How to Repair a Panasonic Massage Chair

I have a Panasonic EP1004 massage chair that’s about 14.5 years old.

ep1004

For the past several years, it has had problems getting going.  When I tried to use it, the motors would spin for a while, but there would be no motion, and after a while, it would beep 3 times, and then stop.  I would then have to power cycle it, and try again over and over.  After several tries, it would finally start working.  Over time, it took longer and longer to get it working.  Finally, it became impossible to get it going.  I searched the internet, and found the service manual for it.

Unfortunately, the manual didn’t really help me diagnose the problem, but I figured out that the massage and up/down clutches had gone bad.  The clutches were expensive, and were unavailable for purchase anywhere.  I figured out how to repair them without spending a cent!  The step by step procedure is documented below.

To do the repair, you will need the following:

  1. Philips screwdriver
  2. 10mm socket wrench
  3. x-acto knife
  4. pliers
  5. a sheet of plastic

First, remove the screws which hold the back cover on.  They are covered by plastic caps, which must be pried open to expose the Philips screw head:

coveredscrew

Next, remove the two 10mm bolts attached to the metal bar at the bottom of the cover:

bolts

Here is a close-up of one of the bolts:

bolt

After flipping the outer cover out of the way, you will find a stretchy fabric cover below it.

innercover

To remove the fabric inner cover, flip the chair over, and look for two Philips screws at the circled positions:

bottom

Circled in red below is a close-up of one of them:

bottomscrew

After removing the screws, the inner fabric cover can easily be lifted out of the way, revealing the motor and control assembly.  Remove the two Philips screws at the top of the black plastic cover, and remove it:

gutscover

Inside, you will find the controller.  I have labeled the clutches which were faulty in my chair:

guts

There are 3 other clutches, which you can find by looking at the diagram in the service manual.  Fortunately, I was having problems with only two of them.  We are not going to remove the clutches.  Fortunately, the drive pulleys can be removed without taking the clutches out.  First, remove the 10mm nut that secures the pulley:

screwdriver

It is difficult to get the nut loose, because turning the nut also rotates the driven shaft. To keep the driven shaft from rotating when you turn the nut, jam a thin flat-bladed screwdriver between the two clutch plates, as shown in the photo above. A commenter below suggests that a bit of WD-40 may help, but be extremely careful if you try that… if it gets on the friction surface of the pulley, it will make your belt slip, or even eat your belt over time.

After you remove the pulley, you will find 4 parts: 1) a spring steel disk, 2) a rubber washer under it, 3) a small metal washer under that, and 4) the clutch plate below it.  Make note of the layout of the parts as you remove them:

udclutch2

Here is the cuprit:

udclutch3

The clutches suffer from a basic design flaw. The rubber ring which serves as a noise damper for the clutch disintegrates over time, and becomes a sticky mess. It becomes so sticky that the clutch solenoid is too weak to overcome its grip, and can no longer drive the clutch plate into the pulley.  Thus, the clutch plate can’t contact the pulley, and it just freewheels.  Using the clutch plate as a template, cut out a ring of plastic as pictured below:

udclutch4

I used some hard plastic from some discarded packaging.  I used scissors to cut the outline, and an x-acto knife to cut out the hole. Draw an outline around a US nickel to get a nice, round hole.  Next, slide the plastic donut over the clutch plate:

udclutch5

What the plastic does is keep the sticky black goo from touching the clutch plate, so that the solenoid can move it up and down. Note: Even though the clutch plate has teeth in it, these teeth are on the bottom, and they are not deep enough to dig into the plastic disc that we are adding. The friction that the clutch uses to drive the pulley is between the other side of the clutch plate, and the flywheel, which is the inner face of the pulley. The only purpose for the plastic disc we are adding is to keep the black goo from sticking to the bottom of the clutch plate. Try use a thin piece of hard plastic, as I did. Do not try to substitute a thicker piece of rubber… we don’t want any friction on between the bottom side of the clutch plate and the clutch body. Assembly is the reverse of the disassembly process.

When disassembling the massage clutch, you find find that the metal plate that holds the control box cover gets in the way.  Carefully bend it out of the way with a pair of large pliers just enough so that the pulley can be removed.  After reassembling the massage clutch, bend the metal plate back into the original position.

Another issue which could cause your chair to stop working is loose or broken belts. Check all of the belts for proper tension. My shiatsu massage rollers were also squeaking when I put a lot of pressure on them. This was because the lower left belt was stretched, and was quite loose. Unfortunately, even after loosening the motor mount screws and sliding the motor as far left as the adjustment slots would allow, the belt was still too loose.  I ended up using a large screwdriver to just bend the motor mounts outwards a little bit to tighten up the belt. [UPDATE: This eventually failed, and the belt got loose again… see Part 2.]

Reassemble the rest of the chair by following the disassembly steps in reverse. Voila, your Panasonic massage chair is good as new again!

Downloads:

Panasonic EP1004 Service Manual
Panasonic EP578 Service Manual
EP1005 Operating Instructions
EP1004,1005 Simplified Service Manual

Next related article: How to Repair a Panasonic Massage Chair, Part 2

There are 159 Comments to "How to Repair a Panasonic Massage Chair"

  • Jerry says:

    Thank you very much for this detailed explanation. I had a similar problem, but was able to solve it following your instructions. Much obliged. This is Internet at its best.

  • Steve says:

    Thank you for posting this up man! You ROCK bro! Worked on this chair for several days and was about to assume the pc board was bad. Came across your article after several searches over several days. My symptoms were a little different and the rubber inside wasn’t completely deteriorated, but it had gotten soft enough to make the clutch stick and the chair not work. I doubt I would have ever thought to look there for the problem.
    Your The Man!
    Thank you! And my back REALLY thanks you!!

  • Julienne says:

    Thank you for your detailed post! I’ve never done this kind of repair myself before but decided to attempt this following your instructions. The up/down function of our massage chair was not working and would beep and stop. Your ingenious use of the plastic donut over the clutch plate worked! Now all functions on the massage chair is working again and hopefully keeps going for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing! Saved me $300 in service call and diagnostic fee!

  • John says:

    WOW! Not sure how to THANK YOU! I knew the cost of repair was more then what i wanted to pay and with it non-operational i could never sell it and now that it’s working… it’s not going anywhere. Thanks for the post….fixed the issue as described!

