What is a Washing Machine Clutch? (Explained)

The ‘Washing Machine Clutch’ is one of the essential components in a washer that smoothens the wash cycles.

It is a device that helps to engage or disengage the spinning of the inner drum of a washing machine with the agitator.

In this article, we will take a look at what a clutch does and how to tell if it needs to be replaced.

Here’s what this article covers in detail.

What is a washing machine clutch?

Washing Machine Clutch is also known as a transmission clutch.

A transmission clutch is a device that connects and disconnects two rotating shafts.

In a washing machine, the clutch is what connects the washing machine’s motor to the agitator.

It is usually made up of two parts, an outer ring, and an inner ring. The outer ring is connected to the engine while the inner ring is connected to the agitator.

It’s located between the agitator and the transmission, and it’s an essential part of the machine’s operation.

When the motor turns on, the clutch engages and turns the agitator.

Likewise, when the motor turns off, the clutch disengages and the agitator stops.

How does the washing machine’s clutch appear?

There are different types and models of washing machines in the market, each with its own unique design.

However, most washing machine clutches are located near the bottom of the machine, usually near the agitator.

They typically consist of a small, disk-shaped piece that fits over the agitator shaft.

You can refer to the below image that displays a transmission clutch. This type of clutch is suitable for direct drive washing machines.

What are the different types of clutches?

There are three different types of clutches in a washing machine.

They are the direct drive clutch, the belt drive clutch, and the hydrostatic clutch.

The direct drive clutch

It is the most common type of clutch in modern washing machines.

It is a metal plate that is sandwiched between two rubber discs.

The plate is connected to the motor shaft and the discs are connected to the tub.

When the motor turns, the plate spins and the discs start to rotate.

The direct drive clutch is simple and reliable, but it can be noisy.

The belt drive clutch

It is less common than the direct drive clutch.

It uses a belt to connect the motor to the tub.

The advantage of this type of clutch is that it reduces noise.

The disadvantage is that it can be more difficult to repair.

Hydrostatic clutch

It is the least common type of clutch in a washing machine.

It uses hydraulic fluid to connect the motor to the tub.

The benefit of this type of clutch is that it is very quiet.

The drawback is the expensive repair costs.

Note: Another type includes an indirect drive clutch. These are more common in older machines that help to engage and disengage the washing machine’s motor from the drive shaft. This helps to protect the motor from damage when the washing machine is not in use.

Why is a clutch an important part of the washer?

The clutch is an important part of the washing machine because it helps to ensure that the agitator is only turned on when it’s supposed to be.

If the clutch is not working properly, it can cause the agitator to turn on at the wrong time or to not turn on at all. This can lead to problems with your clothes getting clean.

If you think there might be a problem with your washing machine’s clutch, it’s a good idea to have a qualified technician take a look at it.

They’ll be able to diagnose the core cause of the issue and get them fixed accordingly.

When do you need to replace the clutch?

If your washer starts making strange noises, or if it isn’t agitating or spinning properly, then it might be time to replace the clutch. 

A broken or damaged clutch can cause numerous problems with your washing machine, so it’s best to replace them at the right time.

You can usually find replacement clutches at your local hardware store or online.

Make sure to carry the existing clutch to get an accurate replacement.

You may simply use the model or the serial number of your washer to identify the exact match.

How to replace the washer’s clutch?

Follow the easy steps below to replace a worn-out OR damaged clutch from your washing machine.

You’ll need some basic tools, including a socket wrench set and a screwdriver.

Step 1: First, unplug your washing machine from the power outlet and shut off the water supply. You may disconnect the hoses if it requires you to move your washer.

Step 2: Next, remove the access panel located at the rear side of the washer. This will give you access to the motor and other parts such as the clutch.

Note: You may have to detach the agitator, motor, and drive belts in the process. Hence securely do your job without damaging any other components of the washer.

Step 3: Locate the clutch assembly and disconnect it from the motor shaft. You’ll likely need to use a socket wrench to loosen the nut that secures the clutch to the shaft.

Step 4: Once the clutch is disconnected, you can remove it from the washing machine.

Step 5: To install the new clutch, simply reverse the steps above. Be sure to tighten all retaining nuts securely before plugging in your washing machine and turning on the water supply.

Step 6: Now, run a test cycle to confirm if everything is working as expected.

If you have reached step 6 it means that you have successfully replaced the clutch assembly.

How to maintain a washing machine’s clutch?

If your washer sounds as if it’s struggling to spin, or if it’s leaving your clothes wet after a cycle, there’s a good chance that the clutch needs attention. 

Being a key component in a washing machine, if it starts to fail, the whole machine will eventually stop working. That’s why it’s important to keep a close eye on it.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your washing machine’s clutch. 

First, make sure you’re using the right amount of laundry detergent.

Too much detergent can cause build-up and friction, which will put extra strain on the clutch. 

Second, try to avoid overloading the washer. Overloading your washer will also lead to putting extra strain and wearing out the clutch much faster.

If you are unable to figure out or narrow down the cause of the problem, it’s best to call a repairman and have them take a look at it.

Final Thoughts

The clutch is a crucial component as it engages the agitator so that it can start moving. Furthermore, it is also responsible to disengage the agitator.

When the clutch goes bad, it can cause all sorts of problems with the washer and requires immediate attention.

Just see if your washer is making any unusual noises, OR vibrating unusually. If that’s the case, it’s likely that the drum, motor, bearing, drive belt OR clutch has gone bad.

You may fix the washer’s clutch at home, but for anything that you are unsure about, contact a professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some common questions about washing machine clutches that may be helpful.

How much does it cost to replace the washer’s clutch?

If your washing machine’s clutch has worn out or has gone bad, it may be time to replace them. On average, a washing machine clutch will cost you anywhere between $100  to $200. The cost may vary depending on the washer type and the model.

Where is the washing machine’s clutch located?

The washing machine’s clutch is located on the back of the washer and is attached with screws. It connects the drive shaft to the transmission. You may refer to the user manual of your washer model type to locate the clutches.

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