How to Replace Carbon Brushes On Any Motor.

Hold on. WAIT right there. Before you ignore this post on how to replace the carbon brushes consider this … most appliances have motors, most motors have carbon brushes and the most common thing to stop a motor from working is worn carbon brushes.  


If you know how to replace them you can fix almost anything motor and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in your lifetime. Total exaggeration in terms of money saved unless you happen to own a nuclear power plant, but I had to get your attention.

Changing carbon brushes sounds like something only a large man with a hairy belly would attend to, but trust me … no hair is required.  If you can replace a battery in your smoke detector, you can replace a carbon brush.

Just to suck you in a little more, here’s a list of things that usually have motors with carbon brushes.

What has a carbon brush?

  • Power Tools
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Washing Machines
  • Dryers
  • Blenders
  • Kitchen Aid
  • and MORE.

Not all motors have carbon brushes that you can replace, but most of them do.  And it really is as easy as replacing a battery.  Or close to it anyway. That’s another tiny bit of exaggeration but I can sense you need a little encouragement.  It’s way easier than getting rid of back fat.  I can guarantee that.

This … is a carbon brush.



I know.  You were expecting an actual brush.  Surprise! They don’t look like brushes.  The one on the left is a new carbon brush.   The one on the right is a worn carbon brush. It’s like a pencil eraser that’s been worn out.

A carbon brush is basically the “thing” that conducts the electricity to the motor.  It actually conducts it through the motor’s commutator, but since I don’t care about that, I figure you don’t.   Don’t worry about what a commutator is.  Nobody knows and nobody cares.

Carbon brushes are built to wear down.  If they didn’t wear down, and they were constantly rubbing hard against the (nobody cares) commutator it would damage the commutator.  Which is a bad thing to do even if you don’t care about the commutator.

So carbon brushes are made of a material that is softer than the commutator.  After years of wear, they end up being just tiny little nubs and need to be replaced because they no longer conduct electricity to the all important (but we don’t care about it) commutator.

If the motor stops running, or the thing stops turning, sucking, blending or mixing … it’s probably worn carbon brushes.

To replace them you need to do two things.  You need to find out WHAT carbon brushes your motor takes and then you need to buy them.

You can Google your appliance and see if you can find the carbon brushes for your particular motor there, or you can call an appliance repair shop with the make and model of your appliance and have them look it up for you.  Then if they carry them in stock you can either buy them from your local appliance repair shop or you can order them online.  I ordered mine online because my appliance repair shop didn’t have them in stock.

They arrived within 4 or 5 days.

So let’s do this.  Let’s replace carbon brushes!  Because it’s FUN and we’re FUN and everyone’s here so we might as well!  See?  Isn’t this the most exciting thing you’ve ever read about?  And you thought this was going to be boring.  Hah.  I showed you.

I’ll be showing you how I replaced the carbon brushes on my Bosch Front Load Washing machine.  This is the machine I owned for 20 years and only replaced recently.  The technique will be similar no matter what the appliance though.

Remove the motor.  Sounds scary but isn’t.  O.K., it was a little scary pulling the motor out of my washing machine but now that I’ve done it I realize it really isn’t scary at all and in fact I immediately felt superior to pretty much everyone else in the world the moment I did it.

Removing the motor from a hairdryer won’t be nearly as scary.

Always UNPLUG whatever you’re working on before you work on it.

I removed the back cover of my washing machine and located the motor with my eyeballs.

Any electrical that was attached to the motor got disconnected.

There was this little green wire …




And this big plug of wires.




The inside of a washing machine and motor is filthy.  Wear surgical gloves.



Once the electrical is disconnected you can remove the motor.  This particular motor was held in by 2 bolts.  One at the front of the motor and one at the back.

Loosen the bolts.  First the one at the front.






And then the one at the back.


removing-bosch-washer-motor-8 removing-bosch-washer-motor-9


Now the motor will pull out with a little wiggling and work. It doesn’t weigh much.  A few pounds, so don’t worry about that.





