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How long should your washing machine last?

Wrecked washing machine

How long your washing machine lasts is one of the main considerations when shopping for a new model – so how about putting expected lifetimes on washing machines?

According to research by WRAP, the average consumer expects a washing machine to last six years before it needs replacing.

It has also found that a product’s lifetime is one of the highest buying considerations, just behind reliability and quality, but more important than price. It’s something that the Which? Convo community has been discussing at length on this faulty washing machines debate.

Manufacturer warranties too short?

While washing machines do not currently come with lifetimes, they do have manufacturer warranties. However, these often cover just a one or two year period. Would you feel hard done by if your machine broke just outside this warranty period?

I would. Two years seems a much shorter time than a washing machine should last, even if I’d paid a relatively small amount of money for it, say less than £250.

Lifetimes for washing machines

One solution could be to decree that all washing machines should have a minimum lifetime, perhaps three or four years, ideally with a manufacturer warranty to match?

Or perhaps it would be better for manufacturers to apply expected minimum lifetimes to their own machines – and have the freedom to give different life expectancies to different machines?

That means if I’m in the shop, I might see a cheap washing machine for £250 that the manufacturer expects to last a minimum of two years. But next to it could be a near identical machine that costs £450 and has an expected minimum lifetime of five years. That would give me a clear basis to consider paying more for the pricier model, or to save some money but lower my expectation as to how long it will last.

Manufacturers on lifetimes

So why are lifetimes not already in place? We asked LG, Bosch, AEG, Miele and Indesit how long they would expect their own washing machines to last.

The responses vary but almost all mention the same problem – there are a lot of factors that affect the potential lifetime of a washing machine, making it very difficult to predict. Such factors include:

• Correct installation.
• Where in the house washing machine is installed (a machine may not last as long as it could do if placed in a garage without central heating).
• Over/under loading.
• Frequency of use.
• Detergent usage.

Of those that provided a figure, Miele came back with the strongest answer, saying that all their machines are tested to last 20 years. But Miele does not offer a free 20 year warranty. Instead, a small handful of models have a free 10 year warranty. Five year warranties are more common, but the remaining machines have the standard two year Miele warranty.

Indesit, which also owns Hotpoint, came back to say they’d expect their washing machines to last seven to eight years, with consumers looking to replace within five to six years to pre-empt the need to replace. The standard warranty for an Indesit/Hotpoint model is one year.

When I asked why the warranty length was so much shorter than the expected lifetime, a spokesperson from the company said that warranty length is an ongoing discussion, ‘but there are some retail outlets who like to sell their own extended warranty’. Of course, a documented expected lifetime will be very helpful when exercising your rights under the Sale of Goods Act once the warranty has expired.

Do you think that all washing machines should have a minimum lifespan, or that manufacturers should be able to set their own life expectancy? Or both?

Do you think manufacturers should give minimum lifespans to their washing machines?

Yes - manufacturers should provide minimum lifespans for their own machines (85%, 1,741 Votes)

All washing machines should have the same minimum lifespan (11%, 228 Votes)

No - manufacturers should not have to prescribe a product lifespan at all (3%, 70 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,039

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Comments

Thanks Adrian for providing us with an opportunity to push for longer manufacturers’ warranties.

My suggestion is that all washing machines and other major domestic appliances should come with a ten year warranty. If the manufacturer wants to limit this to a certain number of hours or washing cycles, that is fine as long as the consumer is told before purchase.

Obviously the manufacturer should not be expected to pay for repairs where the machine has been damaged by abuse.

My Philips machine lasted about 9 years before I had to replace the motor and another year or so before I had to replace the drain pump. It’s still going after 32 years. I want to keep it for as long as possible because it rinses well and is hot & cold fill.

To be fair I use it twice or three times a week and not a couple of times a day, as someone with a family might. I am capable of dealing with problems such as a blockage caused by coins left in a pocket, which could mean an expensive call-out or replacement for many users.

Cars are much more complicated than washing machines and are very easily abused, yet we get manufacturers’ warranties for three years or longer. In the earlier Conversation we learned that manufacturers design their machines to last for a certain number of cycles, but this information is not shared with prospective purchasers. That seems rather unfair.

The lifetime of a washing machine – or other appliance – will partly depend upon basic quality of components, usually reflected in the price, and the amount of use. It is unreasonable, and wishful thinking, to expect 10 year full guarantees for all machines. Equally, it is unreasonable for manufacturers to limit their liability to only one or two years; we are not buying toys.
We should expect to be given information on expected minimum trouble-free lives of appliances, based e.g. on years, hours operated, cycles run or a combination. This should accord with a sensible guarantee and would then give us information on which to base a reasoned buying decision. It may be that the second part of a long guarantee is based on partial recompense for a failure. 4 to 6 years would seem a possible minimum objective. We should not have to buy expensive extended warranties to get protection from failure.

In the meantime, in the absence of such guarantees, independent organisations such as Which? should give guidance on the reasonable life of appliances so that, as a last resort, there are supported grounds to pursue a legal claim under the “reasonable durability” requirement of the Sale of Goods Act. Consumers should not be short-changed as they can be at present.
Time for a concerted campaign for appropriate guarantees and relevant life information – hopefully lead by Which? but including sister organisations across Europe.

In the previous Conversation we learned that many modern washing machines are designed with ‘sealed tubs’ which makes certain repairs such as replacing the bearings very much more expensive than in earlier designs, effectively rendering these machines beyond economical repair.

If manufacturers are responsible for the cost of repairs they will have to go back to making repairable machines and avoid using cheap components that are likely to fail prematurely. This will add to costs but there is little risk of profiteering because manufacturers will have to compete with others.

Another reason I want to see 10 year guarantees is because it will ensure that manufacturers hold spares for a reasonable amount of time.

Wavechange: “Another reason I want to see 10 year guarantees is because it will ensure that manufacturers hold spares for a reasonable amount of time.”

How so?

All they’d do if the parts were NLA is settle the balance of the warranty as is the case presently and, this is a well trodden path.

I’d give you a link to explain it but I’d probably get into trouble.

One very important factor is that, other than the main chassis of any machine, much of the electronics, pumps, motors and ancillary items production is outsourced. If the supplier stops production, ceases to trade and so on then the “manufacturer” or more, the brand, doesn’t really have a lot of options open to them.

And, before you say, “oh well, the owner should just get a new machine”, I presume that the premise would be to force the car industry and everyone else to do likewise in law as well. I’d love to see how that went.

Just like a car, you’d get a repayment based on the remaining warranty at best but more likely a repayment based on market value at time of failure.

K.

Kenneth – You have told us that washing machines with ten year warranties are already available, so if these manufacturers have managed to get their act together, others can follow.

It is our money and the manufacturers are going to have to produce what the consumer demands. I am extremely grateful for the insights you have given us into how the appliance industry works and it is very clear that big changes are needed to afford consumers adequate protection.

Rather than continuing to discuss the problems, I think it is time to explore solutions that are fair to consumers and fair to the manufacturers.

