Whirlpool Washer Not Agitating? Here’s How To Fix It

whirlpool washer not agitating

It is laundry day, and you eagerly load up your Whirlpool top-load washer with a mountain of dirty clothes. You add the detergent, close the lid, and press start.

The machine begins filling up with water as expected. But minutes later, when the wash cycle should have started, there was just silence. No familiar rumbling agitation or swirling sounds of your clothes getting clean.

You lift the lid to find your clothes sitting in a tub of soapy water, not getting washed at all. What could be the problem you wonder?

In Whirlpool top-load washers, an agitator oscillates back and forth during the wash cycle to scrub and circulate the clothing. This agitation is key to properly cleaning laundry. When the agitator fails to move, clothes won’t get fully washed.

In this article, we will take a look at the most likely reasons behind a Whirlpool washer not agitating or spinning.

How to Fix Whirlpool Washer Not Agitating or Spinning

Do you have drenched clothes sitting limp in a washer that won’t clean? It’s a nightmare no laundry lover wants. When your Whirlpool fails to agitate or spin, the culprit is usually one of these common killers of your wash cycle:

1. Damaged Drive Belt

Is your Whirlpool washer refusing to agitate or spin? The culprit could be a cracked drive belt. This critical rubber band connects the motor to the drive pulley, powering the machine’s churning and swirling. But over time, drive belts wear out and snap, leaving wash cycles dead in the water.

Detecting a busted drive belt is straightforward – listen for loud noises or check for sluggish agitation. To inspect the belt, unplug the machine and remove the rear panel. Check along the belt’s routing path for fraying, cracks, or excessive slack.

Luckily, replacing a worn drive belt is a relatively easy repair. Drive belts are inexpensive and widely available. Just follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the washing machine from the power source.
  2. Remove the rear access panel screws.
  3. Inspect the old belt and note the routing path.
  4. Loop the new drive belt around pulleys in the same path.
  5. Reattach rear panel.
  6. Plug in the washer and test agitation.

2. Faulty Motor Coupler

The motor coupler is a small plastic piece that joins the drive motor and transmission. It allows the motor to power the agitator and spin the tub through the transmission.

The coupler is designed to break if the washer becomes overloaded. However, it can also wear and tear over regular use. A bad motor coupling will make a clicking noise and cause poor agitation and spin.

To replace a faulty motor coupler, carry out these instructions:

  1. Unplug the washing machine and turn off the water supply valves.
  2. Carefully tilt the machine back to access the bottom panel.
  3. Using a wrench, remove any bolts or screws securing the bottom panel. Set the panel aside.
  4. Locate the motor coupler next to the drive motor.
  5. Remove any clips or screws securing the coupler to the motor and transmission shafts.
  6. Carefully slide the coupler off of both shafts. Discard the damaged coupler.
  7. Align the new coupler on the transmission and motor shafts.
  8. Secure the coupler with original clips or screws.
  9. Reattach the bottom panel with the bolts or screws.
  10. Return the washer to its upright position, reconnect the hoses, and carryout a test cycle.

Note: A replacement Whirlpool coupler costs around $10-$20.

Whirlpool Washer Not Spinning

3. Defective Lid Switch

The lid switch is a safety feature or device that keeps the washer from running when the lid is open. If this switch malfunctions, the washer might not agitate or spin even with the lid closed.

Locate the lid switch assembly along the washer’s front top rim. Unplug the machine and use a multimeter to test for electrical continuity. If the switch tests as defective, unscrew it and install an identical replacement switch.

Be sure to properly connect any release clips or electrical wiring. Once repaired, the lid switch will signal the motor to engage when the lid is shut.

4. Broken Agitator Dogs

Agitator dogs are small triangular plastic pieces under the agitator. Their purpose is to rotate the top of the agitator back and forth during washing. If the dogs become worn or break over time, the agitator will fail to move properly, preventing agitation.

If you have a broken agitator dog, you’ll need to replace it. To replace broken agitator dogs, do the following:

  1. Unplug the washing machine and disconnect hoses.
  2. Remove the agitator from the washer tub. It likely pulls straight up.
  3. Flip the agitator over to access the plastic dogs underneath.
  4. Remove any retainers or clips if necessary to release the old agitator dogs.
  5. Snap the old dogs out of position and discard them.
  6. Align and insert the replacement agitator dogs. Firmly snap them into place.
  7. Reinstall any retainers or clips to hold the dogs securely.
  8. Flip the agitator right-side up and reinsert it into the washtub.
  9. Reconnect hoses, plug in the machine and confirm normal agitation.

The dogs should move smoothly, enabling agitation once again. A set of 4-8 replacement dogs usually costs $5-$10.

5. Bad Transmission

The transmission uses a series of gears to control the washer’s agitation and spin speeds. If certain gears become stripped or broken, the washer transmission will fail to function properly.

Symptoms include the washer not agitating, spinning slowly, or making grinding noises.

