How to Fix a Dyson Cordless Vacuum Pulsating Off and On

Fix Dyson DC59 Cordless Vacuum Turning Off and On
I love my Dyson DC59 Motorhead cordless vacuum. It’s so very convenient to vacuum anywhere, anytime. However, it has one drawback – at least, it’s a possible drawback if you don’t know how to fix it.

Sometimes, my Dyson DC59 cordless vacuum will start pulsating off and on constantly while I’m vacuuming with it. I’ve encountered this problem on two separate occasions, and the fix turned out to be something different each time.

The first time, I emailed Dyson support, but I’d already tried everything in their response. I’d tried everything Dyson’s website had to offer before contacting support.

Here are five things to try if you encounter a problem with your Dyson cordless vacuum pulsing off and on. Mine is a DC59, but these tips may apply to other, similar Dyson cordless vacuums, such as V6 and DC58.

The only tools you’ll need are a coin such as a nickel or quarter, plus something long and skinny like a flat-head screwdriver or a butter knife.

Fix Dyson DC59 Cordless Vacuum Turning Off and On

This post may contain affiliate links; please read my disclosure here.

Make Sure the Battery is Charging

Ensure that the power cable did not partially disconnect from either the wall or the vacuum while it was charging. It’s remotely possible that the rechargeable battery has stopped charging, but it’s more likely that it’s somehow not getting plugged in properly or it’s getting knocked off kilter when it’s charging.

The vacuum can easily fall over and pull the plug partially out of the wall. Flashing blue lights on both sides of the motor indicate that the battery needs charged. If you find that the battery isn’t charging at all and you need a new one, you can buy one online. You can also find a replacement Dyson charger for DC58/59 Motor Head at this link.

Fix Dyson DC59 Cordless Vacuum Turning Off and On

Check the MAX Button

If the MAX button lights up and flashes when your Dyson cordless vacuum keeps pulsating on and off, hold the power button and depress the MAX button to turn off that function. You may have to try a few times to get the hang of it.

I had this happen to me, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how or why MAX had gotten activated. I’m also not sure why it’s there if it causes problems when it’s turned on.

Fix Dyson DC59 Cordless Vacuum Turning Off and On

Look For Clogs in Attachments

Try the Dyson vacuum without the long sweeper attachment and see if you still have the problem. If not, then you may have a clog somewhere in that attachment.

Look down through the tube with a flashlight. Check to see if there are clogs on the sweeper end or if the roller is tangled up in fibers. It’s easy to use a coin to remove the roller assembly and clean the whole area thoroughly.

Remove the Dust Bucket

It can be challenging to completely empty the dust bucket sometimes. It’s a minor inconvenience for me, since I just use an old butter knife. Even so, debris can bunch up in hard-to-reach places.

Fortunately, removing the dust bucket for more thorough cleaning is pretty simple. Simply pull the red release tab once to open the flap and a second time to detach the dust bucket. If you think you could use a replacement, you can buy a Dyson Bin Assembly, DC58/59 at this link.

Fix Dyson DC59 Cordless Vacuum Turning Off and On

Rinse the Filter

You know that blue cone-shaped filter you’re supposed to rinse monthly? If you’re like me, you might pull it out occasionally, see that it looks clean as a whistle and put it back in.

I’ve found that you really do need to rinse the filter regularly, even if it looks clean on the outside. Follow the vacuum’s instructions to rinse it under the sink for a minute or two, squeeze out the excess water and let it dry at least 24 hours. When it’s completely bone dry, return it to the Dyson. If you can’t get the filter completely clean or it looks worn, you can pick up a new one for about $16.95.

Here’s a great tip left by a commenter – try removing the filter, and see if the vacuum runs smoothly without pulsating. That should tell you whether the filter is the problem. The vacuum won’t suck properly without the filter, but at least you’ll now whether a clogged or faulty filter is causing your Dyson to pulse off and on.

Here are some additional replacement parts you might want to consider at some point:

How About You?

Do you have problems with your Dyson cordless vacuum pulsing off and on? Did this post help you fix it? What have you done to fix problems with other vacuums? Read more of my vacuum related posts here.

This post was originally published in January 2016 and updated in December 2016.

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  1. clojo9372 says:

    I’ve never even hear of a cordless vacuum cleaner before!! Although necessary, I find vacuums pains. Over the years I’ve owned two with the retractable cords but eventually the cord wouldn’t go back in anymore. Now I’m on my third. When it’s time to replace it, I think I will take a look at this. Thanks a lot!

  2. Linda Manns Linneman says:

    I have a regular upright Dyson and I love it. I have tried the cordless but wasn’t very happy with it. Thank you so much for sharing these tips

  3. faye bernstein says:

    Thank god I ran into your posting. I had tried everything – turned out I had a clog I never would have noticed had I not read this. You are my Dyson hero.

  4. kim says:

    Oh my goodness thank you so much! I could not get my vacuum to work and was so worried. I love it, but it was fairly expensive and it isn’t that old. The flap was stuck on it.

