Thread Number: 84578  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Maytag a408 Spin Cycle Issue
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Post# 1089898   9/19/2020 at 14:09 (924 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        

Hi All,

I have frequented this site for many years but just now got around to setting up a profile. The information I have learned from you folks has been so helpful in diagnosing problems.

My trusty Maytag a408 is starting to give me problems on the spin cycle. Here is the series of events:
1. Fills with water and agitates normally.
2. Tub begins to spin to drain water. Motor is very sluggish and quickly clicks off, presumably to protect itself from overheating.
3. When spin cycle commences, the timer makes popping sounds that sound like there is an arcing situation going on in there.

A few things I have tried: New motor (1/2 HP, that's all I could find). That has not helped-it just hums when the spin cycle starts, doesn't even want to turn. I took the timer apart with the help of my mechanically-inclined father and cleaned all the points of contact. I bypassed the lid switch, too, and that did not help. I am also able to grab the pully underneath and spin the tub easily, so I don't think there is a seized bearing or sock stuck between the inner and outer tub. The pump is fairly new and turns easily. Belts are also new.

I managed to find a NOS timer on eBay and ordered that, because I am pretty well convinced it is a timer issue. It should arrive next week. In the meantime, are there any other things that could be the issue? Could there be something with the cycle selection buttons? Is there a capacitor for the motor hidden somewhere?

Thank you in advance for the input. This machine has never been able to stump me like this before, and I love it waaaaay too much to throw it in the dump.

Post# 1089907 , Reply# 1   9/19/2020 at 16:10 (924 days old) by electronicontrl (Grand Rapids, MI)        
quickly clicks off, presumably to protect itself

electronicontrl's profile picture
Hello MountainMan,

When you stated "quickly clicks off, presumably to protect itself from overheating" my initial thought was the motor carriage is not gliding correctly and it looses the "self-clutch" ability. But with the new motor just humming, I'm not certain. But I'll ask if you've replaced the motor carriage assembly during the time you've had the machine?
I've had a similiar problem with one of my Maytags (though I did not have the timer popping)and a new carriage fixed the issue.

Post# 1089908 , Reply# 2   9/19/2020 at 17:29 (924 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Conn)        

robbinsandmyers's profile picture
Have you tried running it tub empty to see if it spins up OK? Or with the belts off to see if the motor still shuts down?

Post# 1089909 , Reply# 3   9/19/2020 at 17:33 (924 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        

Hi Electronicontrl,

Thank you for your reply. I have not replaced the motor carriage, but I did clean it up and grease up the little slider wheels when I replaced the motor. Springs are original, I assume, but seem ok. It all seems to slide as it should.

One thing I should have mentioned in my original post is that, when I have the belts off and send juice to the original 1/3 HP motor, it spins fine. The 1/2 HP, on the other hand, will only spin every once in a while. Other than that, just humming. I am thinking this may be due to the motor not receiving enough amps. Perhaps due to poor connection in the timer or elsewhere?

Post# 1089914 , Reply# 4   9/19/2020 at 18:00 (924 days old) by Repairguy (Danbury, Texas)        

repairguy's profile picture
Did you use Maytag belts for replacement? They are designed to slip while bringing the machine to speed. If itís not slipping because of it being an auto belt or a knock off belt it could be causing the motor to overload.

Post# 1089915 , Reply# 5   9/19/2020 at 18:09 (924 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        

Yes, they are Maytag replacements. Although, to be honest, they really don't seem to have the fabric on them like the oldies. I had this thought too, that maybe there wasn't enough slippage.

When I took the belts off, however, the replacement 1/2 HP motor still won't spin regularly. It spins sometimes, but most of the time it just sits there humming.

Post# 1089917 , Reply# 6   9/19/2020 at 18:16 (924 days old) by Repairguy (Danbury, Texas)        

repairguy's profile picture
Ok it was worth a shot for simplicity. Not plugged in to extension cord, right?

Post# 1089919 , Reply# 7   9/19/2020 at 18:23 (924 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Conn)        

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When you try the 1/3Hp motor does it start up to speed right away or slowly? Does the centrifugal switch kick out instantly? With the old motor have you tried turning the machine on while sliding the motor all the way forward to slacken the belts then slowly let it slide back and see what happens? If the belts squeak something is binding and causing this issue.

Post# 1089922 , Reply# 8   9/19/2020 at 18:44 (924 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        

Sorry all-I'd reply faster but the website will only let me make a post every 30 minutes. Must think I'm a robot lol.

