How to Test Front Load Washer Shock Absorber

By Nick Evans •  Last Updated: 08/10/21 •  9 min read

So your washer suddenly decided to weirdly wobble during your wash cycle, and you don’t exactly know why. Testing the appliance may help you diagnose your problem. We can help you understand how to test a front load washer shock absorber so you can see if they have an issue. 

In this article, we will help you learn the following:

  • What are washer shock absorbers
  • Testing shock absorbers
  • When it’s time for repairs
  • Maintaining your front-load washer
how to test front load washer shock absorber

What Are Washer Shock Absorbers?

how to test front load washer shock absorber

Shock absorbers or dampers are the tubular parts of a washer that’s made of a combination of metal and plastic and are crucial for your appliance to work smoothly. They are designed to moderate the vibration and shaking of the tub during spin cycles. They work on the principle of automotive shock absorbers. Front-load washers usually have 2 – 4 shock absorbers, but they vary from brand to brand. They are usually located between the outer tub and the base frame of the machine. 

Dampers naturally wear out over time and become unable to perform their job efficiently. Since they usually cannot be repaired, they require replacement once they malfunction.

Testing Shock Absorbers

There are several ways you can test your shock absorbers. If you’re vigilant enough and have time to perform regular maintenance of your front load washer, you can carefully remove your machine’s dampers and check how firm and resistant to force they still are. 

The shock absorbers are meant to gently hold the drum in place, but they can become detached, start leaking lubricant, or break over time and with heavy use.

People more commonly discover possible problems with their dampers when they start to hear the banging of the washer’s tub against the frame while the clothes are being spun. If left unchecked, the unsupported tub movement can cause other parts of your washer to get damaged. A subtle increase in vibration on your machine during the spin cycle can also be an indication that your shock absorbers are starting to get worn out.

There are a number of issues commonly encountered with shock absorbers. Some immediately need replacement, while some only require a little twist or tweak. It’s important to distinguish what exactly is happening to your damper to properly fix it.

Checking for detached absorbers

When a washer spins during the wash cycle, the damper connection might get unhooked. This can be caused by your machine’s uneven feet. Once you open up your washer’s panel, you may see that one end of a shock absorber has come loose and became detached. Due to this, your machine might exhibit vibrations during cycles. 

This issue can usually be resolved by just reattaching your shock absorbers and levelling your machine’s feet.

Checking for leaks

Check up your shock absorber and see if it is covered in oil or leaking a puddle of oil. If this is the case, then your damper is no longer functional. A shock absorber heavily relies on a lubricant fluid to absorb each spin cycle’s vibrations. If there is a leak, the shock absorber can no longer transfer force into the fluid. This means that the part is up for replacement.

Checking for broken shock absorbers

Shock absorbers can break for different reasons. Older machines are more prone to this. It can also be caused by the washer’s uneven feet or other impacts. Check for visible broken parts or missing pieces in your absorber. If you find one, it’s certain that you have to replace the absorbers.

When it’s Time for Repairs

You either discover that your shock absorbers are faulty surprisingly or during a regular check-up. A faulty damper usually causes your washer to shake and move excessively or make loud, banging noises during cycles. As mentioned above, shock absorbers can either be reattached or entirely replaced depending on the diagnosis. When replacing absorbers, it is recommended to replace both at the same time, as they wear at the same rate. 

You should keep in mind, however, that the strange noises your washer is making might be caused by other parts malfunctioning. For example, a noise that is more noticeable during or after the spin cycle might actually be caused by a problem with the drain pump. It can also be caused by your machine’s feet levelling and how heavy or balanced you load it.

Once you’re certain that your problems are caused by your shock absorber, you need to evaluate if you want to fix it on your own or seek the help of a professional. If you’re in need to professional help, the form below will provide access to local appliance repair.

If you are in need to professional help, the form below will provide access to local appliance repair.

You can find trusted contractors that will provide free quotes with no obligation.