Miele hold spares, I believe, for 20 years. It is reasonable when you buy an expensive appliance to expect it to be repairable and for spares to be available to give it a reasonable life. If manufacturers were made to provide this information at the time of purchase – as they are forced to do with energy rating for example – then we could be better helped in making a reasoned decision. I might be prepared take a risk of buying a machine for £199 that could only last a couple of years with a similar guarantee, but certainly not with one that cost £399.
We need better, more comprehnsive, information to help us when we buy. Another campaign!

Perhaps the EU could help by introducing requirements to hold spares for a suitable length of time. There is a good environmental reason for not scrapping domestic appliances prematurely. I can still get oven door springs for my 1982 Belling cooker. If this had not been possible I would have had to scrap it years ago and apart from an obvious design fault it still works well.

Long guarantees would mean that £199 washing machines would disappear but that would probably benefit everyone.

I do hope that Which? will produce a campaign as a result of our input but as I see it, pushing for longer warranties will sort out many problems. I think we need to be aware of the possibility that manufacturers could make derisory payments if parts are no longer available for appliances under warranty.

Okay, please think about this.

Yes you can get a ten year warranty, no problem. You will not get it on anything far South of £1000, there’s a reason for that, well, many actually and it will have limits. And, there are very good reasons for the limits as well.

Pay more, get more. Pay less, get less.

To expect a ten year warranty on anything much less than that sort of sum on a domestic appliance, the washing machine being the case in point, I would expect would be asking too much. Just price up the cost of an extended warranty for the same period as, all the manufacturers will do is run the same numbers and get near enough the same answers and out will come a cost. They may be able to do it a bit cheaper of course but, not hugely I wouldn’t expect.

You are not going to get in any shape or form a warranty like that without cost, it simply will not happen. The reason is very simple, it would make their businesses completely unviable.

Warranties are all costed out as it stands now. Making them longer or increasing the liability would merely be an extension of that process that would also be costed into the deal.

But spares is what I do for a living, I look at them almost all day long every single day and, if I’m not doing that I am looking at other appliance issues. So please, trust me, I know what I’m taking about on parts very well indeed.

Miele may have spares available for 20 years, maybe but not always, like everyone else when supply gets tight the price gets hiked. That way the parts are still available just not cheap, perhaps even making repair an uneconomic proposition.

The reason is largely twofold, the cost to reorder and sit on stock for goodness knows how long (which costs money) and that to produce in smaller batches once production ends can be prohibitively expensive, particularly on low use items.

But even allowing for that and, the notion of a ten year (impossible) warranty there is no legislation that spares for anything have to be available at all. Not a bit. Not a single scrap of law in the whole of the EU.

Go look, I have, the OFT has, DEFRA has, various trade bodies have and none of us can find a single shred of legislation on spares availability in either UK or EU law.

So, to even start down that road you need to fix that problem first and, I suspect that you don’t quite realise the immense scale of the issues in accomplishing that.

Note I’m not saying what you want is impossible because it isn’t, it’s just going to be a very hard, long battle that would require an utterly staggering amount of time and work. I very much doubt that Which? has the resources to fight that fight. Make a noise about it, sure, but it’d just be ignored I expect.

K.

wavechange, I’ve posted a link to WRAP who have an interesting document on washing machines. Its waiting for approval. It covers a good deal of the comments that have already been made (as in supportive). It also says, if I have read it correctly, that EU Eco label washing machines should have spares available for 12 years.
I’m sorry Ken to make this comment again. I appreciate that from inside you see lots of problems, but we really must progress to sorting out what is currently a bad deal for consumers – lack of information and products that don’t meet expectations. We have consumer organisations across Europe that should be working together, and with governemts, to get consumer rights on a better footing. Otherwise what are they for, and why do members pay to support them? Not just for a glossy mag once a month with reports that cannot tell the full story.

Kenneth – Rather than looking at the problems, let us explore solutions. If I take out an extended warranty on a washing machine the insurance company will – on average – make a profit on the policy. If the manufacturer is responsible for the repairs they can make whatever arrangements they want to provide repairs in the most cost effective way. It is probably 30 years since Which? pointed out that buying extended warranties is generally poor value for money.

I accept that there is no current requirement to hold spares for washing machines but if we do have long warranties then the manufacturers will have to address this problem, and again it is in their interest to do this in a cost effective way. One way that this is already done is to use the same parts in different models and makes, and that could be extended to minimise the amount of stock. As with cars, pattern parts can equal or exceed the quality of OEM components. The consumer cannot realistically be expected to find out about availability of spares at the time of purchase so the only fair solution is to give the manufacturer the responsibility for maintaining adequate stocks, if necessary by outsourcing production.

The manufacturer can dictate the price of a washing machine and say that the guarantee covers a fixed number of cycles, so that only light users are covered for ten years.

Malcolm has told us about his machine lasting for 9.5 years and neither of the problems he encountered would be warranty claims, so I do think ten year cover is perfectly realistic. If he was using the machine daily, I expect that he would reach the cycle limit before the ten years was up. However, a pensioner using their machine only once or twice per week would benefit from ten year cover.

Over the years, consumers have won some difficult battles, so please don’t discourage us for helping Which? to achieve further successes on behalf of the consumer. 🙂

WRAP advise DEFRA. DEFRA won’t be able to get much traction I expect without approval across the EU. To change the label, I was informed, takes up to ten years so don’t hold your breath waiting on it.

It looks like a bad deal but, is it?

Go to Beryls comments below.

You used to get that sort of service but, on average, a washing machine cost a month to two months salary at a minimum. Now, they are throw away money. How many would be willing to pay £2000 or more to get that?

So, they are remarkably cheaper but, don’t last as long as they once did.

You can make them last as long quite easily, but too few people are willing to pay for it.

Catch 22. For all I’m afraid.

The problem that is not being addressed and, nobody really wants to talk about is that people want too much for too little, We all want lower prices yet complain when the goods aren’t of a high enough standard.

It is my opinion that by the same token, because of the huge focus on lowering costs and delivering more for less, people will often just buy the cheaper products and, in our industry, the statistics bear that out loud and clear. So manufacturers rush to where the volume lies and cut the costs as appropriate to cater to that.

I said before in the other thread, if there’s no demand manufacturers won’t make it as they cannot sell it.

The bottom line is, the problem doesn’t lie entirely with the producers of any commoditised product, a lot of it is to do with educating people to understand the pros and cons of ever cheapened goods.

Or, you get legislation that demands better quality and accept the inevitable cost increases.

K.

Kenneth – In the earlier Conversation, you repeatedly blamed the consumer for poor quality cheap appliances. I blame the manufacturers and retailers, who can dictate the selling price. If all appliances come with ten year guarantees, there is fair competition.

One of the reasons that we are not keen to pay higher prices is that we might not be rewarded with longer life or lower overall running costs. Decent manufacturers’ warranties would remove this uncertainty.

Ah, see that is where I believe you to be incorrect.

Manufacturers do not dictate prices.

Market force dictates prices.

If the market demands cheaper, producers will meet that market demand. If it demands better quality more durable products, they will meet that demand.

They have no control over that part of it.

You can get a long warranty, we’ve been through all that. If you are willing to pay for it and, as I’ve said already, if you don’t want to do so that’s fine, don’t, it is your choice to make.

This is the fun of a free market economy.