Not plugged into an extension cord. I've got it plugged right into the wall.

When the 1/3 HP has no belts hooked up to it, it powers up to speed right away. With the belts hooked up, it groans and starts to spin up to speed but then cuts out after about 6 seconds. During this time there is a popping sound coming from the timer that sounds a bit like bacon frying-not just the normal clicking of cycle advancement.

I am unable to push the motor forward any further because the little sliders are running into the bumper at the end of the motor carriage. I can upload a pic if that would help show what I'm talking about.

There is no belt squealing. I should note that I have turned the pulley by hand and the tub starts to spin pretty easily, so I think it is fair to rule out a bad brake or something stuck between the inner and outer tub.

Post# 1089941 , Reply# 9   9/19/2020 at 21:18 (924 days old) by qsd-dan (West)        

qsd-dan's profile picture
Sounds like it's probably a timer issue if it's sizzling, but I'll throw a couple of more ideas your way.

Check voltage at the plug. What'ya get?

Terminals on the plug in good condition, no indications of arcing?

Are the belts genuine Maytag/Whirlpool?

Post# 1089985 , Reply# 10   9/20/2020 at 07:48 (923 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        
JMO as they say:

arbilab's profile picture

MM, I believe your suspicion of the timer is well placed.  They are not supposed to sound like bacon frying.


Motors are weird.  When they are stalled they draw roughly twice the current they are rated to operate at.  Hots 'em up in a hurry, at which point (6 seconds you say?) the thermal cutout clicks.


Even if they are mechanically free to turn, two other conditions must be met for the motor to start.  Both windings must have power, one via the start capacitor.  To make the motor run 'backwards' as it does in spin, the polarity of one (either) winding must be reversed. 


The differential between the windings is what makes the motor start.  Otherwise, it just sits there hotting up until it cuts out.  Even if it is free to turn.  Some motors may start anyway, some may not or only sometimes, and probably not under (normal) load.  "Normal" is where the motor carriage comes in.  If it's stuck the load is no longer "normal".  But you've checked that.


In the timer, to reverse one winding requires two sets of contacts, one on each end of the winding.  Typically the timer does this with two double-throw contacts.  To reverse, the two contacts swap out positions with respect to powerline.  One goes up, the other goes down.  This happens during the delay between wash and spin.  That's why the delay is there.  Because once the motor starts, the start winding is disconnected.  Then if you were to reverse the run winding instantaneously, nothing would happen.


Anywhich, one of those double-throw reversing contacts is not working properly in the spin direction.  If you've already had the thing apart, go at it again.  Now that you know what you're looking for, it may be possible to remedy by repositioning the contacts or resurfacing them further.  If the fault is the cam rather than the contact, it may even be possible to build up a worn part with epoxy (somewhat tricky).  Otherwise, dig up a new timer.

Post# 1090009 , Reply# 11   9/20/2020 at 11:26 (923 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Conn)        

robbinsandmyers's profile picture
I would say reinstall the original motor and wait for the timer to arrive then try that one and see if its fixed. If so then try the 1/2Hp motor. If that motor still hums it may not be compatible to that machine. Only start it for a brief second and if it hums shut it right off to prevent damage to the timer contacts. Then maybe look for an OEM set of belts online

Post# 1090058 , Reply# 12   9/20/2020 at 18:23 (923 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        
Thank you all for the input!

The voltage at the plug is 120, and the plug-in outlet itself is fairly new, so the plug fits snug in there. The cord is original with the machine, but I see no signs of arcing on the terminals.

That is very interesting to know how exactly the spin cycle is actuated. I wondered what those double contacts were all about. Based on the your description, I'm guessing one set of windings isn't getting the juice it needs. I will install the new timer but keep this old one and mess around with it a bit and see if I can get it to work. Is there a place that I can get new contact points from?

The machine has FSP/Maytag belts on there. While I don't think they have as much fabric as the originals did, they are allegedly up to Maytag specs. Has anyone found a good source for belts that have a decent amount of fabric on them?

Post# 1090063 , Reply# 13   9/20/2020 at 19:06 (923 days old) by robbinsandmyers (Conn)        
To the best of my knowledge....

robbinsandmyers's profile picture

FSP are factory OEM Whirlpool parts for their machines plus the other lines they sell, Maytag, Kenmore, Amana etc. FSP stands for Factory Service Parts.