    • David says:

      John, I’m trying to fix my chair and can’t figure out how to remove the pulley nut. What tool / technique did you apply?

      Thanks,

      David

      • lincomatic says:

        I just used a nut driver (socket wrench)

        • Ed says:

          I had a similar problem trying to remove the nuts. The shaft would spin with the nut and I could not loosen them. Without doing the clutch repair, I got the mechanicals (everything except the remote control, where my problem now lies) working with some cleaning, adjusting, etc. So I suspect that if the shaft just spins with the nut then the clutch has not failed and does not need to be repaired, which is why I did not try very hard to do it. Does this make sense?

          Also, thanks a lot for this post with the photos. It is a very clear explanation of how to get to the mechanicals, which really is step 1 for most repairs. I did download the service manual, and can highlight one very useful thing: follow your instructions to get to the mechanicals, and then in the lower left corner of the main circuit board, there is a button switch. With power on, press and hold that button for 3 seconds, and the unit goes through a 1.5 minute test sequence. The service manual has a full troubleshooting flowchart, circuit diagrams, etc.

          • lincomatic says:

            Yes, the manual is quite detailed. Unfortunately, the test sequence didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

  • June says:

    Hi thank you for this post. I attempted repair of my old Panasonic massage chair and thought it was electrical. It is a slightly different unit but uses same mechanism, and has same symptom. Once in 30 tries or so, the up/down movement works.
    Don’t remove the entire motor assembly off the rail, it has a position sensor that detects unit at top/bottom of the rail, and calibrated at factory. It is a small plastic wheel that slowly rotates as assembly moves up/down. Removing it will lose the calibration.

  • David says:

    This looks great. I’m 90% through disassembling the chair. I’m trying to figure out how to remove the pulley nut. Any suggestions on tools and technique are appreciated.

    • Brad says:

      Use a fast drill driver with 10mm socket, and take a tiny screw driver and jam in small Space between wheel that spins and housing. That should do the trick.

    • andrea says:

      im having the same problem david had with getting the nut off cause its just spinning. and I don’t see space for a screw driver. what else works?

  • Brad says:

    You are a genius. Problem is, before I found this article that fixed it, I screwed with the little brown positioning wheel. So my massage mechanism went too high on the track and stopped. Do you know how to adjust the little clicking wheel to let it know where it is?

  • DS Ski says:

    Thank you very much for posting that. We were ready to throw our massage chair away. Works great now. Ours was just the up/down clutch.

  • thomas park says:

    Wow ! ! ! i admired you are a life saver been scraching my head for the same thing Wonder somebody can talk to me since i am not good computer 1st time sending e-mail over 60 years #303 469 3399 @Fed.Hts.’..Colorado 80260

  • thomas park says:

    Anybody have a service manual available? How about e-mail me one if are available!

  • How thick is the ‘plastic donut”? I f it is too flimsy, it seems likely that the repair won’t last very long.

    • lincomatic says:

      it’s about 1/2mm thick. Actually, the thickness doesn’t really matter.. the donut is there just to keep the rotted black rubber bits from sticking.

  • Dinah says:

    I’m trying to build a glove that is composed of some of the parts that are in a massgse chair but i don’t know what type of motor to use in it. I’d like to know what type of motor is used in the chair above, please contact me when possible.

  • Betty says:

    I am replacing the belts in my recliner. two are no longer avalible. Any idea on how to substitute a different belt. ie. vacuume etc.?

  • larry lee says:

    Hi I tried every step following your instructions. disassemble and clean the rubber mess and put them back. the motor still stops itself after 10 second. Do I need to clean the other pulleys? I believe there are five of them. thanks.

    • Steve says:

      Make sure you make the plastic pieces for each of the 5 clutch servos before you reassemble. The clutch wheel must not stick into the old soft backing, and it may still be even if you cleaned it. The plastic is the trick.

  • Ed says:

    I have this chair, and was able to get it working again, but the remote control seems dead. By pressing the small test button on the circuit board within the chair, I can confirm that all motors, etc. work fine. But without a remote control, it is not very useful. Does anyone have a spare remote for sale or could point me to a source for one? I tried Panasonic, but got nowhere. Thanks.

    • lincomatic says:

      Does the red LED blink on your remote when you flip the power switch on the back on/off? If so, I’m thinking maybe it’s just the On switch is faulty? You could take it apart and try shorting the on switch to see if it fires up.

  • ted says:

    My Ep1004 stopped working. When the lock on/off button on the back of the chair is turned “on” then “off”, the controller beeps 5 time with all of the lights flashing on the controller and the massage chair does not start. The rollers are at the bottom of the chair, so they are at the bottom of your back when you sit in the chair. Is this stuck? I have not tried your outlined repair yet.

    Any ideas on the problem? I have unplugged it and tried everything.Any suggestions?

    • lincomatic says:

      That’s exactly the symptom that my chair had before I repaired it. It’s probably either stuck clutches like mine, or a broken belt.

      • Sean says:

        I have an EP1005 with a similar problem in that I get the 5 beeps, all the belts spin and then nothing. My massage mechanism was stuck at the top before I started taking the clutches apart, but by using the drill on the bottom right clutch (tightening the nut) I made the massage mechanism move down. I tried the “test switch” button for 3 seconds but it doesn’t do anything. 🙁 I checked all the clutches on the right side and found the rubber disks to be in great shape. I’m beginning the process of checking the voltages/resistance values as laid out in the troubleshoot guide. Has anyone else gone down this road? Since the motor spins up, all the belts look fine, and the clutches look like they are in great shape (rubber washer wise) I’m hoping to find one bad component on the board. Replacing the whole circuit board is the last thing I want to do 🙁

  • Sean says:

    Has anyone found the appropriate manual for the EP1005? When initial plugged into an outlet mine spins all the belts, flashes/beeps 5 times and shuts off without any of the clutches engaging. The test switch does nothing. The leg vibration button is the only button that does anything. I opened all the clutches and found them all to be clean. My PCB is labeled EP 589 UL/CSA. Resistance values for all the clutches is 57.7 ohm, V at the board connectors for the clutches was measured at 1.4 V DC. If anyone has any ideas I’d appreciate it. Thx.

    • lincomatic says:

      Are you saying the clutch voltage is a constant 1.4V? The chair is supposed to activate one of them when you power it up. I would try measuring the voltage at each of them when it first powers up and see if it goes up for a few seconds.

