Why is the Whirlpool washer not agitating? (Troubleshooting)

If you have a Whirlpool washing machine and the agitator isn’t working, then this post is for you.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the most common problems with agitators in Whirlpool washing machines and solutions wherever possible.

There are a few common problems that we may experience when the agitator isn’t working properly.

One of the most common issues is that the machine will not agitate but it will spin and drain.

Additionally, the agitator may move slowly or it may be loose. At times, the agitator can make noise as well.

So, there is no one root cause for the problematic agitator, it varies depending on the symptoms and causes.

Let’s take a quick look at what you will learn:

  • How to identify the agitator issue in the whirlpool washer?
  • How to inspect the agitator issue?
  • How to Fix the agitator issue?
  • And more…

Let’s get started.

How do I know if my agitator is broken?

If your Whirlpool washing machine is not agitating, then it is important to determine whether or not the agitator is the root cause of the problem.

There are a few ways that you can do this.

Here’s what you can check for:

Washing machine will not agitate but spin and drain

If the washing machine is not agitating but spinning and draining, there is a high probability that the agitator is damaged.

This is a typical case of a damaged or worn-out agitator.

Agitator moves slowly

Another symptom of a damaged agitator is that it may move slowly.

This is normally due to a stripped gear or transmission failure. A lot of time the connectivity with the motor may also be the reason why the agitator moves slowly.

Agitator is loose

If the agitator is not securely attached to the washing machine, then it will be loose and will not work properly. More often in older models of washers, the transmission shaft and the agitator tends to be loose, thereby causing rattling noise and vibration.

Agitator will make noise

If the agitator is making noise, then it could be an indication that the internal parts have become loose.

In some cases, the washer may also produce a burning smell which indicates that there is an electrical issue.

If you notice a burning smell along with unstable noise and vibration chances are the agitator has gone completely bad and impacted the motor.

This usually happens when the fitting between the motor and the agitator goes bad.

Also Read: How to take Drum out of washing machine?

Potential causes for damaged agitator

There are a few potential causes for a damaged agitator in a washing machine.

Some of the most common reasons include transmission failure, timer failure, a defective switch on the lid, or a drive motor gone bad.

Let’s look into the common causes of a bad agitator in detail.

Transmission failure

A transmission failure can often cause the agitator not to function in a washing machine. It’s the transmission that is responsible for the back-and-forth movement of the agitator. Over time, the transmission may fail due to various reasons and cause the agitator to become loose or not move at all.

Timer failure

Timer failure is another reason why an agitator may not function properly in a washing machine.

In some cases, the timer may be set to the wrong cycle which can cause the agitator to move slowly or not move at all.

Additionally, the timer may also fail to start the agitator due to a power surge or power outage.

Try checking the timer circuit using a multimeter to see if it’s getting the power supply or not. If not, then you need to replace the timer.

A lot of time, the timer failure is impacted in such a way that it fails to recognize the command.

For example: If you select the wash cycle to be run for 5 mins, it runs only for 30 seconds. This generally happens when the timer setting is broken.

Defective switch on the lid

The lid switch is responsible for sending a signal to the timer to start the agitator.

If the lid switch is defective, it may not send the correct signal to the timer which can cause the agitator to not work properly.

You can always check the lid switch using a multimeter to see if it’s working or not.

If there is no continuity, chances are the lid switch has died completely and you may need to replace it.

Having said that, the lid switch is not the only thing that needs to be checked, chances are your lid switch may be functioning well and the motor circuit OR timer switch is not working.

Therefore, while using a multimeter, ensure you check the continuity in all the circuits.

Drive motor has gone bad

The drive motor is responsible for turning the agitator. If the drive motor has gone bad, the agitator will not turn.

In some cases, you may also notice that the drive motor is making noise or getting hot.

If the drive motor is not working, you can check it using a multimeter to see if there is continuity in the winding.

If there is no continuity, chances are the drive motor has gone bad and you need to replace it.

Troubleshooting a drive motor can be a tricky thing, it’s always best to check with the professional if you think the drive motor is the root cause.

