Sewing Machine: Runs sluggish

Lack of lubrication, lint buildup, a worn drive belt or a faulty drive motor can cause the sewing machine to run sluggish.

Clean and lubricate the sewing machine regularly (at least yearly) to prevent drive gears from sticking and causing sluggish needle or feed dog movement.

Check the drive belt for wear because a worn drive belt can slip-causing sluggish drive system movement.

If the drive motor makes noise when running, then a worn bearing may be preventing the motor from driving the belt smoothly. Replace the motor if it's noisy and not running smoothly.

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
Replace the sewing machine motor

Replace the sewing machine motor

The motor drives the belt, which spins the hand wheel and upper shaft. Replace the motor if it won't run when activated by the foot pedal.

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

If your sewing machine runs roughly or won't run at all, the drive motor could be the problem. This step-by-step repair guide and video show how to replace a sewing machine drive motor in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Oil the sewing machine

Oil the sewing machine

Oil the machine at least once a year. If you use the sewing machine frequently, oil it every 3 months. The machine runs sluggish or knocks loudly if you don't oil it regularly. If the sewing machine is idle for an extended time, oil it before sewing. Follow the directions in your owner-s manual to oil the sewing machine. Wipe off any excess oil to avoid staining your fabric when sewing. Clean dust and debris from the machine while oiling.

Clean the sewing machine

Clean the sewing machine

Clean lint and debris from the shuttle race every 3 months because it often attracts lint and dust. Clean the feed dogs at the same time because they also attract lint and dust. Clean those areas more often when using the sewing machine regularly. Oil the sewing machine after cleaning.

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.