Post# 1090071 , Reply# 14   9/20/2020 at 20:16 (923 days old) by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

There could also still be some NIB Maycor-branded belt sets out in the wild.

Post# 1090208 , Reply# 15   9/21/2020 at 22:11 (922 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        
The Saga Continues...

Timer arrived today. Unfortunately, same issues as before, except sizzling sound seems to be gone now. I took off the fabric selector switch and am beginning to examine it. Smelled a bit burnt. Perhaps this is the issue. If not this, I have no idea what else it could possibly be.

Also tried a new power cord-that didn't work either.

Does anyone happen to have a wiring diagram for an a408 or know where I can find one? Mine is unreadable.

Post# 1090231 , Reply# 16   9/22/2020 at 05:35 (921 days old) by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

arbilab's profile picture

Yes, the fabric/speed switch also switches windings so it's in the path.  Might bear investigating.  But as I recall, there should be no difference in that path between forward and reverse.  Still, anything can happen, including memory fade (mine).

Post# 1090236 , Reply# 17   9/22/2020 at 07:37 (921 days old) by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Spin Troubles On A MT DC Washer

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The problem is the belt does not want to slip properly at the start of spin.


This is sometimes a problem on MT DC washers, first thing to do is be sure you have a proper clean belt, be sure there is no oil on the pulleys, if so clean completely with solvents, if the belt has any oil on it spray it with something like aerosol Spray & Wash and then wash in hot water& detergent [ or throw in a FL washer with a load of rags ]


The motor carriage needs to move easily and with the belts in place should still be able to move almost an inch toward the center of the washer with the belts installed.


The pump belt on MT DC washers should be very loose, However in cases like yours try tighting the pump belt just to the point of making the main drive belt slip a little more.


Finally be sure your voltage is staying above 110 volts at the instant of spin start, you can easily add a start capacitor which we always carried on out Maytag service trucks.


Maytag using the belt as the clutch was a simple and reliable [ when it works ] and it usually did, but no other washer design ever used such a 1/2 assed system, by not using a idler tension pulley or an off-set motor tension design this system allowed belt slippage during wash or not enough slippage at spin start etc.


Ironically Mts first DC washers had a proper belt tension system 1956-1959 and they finally improved the design again around 2000 after leaving service techs to struggle with a far less than perfect design for about 40 years.


John L.

Post# 1090277 , Reply# 18   9/22/2020 at 13:43 (921 days old) by MountainMan (Colorado)        
It is not often that I have multiple things go wrong...

on a project at one time.

First off, I owe an apology for saying the belts were Maytag replacements. I was wrong! They were knock-offs. The drive belt was too short and was pulling the motor way further forward than it should have been.

I had a lightbulb moment and decided to run some tests on the machine at my parent's house (they have an A882). I took the new 1/2 HP motor with me and hooked it up to their machine. Lo and behold, the new motor is a lemon! Then I snagged the belts off of their machine, took them home with me, and put them on my washer. I pulled out the knob and the a408 began to spin like nothing was ever wrong.

Boy, am I relieved that the problem was that simple. As much as I could be upset at how long it took me to figure out this super simple issue, I'm not, because it made me aware of a few things:
-I really do think the timer and fabric selector switch were starting to go bad. There was evidence of arcing inside both of them.
-I now have an extra timer. I can't believe how hard it is to find parts for this machine. I think I may need to order an extra of everything!
-And most importantly of all, a Maytag washer is ALWAYS worth fixing! So glad it didn't need to do to the dump.


Thank you all again for your assistance. It has been so helpful and I have learned a lot! I've been so impressed with the helpful, in-depth replies that I decided to become an 'upgraded' member. I'm sure I'll have more questions in the future, and I need this site to be around. Who knows, maybe even I can offer some knowledge, as long as it isn't belt-related...


Once I get the machine back together, I'll make an ófficial 'hello' thread and post some pics of the machines.

Post# 1090291 , Reply# 19   9/22/2020 at 15:01 (921 days old) by Good-Shepherd (New Jersey)        
belts were Maytag replacements.

You need to be careful ordering parts these days and not just for appliances.

When a description says "for Maytag # " or "replaces Maytag # " those are code words for aftermarket parts. This gets the seller off the hook for misrepresenting the product while at the same time sort of implying its an OEM part.

Even the new genuine OEM Maytag belts are not quite the same as original equipment.

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