My GE Washing Machine Won't Spin and Has a Burning Smell

Christie Gross

A General Electric (GE) washing machine must spin to rid clothes of water after they’ve been washed. Otherwise, the laundry will be too wet to put into a clothes dryer set for a single drying cycle.

If your GE washing machine suddenly stops spinning and has a burning smell, stop the washer and perform a basic investigation to see whether or not you can identify the problem.

Belt Problem

GE residential washing machines have either one or two rubber belts. The belt is designed to steady the drum as it agitates and spins to ensure the drum moves consistently and evenly in the cabinet. If one or both of the washing machine’s belts slips or breaks, the drum will cease to agitate and spin, and you may detect a burnt rubber smell from the friction created as the damaged belt strains to grip the drum. Review your GE washing machine user's guide to locate the belt. You’ll need to detach the washer’s main access panel to examine it. After you find the belt, yank it toward you. If the belt moves easily, it’s no good and should be replaced.

Broken Motor Pulley

A GE washing machine has a motor pulley that keeps tension on the belt so it doesn’t slide down the drum when the washer is running. If the pulley breaks, the belt loses control of the drum and can’t rotate it. When this happens, the loose belt may rub against the motor pulley and produce a slight burning smell until the drum finally stops. Contact an authorized GE repair specialist to evaluate the washer’s motor pulley and repair it if needed. The technician may also suggest that you change out the belt if it suffered damage.

Burned Out Motor Pulley

A motor powers the belt that turns the drum on a GE washing machine. Over time and with excessive use, the motor will burn out. If this happens, the motor will emit a burning odor, and the drum won’t spin. Contact an authorized GE repair specialist to assess the washer’s motor. If the technician determines that it’s no longer capable of turning the drum, the motor may need to be replaced. Depending on the age of your washing machine, it may be more cost-effective to buy a new one.

Damaged Tub Bearing

Most GE washing machines have a tub bearing at the back of the drum. This is a metal support joint that holds the drum in place while it agitates and spins. The tub bearing moves along with the drum. If the bearing begins to wear, the washer will usually make a screeching or squealing sound when it runs. The noise is typically followed by the drum ceasing to spin over time if the noise problem isn’t addressed. Although it’s rare that this problem could produce a burning odor, the friction caused by a faulty bearing may be enough to create a burning smell. Contact an authorized GE repair specialist to swap out the bad tub bearing with a new one.