Introduction: Repairing E.04 Error on Bosch Washer

Picture of Repairing E.04 Error on Bosch Washer

It was a peaceful Sunday afternoon. A load of wash was in the washing machine. An unfamiliar series of beeps from the washing machine interrupted my football couch potato session. It was flashing an E.04 error. I restarted the cycle but the error reappeared.

Time to read the manual. The manual said that either too much suds or the drain pump was having a problem. I went to the Internet to try to find more information. Jackpot! I found a post of the description and the fix for the error code.

It was obvious that excessive suds was not my problem.

You will need a towel, a flashlight and a 4d nail / brad (or some other metallic pointed thing). You may or may not need some silicone grease to lube the sump cap. (I did not need any.)

If you have water in the drum of the machine, you will need a wet/dry vacuum cleaner with crevice end and more towels and maybe ear plugs if your vacuum is as loud as mine.

Note: Wet/dry vacuum cleaners use 2 inch and/or 1 and 1/2 inch hoses. The smaller hoses and accessories are easier to maneuver inside the washer.

Step 1: Gaining Access

Picture of Gaining Access

To be extra safe, turn off the washing machine and unplug it.

The access for the drain pump is behind the circular access panel on the bottom right front of the machine. This panel twists off. There are three ears on the panel that fit into three cutouts on the machine front. After the ears are in the cutout, the panel is twisted counterclockwise to lock ears behind metal.

If the panel were a clock face, there is a small hole in it at about the 5. Insert a nail in the hole to gain some leverage. Gently press on the panel with your other hand while you rotate the panel clockwise to move the hole to the 6 o'clock position.

Update - 10/2011: Be careful when you get the cover off. The edges of the hole may be unfinished and sharp. You can tape over the edge while you are working or wear gloves. The more adventurous can grind or file the rough edges.

Step 2: Removing the Sump Cover

Picture of Removing the Sump Cover

The black cover covers the sump for the drain pump, It is plastic and screws into a plastic sump. There is a gasket under the plastic threads to prevent leakage. I did not have any thread/gasket lube on my cover. Your cover may be different.

Be careful when you reach into the sump area because the edges of the hole may be unfinished and sharp.  You can take a file/grinder to the edge, or duct tape the edge, or wear gloves.

Stuff as much of a towel as you can under the cover and under the machine to catch some of the water. The error occurred mid wash for me so there were gallons of water in the drum. One towel was not going to be enough.

The cover is screwed in only hand tight. It might have been the hand of gorilla but you should not need tools. Righty-tighty lefty loosey.

If there is water in the drum, DO NOT REMOVE THE COVER . Only break the seal by turning one quarter turn.

I do not know if the sump is ever empty. I suspect it is empty at the end of the cycle but you would not get the e.04 error at the end of the cycle.

Update 6/2012 -  I opened the sump in response to an o-ring question posted here and found that the sump is not empty at the end of the cycle.  It contains about 1 quart/litre of water. So you need very very thirsty towels or the vac. 

Step 3: Sucking Out the Water

Picture of Sucking Out the Water

Assemble the hose and crevice tool onto your wet/dry vacuum. Turn on the vac. There is a protrusion - a lip - at the bottom of the sump face. Water will puddle there as you loosen the cover. Place the crevice tool at the lip on the sump. Slowly loosen the cover until water comes out as fast as the vac can suck it up. Turn off the vac when water flow has stopped. My washer had about 5 gallons (20 litres) in it. (NOTE: That's about 40 pounds (80 kilograms) of weight. You may need to get help to lift the vac when emptying it. If no one is around to help, just don't empty the washer all at once.)

Step 4: Remove the Sump Cover

Picture of Remove the Sump Cover

Now you can completely unscrew the cover.  You may have to jiggle it a bit to remove it.  The white thing is the impeller housing attached to the cover that deflects the "occasional junk" that is in the wash water while it directs the wash water to the pump's impeller. 

You can see a "black-white-black" sandwich at the end.  It is the gasket - impeller base- cover.  See the other pictures to see how the gasket fits in the sump cover.  Carefully pull the gasket out of its groove to clean it and the groove.

Step 5: Removing the Junk

Picture of Removing the Junk

This is the view into the sump.  The white circular thing at the top is the impeller to the pump.  The stuff at the bottom is rusted nails, a pin, the back of an earring and a screw.  The stuff of pockets.  I sopped up the water and cleaned out the sump. Spin the impeller with your fingers to make sure it moves freely.  Mine did not!   Further investigation showed a nail was caught in the impeller.  That was the real problem!

