How To Inspect the Drive Belt
On some washers, mostly older models, a belt is used to transfer power from the motor to the transmission and pump. If that belt breaks, the washer will not operate properly but it will make sounds like it is doing something. If the belt slips or is loose, the washer may operate sporadically or erratically. It may make loud squealing noises and there may be a burning smell. Some models use two belts, one for the transmission and one for the pump.
Before inspecting the drive belt, unplug the washer or shut off the power at the fuse box or breaker panel to avoid an electrical shock hazard. Also, turn off the water supply to the washer at the valves.
To inspect the drive belt, you will need to open the access panel or in some cases tip the washer onto its side to expose the belt on the bottom. Start by removing the back cover, and look for a belt. If you do not see a belt (or a place for a belt - the belt itself may have broken and is hidden from view) and you can see the floor then your washer is a direct drive model that does not use a belt. If you cannot see the floor because there is a steel floor in the washer, locate the motor and determine if it extends through the bottom plate. If so, then the belt is accessed from beneath the washer.
If you have to tip the washer over, place a large piece of cardboard on the floor to protect the floor and the washer's finish. Because a washer is pretty heavy, you will need an able-bodied assistant to safely tip the washer onto its side. Also, there will be some water remaining in the washer, so have sponges and towels ready to clean up any spill.
Once you locate the belt, inspect it for proper tension. Press in the middle of the longest straight run, it should deflect no more than one half inch. Also inspect the belt for cracks, frayed edges or other signs of excessive wear. If the belt is worn, it should be replaced. A loose belt may be tightened by shifting the motor, although a stretched belt should be replaced.