    • Ed says:

      I have a .pdf document that is titled Service Manual for the EP1004, 1005. I don’t know if it has exactly what you need. It looks like the part number for the manual is mew/hpd9603-1005. If you google for that you may find it. If you post contact info, I can email my copy to you.

      • lincomatic says:

        Thanks to Ed for sending me the Simplfied EP1004,1005 Service Manual. It’s more of a dissassembly manual and parts list than an actual service manual, though. The file is linked above at the end of the article.

  • JohnS says:

    Thank you for saving my Panasonic chair. After a few hours of trying to get the bolts off the clutches, I decided to try some WD40. I sprayed a few mico sprays right below the freespinning brass wheels. That did the trick. I don’t know how long it will last but now my back is really sore from leaning over this thing.

  • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

    I am the original owner of a Panasonic EP574 massage chair with VERY few hours on it. I forget to use it. (shrug)

    PROBLEM: The massage carriage unit would move to the top of the track and then descend about 12″, stop, then shut off. The massage rollers would not move. The lights on the hand controller would flash.

    After reading your description of the electric clutches, I took them apart, bending the frame out of the way, as you suggested.

    Both rubber thingies were intact and not destroyed as you pictured, although they were gooey-like. Not knowing what else I could do, I just reassembled everything. BUT, lo and behold, the chair now works, again. The massage carriage now moves up and down the full length of the track and the massage rollers now function, too.

    However, during my prior investigation I thought it was an “electric eye” sensor issue and removed that “black disc with all those holes and slots”. I believe the electric eye reads those patterns cut into the “black disc” to control the movement of the massage carriage on the track.

    My question is: How do I fine tune the position of that “black disc”? I suspect when I reassembled that “black disc” I’m off a few teeth. When the carriage unit descends, it appears to try to go further than the track allows. I noticed a “white hash mark” on the backside of the disc, but don’t know what its alignment point is. Anyone know?

    Thanks,
    Doug
    Oakland, CA

    • lincomatic says:

      Hi, It sounds like the reason it’s working is because when you took the clutches apart, they got unstuck… mine weren’t all destroyed; one of them was just gooey. Your symptoms sound exactly the same as mine were before I serviced the clutches. Have a look at the service manual I linked above.. the Adjustments section tells you how to adjust the position of the carriage.

  • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

    Nevermind. I figured out the “black disc” issue. I just repositioned it by rotating it one tooth. The “white hash mark” is now perpendicular to the frame.

    The massage carriage box now doesn’t try to go beyond the bottom of the track.

    I understand your “clear plastic disc” solution. But if you cover those tiny teeth with that disc, aren’t you preventing them from engaging against that gooey rubber?.

    Thanks, John, for taking the time and effort to post your solution. I couldn’t figure out why this chair, with so few hours on it, would suddenly stop working. Since all I did was reassemble the clutches, I assume the outer nut holding the clutch together had become too loose.

    John, drop me a note when you’re in the San Francisco area!

    • lincomatic says:

      The tightness of the nut doesn’t affect the performance. If you examine the mechanism, the splines are what drive the pulley. As far as blocking the teeth, my plastic disc doesn’t do that. The teeth grip into the plastic on one side, and the friction on the other side is provided by the remaining glop. The proof in the pudding is that the fix works. If you want to get fancy, you can use a thin rubber ring, instead, but I didn’t find that to be necessary.

      • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

        Get fancy? Heck no. If it works, that’s good enough for me. I’m just trying to wrap my head around why it works.

        So, John, do you think dusting that goo with some talc would have the same result?

        Where on the planet are you, BTW?

        • lincomatic says:

          Doug,
          Ah, OK, now I get it… I think you mixed me up, the writer of this blog w/ John, a commenter in this thread.

          Since your clutches haven’t gotten so gooey yet, talc may actually help keep extend their lives. I think that’s a good idea, but it’s only speculation on my part.

          I’m on So. Cal. Oakland is actually a nice town. A friend of mine moved there recently, and showed me that it isn’t such an urban jungle. Lake Merritt was particularly nice.

  • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

    Oh, yeah. I saw the name “John” addressed somewhere and, of course, I thought they were addressing you. :O

    I rechecked the operation of my chair last night to bask in the sun of my success. I pressed the button AND the same problem came back. So I get to open the chair, again. Oh, joy.

    That clutch must be pretty darn strong to grip through your plastic washer. I’ll see if I can find a jumbo, thin, rubber washer at the hardware store.

    I’m a two block walk from Lake Merritt. The weather is SO much better than SF and Berkeley, too. Life is good. It’ll be better when I can get this damn chair to work reliably. GRRRRRR!

    SF, one bedroom rentals are $3,500. That’s pouring a lot of folks into Oakland, which is a short hope on the BART train into the city.

    The two notorious parts of Oakland, which give it it’s bad reputation, are West and East Oakland. West Oakland is the first BART station out of SF. I suspect, perhaps not in my lifetime, that that part of Oakland will gentrify. Part of it has already started. GoogleX recently hired the foremost researcher on life extension. Who knows? Perhaps I may live long enough to see all that happen. 🙂

    Talk to you later. I’ve got a date with a chair and she’s wearing basic black!

    Doug

    • lincomatic says:

      If you can’t find a washer, you might try fashioning one out of a bike inner tube or patch. I think the thickness of the rubber might be close to what you need. Good luck, and please report back how it goes. [UPDATE: DON’T TRY THIS.. IT DOESN’T WORK.. USE THIN PLASTIC DISCS AS DESCRIBED ABOVE]

      My friend has become a total Oakland advocate. She lives near the art galleries off Broadway, and always tells me what a foodie paradise it is. I’m still most enchanted w/ Lake Merritt… what an unexpected urban paradise. Who would have thought that Oakland would have a bird sanctuary? I ran there early in the morning and it was so serene.

  • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

    I think you’re right about the bike inner tube thickness being the right amount of thinness. I’ll drop by a bike shop and see if they’re tossing out any bad innertubes. GREAT IDEA!

    You’re fairly inventive. Are you an M.E.?

    Did you know the jogging craze actually began in Oakland? It was because of the muggers chasing us! 🙂

    • lincomatic says:

      I was a bit apprehensive about jogging in the area I was staying … near Jack London Square .. it’s still pretty seedy, I had a lot of company by the time I arrived @ Lake Merritt.