Unfortunately, repairing a bad transmission is a very difficult repair and it usually requires extensive disassembly. It often makes better financial sense to just replace an older machine with a new washer rather than paying for transmission repairs.

How to Fix Whirlpool Washer Not Agitating But Spinning

In some cases, you may find that your Whirlpool washer fails to agitate but the tub still spins normally. This points to an issue specific to the agitator mechanism itself. Some things to check in this scenario include:

1. Worn Spline Shaft

The spline shaft connects the agitator to the transmission, allowing oscillating motion. The splines fit into grooves on the bottom of the agitator. If these splines get stripped or rounded off, the agitator will not move properly while the transmission shaft still spins.

Replacing both the agitator and spline shaft will solve this issue. You’ll need to disassemble the washer tub to access the components. Make sure to install parts that are compatible with your washer make and model. Getting the splines correctly aligned is key.

To properly replace the spline, do these:

  1. Unplug the washer and disconnect the hoses. Remove any exterior panels to access the tub.
  2. Lift out the agitator from the tub and set aside.
  3. Locate and remove fasteners to detach the spline shaft from underneath.
  4. Obtain replacement agitator and matching spline shaft.
  5. Lower the new spline shaft into the tub and secure it with fasteners.
  6. Align splines and carefully slide the agitator onto the new shaft.
  7. Reattach any panels, reconnect hoses, and test for proper agitation.

2. Damaged Agitator

Clothes swirling but not getting clean? The problem may lie with your washer’s agitator. This central piece scrubs clothes by oscillating during washing. If obstructed or broken internally, the agitator can fail to move even as the tub spins normally.

Inspect for debris tangled in the agitator and remove it. Check for cracked plastic or missing parts. You may need to replace just certain components like the agitator cap, dogs, or seals.

For severe damage, the entire agitator assembly requires replacement. Follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the washer and turn off the water.
  2. Remove clothes and debris from the tub.
  3. Lift the agitator straight up to remove it.
  4. Obtain an agitator repair kit with your model parts.
  5. Take apart and replace damaged pieces.
  6. Reassemble the agitator with new parts.
  7. Lower agitator, aligning spline shaft.
  8. Reconnect water, and test for agitation.

3. Broken Agitator Cogs

The upper portion of the agitator connects to the lower portion through triangular plastic cogs. Their purpose is to transfer agitation motion that rotates the agitator. If these agitator cogs become worn out or brittle over time, they can shear off. This allows the tub to still spin while the agitator does not move.

Getting to the agitator cogs requires full disassembly. All broken cogs must be replaced with identical ones and properly meshed for smooth operation. Inserting the cogs in the wrong direction is an easy mistake to make during a washer repair. So take photos before taking things apart.

Follow these steps to properly replace your broken agitator cogs:

  1. Unplug the washer and remove the agitator from the tub.
  2. Carefully disassemble the agitator according to the repair guide directions.
  3. Inspect and remove any damaged or missing cogs.
  4. Obtain a replacement agitator cog kit for your model.
  5. Position new cogs precisely per kit instructions. Ensure full engagement.
  6. Reassemble the agitator by reversing the order of disassembly.
  7. Reinsert the agitator into the tub, reconnect the hoses, and test.

4. Faulty Agitator Dial

Some Whirlpool washers have an agitator dial that allows variable wash motion. This dial connects to a cam inside the agitator that adjusts its stroke. Damage to the dial or internal components can prevent proper agitator movement.

If the dial is loose, doesn’t click between settings, or the agitator action seems off, the dial likely needs replacing. This involves disassembling the washer’s top console panel to access internal parts. Check for normal wear, damage, or broken parts. Installation of the new dial must be done precisely.

Don’t know how to carry out the replacement? Follow these steps:

  1. Unplug the washing machine and disconnect hoses.
  2. Remove the console panel screws using a screwdriver and open it to access the agitator components.
  3. Locate the dial mechanism and remove the mounting screws.
  4. Disconnect the wiring harness and tubing from the dial.
  5. Install the replacement dial mechanism and reconnect all tubing and wiring.
  6. Close the console panel, reconnect the hoses, and plug in the washer.
  7. Set dial through the full range of motion to ensure smooth operation.

5. Loose Agitator Dogs

The agitator dogs are small plastic components fitted around the agitator shaft. They interlock with the agitator and translate motion from the spline shaft. If the agitator dogs become loose, they will slip rather than rotate the agitator as intended.

Tightening the retaining bolt or replacing worn agitator dogs will typically resolve this. Make sure the new dogs clip firmly into place and move freely when rotated. Greasing the dogs can help minimize friction and wear.

Note: Take care not to overtighten anything during reassembly.


When your Whirlpool washer won’t agitate, it can really put a wrench in your laundry plans.

Fortunately, a washer that has refused to agitate is not a death sentence for your machine. Armed with some DIY troubleshooting skills and the willingness to tackle basic repairs, you can often get your washer back up and running.

Remember to always unplug the washer and use proper precautions during any disassembly or maintenance.

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