Sewing Machine: Needle won't move

A disengaged clutch, broken drive belt or internal drive gear failure can prevent the needle from moving.

Engage the hand wheel clutch if you have it disengaged for bobbin winding. If the needle won't move with the clutch engaged, unplug the sewing machine and check the drive belt. Replace the drive belt if it's broken.

If the drive belt is okay, an internal drive gear failure is likely preventing the needle from moving. You'll typically need to have a service technician examine the sewing machine and fix a drive gear failure.

sewing machine

These repairs may help solve your sewing machine problem

Replace the sewing machine drive belt

Replace the sewing machine drive belt

The drive belt transfers motor rotation to the hand wheel and upper shaft. If the belt breaks, the hand wheel won't move and the bobbin-winding spindle won't spin. Examine the drive belt and replace it if it's worn or broken.

April 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a sewing machine drive belt

If your sewing machine hand wheel or upper shaft won't turn, the drive belt might be broken. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace a sewing machine drive belt in just 15 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Symptoms common to all sewing machines

Choose a symptom to see related sewing machine repairs.

Main causes: machine needs lubrication, internal gear failure
Main causes: disengaged clutch, broken drive belt, internal drive gear failure
Main causes: problems with the feed dogs, setting stitch length to 0
Main causes: faulty foot pedal, locked drive gears, wiring failure, bad drive motor
Main causes: dirty shuttle race, wrong thread tension, bad needle timing, damaged needle, using the wrong type of needle
Main causes: power supply failure, bad power cord, faulty On/Off switch
Main causes: lack of lubrication, lint buildup, worn drive belt, faulty drive motor
Main causes: thread bunched up in the shuttle race, bad needle timing, internal drive gear failures
Main causes: dirty shuttle race, improper thread routing, incorrect thread tension
Repair guides common to all sewing machines

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your sewing machine.

April 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a sewing machine drive motor

If the drive motor on your sewing machine runs roughly or doesn't run at all, you can replace it in about 30 minutes using these simple steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
April 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a sewing machine on/off switch

If the sewing machine is completely dead, replace the On/Off switch using these 6 steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
April 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a sewing machine drive belt

You can replace a broken sewing machine drive belt in about 15 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Articles and videos common to all sewing machines

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your sewing machine.

January 18, 2016
How to use a multimeter to test electrical parts video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how to use a multimeter to check for wiring problems in an appliance that's not working

April 1, 2015
Sewing machine common questions
By Sears PartsDirect staff

These answers to common questions can help you make the most of your sewing machine.