Let Your Washer Spill the Beans & Save $100!

Shift Actuator: What it is and How to Change It.

By George Fitzgerald & 559 Appliance Repair

How to replace the shifter or shift actuator in Kenmore, Whirlpool, Maytag and Amana, LG, or Samsung atop-load washer

This step by step washing machine repair guide is going to explain how to replace the Shifter—also called the Shift Actuator in a top-load washer. The next few paragraphs explain what it is and how it works…

Skip the Boring Washer Stuff

If you don’t care about the boring details skip to the bottom section and we will get started with a picture and step by step instructions on how to test your washer, diagnose it and how to repair it. Brought to you “completely free of charge” thanks to 559 Appliance Repair in Fresno Ca, 559 Appliance Repair Visalia Ca, and 559 Appliance Repair Orange Cove Ca.

New Washer Not Spinning?

 The Shift Actuator on a washing machine in laymen’s terms could be known as the washing machine’s transmission. Whirlpool Corporation started using the shift actuator to replace the bigger well-known transmissions in 2009. 

Does my Washer have a Shift Actuator?

This repair procedure is for Kenmore, Whirlpool, Maytag and Amana top-load washers. You also can use the same easy repair to replace the shifter assembly on many Samsung and LG top-load washers as well.

New Washing Machines

 The washing machines that use a shift actuator are called Vertical Modular Washing Machines or VMW for short, I call it a Piece Of Sh*t to be honest!

That’s only “my” opinion you may love yours so ill teach you how to fix a washer that won’t spin or the washer may sit there and do nothing while blinking the lid lock light at you. I will leave more details on my opinion of a VMW washing machine down below if you’re interested.

 Ok, let’s Get Started!

The Manual makes you a Pro

 On the bottom of the washing machine is the gear case, the shift actuator is on the gear case. A washers shift actuator is red and very easy to spot. The only job of a washers Shift Actuator is to shift the washer between agitating and spinning mode. That’s it.

Washing Machine Service Manual

Use the service manual that is attached to every single washer. Sometimes the washer’s service manual is hidden inside the washer control panel or sometimes Whirlpool will glue it on the inside of the washers cabinet.

 The service manual will tell you everything you need to know about a VMW washer repair and the service manual will even tell you how to make the washing machine “tell you” what’s wrong with it! Simply run the Diagnostic Mode.

Let the Washer Spill the Beans

Power off the washer and with the dial facing up: spin 1 complete circle landing the dial pointing up then turn it: Left,…  Right,…  Right,…  Right,…  Left,…  Right… when all lights on the washer flash, turn the dial two more clicks to the right and press start!…  Bada-Bing Bada-Boom! You Just Saved $100 or more!

Defective Washer Actuator

 If the shifter malfunctions, the electronic control board shuts the washer off and displays an error code. If the shifter is faulty, replace the shifter assembly with the manufacturer-approved replacement part.

VMW Washer Repair Tools

Tools required:

Channel-lock pliers

Nut driver or socket wrench set

Phillips screwdriver

Work gloves


Washer Repair Statistics

Time Required:

45 min or less

Repair Difficulty:


Repair Cost:

$20 or Less

Quick Guide:

  • Remove the bolts holding the plastic cover over the motor.
  • Remove the plastic motor cover.
  • Remove the wire harness from the shifter.
  • Remove the shifter mounting screws.
  • Remove the shifter from the washer.

How to Replace A Washer Actuator

If your not able to move the washer have someone help you move the washer away from the wall and lay it forward. Tell your helper not to go very far this will be fast and you will need there help to lift it back up.

Washer Shift Actuator

Step by Step Instructions:

Turn off the water supply valves for the washer and unplug it.

Disconnect the hoses from the back of the washig machine
  • Remember by marking which hose goes to the hot and cold.

You may have to use channel lock pliers to carefully remove both water hoses. Expect some water to come out.

  • Pull the drain hose out of the pipe behind the washer. Expect some more water to pour out.

Lay the Washing Machine Forward

Lay the washing machine down on its front panel.

Lay some cardboard or a towel in front of the washer to prevent scratching.

After you will have complete access to the washer’s shift actuator, the washer’s motor, and the washer’s water pump.

It’s the red/orange item connected to the washers engine. (Not the roll of wire)

Remove the Protection Guard

Remove the bolts holding the plastic cover over the washer motor.

Simply remove the two bolts that hold the plastic guard cover on over the washer’s motor and drive components.

  • Pull the plastic cover off.
Remove the plastic motor cover that protects the washers drive sysstem.

Shift Actuator

Release the locking tabs on the wire harness connection by squeezing it, and pull the wire harness out of the washers shift actuator. Remove 2 more screws that attach the washing machine shift actuator to the washer.

Remove the wire harness from the shift actuator on the washer

Pull the shift actuator off

  •  The screws are green and are a Philips head type.
Remove the washers shift actuator  screws.

Note the position of the shift Actuator and the little plastic peg. The Shift actuator is held in place by another peg with a hole in it, which is connected to the washer.

Install New Washer Shift Actuator

Position the wire harness plug in the connector on the shifter and push it into place, making sure the locking tabs snap into place.

Remove the shift actuator mounting screws from the washer engine.

Push the new shifter into place.

  • Make sure the peg is properly inserted into the drive system linkage.

Reinstall the mounting screws and tighten them.

Turn the washer upright and move it to the fill hoses so you can reconnect them. Tighten the water hoses firmly using your hands if possible, if not use a pair of channel lock pliers.

  • Turn on the water supply valves.
  • Check the water connections for any leaks.
  •  Plug the washer into the electrical outlet.

My thoughts on New Washing Machines:

 Their life expectancy is only 3-5 years, they refer to these types of washers as “Disposable Washers”.

 I recommend not repairing this machine if it’s older than 3 years, but if your washer is like all of the other washers I see on a day to day basis, it is most likely 3 yrs old or little under.

 It’s rare to see a 4-5-year-old VMW style washer…

You might as well look for a unicorn if you’re going to look for a new VMW washing machine that’s 5 years old or older, no joke intended there either.

 Which Washers Works the Best and The Longest?

” washing machines don’t even last 5-10 years anymore”

Ever since the new digital upgrade to washing machines, the life expectancy has plummeted. Unfortunately, they don’t make the kind I prefer anymore which are the old style washers and dryers with the agitator in the middle which had a life expectancy of 20-30 years!

559 appliance repair – Appliance Repair Service

We Service:

Fresno Ca, Reedley Ca, Orange Cove Ca, Visalia Ca, Parlier Ca, Orosi Ca, Dinuba Ca, Cutler Ca, Sanger Ca, Clovis Ca, Sultana Ca, Squaw Valley Ca, Farmersville Ca, Miramonte Ca.

If you have any Questions, Comments or Concerns Contact Us!

559 Appliance Repair | 6965 Ave 308 Visalia Ca, 93291 | 559-736-1960

Let Your Washer Spill the Beans & Save $100!
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Washer not Spinning? Is your Lid Lock Light Blinking? Want to fix it yourself! and save a couple of $100's. If you don’t care about the boring details skip to the bottom section and we will get started with a pictured step by step instruction guide on how to test your washer to diagnose it, then learn how to repair it. Brought to you "completely free of charge" thanks to 559 Appliance Repair in Fresno Ca, 559 Appliance Repair Visalia Ca, and 559 Appliance Repair Orange Cove Ca.
George Fitzgerald
559 Appliance Repair
559 Appliance Repair

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