  5. Gary House says:

    Getting the cone filter REALLY clean: After rinsing off my blue cone filter with a little soap and water, I took it outside to blow it out with air. I used my driveway blower to shoot air through it backwards: from the inside out. The airflow carried with it lots of dirt: I re-rinsed and blew it out twice til the water came out clean.

  6. Greg Bass says:

    Thank you so much! I could have spent weeks figuring this out! I cleaned the filter and blew out the whole thing with compressed air and now it works again without cycling on high.

  7. Pam says:

    Many, many thanks for these tips! My heart sank as I turned on my prize possession Dyson and it was pulsating! Thank goodness I found your article – – – the culprit was the MAX button!

  8. R N says:

    Thanks for the tips! I was about to contact Dyson as my vacuum is only a few months old. but I managed to fix it, it was the MAX button problem in my case too.

  9. Pete Green says:

    Thanks for the help. Fixed the problem right away. Very blocked motor head. everything so easy to access. Very good design has gone into this machine.

  10. Nancy Ayers says:

    THANK YOU! i was afraid my expensive dyson was a dud, but thanks to your pointers i learned to find hidden clogs and how to drop the canister to clean it out well, now my dyson cordless is working as good as new. it takes a bit of maintenance, but the convenience of cordless and all the attachments makes it worth keeping a clean machine. i love the versatility of the cordless, i can clean areas i could never reach with a conventional vac, plus i have arthritis and have to be aware of the weight of the tools i’m working with. thank you so much for your help!

  11. Pam says:

    Turns out mine had a clog in the attachment! You saved me a ton of money. I have had this thing for 4 years and just figured the battery was going dead. Thank you!

  12. Virginia says:

    I was so upset my four months old vac was already acting up, it turned out to be just the Max button!.. Then I’m wondering what if I want to use the Max button? Is this gonna happen always?..

    • Beth says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure what the max button’s point is, since it doesn’t seem to do anything other than cause problems. That’s still a mystery to me.

  13. Debbie says:

    I love my Dyson except when it recently started giving me problems! Your column helped me figure it out and clean out a clog in the head quickly, easily, with no cost!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  14. s says:

    THANK YOU!!! I love my vacuum (I call my toy because I love to use it) but it had started pulsating and was so upset. I followed your easy to understand directions and it’s back working again!! This was more help that the Dyson Support!!

    I have 3 fluffy dogs so it gets a lot of use.

  15. Julie McNeil says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My dyson was pulsating on and off and it turned out to be clogged. Fixed that then next time I used it I had the max button issue. Was beginning to despair then I read your very useful info!

  16. Julie Broberg says:

    THANK YOU so much for your posting! I found it as I was finally looking for the Dyson web site to COMPLAIN. My Dyson Handheld has been sitting in the utility room “broken” for 2 months because of the “pulsating off and on” issue. We even washed it and it still did not work. I had been listening to my Husband complain about its $$$ because he did not want to buy it.! I loved it. Your posting made me spend more time and I found a smaller clog also. VERY useful.

  17. Natalie says:

    Mine is still pulsating. 🙁 I’ve tried all the tips to no avail. It runs smoothly when the filter is removed but as soon as it goes back in the pulsating starts. I’ve rinsed and rinsed and rinsed it. Is there a way to remove the main component from the battery/motor? Maybe that needs a good rinse.

  18. anna says:

    You are a life saver! I am a freak when it comes to vacuuming. I have 3 kids and a dog and wall to wall carpet. I have had my Dyson for exactly 2 yrs and it started to sputter the other day. I switched outlets, I kept checking to see if the blue light was on but it kept shutting off. I thought I was going to have to buy a new vacuum but decided to go online first. Your post was the first one I read. While I do clean mine regularly and make sure the roller is free from hair, this time it must have been too much. I cleaned it as much as I could and BOOM! Its as good as new. You have no idea how happy I was. Thank you so much for sharing all your tips!

  19. Mark says:

    Hi Beth. My cordless vacuum turns on by itself while in the charger. It was a random thing but has now become a problem as it happens so often now. Can’t put it in the charger anymore. Has anyone had this problem? Have not contacted customer support at Dyson yet but will do so this week.
    Thanks, Mark

  20. Denise says:

    I had the same problem with the pulsating on and off and googled problems with Dyson and found this! It was the Max button, which was a simple fix, fortunately! Thanks for the info!

  21. Dwight says:

    THANK YOU!!!

    I had no idea why my Dyson stick vacuum started pulsating on and off and like many here though Oh-Oh!, I have a dud….

    I opened up the rotating bar and there was paper stuck in the end of the tube – Fixed it instantly.

  22. Hong says:

    Thank you Beth!

    I have the same pulsing problem, googled and your blog was at the top of search result. Cause? The flap was gummed up by bits of sticker tape. Thank you for putting together this troubleshooting guide. Wouldn’t have known where to look if not for your suggestions!

