Clothes washers rarely leak oil, but when they do the problem is often serious. Oil leaks occur most frequently with older GE and Hotpoint washers. Oil is used in a washing machine's transmission, which controls the gear shifts as the machine runs its various cycles, allowing the motor to run at different levels. If you believe that your washing machine is leaking oil, run a few simple tests to be sure.
Oil Leaking on the Floor
If oil is spilling in drops or puddles underneath the washing machine, then try removing the front cover of the washer and looking for the transmission system, which has a belt and clutch assembly that runs the machine. If this is wet with oil, you probably do have a leak. In this case, the only option is to replace the transmission. This can be much more difficult than it sounds. First, this problem is typical with older, discontinued washers, and there is a good chance you will not be able to find a transmission system to replace your leaking version. Second, if you do find one, replacing the transmission in a washing machine is very expensive, and repair people will suggest that you simply replace the washer with a new version.
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If you want to buy some time, you can try removing the belt and cleaning it with a degreaser, removing all the oil and then allowing it to fully dry before you use it again. If you have a real leak, this fix will last for only a short time, so be prepared to deal with the faulty transmission again. If you have no puddles on the floor and only a light amount of oil in the water when you wash, this could solve the problem for a longer period of time, but you can expect to develop more serious leaks later on.
Oil Spots on Clothes
If you have spots on your clothes that look like oil, you can run a simple test to make sure the substance is really oil. Sometimes laundry detergent and fabric softener can create chemical reactions that will leave your clothes spotted with dark stains. These stains will come off if you wash your clothes by hand using soapy water. If the stains do not come off, then it is possible that oil is leaking into your washer drum from the transmission. Again, your best option is probably to completely replace the washing machine, because replacing the transmission is very expensive and may be impossible.