Also Read: 6 Things you must know about washing machine bearings

How to Inspect the Whirlpool Agitator?

If the machine is not agitating but spinning and draining, there is a high probability that the agitator is damaged. This can be confirmed by inspecting it from underneath, top, or from inside the washer.

Let’s look into some basic troubleshooting that can be performed by anyone.

Spin the agitator manually

Try spinning the agitator manually to see if there is any resistance or not. If it takes a lot of effort to spin the agitator, the chances are your agitator is worn out and demands replacement.

If it moves freely, check the drive belt, screws, fitting, and motor.

Check the Drive Belt

If the agitator moves freely without any friction, check the drive belt. A lot of time drive belt tends to move out of the slot, thereby giving an illusion that the agitator is not working.

If the drive belt is in place but has a lot of wear and tear simply replace it.

Also Read: How to change the washing machine belt?

Check the screws and fitting

Even though this is less likely to happen, there is still a possibility that a loose screw may have damaged the agitator. A lot of time loose screws and loose fitting can cause the agitator to wobble.

If it’s a case of loose screw or fitting, simply tighten it.

In case of a damaged agitator caused due to loose screws, replacement may be the only option.

Also Read: What is soil level in washing machine?

Check the motor

This is again a rare scenario, but since the possibility exists, we thought of covering this aspect.

A lot of time, it is not the agitator that is problematic, at times bad motor may also give the illusion that the agitator is not working.

The typical symptom of a bad motor is a burning smell, screeching sound, and at times no movement at all.


Now that we know the possible symptoms and causes, let’s try to look into the possible solutions.

How do you fix a Whirlpool washer that won’t agitate?

When it comes to fixing an agitator in a whirlpool washer, it really depends on the causes and symptoms.

There are very limited things that you can do at home if you are not a professional.

At best you can replace the agitator if there is a lot of wear and tear OR you can also replace the drive belt if it’s worn out.

But if the motor has gone bad, you may need to consult a professional for repair OR replacement.

Also Read: How to wash a down jacket in washing machine?


Inspecting the whirlpool agitator is one of the first steps in troubleshooting a broken washer.

By trying to spin it by hand, you can check if the agitator is working or not.

If it moves with a lot of, chances are either your drive motor has gone bad OR fitting needs to be checked. It’s not always the agitator that is problematic.

While it may look like the agitator is not working, the underlying causes may be different.

While troubleshooting, be careful, do not uninstall OR Unscrew a part that you are not aware of. If there’s too much confusion, consult a professional.

Also Read: What is RPM in Washing Machine?

Frequently Asked Questions

While we have tried to cover basic troubleshooting along with common symptoms and causes, there are a few questions that are asked frequently.

Here are the top common questions that are asked frequently.

Can a broken agitator be fixed?

If the agitator is simply worn out, it can be replaced. But if it’s damaged due to other reasons, it needs to be assessed by a professional.

Why is my washing machine not agitating but will spin?

There can be several reasons for this, but the most common one is that the drive belt has come off or is worn out. Another possibility is that the motor has gone bad.

Why is my washer barely agitating?

A broken agitator or a failed gear case are the two most common reasons for this. Sometimes, a broken motor coupler, bad lid switch, or even a worn-out drive belt, can impact the agitator.

Why does my washer only agitate on one side?

If the washer is not agitating, there are several possible causes. One of the most common problems is a broken control unit. The mechanical timer of a washing machine provides commands to the motor for moving back and forth. If the timer has gone bad, your washer may agitate only on one side.

Why does my Whirlpool washer spin but not agitate?

If your Whirlpool washer spins but does not agitate it’s likely due to a faulty or broken agitator. Such type of issue requires inspection and repair by a professional technician.

Why will my Whirlpool washer not agitate or drain?

Check if your Whirlpool washer is properly plugged in and that it has a proper power supply. Also, check the lid switch and door latch if it closes properly. If it’s a power issue make use of multimeter to diagnose the connectivity.

If you have more questions or queries related to the washing machines, you can refer to our dedicated faq section, where we try to answer the most common questions.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at) theportablelaundry.com.