The washing machines that are cheaper to replace than fix

New washing machines break down faster - and are more expensive to repair

handyman repairing a washing...

Washing machine manufacturers are designing appliances to be so complex to repair, that it's cheaper just to replace them instead. How can this be a design innovation?

The announcement was made by Which? It highlighted that the design was to blame in a number of washing machines, particularly when it came to the bearings. Faulty bearings is one of the top five most common problems with these machines. However, Hotpoint, Bosch, Zanussi, Beko, Indesit, and AEG all make models that seal the bearings in the drum, so they cannot be easily replaced.

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." It means they often cost more to repair than replace - when labour is factored in - so owners are forced to buy new machines.

Which? highlighted that this trend was getting more pronounced. It compared the models to those available in the 1990s, and discovered that the older ones were far easier to dismantle. The manufacturers themselves said that sealed drums were more reliable.


This kind of design feature has contributed to the shortening lifespans of household appliances. The Whitegoods Trade Association acknowledges that the average lifespan of a washing machine has dropped from ten years to seven, and it adds: "It is not unusual for cheaper appliances to only last a few years now."

It attributes this to the pressure to reduce prices, which it says means products cannot have the same build quality, performance or longevity. It says the lowest grade of washing machine will be able to wash for around 600 hours in its lifetime - which if it is used twice a day would last three years at best.

It's hardy surprising that so many consumers are so disappointed. It's easy to feel that as the technology involved in the design and manufacture of white goods has evolved, surely they ought to be more durable and easy to repair - rather than less so.

But what do you think? Do appliances last long enough in your house? Let us know in the comments.

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