But ask yourself this, if there was huge demand for a long warranty (and, the higher prices that go hand in hand with that) why aren’t people flocking to buy these better products that are already out there?

I would point out that, as I have before, I believe we are *all* guilty of this right the way from manufacture to end user in seeking out the lowest possible price or best deal if you like so, I am not blaming anyone or any group, I blame society as a whole as I feel that far more accurate than singling out any one group.

If people en masse demanded better quality and voted with their wallets, they’d get it.

If not, nothing will change anytime soon as low cost producers will continue to churn out cheap rubbish so long as people continue to buy it. All the rest will rush to compete.

K.

If market prices depend on supply and demand then if I contemplated purchasing a new washing machine retailing at £199 from Argos I would immediately want to know what is the catch? The catch being the cheaper machine has a sealed plastic irreparable drum and comes with a 1 year warrantee only. Therefore is that machine worthy of a 10 year warrantee when the manufacturer can only commit to say a minimum lifespan for a period of 2 years only? If the lifespan is 8 years short of the warrantee it would be totally unworkable and the manufacturer would be obliged to set the warrantee period [or liaise with the retailer to arrange an extended warrantee paid for by the consumer] to either coincide with the lifespan or to whatever he/she sees fit.

A 10 year warrantee would be more justifiable on a more expensive repairable robust machine [with a guarantee of the availability of spares] together with a more realistic lifespan according to the particular model which would no doubt be left to the discretion of the manufacturer to suit his/her own financial needs.

I can however predict some confusion on the horizon for consumers differentiating between warrantees and lifespans. This should be made very clear at the point of purchase.

And, therein lies one issue Beryl.

If people know what the deal is, fine.

If they don’t, not so good.

That said, an alarming number of people don’t know/don’t care/don’t bother to find out before they buy.

My take is that it isn’t so much that not all manufacturers or retailers are not totally averse to providing information it’s that, most people don’t care. Until it all goes wrong, then they find out the hard way after the fact just what the deal was.

Ditto warranty conditions.

I’d love to see better machines, asides from less people complaining about the quality in general which would make my life a whole lot easier, it does me a favour as my mainstay is spares and helping the repairers. So, big win for me.

But, I also understand and can see the hurdles involved so I am not trying to shoot everything down. I am trying to let you understand that most of the stuff you all will come up with, we have already, often many years ago.

K.

When I worked in research I was required to complete a declaration of interest (sometimes referred to as a conflict of interest) for each paper I had published. I had to state who was funding my work, be it a research council, EU or industry, no doubt because of the possibility that could affect the results and conclusions of my work. Many people including politicians are required to declare their interest. For example it would be useful to know if a politician was a director or had financial interests in an energy company if they were involved in a debate on the subject.

The Terms & Conditions for Which? Conversation do not require anyone to declare if they have a possible conflict of interest, though perhaps they should.

I acknowledge this is off topic but I invite all contributors to declare any commercial interests they may have in any aspect of the appliance industry. (I have none.)

As above. My interest is well documented and, I would hope, sufficiently clear.

It’s not exactly difficult to find out if you like though, deliberately.

To declare an interest and document it here would likely prove to be subject to censorship of sorts, as I believe at least one comment I made was. So, I cannot say what I do or for whom. Apparently.

But I don’t really care what anyone does, I just need to deal with what is, not what might be, should be or anything else. Should that insight prove useful, great. If not, ignore it.

Or I could just take the view that I should be paid for the time, knowledge and analysis and go away as thus far I’ve given you all, the audience at large and Which? all this information completely for free. For most I’d be charging by the hour, there’s a cost t everything. 😉

You may also take the view that I might just want to try to help and do the right thing.

I will leave it to you to decide.

K.

Kenneth – You have consistently said that it is unreasonable for the consumer to have ten year warranties, but your own company is doing this.

When I bought my washing machine in 1982 I paid under £200. I would expect to pay significantly more in 2014.

The build quality and reliability of cars, for example, has greatly improved. Presumably the well known car manufacturers have resisted consumer pressure for ever lower prices. Manufacturers do NOT have to take part in price wars and have to produce cheap and nasty products. I don’t watch advertising but I very much doubt that £199 washing machines are advertised as suitable only for light use or likely to be unreliable.

It’s time to enter the real world of consumers who demand to be treated fairly and not continue to feed us with the messages that any change is hard or nothing can be done. One thing that we should certainly be pushing for is information about the number of cycles a washing machine is designed to last for. I think you told us that manufacturers have this information, yet it is not generally made available to prospective purchasers. That is very wrong and if the information is not forthcoming, we will have to campaign for it to be provided.

You are entitled to the same fee as every other contributor to Which? Conversation. 🙂

Kenneth: I can’t believe that the GB public are as gullible as you declare them to be!

One lesson I have learned during my long life is that it is important to be able to see both sides of a situation [its called empathy]. Without it there can be little or no compromise. It is well known in psychological circles that it comes more naturally to women than to men, due mainly to their innate nurturing instincts which perhaps is the reason why I seem to be the only female participant in this long debate! There are always exceptions to every directive of course.

I can honestly declare that I have no commercial or any other interest other than I am inclined to be a somewhat private individual with a strong social conscience and an abhorrence towards all things of an unjust nature, which if you think about it is a contradiction in terms but that is something I have learned to live with.

Back to topic. For reasons I have already posted I don’t feel able at this point in time to vote for any of the Which? options due to the many unresolved uncertainties still outstanding in this debate. More evidence is needed I feel to back up some of Kenneth’s claims particularly with regard to people’s choices when investing their hard earned cash in something that they have come to depend upon and which can make so much difference to their quality of life. Also Wavechange’s reluctance to accept that not everyone possesses his brilliant scientific and knowledgeable intellect to the extent that most people are unable to carry out their own repairs with a view to extending the life of their own appliances. The majority of people [including myself] are at the mercy of service engineers who have to earn a living by charging for their services leaving consumers with difficult choices, to pay up or opt for the expense of a new machine.

Whatever the outcome and I think Which? for their part could be a little more proactive and transparent in resolving some of the issues raised in this enduring debate.

Like Beryl I am keen that we have a balanced view, and I certainly recognise the problem that some consumers can be unrealistic in their expectations.

I very much hope that Andy Trigg who runs the Whitegoodshelp website will join in this discussion. He made some very useful input into the earlier Conversation.

Beryl, it is a shame more ladies do not seem to contribute to conversations. I reluctantly agree that they have more empathy, and in many cases are less blinkered than men. Mrs R is the one to ask when you are stuck on a problem – I remember many years ago our farm-style wooden gate at the drive entrance became a bit loose on the hinge stile. As a practical man, I was looking at rebuilding that end of the gate with a new mortised stile. Mrs R suggested turning the gate round so the hinges attached to the other (sound) end; my objection was that the house name would now be on the inside, and I would have to undo two screws to reposition it, but I gave in gracefully.
A long winded way of saying that many ladies are very practical and, in the case of washing machines, have far more hands-on experience than most men.
Like you, I am not voting in the poll – as with many polls the issue presented is far too simplistic. Simply declaring minimum life is like giving a guarantee; what happens when the minimum life and guarantee are up? I want to know the machine is basically well-constructed so that it can be repaired if necessary (at sensible cost) and that components are decent quality so that failure will be rare – and, of course, that it performs its function in washing (and rinsing) clothes proerly. I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Beryl has mentioned the problem of washing machines not rinsing properly on various occasions and Which? has highlighted the issue in their reports. Kenneth has pointed out that it is essential to use the correct dose of detergent, but this is dependent on load and water hardness so difficult for the average user to assess.