      I thought about being an ME, but decided that being an EE had a bigger job market. I’m a MSEE, but I still like to tinker w/ mechanical stuff.

  • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

    MSEE? Impressive. Hot stuff.

    I had a buddy that started off with EE in school and switched to ME, because he needed something more physical to wrap his head around.

    I’m into Product Development (inventor). I had one invention go national through 550+ retailers. Managing 3 startups currently; one hardware and two websites. I have Technical Co-founders on the websites, because I don’t code. I handle the BizDev-side of the project.

    Will I be seeing you on Indiegogo anytime?

  • Doug in Oakland, CA says:

    Ok. After taking it apart and back together 3 times, I FINALLY fixed my chair!

    At first, because it’s thin, I tried using aluminum foil to cover the goo. It worked for a day. Then failed. Don’t know why it would work and then not work.

    I then went with a version suggested on this blog. I used what appears to be acetate film, which Amazon used to sleeve over new Kindles. The film is very shiny with near photographic crystal clarity.

    After three days the acetate film solution still works.

    Hope any of my comments helps any others that come after me.

    It was such a struggle to find the solution contained in this blog. WHEW!

    • lincomatic says:

      OK, I had to take mine apart again today, because it stopped moving up and down. It turns out that my bottom left belt was so stretched that my rubber hose shim hack still wouldn’t shim it out far enough to take out the slack. I wrapped the pulleys in a few layers of electrical tape, and it seems to be working perfectly again. While I was at it, I decided to try replacing my clear plastic discs with thin sheets of silicone rubber, thinking they would give better grip. It was a very bad idea. The chair started squeaking very loudly, the motor kept jamming, and the clutches got extremely hot.. so hot that I couldn’t even touch them. I had forgotten how the clutches work. The reason that the thin sheet of plastic works is because the clutches actually engage by squeezing the two metal plates together. Even though the bottom of the inner splined plate has teeth on it, it MUST slip against the plastic disc, or the motor will not turn. The plastic goo that we’re trying to cover up is attached to a fixed flat plastic disc that DOES NOT MOVE. After I took out my rubber discs and replaced them with my original clear plastic discs (which, by the way, were still holding up after a year), it’s now working well again.

  • Kim Vargo says:

    Hello. We have the same Panasonic massage chair. When my husband and daughter moved the chair, the remote was in the side or back of the seat and was crushed by the weight of parts of the mechanism there. Do you know where I can get a replacement remote? Thanks for your help! – Kim

  • Yee says:

    My lounger model number is ep1000, The on/off switch doesn’t work, any suggestion, please

  • Al says:

    Thanks so much for your help. I really was lost in how to address the chair rollers not moving at all. Using your diagrams I was able to disassemble the clutches were the problem was. Now it works fine…..Thanks

  • Kathy k says:

    Hi! Wish I could hire you to fix mine. I am in NJ. You are in CA? Know anyone in Northern NJ who could help me?

    • Betty says:

      My Handiman took my chair apart following the directions on this site and directions from Panosonic. We ordered all the new belts that were avalible and made new clutches out of plastic, ( cutting circles out of plastic containers) I even got new 2 1/2 inch wheels at Home Depo and he replaced the old wheels that had turned into a sticky mess. It works pretty well. I just plain like this chair. I bought a new Massage chair but gravitate back to my old one that is so comfortable. Good Luck.

  • Mark says:

    I had same problem on my Panasonic EP-750 massage chair.
    Since this up-down motion clutch is placed up side down, it requires more magnetic power to engage the clutch plate.
    I just simply took off a black rubber ring and spring plate then started working without problem.
    Thank you for a good hint.

    Mark

  • Frank says:

    I have an e.t.a 10 2010 Masonic massage chair work in the morning timer wouldn’t turn on in the afternoon. leg vibrator still works but no lights I opened up the controller Encino burn spots on the circuit board. it’s as if a fuse has blown from the upper part of the chair. well the vibrator for your legs works fine. does anyone have any suggestions on how I can fix. works perfect except for this electrical problem.

  • Frank says:

    Well I guess voice dictation did not work. My model is ep 1020 panasonic about 20 years old.

  • Cheryl says:

    Found your video and am excited, in hopes that I can figure out my old massage chair. My chair is a EP578……quite old. But do you know of anywhere I can attain a manual for my chair. It has died on me after many years of great massages.

  • George piotro says:

    Why not just use naptha or mineral spirits to clean the goo. Is a replacement ring needed. I’ve got to the 2 cliches so far, still no movement. Will try the remaining cluches.

    • lincomatic says:

      The replacement ring isn’t strictly needed, but if you don’t put on in, the clutch will eat away at the plastic below and eventually wear out. Better to put in a replaceable part.
      You shouldn’t have to replace random clutches. Examine the mechanism to determine which belt affects the particular motion that isn’t working correctly (or you can zero in by looking at the repair manual … they label each of them). If the motor turns and the belt doesn’t, then that’s the clutch you need to fix. I only had 1 bad clutch in mine. The other problem was just a loose belt, which I shimmed with electrical tape.

  • George piotro says:

    Thanks, I get your point. Right now my motor and all belts ant cluches are moving but none of the gears are moving. I hit the test button and the remote beeps 5 times and all lights flash and the it stops. Iam guessing – check all the clutches.

  • Doug says:

    George, yep. Sorta the same happened to me. The clutches were weak. They would engage at first and the rollers would climb up the track a bit and then the clutches would fail. The handle controller lights would then blink.

    My chair is rather simple. One clutch operates the roller unit up/down the back of the chair. The other clutch operates the rollers.

    Sounds to me that you need to follow Lincomatic’s directions about opening up the clutches and doing what he suggests. I experimented with foil, but after that didn’t work long term I went with a material more like what Lincomatic suggested.

  • George piotro says:

    Same here. Bought in 1997. Stopped using for a while then when I started it could engage by pushing down on unit. Now only the belts spin. So how do i know the cluch is engaging. I am assuming the clutch is activated by magnetic action? Or should check the voltage at the leads.

    • lincomatic says:

      On mine, the first thing it does is activate the shiatsu kneading action. I think if that particular clutch fails, then it won’t even bother trying the to activate the others. So I would check that one first.
      It really isn’t that hard to take them apart, but if you prefer, you could test for voltage at that clutch’s input first, and also test for an open circuit on the clutch coil.