If you’re comfortable opening up your washer, you have to cautiously follow the instructions for your washer’s model. Generally, you can access your washer shock absorber by removing the lower access panel after disconnecting the power from your appliance.

Replacing the Shock Absorbers

Encountering shock absorber problems require immediate repair and probable parts replacement. Replacing this part involves removing the housing and accessing the inner part of your washer. This consists of having to remove the front or back panel.

Washer Shock Absorber Replacement

Compatible with:

  • Whirlpool
  • Maytag
  • Kenmore/Sears
  • Kitchen Aid

Additionally, you can look for possible causes of problems other than the dampers once you’ve removed the front panel.

Your washer’s manual indicates all the details on how to access the inner parts of your appliance. You can also call repair services for in-home consultations or repairs.

Recommended >> How To Tell If Washer Suspension Rods Are Bad

Maintaining Your Front-Load Washer

A faulty shock absorber can lead to more serious problems. In order to prevent your damper from wearing out earlier than expected, we recommend taking good care of your front-load washer. Here are a number of things you can easily start doing in order to make your washer last longer.

Balance the Load

The most basic way of maintaining your washing machine is to make sure that each load is balanced. Even if load balance is more important for top-loading washers, front-loading washers also require a balanced load to function smoothly.

An unbalanced load might cause the drum to wobble when spinning. Make sure to wash several items of similar weight during each load. This ensures that the load in your washer is even. Don’t wash a single heavy-fabric item that will rise and fall unevenly inside the drum. It also goes without saying that overfilling your washer is not recommended. 

Remove Shipping Bolts

When you first purchase your washer, shipping bolts are installed during delivery. These are a type of plastic bolt put in to prevent the drum from wobbling for safe shipping. They are supposed to be removed after installation and before using the washer for the first time. 

There are two ways to tell if the shipping bolts are still there. The first one is reaching inside your washer and pressing on the inside of the drum. If the drum does not wobble, the bolts are likely to be still holding it in place. This might cause the whole washer to shake instead of the drum alone. The second method is flipping your washer on its back or side. If you see brightly colored or clunky plastic bolts in the bottom. You should pry them out by hand or use pliers or prying tools.

Levelling the Feet

One of the most important and common things you should check when placing your washer is if its feet are level. Your washer, like most appliances, relies on a level floor and level feet to function properly. If your washer is not level, it would not be stable when the drum starts to spin. This instability might cause your washer to shake or vibrate more than it should be.

You can easily identify if your washer is not level. First, you can grab your washer at the top and shove it. If the washer wobbles when you push it, your washer’s feet, or the floor isn’t level. A manual bubble level can also detect if the surface is flat. You can place the bubble level at the front of the washer top, then on top of the control panel. If either reading is non-level, then you’ll need to adjust the feet. 

Adjusting your appliance’s feet accordingly will make the machine level. Most washing machines have adjustable front feet and self-adjusting back feet. 

Pad the Sides

Washers sometimes wiggle a little when the drum spins, especially during high-speed wash cycles. This is perfectly normal. However, if the noise or shaking bothers you or affects nearby objects, you can apply pads to the sides of your washing machine to reduce the sound and effect of washer vibrations.

You can also purchase special anti-vibration pads designed for washing machines. Put these pads on the machine’s feet to prevent it from moving during wash cycles. These pads are great to reduce the vibrations your machine makes and would help the appliance last longer.

The Takeaway

Your front-load washer’s shock absorbers naturally wear out in time. It’s fairly easy to test them out and see if they still function well. Remember, not all washers are made the same. It’s essential that you follow your manual’s instructions and follow repairs that are specific to your washer’s model. You can always consult with an expert and let them check the appliance for you. However, maintaining your washer is still the best way to make sure your shock absorbers serve their purpose as long as the manufacturers intend them to. Not only does it help your shock absorbers, but it also prolongs your appliance’s life.

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