How to Replace Your Front-Load Washer Drive Belt

Your washer drive belt is one of the most important pieces of the washing machine assembly. The drive belt, in conjunction with two pulleys and a drive motor, is what spins the washer so that it can agitate and then drain the clothes. When the drive belt breaks or wears out, this can result in a number of common problems. Most frequently, your drive belt will become loose or unevenly worn and your washer will start making strange and interruptive sounds.

A noisy washing machine is often caused by the drive belt or another aspect of the drum-spinning assembly. So if you have already narrowed down your options or confirmed that the drive bent is the problem, your next practical step is to replace your washing machine drive belt. To do this, you will need to open up the back of your washer, remove the old belt, and replace it with a new one. 

These instructions are generalized and can vary by brand and model.

Gather Your Tools

Start by gathering the tools you will need for the job. Look up the make and model of your washing machine and then order the correct replacement drive belt based on the part number. You will also need a few towels in addition to work gloves and a screwdriver or nut driver set and quite possibly a few wrenches. Not every washer belt assembly is identical, and it’s best to be prepared.

  • Screwdriver and/or Nut Driver Set
  • Wrenches
  • Work Gloves
  • Towels
  • Replacement Drive Belt

Safety First

– Unplug the Washer

Unplug your washing machine from the wall to prevent the risk of mechanical or electrical injury. Working with the internal electrical components of a washing machine can be dangerous. Only with the power disconnected can you be sure to avoid damaging shock or electrocution.

– Shut Off the Hot and Cold Water Valves

Shut off the hot and cold water valves to the washer at the wall. If your hoses are very short, you may need to disconnect them at the washer. Use a towel to catch any water that leaks out at this point.

– Move the Washer for Access

Push or turn your washing machine so that you have room to work behind it. Move it carefully and, if necessary, lift the front two feet onto a towel or piece of cardboard to make it easier to move. Work with a friend if necessary. 

Open the Back

– Remove the Back Panel Fastening Screws

The upper back panel of the washing machine is attached with screws, but they might be normal Phillips head screws or hex-nut screws. Use your screwdriver or nut driver (whichever is appropriate) to remove the screws fastening the back panel to the rest of the dryer housing. 

– Lift and Pull to Remove

You may need to lift, slide, and/or pull to remove the back panel or it may come away easily. Models vary. You may need to release tabs or unhook your back panel. When you get your panel loose, set the panel and it’s corresponding screws aside. You’ll need all of them in one place later.

– Lay Machine on Side if Necessary

If you do not immediately see a belt looped around two pulleys, you may need to tip your washing machine on its side to reach an underneath-assembly. Lay towels on the ground to protect the washer and only tip your washer with the help of a friend.

– Snap a Phone Photo of the Belt

When you can clearly see the belt assembly, snap a photo with your phone for reference. This is a complex arrangement of parts and you will need to get the new belt back into this arrangement to successfully complete the replacement. A photo, or a set of photos, can be incredibly helpful as a reference, even if you have a manual on-hand. 

Remove the Old Belt

– Take Away Broken Belt

If the belt is broken and loose on the pulleys, then removing it will be easy. Simply unthread the remove it from the pulleys and throw it away.

– If Not Broken, Release Pump Coupling & Loosen Motor Bolts

If the belt is not fully broken, use your wrenches to release the pump coupling which holds it in place. Loosening the motor bolts will give you some slack to pull the belt off.

– Slip Belt Off of Pulleys

Once the belt is loose from the pulleys and bolts, you will finally be able to slip the old belt off the pulleys and throw it away. 

Install the New Belt

– Reference Your Phone Pic

When installing the new belt, it can help to reference your photo to see exactly how the belt looks when properly mounted. This is often better than manual diagrams because you can see each part in detail, not just as-drawn.

– Align New Belt Central Groove

Align the groove in the center inside of the new belt with the large pulley as you thread it over both pulleys. This will ensure that your belt is held in place in the long-term as your washing machine is running.

– Turn the Larger Pulley to Settle the Belt

Spin the pulleys to confirm that the belt is properly set all the way around. The belt should hold position and turn without twisting or snagging.

– Refasten the Pump Coupling and Tighten then Secure the Motor Bolts

If you undid the pump coupling or loosened the motor bolts, refasten them. Press the motor down and toward the washer housing as you tighten the bolts to also tighten the belt. 

Reassemble and Reconnect

You are now ready to upright your washing machine if it is tipped over and return the back panel into place via it’s securing screws. Reattach the hot and cold water hoses and turn the water valves on. Then plug your washing machine back in. 

Test Your Success

Finally, you’re ready to test the success of your repair. Run an empty load, or just a few towels. to see if the drum turns and if you have solved your noisy washing machine problem. Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done. For more helpful appliance repair guides, contact us today!

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