It’s not much use if you have a durable washing machine that does not do its job properly. I have spent time trying to find out if the enzymes in biological detergents can cause skin irritation or cause problems for asthmatics, knowing that they were a problem in the early days for those working in factories where the products were made. I have found no evidence that enzymes are a problem, but laundry detergent contains a number of components and some will rinse better than others. For example, the ‘perfume’ used in these products obviously is not rinsed out.

I would love to know whether there is an official way of testing the adequacy of rinsing. What does Which? do in its tests and is there any European standard?

My ancient washing machine uses loads of water for rinsing but when I am looking for a replacement I want one where I can have extra rinses. The less residual chemicals on my clothes and bedding the better.

You can usually run a separate rinse and spin cycle at the end of your wash. Some even recommend a complete wash cycle without detergent. However, proper rinsing should be a prerequisite of a decent machine. Is it the focus on using minimal water that has reduced the effectiveness of rinsing, and, if so, is this a sensible trade-off?

I expect that all machines will allow this but it would be interesting to know which machines allow the number of rinses to be set rather than having to do them at the end of the normal programme.

I have been wanting to find out how Which? tests rinsing. I found the following on the Which? website, which suggests that rinsing is assessed by measuring the pH of water remaining in the fabric prior to the final spin. I think I would prefer to see a more quantitative assessment and to establish if other components of the laundry detergent tend to adhere to the fabric more than the detergent itself (unless this has already been established).

“Rinsing test for washing machines
To measure how well each washing machine removes detergent during the rinse cycle, we take freshly rinsed washing from the machine, just before the spin cycle, and spin it in a super-fast spin dryer. This dryer spins at 2800rpm, roughly twice as fast as a typical washing machine.

A machine that has been awarded one star for rinsing, may leave visible traces of detergent on your clothes.

After the spin, we collect water from the clothes and measure how alkaline it is compared with the alkalinity of the tap water used in the wash. Detergent is alkaline, so the greater the increase, the poorer the washing machine is at rinsing.”

Roger Rowley says:
11 July 2014

L G TRUE STEAM washing machines have a 10 year manufacturer guarentee on their motors as they are direct drive

Thanks Roger. I don’t know enough about washing machine design to know if there are any drawbacks but eliminating motor brushes and drive belts does seem to be a positive move. What we need is for LG to demonstrate enough confidence in their product to give the machine a 10 year guarantee.

One of our former regular contributors Dave D had repeated problems with a top of the range LG machine and nearly a fire, and little joy from customer services. In contrast, a family member who uses her more recent machine heavily has had no problems last time I asked.

Sorry, I have been away and had other things to be doing.

Wavechange you have gotten completely the wrong end of the stick.

I want to see change but, I realise that it is incredibly difficult to achieve and your comments have largely been discussed in the industry round and round for a decade or more at least. There’s nothing new.

What I did was try to change it, unlike many who just bump their gums about it I put my money where my mouth is. Only to discover still more and more issues, piled up atop problems.

So yes, I am in the real world, very much so. So much so that I deal with this professionally every single day.

The reality is that you can get what you want but, it will cost. As I have said repeatedly.

The constant demand for lower prices is utterly staggering and it is changing the industry hugely, only today it has been announced that Indesit are being sold out (well, 60% at least) to Whirlpool as they can’t make enough money, not enough scale to compete. This on top of Fagor Brandt entering into administration just before the turn of the year.

The real world view is that the manufacturers cannot make enough profit to survive. The products are too cheap and the demands too high.

K.

“Kenneth: I can’t believe that the GB public are as gullible as you declare them to be!”

The UK is a blip.

Second largest market to Germany in the EU but, on a global level, almost unnoticeable in the grand scheme of things.

You are talking about global corporations now, not local producers.

Until Ebac starts making washing machines in September in the UK, there has been no UK produced washing machines for years and, none of any real significance for a long, long time.

Therefore, logically, you have to realise that this is not a UK-centric issue only.

K.

Roger, I assume the LG machine has an induction motor so no brushes. Providing the inverter electronics are good then it should give a long-life. It’s a pity a decent warranty does not extend to other parts of the machine – just 2 years I think.
One other feature looks interesting – a telephone diagnostics service so you don’t have to call out an engineer to fault find (and pay him/her). Sounds good in principle and what WRAP recommends. I wonder how good it is in practice – anyone had any experiences?

DC motors have been used in top end machines for years.

“L G TRUE STEAM washing machines have a 10 year manufacturer guarentee on their motors as they are direct drive”

It’s one of the bits in an LG that rarely fail. That’s why it has a guarantee.

Oh and if you call them to claim you will have to pay an element up front and it is, so far as I am aware, only the motor stator that carries the warranty, not the hall sensor that does fail or the bearings.

You would be surprised at the number of people that *assume* that it is an all-encompassing 10 year warranty and, it isn’t.

LG’s are not bad machines but, this just demonstrates how marketing triumphs on occasion.

Drive belts rarely fail, a myth perpetrated by some. They do fail on occasion but anything can break and very often the a belt failing on a modern machine is either indicative of another issue or is a result of overloading as the drum jams, belt spins on the motor and burns through. Same happens on tumble dryers.

Let me illustrate this way, I would guess that belt failures are less than 1% of all service calls I see across multiple manufacturers. I have to guess as it’s so low we don’t bother to measure it.

K.

Kenneth,
“your comments have largely been discussed in the industry”. It’s time the consumers and their representatives got a grip on this. Industry does not put consumers first.

“The reality is that you can get what you want but, it will cost.” We know this and many accept it. The problem is consumers not being given the facts as to what a cheap machine offers. Poor performance and short life in many cases. Give consumers good information and many have the sense to make considered buying decisions.

“The real world view is that the manufacturers cannot make enough profit to survive.” This is what happens in all business when the participants start a downward price spiral. Eventually the weakest drop out and the market then becomes more realistic.

Good timing Malcolm.

Yes, this is the new de rigour thing to do.

Slap in a wifi connection and go for it with self diagnostics, automatically send an engineer to repair if it goes wrong.

Sounds great, yes?

What happens when it can’t communicate? Do you look at your network or, do you look at the machine?

What happens if you get someone out and it’s a blocked pump?

What’s the costs?

So many questions, very few answers, even within the trade.

Then we have a fancy new machine with an LCD display, wifi and all the rest that, I am informed, when people change their WAP to later standards will not be compatible. You need to pay for a new module (just think “OUCH!”) or live without it.

I can also tell you that the companies that are big on this sort of thing don’t exactly have a great track record on parts availability as, they live in a world where everything is obsolete in a few years.

So you could invest in this new all singing, all dancing technology and have no clue what it’s going to cost you or how long it will even work for.

