Microwave Turntable Not Turning Smoothly? Let’s Fix It!

A key part of any microwave is the turntable – that rotating plate on the bottom of the appliance that keeps the plates spinning.

As the turntable, well, turns, it ensures that the energy is distributed around your food, heating everything evenly.

In this article, I’m going to explain why it’s crucial for the turntable to rotate smoothly, what might be causing your issue, and the steps you can take to fix it.

Why A Smoothly Turning Turntable Matters

A smoothly turning turntable is essential for several reasons:

  • Even heating: The main purpose of the turntable is to distribute microwave energy evenly across the food. If it can’t rotate smoothly, some parts of your food may receive more energy than others, leading to uneven cooking or heating.
  • Preventing hot spots: When your turntable rotates unevenly, hot spots may develop in certain areas of the food. These hot spots can cause burns or overcooking in some areas, while leaving other areas undercooked. I’ve certainly experienced this, and it’s not pleasant!

Why Your Microwave Might Not Be Turning Smoothly

There are a few reasons why your microwave turntable might not be turning smoothly:

  • Misalignment: Over time, the turntable or its support mechanism can become misaligned, leading to a wobbly or uneven rotation. You’ll be able to hear this pretty clearly.
  • A dirty or damaged guide: The turntable sits on a guide, which can pick up dirt or debris over time, causing resistance and affecting the rotation. Guilty of not giving your microwave a regular clean? Join the club…
  • An obstructed or damaged ring: If your microwave is like mine, it rests on a small ring that helps it rotate. If this ring becomes obstructed or damaged, it will hinder the smooth movement.
  • A damaged drive motor: Every microwave I know of has a motor that drives the turntable. If this has become weak or damaged through wear and tear, it may well rotate in an odd fashion.

A scouring pad, yellow cleaning sponge and a cleaning cloth on a black background

How To Get Your Microwave Turning Smoothly

Before attempting any repairs of any appliance, make sure you unplug the microwave from the power source first.

Here are some steps you can take to try and fix your stuttering turntable. No guarantees, but 9 times out of 10 one of these solutions has solved the problem for me.

Fix #1 Clean the Turntable and Guide

Remove the turntable and the guide beneath it.

Wash both components with warm, soapy water, and give them a good look over to make sure there’s no debris left. Once cleaned, dry everything thoroughly before putting it all back together again.

Fix #2 Check for Obstructions

Take a good look at the area where the turntable sits. Can you see any obstructions – even small ones – like bits of food or other objects that might be getting in the way? Get rid of them!

Fix #3 Inspect the Turntable Ring

Next, move onto the turntable ring. Is it damaged at all when you look at it under a light?

If you can see any cracks or anything’s broken, try to source a replacement.

Fix #4 Align the Turntable

Make sure the turntable is sitting properly on its support mechanism. If you notice any misalignment, adjust it carefully so it’s seated properly.

Fix #5 Test the Drive Motor

This one’s not so much a fix, rather a final test before you look for a repair or a replacement I’m afraid.

Once you’ve tried everything above, is the turntable still not turning smoothly?

If so, the remaining problem might be the drive motor. Replacing or repairing these is beyond my abilities – and likely yours – and so your only option now is to talk to a professional.

Microwaves don’t last forever though, so it might simply be time for a replacement.

Toshiba’s catchily-named ML-EM45PIT(SS) is one of the most popular family microwaves currently available. Alternatively you can browse through all the options over on Amazon.

TOSHIBA ML-EM45PIT(SS) Countertop Microwave...
  • 【Sleek Design with Large Capacity】Stylish Stainless Steel (color of door frame is stainless steel, enclosure is black) with...
  • 【Origin Inverter Technology】Inverter technology provides even heating and defrosting, enables faster cooking and more...
  • 【6 Smart Sensor Auto Menus】Pre-programmed sensor menus for optimum heating of popular foods like pizza, potato, vegetables and...
  • 【Quick Start Button】One touch quick access to start the microwave from 1 to 3 minutes cooking at full power (Control panel No...
  • 【Sound On/Off Function】If you wish to mute the buzzer of the microwave, pleas long press on the button "8" for 3-5 seconds....

(Heads up! If you click on a product link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. I never recommend a product I wouldn’t use in my own kitchen, and this helps keep the site running. Thank you.)

Tips To Avoid Problems In The Future

To keep your microwave turntable turning smoothly, here are some preventative measures I take – and I think you should too!

  • Regular cleaning: Get in the habit of cleaning the turntable regularly. This will help prevent dirt building up, and keep that turntable turning freely.
  • Proper use: Avoid placing heavy or oversized dishes on the turntable, as this can strain the motor and cause misalignment.
  • Gentle handling: Be gentle when removing or reinserting the turntable to prevent any accidental damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some related questions that often come up on this subject. I’ve answered these as best I can for you.

Why is my microwave turntable making a clunking noise?

If your microwave turntable is making a clunking noise, this will be due to either misalignment, a damaged turntable ring, or a problem with the drive motor that’s powering everything.

What does a bad microwave turntable motor sound like?

If your microwave turntable motor has gone band it will likely make either a buzzing, a grinding, or a humming noise.

How much does it cost to replace a microwave turntable motor?

It’s not good news I’m afraid, and definitely not compared to the price of getting a new appliance.

It all depends on the exact make and model of your microwave, but it can cost anywhere between $30 and $100 to replace the motor.

That doesn’t include the installation costs either. This depends on how much your qualified technician charges to install the replacement.

Can I use a microwave if the turntable is broken?

Technically you can still use your microwave if the turntable is broken. With that said, you can expect a lot of uneven heating.

If you have no choice but to do this, make sure you stop the microwave regularly and stir the contents thoroughly.

Wrapping Up

To wrap things up, a smoothly turning turntable is essential if your microwave’s to cook food evenly and prevent hot spots in the food.

Do try those fixes, and I really hope they solve your problem. If they do, make sure you continue giving your microwave some proper TLC and regular maintenance!