Step 6: Final Clean Up and Reassembly.

Picture of Final Clean Up and Reassembly.

The impeller housing was kind of grundgey so I cleaned it. I found I had to stick a towel into the sump while I cleaned because water was still puddling at the bottom.

Most of the dirt came off with direct scrub with an old toothbrush. But there was some resistant scale that responded to the pointed end of a nail.

Update 8/2016 White vinegar is often used on stubborn deposits, Sometimes a spray works, sometimes you need a soaking. There are specific mineral-deposit-cleaning products if your water is particularly mineral laden.

The impeller housing is marked to indicate which way goes down. Align the housing and screw the cover back in. I did not see any kind of thread lube / sealant, so I did not apply any. Usually sealants are not used on plastic. However, sometimes there is silicone grease on o-rings. If your model had grease, reapply a little bit if you wiped it off during cleaning or during removal.

Insert the cover and screw it down hand tight. Run the short cycle to check for leaks.

Reattach the access panel.

Smile because you just saved at least $50 on a service call. Now pay it forward and bless someone.


msape (author)2017-10-08

You are a godsend! Sitting at home on a rainy Sunday afternoon and sure enough got the beep and the E04 error code on my 10 yr old Bosch 300 series washer. After cleaning the outlet hose of gunk, the washer still would not drain. Googled the problem and your fix was the first I read. Very detailed and helpful, I found two small finishing nails wedged in the propeller! I was seconds away from going to Lowe's and buying a new washer. Thank you!!!

gmacv (author)2017-09-07

Just tried this. I literally had to use my head to get the access panel off. Pushing with my hand wasn't enough, so I pushed with my head while using the brad to turn the panel. When I saw that you got a nail out I though, "Wow, that's weird!" Never imagined that I would find 3 nails, a penny, half a bobby pin, a shard of glass, 4 beads and tons of grit.

Thanks so much!

brgt40 (author)gmacv2017-09-30

Now that is using your head! :) You found an amazing collection of stuff. I don't know how it happens; one person found a sock for a baby.

LisaB43 (author)2015-08-08

I have the same machine but it is not the model 03 as labeled but a 15. When I take the sump cover off I have no basket. I am looking at a white piece that has a raised circle in the middle and it has notches going around the circle (like a pry bar to fit in). Do you have any suggestions for me on how to get it out so I can clean it out.

Btalex (author)LisaB432017-09-20

I inherited this machine (with the raised white circle) when I bought a new house. I'm guessing no one has attempted to clean out the sump and the appliance is probably 6 years old now. So I got error 4 and tried to follow the instructions here. However I got "stuck" at the raised circle stage. What worked for me was to use the notches in the circle to turn the white plastic using a wide piec of metal that slotted into the notchs. It doesn't matter which direction. I probably turned it a millimeter and then I heard a load pop. Note it took a lot of force to budge that white circle. Once it popped I pulled it straight out without turning. In my situation, the amount of congealed gunk had locked the white piece in place. Also, I had 25 nails and a pin and an earring in the sump. So my advice is try turning the white piece a smidge to break through the congealed mass on the other side. As I write this, I'm thinking you might also try tapping it with a hammer to try and loosen the sludge with a hammer? Good luck!

brgt40 (author)Btalex2017-09-30

Very nice to have inherited this machine. Good luck with it.

MARYM72 (author)LisaB432015-10-08

It is suppose to be attached to the black cover. Put the black cover back on and tighten. Slowly turn to the left putting pressure on it. If that doesn't work use pliers to pull it straight out towards you. Do not twist or you will break off the little plastic circle pieces.

JimP95 (author)MARYM722016-05-10

Here's what it looks like

ChristinaL95 (author)JimP952016-09-29

did u get an answer I have the same issue

PinoyC (author)ChristinaL952017-01-27

I used a vise grip and long nose pliers to pull it straight out (without turning), clamping on the middle ring portion at different points. Perhaps mine wasn't very difficult to pullout because there was already a break in the seal since water started to flow out when I unscrewed the cover. Normally the white plastic thing is attached to the cover but is allowed not to turn while the cover is unscrewed. The connection between the two is weak in my opinion.

JimP95 (author)MARYM722016-05-10

I have the same problem. I tried pulling straight out with pliers but it will not budge. Any suggestions.

JimP95 (author)MARYM722016-05-10

I tried that and it didn't work. any other suggestions

brgt40 (author)MARYM722015-10-09

Thanks for the information!

