Sewing Machine Motor Problems | 9 Common Issues

If you have a sewing machine, you know that one of the most frustrating things that can happen is that your motor stops working correctly.

This can significantly affect your current project and can even cause some sloppy stitches, and no one wants that!

If you are not a sewing machine motor expert, which not a lot of us are, you might not know what to do when your machine starts acting up.

Despite what type of machine you are using, there are some common problems that can be affecting your motor that you might not know about:

The Motor on My Sewing Machine Will Not Run:

If your sewing machine does not run, there could be a handful of potential problems that are affecting it, and a few things you can do yourself to figure out what exactly could be going on:

1. Faulty Foot Pedal:

One thing that can happen to your sewing machine to stop it from running is a faulty foot pedal.

Having a foot pedal is essential to the operation of your sewing machine. Without using your foot pedal, you would not be able to both run the sewing machine and guide the fabric. This would make sewing a lot more complicated and a lot less efficient.

If you push down on your foot pedal, and your motor is not running, it is possible your issue might be your foot pedal.

Before you jump to conclusions, make sure your pedal and machine are both plugged in correctly. You will also want to make sure that you are not experiencing any other types of motor issues.

Besides your pedal not functioning correctly, you might need to replace your foot pedal if your cord is damaged or frayed. This can be dangerous, and it can lead to your pedal not working in the future.

To replace your foot pedal, you will want to make sure you find one compatible with your machine. Foot pedals are not universal, even if they claim to be. It is best to go to the manufacturer of your pedal and make sure you get one that is guaranteed to work.

If you need more information about potential foot pedal issues, check out the following article:

Troubleshooting Sewing Machine Pedals (13 Issues Solved)

2. Locked Drive Gears:

Locked drive gears can also be an issue affecting your sewing machine motor.

One of the most common causes of a locked drive gear can be thread bunching up and getting caught.

Thread most commonly bunches up in the shuttle race. To know if this is what you are experiencing, you will notice that your needle will not rise back up out of the shuttle race.

The first thing that you want to do is to rock the handwheel back and forth. If you are able to raise the needle this way, you should be able to detangle the thread.

You can also always try to remove the needle from its clamp, and you can detangle the thread that way.

Thoroughly cleaning the shuttle race after you detangle the thread can prevent issues of thread bunching up when you resume your project.

3. Wiring or Power Failure:

It makes sense that your sewing machine will not work if you cannot get the proper amount of power to the machine.

A broken outlet cord or a power supply failure can prevent your machine from working or even turning on at all.

To check the power of your sewing machine, you should unplug the sewing machine and check all the connections. Make sure no wires are frayed or otherwise damaged.

Make sure your outlet is also in proper working condition.

4. Bad Motor:

The most devastating issue to your machine would be a bad motor.

If there is a motor issue with your sewing machine, you will need to get it replaced. To tell if you have a motor issue, you can look for a few different things.

If you can move the handwheel and have already cleaned and lubricated the sewing machine, and your motor still won’t work, this could be a motor issue. If you try to use the motor, and it buzzes but again doesn’t run, this could be a motor issue.

Another clue will be if the sewing machine motor doesn’t make any noise at all when you activate it. You might have an internal wiring failure that is preventing your motor from running correctly.

The Motor on my Sewing Machine Runs at Weird Speeds:

Speed can be an essential factor when you are working with your sewing machine.

A simple, quick project might be good at high speeds, but there are other times when you will want your machine to run slower.

So what do you do if your machine is running at speeds that you are uncomfortable with and you can’t change it?

5. My Sewing Machine Motor Runs Too FAST:

Sewing machines do not have much in the way of speed settings, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a certain amount of control.

However, if your machine only goes fast, you might have an issue.

Speed is mostly controlled with how far down you press your foot pedal. This is not an exact science but does allow some control. If you are not able to control the speed with your foot pedal, it could mean you have an issue with your pedal.

One issue could be that there is something jamming the foot pedal. Because your foot pedal rests on the ground, it can collect all kinds of dust and other debris. The first thing to do is to make sure your pedal is completely clean and doesn’t stick at all.

You also want to make sure your foot pedal is working correctly. This is not easy to do unless you have a spare foot pedal. If you think your foot pedal is acting up, you could always take your pedal and machine into a repair shop.

They would also be able to tell you if your motor is the reason your machine is acting up.

6. My Sewing Machine Motor Runs too SLOW:

If your machine is running too slow, there are a few potential issues that you could be running into.

If you want to know whether or not your slowness is coming from your machine’s motor or the other components, a simple way to find out is by checking to see if you can wind the bobbin at a reasonable speed.

If you can wind the bobbin properly, then it is likely not a problem with your cord or foot pedal, and you can check for other issues.

Some Potential Issues You Could be Having Are:

  • The thread is jammed
  • The machine needs to be oiled or lubricated
  • The machine needs to be cleaned

If you want more information on why your machine could be running slower than normal, check out the article below:

Why Does My Sewing Machine Run Slow? (6 Quick Solutions)

7. My Sewing Machine Motor Does Not Run at a Stable Pace:

If your machine is going at different speeds and it is not something that you are doing intentionally, you have an issue.

There is not a way to quickly check for this is you are not able to look into the motor or foot pedal yourself.

If this is an issue that you are dealing with, and you cannot find an issue that is already listed, you will need to take your sewing machine to get looked at. A professional would be better able to diagnose and fix this issue for you.