Personally I wouldn’t and, I wouldn’t advise people to go down that road as it’s complication that is not required.

K.

“It’s time the consumers and their representatives got a grip on this. Industry does not put consumers first.”

In large part they do, they provide what the bulk of customers want. They do not cater to minorities as they operate on a regional and global level.

“Give consumers good information and many have the sense to make considered buying decisions.”

I completely agree with that.

“Eventually the weakest drop out and the market then becomes more realistic.”

The big get bigger and more dominant and the small get culled is an alternative view.

You may have notice that happened with banks, didn’t end well.

K.

Kenneth, don’t doubt what you say, of course. The issue here is that many, i guess, would like to keep their appliances running as long as possible. I discarded a Bosch washing machine when a repair may have given a worthwhile life extension. But I decided the cost of a callout was probably not worth the gamble that an economic repair was viable.
So to me anything that would help diagnose a problem without the need to call out an engineer is worthwhile trying. Whether it is a fault code on the machine, some sort of internet link, or whatever. Then of course we need repairable machines and sensibly priced components. Not in the manufacturers’ interests. But I dislike a culture where we throw away something as a routine when most of it might be good. It wastes resources, and my money.
WRAP have a good take on such issues, clearly done from the consumer’s point of view – it makes sense for them.

As I have said many times in Conversations, properly designed electronic circuitry is extremely reliable and should outlast the appliance, though a small failure rate is to be expected with even well designed products. I am surprised that a Hall effect sensor should be a failure point since they are one of the more reliable types of sensor and if they are failing with any frequency that suggests a design or quality control problem. Bearing failure could represent fair wear and tear or a quality issue, and either the owner or the manufacturer should pay for repairs depending on which applies.

I am glad to learn that I have ‘gotten completely the wrong end of the stick’, which seems to be a small but significant step forward from just being told I’m wrong. 🙂

Electronics are fine largely.

Until you shake them about violently or immerse them in water and corrosive detergents or, all of the above. That often ends badly.

You need to consider the environmental conditions that they are being exposed to and, whilst they are protected to a degree it cannot be made infallible like most things.

Malcolm, WRAP I know well along with most of the reports on this topic, let’s just leave that there with that I do not need reminding of it. 😉

I could post you a link to a whole load of fault codes and other diagnostic stuff but, again, I’d get into trouble as I published them or rather, as much as I could find and do so with safety in mind.

K.

Kenneth, “Malcolm, WRAP I know well along with most of the reports on this topic, let’s just leave that there with that I do not need reminding of it. ;)”.
With respect, Kenneth, this conversation is for the benefit of all participants, and whilst you may be au fait with WRAP, others may not be.
I posted a link (about 6 posts below this one) to WRAP’s proposals for washing machines. It is worth (others) reading.
🙂

Kenneth – I understand the problems of ensuring that electronic and electrical circuitry will operate reliably in hostile environments and have even redesigned some commercial equipment to overcome such issues and to improve electrical safety. Once again, the car industry has led the way, though they still have some weaknesses to address in areas such as warning light systems. From what you say, the appliance industry may need to catch up. Good design is not necessarily more expensive.

Please can you accept that those of us involved in this and earlier discussions are not completely ignorant and collectively I believe we are quite well informed. From what you have said, you have tried hard to achieve some of the things that the rest of us aspire to but may not have been successful. That is no reason for us to give up. 🙂

“From what you have said, you have tried hard to achieve some of the things that the rest of us aspire to but may not have been successful. That is no reason for us to give up.”

Was it Einstein that said doing the same thing over while expecting a different outcome was the definition of stupidity?

I’m not as harsh. Or as smart.

I just see it as inefficient, as a waste of time and resource to repeat and expect the different result.

But by all means, carry on. 😉

K.

Kenneth – Henry Ford said: “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?”

I will pull out of the discussion for the time being because it is taking up too much of my time.

“Henry Ford said: “The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right. Which one are you?”

Neither.

I deal in facts and data, opinion is a hindrance and ultimately subjective.

And anyway, Henry Ford was the man (rightly or wrongly) attributed with the invention of the modern mass production techniques, many of which are employed to this day and, which apparently many here seem to not like although that may just be the impression I take away. Perhaps more accurately, Western consumers don’t like the side effects.

Mass produced goods made at low cost, a technique that has been honed over the decades to become quite an art.

But, it was the dawn of the age of modern consumerism (my opinion) as we know it today.

Not long before that the dawn of the modern automatic washing machine as well. After Henry Ford mass production started and “normal” people could have one of those instead of spending countless hours washing clothes or, employ a servant to do that.

As we all became more affluent more people could afford these luxuries that, today are almost considered to be essential, volumes rose and the costs or production fell due to increased volume fed by more consumption. As is often the case, you can see it in data, the expectation was that prices would continue to fall at an almost exponential rate, like Moore’s Law only detrimental however, on primarily mechanical devices, the only way to continually reduce costs is to strip out materials after the production is as honed as it can be given the technologies available.

Logically therefore, to reduce pricing further and further the only option is to reduce production costs through making less durable goods by way of lowering the quality of materials used.

I am simplifying to a degree I know but I’m sure you’ll get the gist.

If you listen to (or watch) Hans Rosling then you will better understand the profound impact that the mass produced washing machine, along with other modern appliances that we all take for granted actually had. He’s not the only example, just the best one that doesn’t descend into a statistical or economic morass.

Just Google “hans rosling ted washing machine”, you’ll find it.

It’s also the best thing anyone ever did with a Samsung washer. 😉

K.

I have a Which best buy Hotpoint washing machine that failed after just 18 months. The 5-year warranty only covered parts, not labour, and only if the labour was purchased from Hotpoint for £110. After paying Hotpoint £110 for labour under protest, I claimed against the online retailer under Section 48B of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 but they refused to reimburse me. I therefore successfully claimed against my credit card issuer under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

I would never buy Hotpoint again. As well as poor reliability, their customer service and indifference to resolving a defect of their making was atrocious.

Roger Rowley says:
11 July 2014

You can do what I did I had a machine that was over 6 years old and every year year on year I bought a stand alone insurance and over time when the appliance needed a repair the overall cost of the insurance was far cheaper then not having it insured and paying the manufactures own insurance which can be colossal

This is not the first time that NFH has mentioned making use of our rights when purchasing via credit card. Another example can be found on page 79 of the April 2014 issue of Which? magazine.

Hi all, you may also be interested in this piece from our Tech team on the lifespans of TVs: http://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/tvs/how-long-will-your-tv-last-we-can-tell-you/

Patrick – Thanks for posting the link to Which? Tech Daily regarding TVs. It would probably be worth anyone contemplating purchase to have a look at a recent Conversation about the growing problem of products becoming obsolete long before they stop working:
TVs: http://blogs.which.co.uk/technology/tvs/how-long-will-your-tv-last-we-can-tell-you/

Our last Bosch washing machine lasted 9.5 years. In that time it was used daily and only stopped working twice – once when twine fouled the pump impeller, and at the end when the brushes failed but other damage seemed to result and we replaced it. I regard that as a decent life, and would have been happy to have made a repair in that time if I could have been sure the basic build was sound, thus assuring a decent overall life.