  • Linda says:

    I am a 55 year old woman and just fixed my chair thanks to your wonderful instructions! The chair hasn’t worked for months but is great now! Thank you so much!!!

  • Linda says:

    I love to fix things lol :p I do have another issue though. It is very hard to lift the leg part. I think the shock or hydraulic part, whatever it is, is bad. Can you tell me what part to order and how to change it out? I can’t seem to find anything on that issue.

  • Linda says:

    Ok, the shock is for the back. :p Maybe a bad cable?

    • lincomatic says:

      I’m not sure if we have the same model of chair. I don’t think there’s a hydraulic part on the leg section of mine. It seems to be just spring operated. Sorry, if it’s an old chair like mine, the parts are all NLA.

      • Linda Givens says:

        Yeah I was looking at the wrong part. I guess you just have to be strong to put the leg part up lol The only thing that doesn’t work now is the back. When you recline it doesn’t come back up by itself. But I can deal with that. Thank you for getting back to me and thanks again for posting such easy directions! I’ve missed my chair…:)

        • lincomatic says:

          You’re quite welcome! Glad to be of help. I went through such a huge expedition figuring out how fix mine (almost threw it away), and was surprised that no one else had documented the procedure.

  • Dwight says:

    My unit tries to go beyond the lower limit, hits the bottom of the frame and is forced to shut down. How can I adjust the limit switch/sensor so it will not continue to try to drive itself downward?

  • Dwight says:

    Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, adjusting the up/down sensor gear does not make a difference. I have tried adjusting it about 12 clicks in each direction. I am assuming something is wrong with the electronic portion of the sensing process???

    • lincomatic says:

      Does it stop properly when at the top position? If so, then the position detector is definitely working, but misadjusted. If it has problems at the top and bottom, then it’s broken. Assuming that it’s still functional, you need to adjust it counter clockwise to move it higher (see page 22 of the EP578 service manual).

  • Julie says:

    Hi there – I have an EP 1000 that is not powering on but I think that it’s a little different than your model so I was wondering if you could point me in the correct direction for the manuals for that model? Or possibly something else that would help? I just bought it from someone locally yesterday and it worked fine (used it two times) and now it won’t turn on… I appreciate the help in advance

    • lincomatic says:

      is the slide switch by the power cable turned on?

      • Julie says:

        Sorry I was not notified that you had replied to my comment at all I came back because it started doing something new now 🙁 Yes the switch was on I appreciate the equivalent to the “is the TV plugged in?” lol The issue now is that when we turn it on it beeps continuously.

  • Dwight says:

    Sorry i cannot help you. I am not even sure which model I have. It is about 15 + years old, but that is all I know about it. My chair tries to continue its run well past the bottom of the track and the adjustment wheel for this movement has no effect whatever on its movement.???

  • Clyde says:

    Takes about 30 minutes to repair the “klunk” non start in your chair. Just follow the excellent instructions.
    Just do not remove the sticky rubber bushing.

  • Imran Anwar says:

    Hi. I have 2 Panasonic massage chairs. The one I got in 1996 was a about $1600 and the one in 2000 was $3500 but the cheaper older one was the one with the real hard effective massage. The more expensive one had fancier wood arm rests and leather but the massage is a joke. The serious massage one did the clicking thing for a few uses in the last few months and finally stopped working. I am not sure I will have time to do the repair with my To Do list already going back to 1992 LOL but wanted to appreciate your great tutorials.

    IMRAN

  • Daniela says:

    I have the 4005 series, my massage chair was working fine then suddenly stopped completely after a short circuit in my home. I checked the fuse and it was blown, I replaced the fuse but as soon as I plugged in the chair, the fuse blew up again. I’ve already blew three fuses, chair is completely unresponsive since. Any ideas as to what it might be? I would really appreciate any help.

    By the way thank you for this one of a kind amazing tutorial!

    Daniela

  • Daniela says:

    Edit to my first post regarding chair not working due to blown fuse: I have the EP1005 model, I apologize for my mistake.

    Daniela

  • Greg meadows says:

    Thanks a lot man it worked on my massage chair: sweet!

  • Ralph Cheung says:

    Hi,

    Do you where I can find a service manual for model EP1017

  • James says:

    Just finished fixing my chair. Two of the clutches were stuck. Your instructions made the job easier and kept my cost to 0$. I know I would still be trying to figure what to do. THANKS! THANKS
    James

  • Dave says:

    UNBELIEVABLE !!!! Thanks so much
    Dave

  • Gary says:

    I have Model EP1010 and there is no service manual available that I could find. I read you article and recognized it as the same problem as mine and wondered if the mechanics were similiar. They were!! My wife was just days from buying a new chair. Your info saved me thousands !!!..

  • James Hulett says:

    I bought one of these chairs at a garage sale for $100 that wasn’t working. Turned out it was the up/down clutch. I fixed it using this simple method and now it works great! Thanks so much!

  • Ron seiple says:

    Do you know where to get replacement belts for Panasonic EP578?
    Mahalo,
    Ron

    • Rod Sturmmann says:

      If you want belts for massage chairs, try Belt Palace in Warsaw, Indiana:

      http://beltpalace.com/info.html

      They know everything there is to know about belts for massage chairs and they will supply you with the nearest fit to your requirements if you give them the codes, usually written on the outside of the item in question, and measure them carefully. They worked wonders for me!

  • tim says:

    I was just about to put my chair out for trash pickup , thanks for the help

  • Jin-Der Wang says:

    Thank you so much for a nice post. I have a Panasonic EP 1010 massage chair with a smilar problem. Last night, I fixed the massage and up/down clutches as instructed. After the fix, the chair went chaos. Since the level position was changed during the fix, the massage hardware module tried very hard to move up even when it hit the top. However, I could not let it moved downward. I was wondering what happened. Did I make the situation worse? Could I ever make the chair work again? Soon after, I realized that the short belt connected to the motor was marginally tight and became very loose after the fix. The pullies on the top of the module were turning intermittentingly. I placed a tire wall stripe (used in a tree staking pole to tight the tree in place) between the motor and a metal plate. It tightened the short belt and the chair worked again. After that, I had to adjust the level detector wheel to move the massage hardware module down to the proper position. The chair worked again. This morning I got my cup of coeffee and rushed to the chair. With a smile in my face while sipping the coeffee, I was totally pleased. Thank you so much. Some 30+ years ago, we hired a PHDEE into the AT&T Bell research not only because he was a good researcher (there were many good researcher to choose from) also because he liked to fix his car which was not that common for people doing research. From your post, I know you must be an excellent engineer with a mind of curiosity, ready for new things to be discovered. Thanks for all the good discoveries on this Panasonic chair.

