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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
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A Quick Fix for Whirlpool & Kenmore
Washer Brake Lockup Problems

Here's how to cure the brake lockup problem with those top load washers we call 'direct drives', made under the Whirlpool, Kenmore, Kitchenaid, Roper and Estate brand names. I'm thrilled to say that I've found a much easier, faster cure than ever. Correcting this used to take me an hour and a quarter, but  now runs around 15 minutes using this method! Whoo-hoo!

The symptom of what I call 'spin brake lockup' is the washer's basket stopping too suddenly at the end of spin. This can be so violent that the entire machine can actually pivot out of place. Yikes!

I used to see this happen on these washers only rarely, but for whatever reason it seems to be getting more common.

The inertia of this sudden stop can 'strip' the washer's drive coupler and bring the machine to a halt. And I've seen a few cases that stripped the drive tabs off the basket drive block, and that's a pretty impressive chunk of aluminum.

This appears to be caused by paint on the inside of the brake drum 'gumming' up and making the brake shoes grab. I used to pull the tub, transmission, and basket drive out and sand the drum and linings, which corrected the problem, at least for a while. But it was a time consuming - and expensive - job.

But after testing the following shortcut on many of these washers over the last year or two, I'm happy to report that all that work is totally unnecessary!  I doubt you'll see this tip anywhere else, so it's well worth the cost of your subscription (well, OK, your sub's still free, but I wanted to make sure you were paying attention! <grin>)

If your washer stops spinning violently like I'm describing, within a second or two, you can cure it yourself (if it's not repaired, it can also cause serious damage to suspension components).

Pickup a small tube of high temperature silicone-based grease from your local auto parts store. 'Sil-Glyde' is one common brand that I've used for many purposes over the years. A very handy grease to use around rubber components that petroleum lubes would attack. This is sold as automotive brake caliper lube, and if you ask for a small amount of that, they'll know what you mean. Buy the smallest amount available - you only need a tiny 'dab' on the end of a small screwdriver.

Pull the washer's cabinet off (see the beginning of this article for help) and you'll see the chrome clutch drum, right above the transmission. Just above that is another, larger drum, and this one's the brake drum. On most, you'll see a  foam 'rubber band' noise dampener around it. Here's what it looks like:

DD washer Brake & Clutch 








Put a 1/4 inch 'dab' of silicone grease on the end of a small screwdriver (I'm using the pen-sized one carried in my shirt pocket in the picture above), and look up into this brake drum.

You'll want to insert the screwdriver between the brake coil spring and the inside of the drum.  Apply the grease to the inside of the brake drum. The tub can usually be rotated by hand to bring this spring around. It's nice to have a helper slowly turn the tub from above while you watch the spring's location. (I've never had a helper to do this, but it'd be nice ;-) )

Be sure you're putting this into the inside vertical surface of the UPPER, painted (brake) drum, and NOT the chrome (clutch) drum below it.

It would be very hard to put grease on the clutch linings inside the lower clutch drum, but I mention the possibility just in case there's a 'Tim Allen' type (like my dear brother!) out there who might take the 'more is better' approach. ;-)

That's it! Solves the brake lockup problem, and it usually doesn't come back! No pulling the motor, gear case, pump, or any of that fun stuff like I used to! As my daughter would say, 'sweet!'

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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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