WRAP,
“WRAP is a not for profit company limited by guarantee, set up with an independent board to promote resource efficiency. We are funded by an increasing number of governments and other (not quasi) public sector organisations.”
Seems a pity we were not made aware of this organisation before (or have I missed it – sorry if so!). On washing machines – see link below – it covers a good deal of what has been dicussed in the previous conversation (that carried on from Samsung fridge-freezer comments).
It considers build quality, fault reporting, durability, repairability, availability of spares (apparently under the EU Eco label spares must be available for 12 years?), guarantees (2 to 5 years depending on price), and so on.

http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Buying%20spec%20-%20Washing%20Mac%20AG.pdf

Which? – Patrick? – do you liaise and cooperate with this organisation? It does seem to mesh with the sort of ideas that appear on Conversations.

Thanks Adrian.
Can Connect not be used to give you a much more comprehensive view on Which? members expectations on durability and life? Or even by contacting all your online members?
There does seem to be a consistent view emerging from this, and the Samsung conversation, about life and durability. Apart from providing “input”, what are Which? proposing to do about durability and other issues that have been raised? Are you working in cooperation with European consumer groups?
I am never clear about what Which? do with the outcomes of Conversations and the information that emerges. I am sure most of the contributors would like to feel it is not just a chat room!

Which? is a member of BEUC which is an umbrella body for consumer organisations in the EU. It does papers when liaising with EU “bodies”.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Consumers%27_Bureau
Peter Vicary-Smith is the current chairman.

Their positioning papers I have looked at in the context of the 60C wash that is not anywhere near
60C and in the papers on-line I can see nothing about hygienic washing but plenty on reducing water and electrical usage. This process started in 2008 – this is an excerpt from a BEUC paper in February 2010 to give a flavour of the activity:

” 1. Generic ecodesign requirements should apply earlier
We suggest setting the standard programme for 40º C and 60º C as default one year after the measure enters into force as this may bring additional resource savings. We also suggest introducing the information requirements one year after the measure enters into force as manufacturers should not need two years to update the booklet of instructions.

We ask introducing the 20º C programme at the same time when the second tier of
ecodesign requirements enters into force as this will provide for consistency with
the timing of the specific ecodesign requirements”

I have looked at , and joined a number of consumer sites around the world to see how they do things and it is really quite interesting.

I think we already established in the previous Conversation the answer to the question as to how long should I expect a washing machine to last is far from black or white as it would ultimately depend on many facets some of which have been posted above. I.e. Price, durability, reputation, warrantee period, inherent design faults, rinsing capability, repairability, usage etc.

Based on what I learned from the previous Conversation the first thing I would want to know is how well does it rinse? I would like to witness a demonstration using a recommended detergent or perhaps a free returnable or refundable trial period to test it out myself before committing to finally buy or assurance this is included in the warrantee without the hassle of having to resort to the SoGA. I am still of the opinion that machines that fail to rinse properly should be regarded as inherently faulty. I think the more you pay for a machine you should expect a longer guarantee and you ought not to be expected to enter into any extended warrantee agreements as this lets the manufacturer off the hook.

As the introduction indicates, for new readers many of the washing machine issues have been aired on https://conversation.which.co.uk/energy-home/samsung-fix-all-faulty-fridge-freezers-for-free/.
I am a bit concerned that just launching a new conversation on this topic will take us round the houses whereas we should be seeing some decisions and actions proposed by Which? By all means let us keep exploring this topic and giving information and opinions, but it goes to the heart of consumer protection and we should see Which? addressing that on our behalf, shouldn’t we?.

Malcolm – Thanks very much for posting the link to the WRAP Buying Specification Guides for Durability and Repair of washing machines. This is how we should be thinking.

One thing I would add to the recommendations is the need to make washing machines more resistant to misuse and minor abuse. As we have been told, call-outs because of blockages and other problems caused by foreign objects. You have suffered this problem and so have I. Worn out motor brushes are a common cause of failure (it is a problem that is exacerbated by the frequent change in direction of rotation). Yet it is very simple and inexpensive to provide a warning that the brushes are going to need replaced soon, so that the user is not left with a non-functioning machine. I have seen this done in motors dating from the 1960s.

With other electrical goods, blockage of ventilation slots can lead to premature failure and even increase the risk of fire. Any competent manufacturer should site these carefully to minimise the risk of blockage. One of my personal hobby horses is that electrical and electronic components need to be protected from water. I am delighted to see this recommendation in the WRAP document.

Hello Malcolm, this is a subject area we’re investigating. We wanted to publish a new debate specifically on this subject for more people to engage in, rather than just those who had found the 2012 Samsung debate. We decided to do this due to the amount of interest it was gaining from you all. This will help us in our investigations, with your views and poll votes being integral to how we take this forward.

Thanks Patrick. As I commented to Adrian, above, on an important topic such as this can Which? use the greater resources of Connect and its online members to get a more comprehensive view than the more restricted Conversation audience? It is a small proportion so far of the same people responding as contributed to the Samsung conversation.

Connect is certainly another option for us as per a survey. We haven’t yet promoted this post with members, but will do so later in the week 🙂

mr – I answer a great number of Connect surveys per year and to be honest I find Conversations a far better forum of teasing out issues. The surveys I copy as a matter of course now as I think sometimes the survey narrows the subject.

I would think a complex matter would need some sort of preamble before asking people how long they think manufacturers should guarantee products.

The current survey [todays] on scams requires you to only report anything in the last 12 months which makes the experience of my father, and of a close friend irrelevant. These were losses of multi-thousands. Both lived alone and both were apparently intelligent.

dt, I agree about the Connect surveys. However, I do not see why they cannot be tailored to explore a single topic, such as this, in much more detail. My point was being able to get the views of a much larger group (albeit still Which? members). This conversation (I’m including the Samsung predecessor) is extremely interesting and constructiver, but with relatively few subscribers.

I have had a look at Connect surveys but find them annoyingly superficial, so I prefer to contribute here. It would be really good to have more input from relevant members of the Which? team to guide the discussion to explore particular issues.

I do however think it is useful to collect statistical information from a large number of people. For example the annual Which? car survey helps to identify that there is a problem with the braking system of a car though it would be unrealistic for such a survey to try to establish the nature of the problem.

I hear you on replies from authors – and we’ll try our best to do more of that. I know it’s all the same people so far Malcolm, but we’re including this Conversation in the Which? Members’ email this Friday to 300,000 members 🙂

Anyway, thanks for sharing, we’re taking all your views on board.

One thing that I thought might be worth exploring is average use. Would it be possible/easy for manufacturers to put a minimum lifespan on a washing machine when some people will use it everyday and others just once a week. Or if someone always fills the machine to the top, or lives in a hard water area? All of these factors would impact lifespan and would make it difficult for a manufacturer to put a lifespan on it. What do you think?

I would like to see manufacturers provide a warranty for ten years or a certain number of washing cycles, whichever comes first. This works fine for car warranties, protecting both the consumer and also the manufacturers from claims relating to vehicles that cover high mileages. It would be easy to display the cycle count and that information would be helpful to owners, manufacturers and service engineers. Obviously use is relevant when attempting to compile statistics about reliability etc.