  • James says:

    It’s not uncommon for the limits to get out of adjustment when you make the clutch repair. The manual describes how to do the adjustment. Just do a google search and you can download the manual for free. The same thing happened to me. I was worried that I had broken the chair. It’s now working great again.

  • Dan says:

    My panasonic chair’s belts move but then the remote blinks and it shuts off. Similar problem as you describe but there doesn’t seem to be any clutch as the culprit. Any ideas? Much obliged for the tutorial, looks like it helped a lot of people.

    • lincomatic says:

      How are you testing to make sure all of the clutches are engaging?

      • Dan says:

        I’m not sure I know how to do that. I see the wheels spinning and the belts moving. None of them appear stuck. How can I test whether the clutches are engaging?

        • lincomatic says:

          Sorry for the delayed reply. I was traveling. Sounds like one or more of your clutches is sticking open, just like mine. When one spins normally, but there is no motion, this is an indicator that it isn’t engaging. I would start with the massage clutch, and then the up/down clutch, and after that, any other remaining clutch. Test after repairing each one.. if it works perfectly, then you don’t have to fix any more of them!

          • Dan says:

            Thanks a lot! I will go through that protocol. I see everything spins and then reverses and at the same time the remote flashes and then shuts down. I have the manual for my chair so I should be able to determine which clutch is which.

  • José says:

    hello , I live in Brazil and would like to know where to find the kit belts chair massage national EP3510 ? Gratefu

    • lincomatic says:

      Sorry, I have no idea where to get the belts. If your belts are just stretched like mine, you can try putting tape on the pulleys like I did:
      http://blog.lincomatic.com/?p=1664

      • Rod Sturmmann says:

        If you want belts for massage chairs, try Belt Palace in Warsaw, Indiana:

        http://beltpalace.com/info.html

        They know everything there is to know about belts for massage chairs and they will supply you with the nearest fit to your requirements if you give them the codes, usually written on the outside of the item in question, and measure them carefully. They worked wonders for me!

  • Harvey says:

    Thank you very much for this super clear detailed explanation. I had a similar problem, I did the repair on the 2 clutches as you described, I did not repair the other three. Anyway, the chair is now working again so I am hoping I don’t have to go back in and do the others! Thank you so much for thinking of others and making the instructions so clear. This is Internet at its best.

  • Thank you very much for your expert solution to Panasonic massage chair repair. You are an absolute “genius” and I am deeply indebted. I have a model EP1011 that I purchased about 15 years ago for around $4000 that I always loved but it stopped working about two years ago and my wife wanted me to throw it out. It had the same problem you mention….the motors would spin for a while, with no motion, and then it would stop. I called Panasonic technical service several times and their response was that it was probably a clutch problem, that were no longer available, and that I would have to buy a new chair for over $5000. I followed your instructions and “lo and behold” the chair now works perfectly. I am going to notify Panasonic of my deep satisfaction with them….they could have had similar plastic washer discs available for nominal cost…but instead suggested I had to buy a new chair. I can not thank you enough.

    • The above comment should have read deep “dissatisfaction” with Panasonic. I have bought many relatively expensive products from them over the years but will probably never buy from them again because of their response and lack of needed assistance

  • Andrew Miao says:

    I followed your procedure and found the parts clean as new. The problem seems to be electrical. If the controller is bad is there a source for replacing that?

  • Ed says:

    I’ve got a Panasonic EP1004 that I’m willing to give away for free. It is in good shape. The mechanicals all work as they should, but there is a problem (I think) with the remote control, so I have not been able to use it much. The only way for me to make it work was to push the little test button on the control board – that would get me a 2-3 minute demo massage. I got a new chair, so am willing to give this one away.
    I’m in Redwood Shores, CA, which is near 101 x 92 on the peninsula in the SF Bay Area.
    Whoever gets it must take the whole chair – can’t just take parts. I believe the problem is in the remote, and that it is fixable, I just have not had time to get to it.
    You can respond to me here or at my email, which is dr ed wilson with _’s in between those 3 words, and it is at yahoo.

  • D says:

    I have a slightly different chair but your fix worked great! If you shoot me your paypal address I’ll be glad to buy you a beer!

  • Jarret says:

    I have a Panasonic EP1010. The belts need replaced but I cant find them anywhere, does anyone know of any replacement belts?

    • Rod Sturmmann says:

      If you want belts for massage chairs, try Belt Palace in Warsaw, Indiana:

      http://beltpalace.com/info.html

      They know everything there is to know about belts for massage chairs and they will supply you with the nearest fit to your requirements if you give them the codes, usually written on the outside of the item in question, and measure them carefully. They worked wonders for me!

  • Rockland Albrecht says:

    have to push really really hard on power button to get it to turn on, wanna just buy new remote, since it just plugs in easy, but where? from who? how much?

    • lincomatic says:

      Does the remote open up easily? If so, you can probably just clean the contact under the power button. Wipe with an alcohol swab, and scrape the oxidation off

  • Manny says:

    Hi! I got used one model EP 585..it works for 1 week But the rolling massage button work just 1 up and then down it stop..but I ignore it maybe that’s how it works.. but now when I press the button it doesn’t respond at all except the foot massager..I notice when you select restore green light blinking and that’s it..any idea? Thanks

  • rockland says:

    need a replacement control pad, the on/off button doesn’t do it any more. model # EP 3222 panasonic real pro elite

  • Doug K says:

    I have a Panasonic EP 582. We had an electrical surge which blew out the transformer on my chair. Checked voltage coming in (120v) but nothing coming out. There are 2 secondary outputs, but since the transformer is dead, I can’t tell what the output voltages should be. I looked through the schematic and service manual for the EP578 (seems very similar) and it references one output voltage of 24v and one of 120v. Seems strange to have 120 coming out?? Can anyone tell me what the voltages should be for the two outputs from the main board transformer?

