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This is most likely a defective magnetron, especially with the burning smell. There are two other parts that can be a problem, the high voltage capacitor and diode, all three work together to heat food. If the magnetron is the culprit, probably cheaper to replace the microwave oven.
fixed the problem with my GE microwave turntable motor without having to replace it.
I removed the motor from the microwave and placed it in a small vise. Using a very small flat head screwdriver I was able to pry up the four tabs holding the casing together. You may need a slightly larger screwdriver after that to bend them back out of the way so you can remove the motor cover plate. Carefully take out all the plastic gears and note their position for re-assembly. You will find that the primary gear, at the bottom of the rest of the gears is attached to the motor magnet. It has a shaft that acts as a bushing passing through the center motor magnet. On the underside it is attached to a plastic washer. This is where it breaks. The motor magnet spins free of the gear/bushing/washer assembly. I used JB Weld epoxy to glue this assembly back together and it works like brand new. Note: On mine there were four indentations on each side of the motor magnet which corresponded to little ‘bumps’ on the underside of the gear on top and washer on the bottom. Place all the plastic gears back into the motor in the correct order, slide on the motor cover plate and use a small cold chisel with a round end and tap hammer to bend the tabs back into place. If this worked for you please let me know – email@example.com
Sounds like the magnetron has failed. There are some high voltage circuits that feed the magnetron and you can potentially get hurt if you don't know what you are doing. Would recommend you have it serviced by a professional if you want it fixed, otherwise look for a new one since the cost of repair can come close to the price of a new microwave oven.
Hi jnflanders, You've probably solved this by now, but I'll answer just in case. That part is called the stirrer motor. You can replace it yourself, as long as you have an offset phillip's head screwdriver handy. Before you order the replacement part, figure out if your stirrer is driven by a d-shaped or a square shaft. You can tell by taking off the round plate on the inside top wall of the microwave. GE makes stirrer motors for both d-shaped and square shafts, so you'll have to get the right one. Here's the d-shaped motor that fixed this problem with my microwave: http://www.appliancepartspros.com/part_details.aspx?part_id=2024961. Good luck!