How to Fix a Drive Belt for a Washer With a Burning Smell

If you have a burning smell coming from your washer during the agitating or spin cycle, the drive belt might be to blame. These belts are typically made of rubber, and too much friction can result in a burning rubber smell. Since the belt is spinning at a high speed, it is subject to wear and tear, and will eventually stretch out or snap. When the belt fails, you may also notice that your washer won’t spin, or it may make a grinding sound. Use the information below to determine if a drive belt failure is the cause of the burning smell from your washer.

What is a Drive Belt?

The drive belt, also known as the spin belt, is used to help spin the basket in your washer. The belt does this by connecting the transmission to the drive motor. If the drive belt fails, the machine won’t be able to spin or agitate, and sometimes this problem will cause a burning smell or an unusual noise. Your drive belt could be a rubber V-belt covered in fabric, which can slip a bit. Or it could be a rubber belt aided by a tensioning device like an idler pulley, so that the motor doesn’t cause too much friction to the belt.

Where is the Drive Belt Located?

If you have a top-load washer, a drive belt may connect the transmission to the drive motor. You will find the belt at the bottom of the machine, under the basket.

For front-loaders, the drive belt goes between the drive motor and the wash basket. This type of washer usually features a belt with multiple ribs that gets stretched more tightly than a top-loading washing machine drive belt.

General Location of the Drive Belt in a Top Load Washer

A 3D diagram showing the components of a top load washer and specifying the location of the drive belt

General Location of the Drive Belt in a Front Load Washer

A 3D diagram showing the components of a front load washer and specifying the location of the drive belt

How to Access, Remove, and Inspect the Drive Belt in a Washing Machine

  1. Disconnect your appliance from the power source before beginning.
  2. Depending on your model of washer, to remove the drive belt, you will need to either remove the cabinet or tilt the washer back to access the belt.
  3. If your model has a belt cover, uninstall it by removing the screws holding it in place.
  4. You will find the drive belt looped around the drive motor pulley and the transmission pulley. To remove the belt, apply some pressure as you rotate the belt off the pulleys.
  5. Once you have removed it, inspect the belt for signs of fraying, cracking, burning, or any other damage.
  6. If you find any issues with your belt, you will need a replacement drive belt.

How to Install a New Drive Belt

  1. We find it easiest to replace the drive belt when the washer is propped up or on its back.
  2. Replace the drive belt by looping it around the motor pulley first, ribbed side in, then rotate it into the transmission pulley.
  3. Check the tension and make any necessary adjustments to tighten or loosen the belts.
  4. Before you finish up, make sure that the pulley for the transmission rotates smoothly and easily.
  5. Clean up any grease or oil from the pulleys.
  6. If your washer has a belt cover, you can now reinstall it .

Next: Troubleshooting the Pump Belt

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