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Whirlpool Washer Won’t Agitate? Fix the Washing Machine Agitator Dogs

Simple solution to a big problem

washing machine agitatorFamily Handyman

If your Whirlpool washer stops agitating, the racheting pawls may be worn out or broken. The fix is inexpensive and easy, even for a beginner.

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How to get your washer agitating again

Photo 1: Unscrew the hold-down

Slide a 1/2-in.-drive, 6-in.-long socket extension bar into the square hole in the hold-down and unscrew. Then remove the hold-down.

Photo 2: Remove the plastic plate

Poke a nail or small flat-blade screwdriver into the recess on each side of the ratchet assembly to unlock the retaining plate. Then pull it off to expose the washing machine agitator dogs.

Photo 3: Replace the washing machine agitator dogs

Drop four new dogs into the round slots. Then snap on the retaining plate.

Whirlpool washing machines use a ratcheting-style agitator. The ratcheting pawls (called “dogs”) can wear out with age, or break if you overload the machine. When that happens, the washing machine agitator dogs won’t rotate. The parts are cheap (less than $5 at appliance repair stores) and the repair is easy. Whirlpool used two ratchet designs, depending on whether the washer has a plain agitator or one equipped with a fabric softener dispenser. Replacing the agitator dogs in a plain agitator is more complicated and that’s the one we show here.

Remove the washing machine agitator cap by prying up around the outer edge with a small flat-blade screwdriver. Then unscrew the center hold-down (Photo 1). Reach in and remove the ratchet assembly. Turn it upside down and remove the snap-in retaining plate (Photo 2). Then install the new agitator dogs and retaining plate (Photo 3). Then reinstall the ratcheting assembly, tighten and pop on the lid.

If your washer has a fabric softener dispenser, remove it and unscrew the ratchet assembly retaining bolt. Then lift the agitator out and tip it upside down. The ratchet assembly will fall out—there’s no retaining plate. Replace the agitator dogs as shown here. Then load the ratchet assembly into the upside-down agitator, flip it over and tighten the bolt. Snap on the fabric softener dispenser.

For other repairs, follow these links:

Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Socket/ratchet set

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • Whirlpool racheting pawls