KarolR7 (author)LisaB432017-01-09

I'm having the same problem! Did you ever get it figured out? I've pried and pulled. Got bloody knuckes.

brgt40 (author)KarolR72017-01-18

Sorry, I do not have an answer for you. Apparently, no one who follows this 'ible has an answer for you either. Have you tried contacting Bosch customer service? If you find a solution, please, please post it here. As you see, other people are looking for the answer.


brgt40 (author)LisaB432015-08-11

Hey, can you post a picture? I have not seen your model. Maybe I or one of the followers can figure it out.

KarolR7 (author)brgt402017-01-09

I can't get my white cover off either! It didn't come off with the black cap and won't turn, pull out, or pry out. The black cap doesn't even seem to be connecting with it when I screwed it back on and pressed while turning. I'm so excited to see what's caught up in there!

JimP95 (author)LisaB432016-05-10

I have the same problem as LisaB43. I tried pulling with pliers and the white cover with the circle on it will not budge, Any suggestions on what to do next

tjhoo91 (author)2017-07-30

Thank you! This was very helpful, and saved our Sunday afternoon! We think it was a combination of a mangled hair tie, and a too-heavy load that caused our problem. Your pics and step-by-step directions were reassuring and useful.

brgt40 (author)tjhoo912017-08-04

Thank you for the comment. You are most welcome.

rozf1 (author)2017-04-28

I thank the Lord,for your step by step diagrams. Once I goggle the problem I said, ok I can do this, and the look on my husband face, when I told him I fixed the washing machine. "Priceless "

brgt40 (author)rozf12017-04-30

That is great - I am smiling ear to ear. What did you find in there?

rabidpotatochip made it! (author)2017-01-22

I couldn't hand-loosen the sump cover, probably too much hard water, so I jerry-rigged a loosener using a vice grip and a bolt + nut to distribute the force.

Warning: using the vice grip alone can and will damage the plastic. (Ask me how I know! :p)

KathleenL35 (author)2016-09-22

Finally got panel off and now can't open door to get clothes out, help! My sons Jerseys are laughing at me.

Couple of months late but to the right of the black sump cover is a small green wire. Give that a tug to unlock the door manually.

bjearnest (author)2017-01-07

I am having a problem gaining access through that little round door. I've tried pressing in and using a nail to turn it with no luck. It wiggles and will move and little bit but apparently not enough to release. Any suggestions?

brgt40 (author)bjearnest2017-01-18

Have you gotten the access door off? If the circle is moving freely. I would try rotating it small increments. At each increment, I would try prying the cover off by inserting a thin blade in the gap between the cover and the front. If you have succeeded already, please post what was your solution. Thanks

bjearnest (author)brgt402017-01-19

I also was having trouble turning the door with nothing to grab onto. So I used a piece of duct tape to stick on and then was able to effectively make a turning motion instead of just pressing with my bare hand.

bjearnest (author)brgt402017-01-19

I did finally get the round door off probably by accident. It eventually came off with all my grunting and groaning, but that allowed me to realize what the trouble was. I was fearful of pushing the nail too far into the little hole thinking it might poke or scratch something. Then I saw that by pushing it in with a nail, you are actually releasing the hook type of latch that allows the door to move into the proper position for coming out.

pkandgs (author)2017-01-06

First time user......great instructions, pictures and comments. My problem was a pair of thong underwear that was trying to make a run for it.........get caught in the act

mkupkatx (author)2016-09-26

I got an E04 error message moving from drain to final spin. Followed the instructions to a T, pump sump was clean with only minimal grunge and no large or hard debris.Tried a trial load and got an E04 moving from wash to rinse. At the time of the no drain plus error message you could feel vibration touching the sump cover and there was also a "rapidly pulsing hum" that seemed to be coming from the uooer front left of the machine. Followed the instructions again, when sump was open I attempted to turn the white "button" that i assume is attached to the pump shaft to see if it was impeded. It turned with very little if any resistance, maybe as if it was not attached to anything. What next?.

time of the time

DizzyJazz67 (author)2016-09-21

Thanks so much! This was extremely helpful. Just for the record, our problem was a hair tie, that kind of "scrunchy" thing that teenage girls wear. It was jammed in there pretty well. The hardest part, honestly, was getting the white circular plate off to gain access to the whole thing in the first place. Took me a while to work that out, but once I got in there, it went much better. I was also surprised how much water there was, and it took several trips with our medium size shop vac to get it all out. Great instructions, thanks for helping us out.

