How to Troubleshoot and Repair a Washer That Will Not Agitate

The agitator is the post that sticks up from the center of your top-load washing machine. During the wash cycle, the agitator twists and turns, which helps to create movement to clean your laundry. These actions help to break up dirt and stains, but can be rough on your clothing. Since the components of an agitator assembly are moving parts, they are subject to wear. If the agitator in your washer is not working, your laundry may not come out as clean. The agitator itself is just one part of the wash system, and there are others that may contribute to this cycle not functioning. You may find that your machine is filling with water but not agitating, that your washer will spin but not agitate, or maybe it won’t spin and won’t agitate. Below, we’ll help you through the various reasons or parts that may be causing your washer agitation issues and how to solve them.

Inspect These Common Issues First

If you are experiencing issues with your washer agitating, be sure to check these common problem areas first before you move on to the individual part pages. If these don’t resolve the issue, then move on to inspecting the individual washer parts.



Remember, when troubleshooting any washer symptom, start by unplugging it from the electrical outlet or turning off the breaker.
Have You Visually Inspected the Agitator?

The first step in the problem diagnosis is to check to see if smaller laundry items like socks have become jammed in the agitator base. These may be causing the agitator to not engage properly and may be preventing the machine from moving through the cycles. Simply remove any items that may be jammed in.

Is Your Washer Overloaded?

If your washer is overloaded with too many clothes, or has many heavy items like towels, it can put strain on the agitator and its components, causing them to wear out faster. Always ensure that your laundry is evenly distributed around the agitator. An unbalanced load can cause damage to your washing machine. When placing items in the washer, never wrap them around the agitator. This can cause items to become twisted and can damage both your laundry and the agitator.

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 agitating issues in a washer. While this list may appear long, don't worry, as these parts have been organized in the right order of troubleshooting with the likeliest parts causing the symptom put at the top. More information, such as part descriptions, 3D renderings, and installation instructions, are available on the individual parts’ pages.

  1. Agitator
  2. The agitator is the column found in the center of your washing machine tub. In top-loading washing machines, the agitator is responsible for moving the clothes through the water and detergent. If the body of the agitator has become damaged, a visual inspection should reveal this.
  3. Agitator Directional Cogs
  4. These cogs are found on the top portion of a dual-action agitator. They are responsible for rotating the top half of the agitator, while the bottom rotates in the opposite direction. Eventually, these cogs may wear smooth, and then the top half of your agitator won’t move any more.
  5. Agitator Coupler and Bolt
  6. Some models of top-loading washers use a coupler between the transmission shaft and the agitator. If your washer is making a grinding noise during the wash cycle and the agitator turns freely, then the drive coupling may be damaged.
  7. Direct Drive Motor Coupling
  8. Some top-load washers use a direct drive motor coupling to transfer power from the motor to the transmission. If you have a top-load washer that won’t agitate and you’ve been hearing a vibration, there may be a problem with the direct drive motor coupling.
  9. Drive Belt
  10. If you have a top-load washer, it may have a drive belt connecting the transmission to the drive motor. A failure in the drive belt could keep the machine from agitating. If there is a burning smell or squealing sound, your drive belt may be defective.
  11. Transmission
  12. On a washing machine, the motor creates a rotating motion, and the transmission then transforms that circular motion into the push-and-pull motion of the agitator. A faulty transmission will likely lead to strange noises during the washer operation.
  13. Drive Motor
  14. The drive motor is what powers the transmission that then moves the agitator. A sign that the motor is damaged is if you hear a buzzing or humming noise, and the machine will not agitate.
  15. Timer
  16. The timer is one of the controls for starting the drive motor. If the timer is defective, the motor will not receive a signal to start, and the machine will not agitate.
  17. Lid Switch
  18. When a washer’s top lid is open, the motor circuit will not operate. This safety feature is crucial to preventing serious injuries. If your lid switch is broken, the machine won’t run even when the circuit is complete and will require a replacement.
  19. Selector Switch
  20. Some washing machines control the speed of the drive motor via a selector switch. These switches are also used to select the cycle or function for the washer. If the switch is defective, it may stop the motor from operating.
  21. Water Level Switch
  22. The water level switch, or pressure switch, on a top- load washer is used to select the correct water level. If your washer is filling with water but not agitating, you should make sure the water level switch is working.
  23. Electronic Control Board/User Interface
  24. Some washing machines have an electronic control system instead of a mechanical control with knobs to select the settings. You will be able to tell if the electronic control board is not working, as your washer will not turn on or you will not be able to select any options.
  25. Motor Control Board
  26. The motor control board is a separate circuit board that receives signals from the main control board, which activates the drive motor. Signs that the motor control board may be damaged are if the drive motor will not spin, or it is not spinning at the correct speed.
  27. Rotor
  28. The rotor is an important part as it is used to rotate the tub during the wash cycle in a front-load washer. If the magnets or splines of the rotor are damaged, the rotor will need to be replaced.
  29. Stator
  30. The stator works in conjunction with the rotor to create an electromagnetic field, which then causes the tub to rotate. If the windings on the stator are damaged, the stator will need to be replaced.
  31. Actuator
  32. This part changes the transmission from agitation to the spin mode. The actuator shifts the clutch and monitors the clutch position. If the washer drum is not spinning or agitating, and is making a clicking or grinding noise, the actuator may be faulty.
  33. Rotor Position Sensor
  34. The rotor position sensor monitors the direction and speed of the spinning rotor and communicates this information to the electronic control board. If this part is damaged, your machine may not spin at all or may not spin at the correct speed.
  35. Pump
  36. The water pump or drain pump is the part on a washing machine that drains the water from the tub. If your machine is not draining properly, it may not move into the spin cycle.
  37. Drain Hose
  38. The purpose of the drain hose is to move the water out of your washer and into the drain. Sometimes the hose can cause a suction effect, which will drain the tub as it’s filling. If there is no water in the tub, the washer will not be able to agitate.
  39. Capacitor
  40. The capacitor allows the motor in your washer to start by temporarily increasing the torque. Once the motor is up and running, the capacitor disconnects, which lets the motor start and stop as needed. If the capacitor is faulty, your motor may not start.
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