrapped around the motor pulley. If there is too much friction between the belts and the pulley, it can result in a burning smell.
  11. Drain Pump
  12. The drain pump removes the water from your washer after the various cycles. If you notice a burning smell while the machine is draining, the drain pump may be seized or clogged.
  13. Direct Drive Motor Coupling
  14. This coupling transfers power from the motor to the transmission in your washer. Over time, it can wear out and the plastic pieces will experience too much friction as they slide and vibrate.
  15. Clutch Assembly
  16. The clutch assembly latches the washer tub to the transmission, to allow the tub to spin. You will know the clutch assembly has worn if you hear scraping sounds during spin cycles, there’s a burning smell, and there is brake dust under the machine.
  17. Drive Motor
  18. The drive motor is used to operate different cycles in your washer, such as agitating or spin cycles. If the motor is failing, it may overheat, which will cause a burning smell. A failing motor will also make a humming or buzzing sound when starting up.
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