How to Fix a Washing Machine Agitator

What You'll Need
Owners handbook

Washing machine agitators are usually found in top-loading single drum machines. The agitator has a reciprocating action that usually swings through 30 to 100 degrees according to make and model. Without the use of the agitator the washing machine will only be able to soak and "boil" clothes.

Step 1 – Empty the Machine

Remove the laundry from the machine and empty out the water. The water can be drained by simply advancing the program indicator to ‘empty’.

Step 2 – Quick Test

With the machine empty, start the washing program. Listen for the electric motor that drives it to see if it is spinning too fast. If the motor is running too fast there is the likelihood that a drive belt has snapped or the agitator has come loose in its mountings.

Step 3 – Empty the Machine

Empty the machine again. If the motor was running too fast you might be able to check through an inspection panel that the drive belt is still in place. If it is, the agitator is the problem.

Step 4 – Remove the Agitator

At the top of the agitator on most machines is a knurled knob. This knob often is welded to the retaining nut that holds the agitator to the spindle. Unscrew the knob. Even if it has been fixed a long time the knob will usually come free with a little pressure. Once the knob has been removed you will be able to see if there is another fastener at the top of the spindle. If there is you will need a spanner to remove it. The agitator should simply lift out of the machine now.

Step 5 – Check the Spindle

At the top of the spindle and/or at the bottom you should see a set of splines. These are usually made of aluminum and often look like the gears on a cog wheel. If the splines are in good condition, they are not the problem.

Step 6 – Check the Agitator

Check that the agitator is in one piece. Some agitators have an independent base section. Look up the center of a single piece agitator and check the teeth that should fit into the splines on the spindle.

Step 7 – New Agitator

You will probably see that the teeth inside the agitator have broken and no longer fit into the splines on the spindle. These cannot be repaired so you will have to buy a new agitator. Make a note of the model number that will be stamped on the bottom of the agitator or take it to the washing machine repair center so that they can provide the right model.

Unfortunately agitators are quite bulky so are seldom held in stock. It might be a few days before your replacement arrives. It will fit into your washing machine by simply sliding over the spindle and a little twist to seat the teeth and splines.