Hard water is a rather uncertain factor. My own water is officially described as ‘very hard’ by the supplier, though it was obviously much harder 30 years ago. Replacing a failed heater or a sticking valve caused by hard water might have to be excluded from a manufacturer’s warranty in the same way that reasonable wear & tear is.

Thanks Patrick.
It is never straightforward to put an expected lifespan on anything, as you say it depends upon use as well as machine quality – water quality, perhaps detergent type, quality and use, drum loads – but these are all part of what washing machines have to endure in practice, and manufacturers need to take them into account. Equally, differences in machine build quality, component variation, will have an effect – but again, part of the manufacturer’s consideration.
There will always be rogue machines and rogue users, but overall I would have thought a well-designed machine, with good quality components and built in a quality-controlled environment, properly tested, should be capable of reaching a reasonably predictable minimum life for the (vast) majority of users. So the manufacturer should be capable of quoting an appropriate expected life and suitable guarantee. On the manufacturers’ part it is about balancing risk of failure against inherent reliability and pricing in the early problems. Cycles, or hours use, is probably a fair basis; however users will need guidance on how to calculate their expected use to judge whether a machine is suitable. Under Samsung, I think, someone pointed to a life of 10 000 hours. Sounds a lot, but there are 8760 hours in a year; so this was 14 months (unless it related to compressor operation – I don’t know what the duty cycle might be).
I believe that consumers need information on predicted minimum life, repairability and spares availability to keep their machine operating if they are to make a considered decision.

Hi Malcom,

I work in the Social Research team and its great to hear your comments as sometimes it may not be clear why we ask particular questions on the topics we do and why certain time frames are put on certain surveys. In regards to your query on scams we had to limit it to the last year because this was an annual survey and we didn’t want to run the risk of people telling us about a scam they had already told us about in the previous year’s survey. If a new member was filling in this survey for the first time (who had experiences of scams outside the 12 month period) we could collect information on this but editorially its difficult for us to report this data as we’d be talking about scams in the last 12 months and scams older than 12 months – so to make the data as clean and as manageable as possible we have to put this time limit on our surveys. This is common market research practice. But thanks Malcolm for bringing this to our attention as maybe there’s some learning here for us in terms of explaining why we do put certain time frames on surveys.

Hello Ciara, the question was raised by dieseltaylor who, I’m sure, will have read your response.
🙂

Ciara –

Thank you for the explanation .

How about surveying members to see if they are in favour of a safe haven – as in Which? lists all acceptable sites for certain subjects, and a blacklist of ones that are dubious. Rogue sites offering cheap tickets, and those charging for otherwise free services abound and it is getting more difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. : )

And of course a scam portal, a Black Museum of how people have suffered.

I would certainly welcome more female back up when confronting the intricacies and problems posed by dysfunctional and badly designed white goods.

The question of washing machine detergent and allergies may have been subjected to various dermatological testing and confirmed relatively safe but with some reservations. More research is needed to determine the reason why some people are more sensitive than others and in particular to histamine levels as the highest concentrations of histamine are found in the skin, lungs and stomach, the skin being more relevant to this debate. There is a certain enzyme [diamine oxidase] responsible for breaking down histamine in the bodies system. Some people have low levels of this enzyme which renders them more susceptible when they come into contact with irritants or eat too many histamine rich foods, when they are more likely to suffer allergy like symptoms such as itching and rashes.

This in no way excuses or justifies machines that fail to rinse properly in the name of reducing energy and water supply as all consumers should be assured of a clean and detergent free wash. Extra rinsing only adds to the consumption of both.

Beryl – The very latest research suggests that the mutation occurring as our skin has become lighter over thousands of years may also be involved in some people suffering allergies etc. Unfortunately sInce I read it yesterday I have managed to lose it……

And of course VOC’s are much more common in everyday circumstances.
WHO guidelines for indoor air quality : dampness and mould
http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/43325/E92645.pd

SF says:
10 July 2014

There are two principles I would strongly advocate for ALL major white goods, or indeed, any products that are considered important to our standard of living:

1. Products are made to a HIGH MINIMUM standard of quality, so that they last as long as possible. There are many things I would like to NOT have to keep replacing every few years – it’s extremely costly to our environment, and ultimately detrimental our health. Of course there should still be a RANGE of products available offering different levels of performance at different prices so consumer choice remains, but even the very cheapest basic models should reach a good minimum quality. At the moment, across many product types, that minimum seems rather poor.

2. I would dearly love ALL manufacturers to move towards MODULARIZING their designs – so that if my old washing machine needs a part replacement, there will always be spares available because the current new models use the same modules. It would push designers towards cleaner, smarter designs, reduce the cost of manufacturing & massively reduce the appalling waste that we currently produce.

This would hopefully result in much more considered consumption (we think much more carefully before we make another major purchase), far less waste (we are less likely to keep replacing faulty items because old machines can be repaired inexpensively, hurrah!) & much more time for the things we value in life. Granted, there would be economic repercussions for the businesses involved, initially at least, but I’m sure they would rise to the challenge. In any case, being a heavily consumer-dependent economy is hardly sustainable in the long term. I deplore the built-in obsolescence that has become the standard business model across so many sectors. It’s time we all (consumers, companies, governments) focused on longer term lifespans.

Wow, those expectations are incredibly low. “One solution could be to decree that all washing machines should have a minimum lifetime, perhaps three or four years”. I thought that’s what we were fighting? Washing machines only lasting 3 or 4 years IS the current problem – not something to aspire to.

Also, the bit that says,”the average consumer expects a washing machine to last six years before it needs replacing” is ambiguous because it could be read as a statement. Is that what they expect, in that 6 years is a minimum they would “expect”, and anything less would be unacceptable, or are they just reporting what they expect as in based on previous disappointing experience? Expectations can be aspirational or simply reflections of realistic expectations based on experience and there’s a big difference between the two.

SF is right that we need to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle. There are many cars on our roads that are ten or fifteen years old,partly driven by the fact that not everyone can afford to buy a new one every year or two. Our expectations for the useful working life of cars has, I believe, increased since the 60s as a result of improved durability. In contrast, our expectations for washing machines are lower, no doubt as a result of our own experiences and those of friends and family.

In pushing for a ten year manufacturer’s warranty for washing machines, I don’t expect this to happen overnight, but the length of car warranties has become an important selling point. Hopefully the same will happen with washing machines. The change has started, with models with 5 or 10 year warranties (manufacturer or retailer) available.

Which? needs to help us by taking into account the length of the warranty when giving scores and awarding ‘Best Buy’ status to the products it tests.

wgh, I agree about washing machine life. For many people they are a significant financial outlay – we should not be sold short-lived “toys”. I think there is a difference between “life without fault” and “sensible working life”. I would expect that a machine may stop working in the first few years of normal use perhaps, for example, because brushes wear out, a seal fails, a belt needs replacing. So a maintenance repair to restore the machine. I would not expect a motor to fail totally, bearings to fail, electronics to fail, for example – these are all reliable items if specified correctly. A decent machine then, I believe, should be expected to last 10 years, with maybe one or two reasonably-priced repairs.
An inhibiting factor is the cost of finding out why your machine stopped working when it gets older. I met this with out Bosch. Initially at 9.5 years the motor slowed and brushes were replaced; this didn’t cure the problem. Rather than spend, potentially, an unknown amount on diagnosing and repairing the fault I threw in the towel, felt nearly 10 years was OK and replaced it. But I’m aware most of the machine was in very good order with potentially a few years more life.
WRAP suggest that machines should have much better fault indications; this seems a very sensible proposal – you could then make a much better decision about whether it was economic to keep a machine operating.
We do need guidance on what reasonable life should be, not based on some of the rubbish on offer, but what ought to be achievable by decent design and quality of components.