  • Doug K says:

    Which is the 24v and which is 120v. Wire colors dont match my transformer. One secondary goes to a connector next to the primary 120v source connector and one goes to the other side of the board. I don’t know which should be 24 and which is 120? Also, why 120v in AND 120v out? What value is the transformer in this situation? Acting as a thermal fuse?

  • Andrew Miao says:

    Great work. Still trying to get my EP1005 to work. Checked the 2 clutches you mentioned. Both washers are whistle clean and look brand new. Controller checked out electronically. Someone suggested testing the motherboard. Now of course you mention 2 or 3 other clutches which I will have to check.

  • Paul M says:

    I had the same original symptom (motor/belts run but clutches don’t engage) but when I took apart the clutches, all the rubber gaskets were in perfect condition. No gunk anywhere. When I push the test button on the PCB, I have no movement whatsoever apart from the belts cycling.

    • lincomatic says:

      what do you mean by the belts cycling? one of the motors is turning, but nothing happens? if so, it still sounds like a clutch that isn’t engaging properly.

  • Robert McKee says:

    I have a EP1011 which has been seating in corner for a couple of years. I was thinking of taking it to an electronic repair shop but surfed the internet for any solution and found this article. Other than minor differences in how to get back cover of the chair (mine had a zipper), it was right on. Your awesome, thank you so much!!!

    • lincomatic says:

      glad it helped! I wrote the article because I too, surfed the Internet, and couldn’t find any articles on how to fix it, so when I finally figured out mine, I thought I would write it up for the benefit of other frustrated Panasonic owners. What a bad design!

  • reza says:

    hello EverReady
    i need service manual.i don’t know what is the model number but .
    i can see the number (EP755.7)(EP755K260)on the PCB board
    thank you so much!!!

  • Lori says:

    I am so impressed with all this but my 14yr old Panasonic is an EP1015 and looks a little different back there, and my up/down is the only thing that doesn’t work, I used to be able to juggle the knead/tap/roll buttons and get it to work, not anymore though, I can hear it shift to roll function but freeze, then three blinks and off, so I found the one repair guy in all of LA County who would look at it, he just left telling me the up/down motor on the right is frozen dead and they don’t make them anymore, I asked about clutches and he laughed that off which makes me a little suspicious – you’re obviously way knowledgeable and know exactly what you’re doing –
    if it is motor is there a way to take them apart and fix them? Or do you have any suggestions for me+my chair? I love it don’t want and can’t afford a new one, I’d pay anyone anything to fix it, a friend who fixes his mechanical stuff told me to ask you if you think it is the clutch issue with mine too, if so he’d come try to fix it, he originally sent me this link.
    Thanks so much for any info!

    • lincomatic says:

      Based on the fact that juggling it around used to work, it sounds an awfully lot like a bad clutch. Check to see if the belt is turning on the motor. If it is, the motor isn’t frozen, and it’s just a bad clutch.

  • Lori says:

    Omg you just made my day, all 4 belts are turning easily, I wish I could add a picture here and show you he was trying to turn this odd headed screw encased in white plastic he said was the “manual” way to turn the up/down function but he couldn’t turn it saying it was frozen cause motor was dead, I just looked again at your pics I think I see you have that same screw below the upper right clutch, anyway i’m going to go through neighbor’s recycling or something so I can prepare my plastic, my friend will probably come over this week and help me do this, I will SOO happy if we can do this, I actually have a bad back so i’ve used this chair almost every day for the 14yrs I’ve had it, I can’t afford a new one and don’t even want one, I only use the manual controls, knead and roll – i’m not a fan of bells and whistles on these new chairs – I’ll let you know what happens
    THANK YOU!
    Hey also this repair guy does know a place in Santa Fe Springs Ca that carries belts for older Panasonic massage chairs, I will try and find out what the name of the place is from him and post it here, he also said “Inada” bought Panasonic and by next year they might carry parts for older massage chairs, but I doubt that, they make chairs that cost 10k why would they bother with parts for older chairs but I’ll keep up on it anyway just in case.

  • Jim says:

    I got a Panasonic chair off craiglist for free because it didn’t work. I found out the little 3 amp fuse had blown at the power supply, replaced it and the chair started doing what ever body else’s chair was doing. I stumbled across your blog and within an hour the chair was working beautifully. I can’t thank you enough for posting this… I love the internet and hopefully I will document some fix for others to benefit from in the future. Here’s to the start of a Happy New Year.

  • Patrick says:

    Thanks for posting this solution with the clutch problem !

    By the way do you know how to fix the home position for the kind of chairs

  • lori says:

    Hi I’m finally back after almost two months of nagging/pleading, got my gearhead friend to finally come over and try your clutch repair, I think we shredded the rubber washer by putting it back in the wrong order, he says it was a little shredded when we disassembled the clutch, whatever, when we reassembled the bad (upside down) clutch with new plastic guard it spit the rubber washer out totally shredded, I say that couldn’t happen if it was tight in the groove, i.e. in the right place, anyway, we put it back together again sans rubber washer, plus we cleaned out all the gook on both sides of the clutch, hope that’s ok, placed our plastic thingy in just like yours, and voila it does work, sort of, actual roll button doesn’t work, blink blink off, but I don’t need it to work as a setting really, all I use is knead on highest setting, that works, then I just use the up/down press n hold black arrow buttons to make the knead slide up to knot in my back n stop, then move a little higher to the next knot n stop, and so forth, that’s all I ever used before, manually making it go up n down to knead out all areas of my back n neck that need work, so, the chair works for my purposes, I don’t know why actual roll button makes it blink blink stop, and another sort of odd new thing is when it gets to a point at either end of the track it rolls on it’s own to the end and stops waiting for me to reverse the direction with the black up down arrow buttons, this may make no sense if people have another model without these arrow buttons, but whatever it’s useable and great and I will now search our few vintage hardware and repair shops for replacement rubber washers unless you know where to get one? I think without it metal on metal, not gonna last, and maybe that’s why current problems? I’m THRILLED though, I forgot how EXCELLENT it feels, how relaxing, just had a long session on it so THANK YOU GUYS! We never in a million would have ever thought that up you’re brilliant really…want to say from lying on a lacrosse ball, entire back neck plus butt cheeks for any leg issues, my back is stronger since this chair broke, but the ball cannot replace the relaxing and therapeutic effect of the movement of this chair, no way, so I’m extremely grateful to you, thanks a million times over, and let me know if you know how to get rubber washers..

