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Washer Drive Systems
 Belts, Couplers, Clutches  

Many domestic clothes washers today still use a drive belt of one type or another, and these LOOK like common ‘V-belts’ that can be bought at any auto-parts store.

But: They’re NOT!  Be aware that many of these belts also serve as the spin *clutch*, and are specially treated for ‘controlled slippage’. Regular, non-treated belts will *fit* and the machine will agitate just fine, but will not slip, and all you’ll hear is ‘hummmm’ when the machine tries to spin.

This applies to those of Maytag manufacture (Amana/Speed Queen, Norge, Admiral, Magic Chef) as well as Frigidaire/Electrolux products (Frigidaire, Gibson, Kelvinator, Tappan, Westinghouse)

Trouble is, by the time you hear that dreaded ‘hum’, the tub’s already full of soapy water and laundry, and on many models the machine won’t pump it out because it can’t spin with the regular belt! It agitated just fine, your tools are all put away, and you’re enjoying the admiration of the laundry person, but...  

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule. GE still uses a spin clutch and regular belt (although on their newer ‘Profile’ models, the belt slips within 2-3 years from becoming oil-soaked!), and a ‘generic’ replacement will work. But the genuine GE belts are inexpensive and readily available.

BTW, if the GE or Hotpoint belt IS oil-soaked, I’m sorry to say, I usually recommend you replace the machine with another manufacturer’s product. Shame on GE for the low quality of their current top loaders - I know they can do better than this!

Machines built by Whirlpool up until recently, called ‘direct-drives’, use no belt at all, but a rubber and plastic ‘coupler’ instead (see coupler picture and how-to-replace article here).

This has been a source of problems on these fine washers, but after 4 or 5 revisions of this part, they’ve hit upon a pretty reliable design, the ‘triangular’ version part #285753A (links to current Ebay search results).

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