SakeOfAnimals (author)2016-08-29

Followed instructions to the T and do believe I have repaired my problem
thanks to the person who created this instructive. No leaks and seemed
to drain perfect. I found a hard plastic twist like you find on a loaf
of bread and a piece of a shoe I washed. Not bad for 12 yrs of use. I
get now why ma always said to clean out our pockets before adding to the
wash pile. One little tip I'd like to mention is that when cleaning the
inside use a spray bottle of white vinegar and paper towels to remove
debris. Twirl the towel like you see people do with tissue while
cleaning their nostrils. This DIY repair saved my family a $79 service
call which included only 15 minutes of
diagnoses and the price grew from there with labor and parts. FYI...I live less than a mile from the appliance repair store
but they still charge $79 just to show up and that was with a $10
discount because we purchased from them. Even told repair company what
error code I was getting that I knew what the problem was and even what
needed to be done but you know they got make their $$$$$$$ Thank you brgt40 for being so thorough.

brgt40 (author)SakeOfAnimals2016-08-31

Thanks for the vinegar tip. I updated the step with that information.

alainde (author)2016-08-25

I carefully followed all described steps and was able to fix E04 error without a mess.

I removed one bra wire, one panty and one headed pin ! Works perfectly well since then. Thanks a lot for this post.

brgt40 (author)alainde2016-08-31

You are welcome. I am glad this post was helpful. I continue to be amazed at the stuff that people are finding. Did you lose all three in one wash or was it the pin that broke the camel's back - pun intended haha.

deb2reed (author)2016-08-27

Thank you!!!!! Your directions are very thorough. I had no problem in the six steps and now my machine is working perfectly. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

PaulaS86 (author)2016-08-01

Super helpful post! Your instructions got me through the process successfully. This will teach me to use my lingerie commando thong was apparently making a break for it unsuccessrully!

brgt40 (author)PaulaS862016-08-10

That is too funny!!!

RitaB42 (author)2016-04-23

Worked like a charm! Found a pedi sock stuck in there that I had "lost" a while back. One thing more however, if your door is in the locked position, there's a lever on the right side in that opening that you pull down and it will unlock the door.

brgt40 (author)RitaB422016-04-25

I am happy this 'ible is still helping people. Thanks for the tip about the door lever.

SelesteT (author)2016-04-14

That's weird. Couldn't find my previous comment.
I would like to thank you again for the post.
But the opening still leaking no matter how tight we tighten up. Can you please advice.
Much appreciated

brgt40 (author)SelesteT2016-04-25

I am saddened by your woe. I hope you have solved the problem by now. I don't check this 'ible as often. Is it a drip or a gush? It is difficult to do but it sounds as though you cross threaded the sump cover. (more gush than drip) That is the threads on the cover are not aligned with the threads on the sump. If it is cross threaded the cover would be difficult to unscrew. If that is not the case, are any gaskets missing? Or maybe the plastic is binding, did you try lubrication with silicone grease (available in the faucet repair aisle) - a little bit goes a long way as far as lubing is concerned. HTH

SelesteT (author)2016-04-14

Thank you so much for the clear instructions. But my husband did not read and just scrolled all the way down. Ended up, we have pool of water on the floor. And he cut his hand. I told him why didn't you read the post. Lesson learnt.
Anyway, we have problem. We twisted very hard. But water still leaking from the front. What shall we do?

agguilar (author)2016-03-22

brgt40 (author)agguilar2016-03-26

I am sorry but I never got that deep into the electronics of the machine. Read the other posts. There are people who have had to delve deeper than I have who may be able to help you.

agguilar (author)2016-03-22

i did this test and nothing happens no voltage to the pump can the relay be the problem ? i can hear a click sound on the control panel

agguilar (author)2016-03-22

need help my washer is a bosch nexxt plus an i was getting the error code e13 that is a no draining problem so i change the pump because the propeller was crack and now nothing the pump is not spinning not getting i remove the cables and did a electrical test and no voltage going to the pump :( is there some one here that can help with the electronics i remove the control panel but don't know what to test, please any help will be greate ! thanks

MalcolmP3 (author)2015-11-21

I joined just to say thank you. Was my last day at a rental was doing last wash and this happened. With 2 hours to go your fix saved the say. Thanks from Australian in Canada. Btw one if my wife's small socks made from that sheer stocking material had found it's way out of a washing bag into the impelor.

brgt40 (author)MalcolmP32016-02-18

It made me chuckle to imagine the sock planning its escape from the laundry bag. Thanks for the comment. The ingenuity of our clothing continues to amaze me.

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