    • lincomatic says:

      First, make sure that the belt that’s driving the up/down roller isn’t slipping. My belts were stretched. I could’t figure out how to add tension, because there isn’t any way to adjust it, so I wrapped the pulley in electrical tape, and so far, it’s working. Maybe duct tape would be better.

      I don’t think you can buy the rubber washers anywhere. I would suggest fashioning one from a thin sheet of rubber. You might have to glue it in. As to where you would get a thin rubber sheet cheaply … maybe cutting a chunk off a large bicycle inner tube? A patch kit for an inflatable boat? Let me know how it goes…

  • Lori says:

    Actually the next morning the chair was dead completely, like blink blink off immediately no functions working..maybe it was the coconut oil he rubbed on the chain, I’m avoiding googling that I don’t want to end our friendship over this chair but grrrrr….he wasn’t focused, anyway thanks for those great suggestions, I think the belts were all working fine, but when I get over my rage I’ll open it up again and see what’s up, it was kinda torture to get one massage remember how awesome it is then it went dead…I think we had that one simple clutch to amend but he got the order mixed up and chewed the washer omg still makes me really mad! ha…ok I’ll be back, thnx again

    • lincomatic says:

      Chain? What chain? You mean belt? Rubbing oil on the belts is a huge no-no! It makes them slip!
      You need to wash the belt in soapy water, then use some denatured alcohol or acetone to remove the oil from the pulley.
      You might be able to use belt dressing instead of my idea of putting tape on the pulley. Just buy a can from Walmart or an hardware or auto parts store
      and spray it on both the belt and the pulley after you clean them

  • Lori says:

    I just googled coconut oil on a work chain, it took me to a bike forum and the various answers to the guy’s question made me really howl, no straight answers but reading it put me in a much better mood!

  • Lori says:

    No not oil on the belts, I just partially unzipped the back fabric, mine zips off all the way around it’s a huge hassle, anyway I remembered chains being on each side but it’s just teeth, teeth the motor grips to move up and down, he rubbed oil on the teeth on both sides, I turned it on and the motor did move to the bottom position, but I think out of gravity from the oil not any kind of function control, lights blink for seconds then off. All belts seemed to be tight and spinning, would goof off get the oil off the teeth? and what is a pulley? sorry this is all foreign to me, hence my helper(not) who fixes his own cars n computers, I understand the five or so belts that wrap the clutches but I don’t know what a pulley is in this..

    • lincomatic says:

      A pulley is the round thing that a belt turns. See this photo http://blog.lincomatic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/screwdriver.jpg . The belt rides in the groove in the pulley. I f the pulley is smooth like the one in the photo, then the coconut oil is a no-no. I don’t recall any chains in mine. If it’s a metal chain, then the oil is totally OK. if it’s a belt that has teeth on the inside, and the pulley also has teeth, then the oil won’t make it slip, but it might eat the belt over time, so it’s not advised.

  • Goo says:

    I have followed your advice and put a plastic ring in both the up/down and massage clutches. It works for a few times and now when I turns the chair on, it will turn off after all the lights on the remote blinks. What is wrong? When I have the chair opened, I can turn the massage clutch manually and it will go wide and narrow in both directions. But I can only move the up/down clutch down but not up. Is that a problem? Also, how can I tell if the rollers went too far and need caliberation?I cannot find the caliberation instruction anywhere on the web. My chair model is EP1005. Thank you very much for your help. You are such a life saver.

    • lincomatic says:

      it sounds like a calibration problem. The service manuals for two
      models are linked at the bottom of the article. If yours is a different model, the procedure is probably similar

      • Goo says:

        I did the caliberation and it works. We were so happy, but when we turn the chair off and on the next day, we can hear the motor but nothing move and it flashes after 3 seconds. We have to turn the main switch off and on and then it will work again. Also, seems like rolling and threading works better than the program. Any idea what else is wrong? Thanks.

  • Vivian says:

    How do I test if the clutch is working or not and determine if I should unscrew the nut and put in the plastic? Thanks.

    • lincomatic says:

      In my case, the clutches would not release, because the decaying rubber would make them stuck closed. When the chair is turned off, all of the clutches should be in the open position, so if turn a belt, there should be no motion

      • Vivian says:

        Thanks for the fast reply. Just want to be clear, if I open the chair and turn the belt and there is no motion, I should put in the plastic for the clutch that has no motion? Thanks.

        • lincomatic says:

          No, it’s the reverse. If the chair is off and turning a belt results in motion, it means the clutch is stuck closed, and needs repair.

  • Cindy says:

    Hi! I’m really hoping to get the same amazing outcome as so many others in this blog. I know nothing about how to fix anything mechanical really, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
    I have a Panasonic EP3222, very little use (we bought it off of Craigslist from a guy that broke his back and couldn’t use it). After a few months it just stopped working.
    It powers on and lets you pick a program, reclines the back and legs…. then beeps and flashes 5 times and completely stops. If you continue to try to pick a program, it makes a horrible noise until you turn it off.
    I’ve tried turning it off on the switch on the side, and unplugging it. But that doesn’t work.
    Please help me!
    ~Cindy

  • Shawn says:

    Hi thank you for this post. I attempted repair of my old Panasonic EP1014 massage chair and thought it was controller. I just follow your instruction to disassemble the clutch. I find the material on Ebay to replace original rubber ring.
    https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.H0.TRS0&_nkw=300x300x0.6mm+Black+Silicone+Rubber+Sheet+Self+Adhesive+Pad+&_sacat=0
    I use the clutch plate for outline template and US quarter for the hole template on a silicone rubber sheet. I use x-acto knife to cut the outline and the hole. The dimension of the rubber ring is outline 50mm x hole 24mm x thickness 0.60mm. To make it easy for assemble and disassemble the clutch, I drill a small hole on the side of clutch disc with the drill bit size 1/16”and about 1.25mm deep. I use metal pin that has the same size 1/16” to stop the clutch disc against the case and tight the nut. When assemble the clutch, make sure the rubber washer under spring disc is on center because the hole is a lot larger than the shaft. When the rubber washer slide off center too far it will cause a lot of strange problem when starting the massage chair. I had to disassemble the clutch second time to fix the problem. So far it working very well. Thanks again for your post.

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