Drag it onto your work space and start looking for the 2 carbon brushes.   I’m pointing to where the 2 carbon brushes are.



You can recognize the carbon brushes by the clips.  This is what you’re looking for.




Simply pull the electrical connection apart either with your fingers or with needle nose pliers.




The actual carbon brush is held in place by a small brass clip which needs to be wiggled out of its spot.



Then just give a little pull to pull the old brush out.   Make sure you pay attention to what direction the carbon brush came out!  It has a beveled edge and the new one has to go in the same way the old one came out, otherwise the brushes will be rubbing on the (we don’t care) commutator the wrong way and won’t work.




As a reminder, this is the old brush beside a new brush.  You can see how worn down the old one is.  No wonder it didn’t work anymore.  I wouldn’t work if I was that worn out either.





Now it’s time to put the new carbon brush in.




Just feed it into the hole you took the one one out of, making sure to put it in the same way. You can see I drew a picture with a Sharpie on my  motor so I wouldn’t forget which direction to put it in.



I had trouble getting it all the way down so I just used a bamboo skewer to coax it down.




Squishing the springy coil down takes some patience and fiddling.  Just keep at it and it’ll all go down.  Then insert the clip into the slot.




Reattach the electrical clip.



And you’re done.  Now replace the other carbon brush the exact same way.




Drag your motor back to your appliance, in this case my washing machine, and put it back in place.

How to Replace Carbon Brushes On Any Motor.

How to Replace Carbon Brushes On Any Motor.

Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Estimated Cost: $10


  • Replacement carbon brushes


  • whatever you need to remove motor from casing.


  1. Remove motor from whatever appliance you are replaces the brushes on. Make sure it's unplugged!
  2. This might require that you undo wires running to the motor and whatever screws or bolts that might be holding it in place.
  3. Locate the carbon brushes on the motor and remove their electrical wires.
  4. Pull brushes from their housing in the motor. Pay attention to what direction they are in. Carbon brushes are angled on the end and the angle needs to be in the same direction when you replace them.
  5. Insert your NEW brushes and then do everything in reverse to put your motor back together.

I don’t know about you but I feel confident that I could fix pretty much any problem now.

Except back fat.


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How to Replace Carbon Brushes On Any Motor.


  1. Barry Rice says:

    If only getting the brushes removed were the easy part I’d be elated but I have brushes that I am told are no longer manufactured or in stock! So, I am going to throw away a nice table saw only because no one makes set of carbon brushes? There has to be a close copy someone makes but HOW do I get connected? Can’t s I measure the profile of the carbon brush and contact WHO, that may have something from another manufacturer? Arent there shops that specialize in all manner of brushes?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barry. If you can’t find it at a local parts supplier, Google the part and part number. There’s almost always someone online who has discontinued parts in stock. ~ karen!

  2. Allen Liddell says:

    As a fellow tinkerer, I have found that when faced with an array of different colored wire connections, etc. it helps to take a photo before you start. That’ll take care of the ol’ “did that blue wire go there; or was it the red one” delema.

  3. Lin N says:

    My Dremel stopped working. I have another other brand, heavier one. Was missing my Proper Dremel. Did some research and learned about brushes. Ordered them online. Replaced them and viola, Dremel works just fine now. Good points in your article, make sure carbon piece goes in same direction you took it out. Always great to see pictures. Love your ‘How To’s’. Thanks Karen

  4. Grumpfrey McGrumpalot says:

    Stop making me look bad.

  5. j says:

    you are empowering rock on

  6. Paula says:

    no, a commutator is part of the judicial system; they commute sentences.

  7. Pat says:

    I love this article! Way back, when we were young, my husband and I were on our way home from vacation when our ancient VW wagon started acting up. After searching Steve discovered the brushes were worn down to nubbins on the generator. Miles away from any town, Steve made his own brushes from the post out of a carbon zinc battery. We made it home! Thanks for the memory and for the interesting post.

