How to know if a washing machine timer is bad


The washing machine timer can be considered the brain t […]

The washing machine timer can be considered the brain that controls the washing machine's systems. Although timers are ruggedly constructed, they contain a variety of tiny parts, like springs and movable contacts, that can develop problems that keep the machine from operating properly. The movable contacts can become burned and fuse together or they can become stuck in the open position, thus disrupting the wash cycles. The timer’s motor can also become defective, thus preventing the timer from advancing through its cycles.

Timer Does Not Advance Through Its Cycles
Safety first should be your guiding motto. To troubleshoot a timer, you will perform continuity tests using a digital multimeter. Unplug the machine's power cord from the wall outlet before opening up the machine’s control panel. The timer’s failure to advance could be caused by a defective timer motor, the motor’s control contacts stuck in the open position or defective drive gears. Unplug the timer’s wiring harness, then, with the timer set to any position other than off, check for continuity through the motor contacts. Continuity will be indicated by a “0.000” on the meter’s display. A pictorial diagram on the back of the machine will tell you which numbers on the timer socket corresponds to which set of contacts in the timer. Likewise, a functional timer motor will display a resistance reading greater than 0.000, but less than 5 ohms. Open contacts or a defective motor winding will be indicated by an “O.L.” on the meter’s display.

Works in Some Cycles
A defective timer will only work in some cycles and not others. One or more of the timer’s contacts that control that cycle are stuck in the open position. To make sure that the problem actually is a defective timer and not a broken wire in the wiring harness, check for continuity through those contacts using your meter. Wires in the wiring harness can break, but it’s not a common occurrence unless they get pinched during the assembly of the machine.

Certain Functions of All Cycles Do Not Work
If the same part of each cycle setting, such as the spin cycle does not operate properly, the problem probably is not the timer but some other component such as the transmission shifting mechanism. If the problem occurs when using only one cycle setting, the problem is a bad timer.

Rebuild or Replace
Although most modern washing machine timers are designed to be disassembled and repaired, doing so requires special tools that the average do-it-yourself person will not have. Most of these specialty tools are quite expensive, so it would not be cost effective for you to purchase them. Besides requiring special tools, rebuilding a timer can be very time consuming and frustrating for the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. The better option typically is to replace the timer assembly.