One example of a fault indicator would be a warning that brushes need to be replaced, much like a service indicator in a car. You can still use the machine but know that action is needed fairly soon. Simply allowing brushes to wear out may mean that the user is left with a machine full of washing and detergent. Worn out brushes can cause arcing and damage that considerably reduce the life expectancy of the motor, which would be expensive to replace.

Hopefully brushless DC motors will be more widely used in washing machines soon. We have had the technology for decades.

wavechange, agreed replacing a motor can be expensive. But these are also serviceable. We have a local company that rebuilds motors and alternators. My £400 Renault alternator was rebuilt for £200. My son’s Nissan cooling fan motors (2) wore brushes and burned out the windings. New Nissan assembly – £945. Motors rebuilt – £240. We must get away from a throwaway culture, but to achieve that we need information, and products that are repairable.

Malcolm – I agree. There are many companies that specialise in repairing and rewinding motors and alternators, and in my experience the cost is considerably less – as your examples illustrate.

Top quality bearings are also available from specialist firms at very reasonable prices, well below what the appliance manufacturer would charge. I am not blaming the manufacturer because it costs money to maintain stocks, but there are big savings to be made.

Brushes and bearings are subject to wear and tear, so I would not expect a manufacturer’s warranty to cover them unless they obviously failed prematurely. If we reject the throwaway culture and push for repairable goods there will be plenty of employment opportunities in appliance repair and the consumer will benefit from lower overall costs than they do if they have to replace their appliances frequently.

J Underwood says:
11 July 2014

I bought a new machine 18 months ago and 6 months ago took out extended warranty insurance with Domestic & General at a cost of £5.25 per month. On average, I use my machine once every 2 months, so I have used it about 10 times so far. Seems a very expensive rip off to me, but if it wasn’t insured something would go wrong terminally!

The debate seems to have evolved unanimously into a need to persuade manufacturers to produce more appliances with guaranteed spares and repairs and a need to move forward in an attempt to persuade manufacturers this is what the majority of consumers want and we would prefer it if they stopped rolling out inferior irreparable throw away pollutant machines with a short lifespan with little or no warrantee. In other words quality goods, as has been established in the car industry.

The emphasis now needs to switch to finding solutions as to how this can be achieved. According to Kenneth there remains a demand for cheap inferior quality throwaway goods but I have yet to see convincing evidence of this. If this is true then manufacturers will continue to feed the demand in order to boost their profit margins. If it is not true then manufacturers are guilty of producing inferior goods in the expectation that smart promotional and advertising schemes will persuade unsuspecting consumers to purchase them.

Which? could initiate a campaign to establish a general consensus by asking members whether they would prefer to purchase a cheaper ‘quick fix’ machine or pay a bit more and opt for quality and repair assurance. Participants to the debate will have no trouble at all I am sure in suggesting other means of establishing this. Educating the public has already been suggested in the Samsung Convo but in order to move forward there needs to be some constructive proposals on how to achieve this.

……………….have just read Patricks post re new Consumer Rights Law which touches on some of the issues I raised above.

Nikki says:
11 July 2014

The lifetime of a machine has too many variables. My household has gone changed over the years: 2 adults, then 3 under 5 children, 4 sportmen and then 3 adults. I would not expect a machine to last the same length of time under the different usage required. At one point it was 3/5 times a day, now 3/5 times a week.
The machine I have came with a free 10 year guarentee but I must say I have only had one call out as I changed the seal by watching youtube so maybe they were safe offering it. I will say I bought a more expensive machine as I had such heavy use.
I certainly would expect a machine, not heavily used to last six years. It’s not that many loads.

You can avoid the difficulty by offering a guarantee that covers either ten years or a certain number of cycles, whichever comes first. The low user and high user are protected and it is fair to the manufacturer too.

This works fine for cars, where it is normal to provide cover for a fixed number of years or miles.

Just buy a Miele and get on with life!

I read with interest Wavechan’s experience with a Phillips washing machine which has truly lasted well but was surprised he wanted to keep it going as it’s a hot and cold fill. Unless the hot water is instant, which I doubt, there’s no point in having a hot fill on any washing machine. Turn your hot tap on and measure how much water is used before it reaches the desired temperature say 30 or 40 degrees and how much it costs to produce. Even when the machine has reached its capacity the thermostat determines how long the water needs to be heated, or how much cold needs to be added to reach the ambient temperature. A cold fill machine is simpler taking in the water and heating it,one less pipe to split and flood the kitchen, and therefore should last longer.
My Bosch is in its eighth year and seems to be working fine, at the time of purchase I spent a little extra buying it and believe the right choice was made. There are many thoughts on how long a machine should last and I think 10 years is a good benchmark ,but as I only use the machine about once a week as it’s just me to wash for,I could argue 15 years compared to family machines being given maximum usage

Richard – You are right that we should think about practicalities.

If I remember (I am not as careful as I used to be) I run the tap on nearby kitchen sink so that my machine takes in hot water more or less immediately. I did once compare the amount of electricity used with cold fill (achieved by turning off the hot water supply) and there was a significant difference. Working out the amount of gas used to heat the water proved to difficult for me.

Where a hot & cold fill machine is beneficial is for those who use solar power to produce ‘free’ hot water, provided that their machine actually takes in hot water on the cycle in use. I know mine does not use hot water on the lowest temperature programme, so there is no point in running off water beforehand.

SF says:
11 July 2014

Given that electricity, on average, costs THREE times the price of gas, I’d strongly prefer my machine to be run on both hot & cold fill (simplicity is not really an issue – it’s just one extra pipe & if fitted properly should last well). Sadly, I’ve recently had to replace my lovely old ecological machine with a new A rated one – the new machine only runs on cold fill & I am already dreading the massively increased electricity bills (I am not fortunate enough to benefit from free solar energy). Unless somehow, magically, the new machine is three times more efficient than the old machine (I doubt this very much), usage costs will inevitably increase.

I truly believe some manufacturers don’t want there machines to last, they want to make more money with parts and servicing or people replacing there machine. Although I think that the cost of the white goods are very cheap compared to say 30-40years ago, so maybe you get what you pay for.

I’d like to see all products guaranteed for their half-life – either in years owned or amount of usage. That way we’d all know what lifespan to expect and manufacturers would not be able to claim what they could not back up.
Not sure how this would be achieved yet – in terms of how you could prove that you had only given your kettle/washer/toaster etc a reasonable amount of use. My Miele washing machine (guaranteed for 10 years, which was why I bought it) has a meter inside showing the number of hours used, which is useful for this, but I don’t know what sort of cost this adds.