  23. Wouter says:

    This post also fixed my problem with my 3 wk old Dyson Digital Slim Multifloor. Dutch customer service phonenumber didn’t work. Google directed my to you. In the comments I read about a flap in the suction part. It was so stuck that originally I thought it was meant to be like this (just a small opening for suction). More pressure with my finger and it was open. Thanks a lot!

  24. Casey says:

    I took the filter out and pulled the trigger and it didn’t pulse. That told me that the problem was that the filter was clogged.

  25. larry says:

    aren’t all the people who say that the turning off the MAX function fixed their problem really not fixing the issue at all? as one previous poster stated, what if i do want to use the MAX mode??

    i think the real solution is one that would allow everyone to use the MAX mode at any time without the pulsing, agreed? mine (V6) does the same and i’m going to try the thorough cleaning of the filter route first.

    • larry says:

      UPDATE: i thoroughly cleaned the filter, let it dry (used a hair dryer to get it fully dry) and was able to use the MAX mode as long as i wanted.

      don’t let just turning off the MAX button be your solution! =)

  26. Barbara Ryan says:

    Thanks heaps. Followed all your suggestions – found cleaner was quite clogged up. Now working brilliantly – even better than before. Much appreciated.

  27. Barbara Ryan says:

    To others who have commented – I wouldn’t rely on just turning off the MAX button. Mine stopped pulsing when I did this too – but I did everything else that was recommended as well and discovered the head was totally clogged with bits of wire and debris. I then took the dust bin off and cleaned that out (and washed the filter). It all resulted in a much better suck – and no more pulsing. I would say turning the MAX button off would be a very temporary solution. Take it as a warning that there are further problems and it’s turned on because it can hardly ‘breathe’.

  28. Sandra Fox says:

    Wow, thank you so much-you saved my life! There was a blockage. Like you, I find it a challenge to remove the bin and I also use a knife to get the debris out. On your advice, I removed it and there it was! All fixed now. What a relief. A million thank yous! Happy Christmas x

  29. Chester says:

    Thank you so much!!! This solved the problem in my Dyson DC35! Going through the troubleshooting we found out it was clogged at the head, right above the agitator. Much appreciated.


  30. Carol says:

    Yea! Thank You! You saved me a frustrating call to Dyson! I had checked for and cleared clogs, cleaned the filter and took my D6 apart so many times trying to “logically” determine what was causing the pulsating and very short use time! It was the MAX button! I didn’t realize I had to press both the power switch and the MAX button at the same time to turn it off! Now all is well!

  31. Camille says:

    I have a refurbished v6 that I haven’t had very long, and I’m having that exact pulsing issue described here. Really hoping cleaning the filter will make the difference. I had no idea you couldn’t tell from the outside when it’s dirty! Mine was filthy. *blush*

  32. Ruth says:

    Thank you, giant hairball in the tube! Like an earlier poster, was worried my DC58 might be a lemon. I love this company, would gladly bear Mr. Dyson’s children!

  33. Tereasa fisher says:

    I have a upright corded dyson and love ir my hubby brought me the cordless for christmas and love it as well. I only hav had mine for just under a month was getting ready to send it back because it was pulsating. After reading your blog I checked it out and all it was a small piece of plastic blocking the vwnt in the brush. Thanks heaps for your help.

  34. Carmel says:

    My dyson cordless started pulsating yesterday, today I found this site, and I pressed the max button twice. Pulasting stopped decided to look at the filter to offer it off its inner frame, OMG it was dirty so it’s now clean and I’m very happy with my dyson cordless once again.. Huge thank you 😃😃

  35. kristi K. says:

    Have the pulsing issue. Max is not turned on, completely took the whole unit apart and rinsed everything out including filter which was filthy. Still pulsing. Doesn’t pulse when canister is removed and its just the motor but it does when the filter is removed and I use my hand over the filter hole and attempt to clean something. Pulses and then turns itself off. Any other ideas?

  36. Joni Fine says:

    I am going to give your suggestions a try mine is going on and off I have the V6 Animal and I loved it so much bought the V8 with the fluffy brush and the regular brush oh my goodness I love this thing it is amazing but I want to fix my V6 to keep it for my car to clean. I am going to give it a try and see if I can fix it and find out what is causing it to go on and off. thanks

  37. Ben says:

    Thank you! The filter was the fix for me, I didn’t realize it was there/was removable. Thanks for the methodical troubleshoot.

  38. T. B. says:

    My issue was the bucket, had a clog in the neck that I couldn’t see when using the flashlight down the shaft but did when I took apart the bottom with the coin. Thank you!

  39. jacob stone says:

    The Max button provides a suction boost. If your vac pulses when the Max button is pushed your filter is probably partially clogged and doesn’t allow enough airflow to compensate for the increase in suction. Partial clogs may still have enough airflow to run on normal setting. Those filters can get a LOT dirtier than they look.

  40. Missy Cannon says:

    Thank you Living with Beth for your help with my Dyson pulsating off and on.I tried rinsing the filter and it worked.No dirt even came out of the filter as I do rinse it on a monthly basis but it still took care of the problem.Thank you

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