Symptoms of a Bad Stepper Motor: How to Easily Test

by parker
YouTube video


In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of a bad stepper motor and how to easily test it. Stepper motors are commonly used in various devices, including 3D printers. Over time, stepper motors can develop issues that affect their performance and functionality. By understanding the symptoms of a bad stepper motor and knowing how to test it, you can quickly diagnose and resolve any problems.

Key Points

  1. Introduction to Stepper Motors
  2. Identifying a Bad Stepper Motor
  3. Testing a Stepper Motor with a Multimeter
  4. Understanding Motor Configuration
  5. Interpreting the Results
  6. Disassembling the Stepper Motor (Optional)

Introduction to Stepper Motors

Stepper motors are widely used in many devices, including printers and 3D printers. They are known for their precision and ability to move in small, controlled increments. A stepper motor consists of coils, magnets, and a controller that determines the movement and direction of the motor. However, like any mechanical device, stepper motors can experience issues over time.

Identifying a Bad Stepper Motor

Before testing a stepper motor, it’s important to identify the symptoms of a bad motor. Some common signs include:

  1. Inconsistent or jerky movements: A bad stepper motor may produce erratic movements or fail to move smoothly as expected.
  2. Motor overheating: If the stepper motor becomes excessively hot during operation, it may indicate a problem.
  3. Motor not responding: A non-responsive stepper motor that does not move or respond to commands is a clear sign of a fault.
  4. Strange noises: Unusual noises or grinding sounds coming from the motor can be a sign of internal damage.

Testing a Stepper Motor with a Multimeter

To test a stepper motor, you will need a multimeter set to continuity mode. Follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Disconnect the stepper motor from any power source and remove any cables.
  2. Locate the six pins on the side of the stepper motor.
  3. Examine the motor cable and identify the wire pairs. In most cases, the colors of the wires are not standardized, so you may need to refer to the manufacturer’s documentation.
  4. Take the negative lead of the multimeter and connect it to the first pin of the motor.
  5. Move the negative lead to the second pin and check for continuity. If there is no reading on the multimeter, proceed to the next pin.
  6. Repeat this process for the remaining pins on the stepper motor.
  7. Observe the readings on the multimeter. A lack of continuity on specific pins indicates a problem with the corresponding circuit.

Understanding Motor Configuration

Stepper motors have two motor circuits that control their movement. Typically, only four of the six pins on the motor are used. Swapping the wires of these circuits can reverse the direction of the motor. By testing the continuity between specific pins, you can determine if the motor circuits are functioning correctly.

Interpreting the Results

After testing the stepper motor with the multimeter, here’s how to interpret the results:

  • If there is continuity on all pins, it indicates that the motor circuits are intact and functioning properly.
  • If there is no continuity on a specific pin, it suggests that the corresponding circuit is faulty or burned out.
  • In some cases, reversing the wires of the center pins may resolve the issue.

Disassembling the Stepper Motor (Optional)

If you are curious to see the inside of a stepper motor or need to repair or replace it, you can disassemble it. However, disassembling a stepper motor is not recommended unless you have experience or know what you are doing. If you decide to proceed, follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect the motor from any power source and remove any cables.
  2. Use the appropriate tools to remove the screws holding the motor together.
  3. Gently remove the casing to expose the internal components.
  4. Take note of the wires and circuits inside the motor.
  5. If necessary, repair or replace any damaged components.
  6. Reassemble the stepper motor carefully, ensuring all parts are properly aligned and secured.

Please note that disassembling a stepper motor may void any warranties and should only be done by experienced individuals.


By understanding the symptoms of a bad stepper motor and knowing how to test it, you can quickly diagnose any issues and take appropriate action. Testing the motor with a multimeter allows you to identify faulty circuits and determine if reversing wires can resolve the problem. Additionally, it’s important to exercise caution when disassembling a stepper motor, as it can be complex and may require technical expertise. Overall, being knowledgeable about stepper motor maintenance and troubleshooting can save both time and money in the long run.

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