Damning Which? Report on modern washing machines

Damning Which? Report on modern washing machines

Neil Howieson, Managing Director of Domestic Appliance Helpline and Samson Maintenance Plans, has recently assisted consumer rights group Which? The group wanted to carry out an in depth investigating into the build quality and repair-ability of modern washing machines. The investigation consisted of the complete dismantling of four very old washing machines, and eight brand new ones. It has long been suspected that modern appliances are built to a much lower standard than much older ones, and that cheaper components are used, many of which are sealed or complete units, wherein individual parts cannot be obtained and fitted.

Please read on for the Which? Final report and Neil’s thoughts and comments.

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A large number of modern washing machines have been designed in a way that can make them so costly to repair, it can outweigh the cost of a brand new machine - or as near as makes little difference.

A Which? investigation has found that a vital part of the washing machine, the bearings, are being sealed away where repairers cannot access them should they fail.

Bosch, Beko, Indesit, Hotpoint, Indesit, AEG and Zanussi all make machines that have sealed drums - and some of these manufacturers have confirmed they only make washing machines with sealed drums.

Which? members can find out more about the issue in the July 2015 issue of Which? magazine. To read online, members can log in, and access the article by going through 'My Account' and selecting the 'Which? magazine archive'. If you're not yet a member, sign up for a £1 trial to Which? to get instant access.

Sealed washing machine drums

To see how widespread the problem is, we took apart a selection of modern washing machines from major brands Bosch, Beko, Indesit, Miele, Hotpoint, Indesit, AEG and Zanussi. We also took apart thee machines from the 1980s and 1990s, to see how washing machine design had changed over the years.

Which? laundry appliance expert Adrian Porter said: 'Taking apart these machines revealed that the majority of machines made today have sealed drums - where the traditional metal tub has been replaced with a plastic one that has been welded shut - sealing off access to both drum and bearings.

'If you own one of these machines and the bearings fail, which is one of the top five most common problems with washing machines according to our annual reliability survey, you may have to replace the whole machine as it would uneconomical to repair.

'None of the machines from the 1980s and 1990s that we dismantled had a sealed drum. On these older machines, the bearings could be accessed and replaced if needed. It seems that washing machine design has changed over time - and not for the better.'

Sealed drums affecting consumers

Which? member Ian Mitchell who wrote to us earlier this year, having experienced this exact problem: 'I bought a washing machine in 2009. It has been very reliable, but recently the spin cycle has been excessively noisy.

'The repairer confirmed that the drum bearings had gone. But when he took the top off the machine, the drum (and bearings) were sealed inside a plastic outer tub so they can't be replaced.

'The entire drum would need to be replaced, costing more than £200, plus labour. I was his second customer that day, the first customer had an identical problem.

Why design washing machines like this?

Sealed drums are widespread. Almost every manufacturer we investigated make washing machines with sealed drums.

When we questioned manufacturers as to why they make washing machines with sealed drums, most claimed that machines with sealed drums are more reliable.

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Message from Neil G. Howieson, Service Director Domestic Appliance Helpline

As the coronavirus emergency continues to affect business, especially service businesses, we want to advise all our customers of our current actions to mitigate the effects of Coronavirus on our clients, our staff and our business. At the moment, Domestic Appliance Helpline are still offering service calls to urgent problems such as cooker/ oven/ hob breakdowns and faults on refrigeration appliances. Laundry equipment and other appliance types will be attended to where the property concerned is observing Government Covid-19 health guidelines, such as 2 Metre Social Distancing.

s l1600This communication will help you to understand what we have done during the past 7 days and what we will do in the coming days

  • All of our call handlers are now working from home
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The technician attending will aim to maintain the 2 Metre Social Distancing as mandated by Government and use the above. This should be quite achievable, providing those present do likewise.

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Neil G. Howieson

Service Director

Domestic Appliance Helpline (Yorkshire)