This expert guide shows you how to fix your clothes dryer when the cycles don’t advance properly, with troubleshooting tips and possible solutions.

A clothes dryer’s timer is designed to advance from one setting to the next when the heat in the tumbler has reached a certain level for a given period of time. If yours doesn’t, or if the dryer cycles properly when you advance the timer control by hand, it is likely that the timer is broken and needs replacement.

dryer control doesn't advance
Study how your dryer’s timer and controls are fastened to the dryer. ©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Some mechanical dryer timers have a small electric motor in them; this is the part that usually goes bad. The best solution is to replace the entire timer, which you can order online by model number. Be sure to disconnect the electrical power to the dryer and turn off the gas (if it is a gas dryer) before doing any work on it.


Study how the control panel is attached to the dryer; if possible, refer to your owner’s manual. The control panel may be screwed to the top of the dryer—you can usually remove it by simply unscrewing the attachment screws. To open it, you may have to remove a few control knobs. Don’t remove the defective timer until you have the new one. Then, remove the wires from the old timer and attach them to the new timer. Be sure to follow the directions on the new timer package in case the design of the new timer varies slightly from the old one.

If the timer does not seem to advance the dryer even when you cycle it by hand, it is more likely that something is preventing the dryer from heating properly. If the dryer is not heating as it should, the timer will not advance automatically. In this case, you need to look at the root causes of improper heating; see Dryer Does Not Heat Properly.

Then, if you need to get professional help, go to this site for FREE listings of qualified local prescreened clothes dryer pros.

Find a Clothes Dryer Repair Pro Near You



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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort