The agitator -- the finned part that fits on the tub shaft -- can also tear laundry if the fins are cracked or broken. You may be able to solve the problem temporarily by pinching off the splinters with pliers and lightly filing the plastic smooth, but this is just a stopgap measure; the agitator should be replaced. Replace a damaged agitator with a new one of the same type. To do this, unscrew the cap on top of the agitator. With the cap off, pull straight up on the agitator; it should lift off. If it doesn't move, rap its side with a hammer. If it still won't lift off, drive wedges under the bottom rim of the agitator to dislodge it. Then, set the new agitator into place and replace the agitator cap.
Damage to the snubber, a pad-like device sometimes located under the agitator cap, can cause the machine to vibrate excessively. The snubber may have a suspension spring in it. Lift off the agitator cap and examine the snubber. If the spring is broken, or if the pad is visibly worn, replace the entire snubber. Snubbers might also be found at the top of the tub, under the transmission, or as part of the water-pump housing. Look around until you see it.
If the machine doesn't have a snubber, listen for noise at the suspension unit between the tub and the machine cabinet. The suspension unit has fins or pads that may need replacement. In some cases, the entire unit may have to be replaced. Another noise point is the basket support nut, which holds the basin in place. You can imagine what kind of punishment that sucker takes. Tighten the nut or, if you can't tighten it, replace it.
Sudden tub stops can be caused by a broken motor belt, but they are usually due to poor tub loading. Check to see if wet laundry is wadded around the bottom of the tub shaft, or under the basket or agitator assembly. Remove the basket or agitator in order to remove the laundry easily.
Next, we'll take a look at water-related problems, starting with troubleshooting water leaks.