Why Does my Sewing Machine Motor Sound Weird?

There are a few ways that your machine can sound weird when you are trying to sew:

8. Buzzing Sound:

If you are getting a buzzing sound when you are trying to sew, but your machine is not working, then it is likely your motor is jammed.

Or, as previously said, you could have a bad motor and will have to take it in to get looked at.

9. Clunking Sound:

If your machine is making a clunking noise, then you might have an issue with how you threaded your machine. This sound often comes from your thread not being in the take-up lever.

The first thing to do to check this is to rethread your machine. This issue occurs after rethreading your machine.

A big clue as to whether or not it could be this simple is if it was previously working without issue until you rethreaded.

BONUS! Check on Grinding or Banging Noises:

Another issue you could experience with your machine is a grinding or banging noise coming from your machine.

If you ever experience this sound, you might need to clean or oil your machine.

Even if your machine was just working, that doesn’t mean that everything is ok.

Anytime you use your machine if it is dirty or needs oiling can be when you start to get strange noises.

If you clean and lubricate your machine, and it still makes noise, you might want to get it looked at to better diagnose the issue.

What Can I Do to Make My Sewing Machine Motor Run Better?

The best way to make sure your sewing machine is working is to keep it clean and take proper care of it.

There are a few things that you can do to make sure your machine is taken care of to prevent any potential issues.

Some Tips to Maintain Your Machine Include:

Use A Dust Cover:

This can help to keep your machine clean and prevent dust and lint build-up.

You could use either a soft dust cover or some machines even come with a hard case.

Change Your Needle on a Regular Basis:

Over time your needle can become dull with can cause things like looped thread, pulls in the fabric, stitches being skipped, and even damage to the machine.

Remove Dust and Lint from Your Machine and Your Foot Pedal:

One great way to get out of all the potential dust and lint would be to use compressed air.

Oil Your Machine:

Like most motors, your sewing machine needs to be adequately lubricated to prevent tear and to rub with the components.

Keep Your Cords Safe:

Too much stress on your cords can cause them to wear down, fray, or become damaged.

If you wind them up and avoid extended tight pulling, your cords will last longer.

Get it Serviced Annually:

If you are an avid sewer, you will want to make sure your machine runs at the top of its game.

Professionals are able to clean where you can’t reach without taking the motor apart. They will also be able to adjust the tension and timing of your machine.

If you follow those tips, you can extend the life of your machine, and you will have fewer motor issues with your machine.

How Hard is it to Repair a Sewing Machine Motor?

Repairing simple fixes, like thread bunching, tension issues, lack of oil, and other simple problems are very easy to fix.

However, more complicated issues can be much more complicated and should not be handled by anyone who does not know what they are doing.

Can You Repair it Yourself?

Even if you think you could repair your sewing machine yourself, it is not recommended that you do anything beyond a simple fix.

If you are not confident in your knowledge of your sewing machine’s motor, or you have a more difficult problem, you will want to look into getting help from a professional.

Most sewing machine manufacturers have technicians who are specially trained to work on their machines. This means that you know the person fixing your machine is familiar with your specific model.

Every sewing machine manufacturer makes their machines slightly differently. If you work with a professional in your specific manufacturer, then you know that person will know what they are doing. They will also have any needed replacement parts.

You could also look into a local sewing machine expert. While they might not have specialized knowledge about your machine correctly, they will probably have worked on more than one brand and will have some ideas on how to help you.

Whether you go with a professional from the manufacturer or a professional who works on a variety of machines, it will be better than trying to fix your machine yourself.

If you try to take apart the motor yourself, you risk breaking something or not putting it back together correctly, which could lead to more expensive problems down the road.

How Long Does a Sewing Machine Motor Typically Last?

When you buy a sewing machine, whether you spend a few hundred dollars or over one thousand dollars, you want your machine to last.

So the question that is most on your mind is probably: how long will this sewing machine last?

This is a great question!

There is an extensive span of time that your sewing machine can last.

A sewing machine motor, if properly taken care of, can last over five years. However, if you have a computerized model, you might be able to get up to 25 years of use out of your machine.

These numbers are not set in stone. Anyone who has seen a vintage sewing machine running strong after over 40 years of being in use knows that sewing machines can run for a long time.

How often you use your sewing machine is also a good indicator of how long your machine will last. A machine used daily will get a lot more wear than a machine used occasionally. The machine used daily will wear out faster than the machine sometimes used, even with the proper care.

Taking care of your sewing machine is an excellent way to get more life out of it. With proper care, your machine will last longer, and you will be able to save money in the long run.

Another thing that matters when you are looking at longevity is whether or not you have a machine that is still in production or is able to be serviced.

If your model can be serviced and replacement parts are available when needed, you can get more years out of your machine.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a New Motor Installed?

The cost of having a new motor installed in your sewing machine can vary. This will depend on what type of machine you have, the age of your machine, and what all needs to be replaced.

This price can also vary depending on whether or not you feel comfortable replacing the motor yourself or if you are planning on paying someone to do it. Sewing machine motors can cost below $100 depending on your machine and manufacturer.

For a better estimate of the price, you will want to talk to your sewing machine technician or your manufacturer.

The best way to get an accurate cost would be to speak directly to whoever you are buying the motor from or the person who will help to fix your machine.

Otherwise, the cost varies so much it is hard to give an estimate without knowing the specifics of what you need.