How to Fix an Idler Pulley for a Washer With a Burning Smell

A burning smell coming from your washer is often due to a part overheating, typically from too much friction. If your washer uses an idler pulley assembly, it can become seized, which can cause the belts to overheat, giving off a burning smell. You can determine if this has happened to your washer using the information below. We’ll walk you through the steps of how to access, inspect, and replace the idler pulley assembly if necessary.

What is an Idler Pulley?

Some top-load washer models use an idler pulley assembly to provide tension on the drive belt or the pump belt. If the idler pulley becomes seized or if the idler arm does not pivot freely, the belt won’t have the proper tension. This could either cause the belt to slip or create excess friction, which would make the belt overheat and give off a burning smell.

Where is the Idler Pulley Located?

The idler pulley is located below the wash tub in your washer, at the front side of the machine.

A 3D diagram showing the components of a washer and specifying the location of the idler pulley

How to Access, Remove, and Inspect the Idler Pulley in a Washing Machine

  1. Disconnect your washer from the power source before beginning, and then open your washer’s cabinet.
  2. Locate and inspect your idler pulley wheel and arm. You want to look for any signs of damage, wear, cracks, or burns. The drive belt will be attached to the pulley, and you will need to disconnect it in order to inspect the pulley. To remove the belt, tilt the idler pulley towards the drum to decrease the tension on the belt enough to slip it off.
  3. Inspect the pulley wheel to ensure that it turns smoothly with minimal resistance and does not wobble.
  4. If you find any issues when performing the above checks, you will need a replacement idler pulley wheel or arm.

How to Install a New Idler Pulley

  1. Slide the idler pulley into position, placing any nuts or washers that your model might have into place before moving everything into place in the bracket.
  2. With the idler pulley ready, take the shaft and slide it up inside, making sure that any washers and other components also stay in position.
  3. Using the appropriate wrench, tighten the nut on top. You may need to hold the pulley in place at a certain point with a screwdriver tip in a set of vice grips to hold it tight enough to tighten the nut.
  4. Attach the belt to the pulley by pushing the idley pulley in, attaching the belt, and rotating the pulley until the belt slides into place.

Next: Troubleshooting the Glide and Spring

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