  8. margaret says:

    It would be really helpful for dunces like me to have it explained that the black blocky thing is the actual carbon ‘brush’; it took me most of the article to figure that out. After that it made a lot more sense, and I even realized what the spring was for…

  9. Flash says:

    Just happen to be waiting for brushes for a Dewalt sawzall I pulled out of a trash can.

  10. Deb says:

    I replaced mine today on a Bosch Axxis washer. It works again and spins but it’s noisy. Any ideas on the noise? Is it bc of the new carbon brushes needing to wear down a little?

  11. Beth says:

    You’re a life saver!!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Defiant says:

    Great attitude, I’ve changed several brushes, only to find out it’s some other issue. Like brass metal pieces no longer touching each other. Or a connection loose or severed. Even the commutator not being put in place the right way. Not to mention the button or the cord itself. How about a cold solder connection on your stove tops electronic keypad that will make your oven not operate, leaving you with just the burners to work. Or a blocked orifice with dust on your furnace burner leaving you & the technician you called for the 3rd time looking at each other with the dumb look like your the one making the big bucks to solve this problem, only to have them say i don’t know answer trying to sell you a new unit with the only answer they seem to give is this is a old & out of date unit & you need to update. And than a family members looks it over grabs a pipe cleaners sticks it where the holes are where the flames burn in your furnace & walla, the furnace cycles, the red hot thing gets red the gas kicks on & the heater is heating, the oven is working, your equipment is in use. And all the greedy people could think about selling you a new unit for the price of a repair of a solder, a pipe cleaner a little thinking outside of the box these corporations & government, fda & all these squares want to confine you to. Take a stretch & try things outside your comfort zone, step over that line & do what they tell you don’t do to a certain extent. If you want something done you gotta do it yourself. Getter done!

  13. Melissa Constantini says:

    I cannot, find the pair of brushes I need for my boat lift motor. Found it on 1 website. They want $40!!!
    110v AC. The motor says
    model #”LM110″ .
    I believe it means “lake mate”, or “Lift Mate” Most of these direct drive friction wheel motors are the same. Shoreline Industries seems to monopolize them. But I cannot figure out the length, dimensions model # etc… it’s crazy to pay over $40 for 2 carbon brushes. I believe the company is in mn or Iowa. I think it’s ridiculous. I have some more specific things written on the motor too. Any suggestions or comments would be fantastic!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Melissa. If you can only find them on one website, chances are that’s the only place you’re going to find them. You have to just compare the price of the brushes to the price of a new motor and decide if it’s worth it (it usually is). The only other thing you can do is take a photo of the motor and start scouring the Internet for the entire motor. :/ ~ karen!

  14. Karen says:

    Yeah… I thought about that, but as the symptoms were of last time… it was cheaper than buying a new machine – which most like;y is set up to die after 2 years… only time I will resign on this machine, is if it needs a new motherboard… that will cost more than a new machine….. yeeks!

  15. Karen says:

    I have a Bosch, it’s 13.5yrs old now and still going strong. I replaced the brushes 7yrs ago, it took me an hour as I couldn’t get the motor out as it was underneath… so I did it successfully with it still in place, bit fiddly, but I did it! Cost me £15 for the brushes.
    Last night, I had to replace them again. Took me 20 minutes this time, with the motor still in place. Cost me £8.99 for the brushes this time.
    The worst part of it, is trying to get that spring to stay down long enough to put the brass clip back in place…
    I was so pleased with myself (but who cares) 😂 and I don’t have a big hairy belly, thank goodness.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen! Nice work. :) I’ve actually decided the next time something goes wrong with my set I’m going to let them die a dignified death and after 17 or 18 years I’ll finally buy a new washer and dryer. It’ll kill me, but I’ll do it, lol. ~ karen!

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