As washers became more complex machines loaded with useful features, they got better at cleaning while using less water. But breakage rates are surprisingly high for some, ranging from an estimated 14 to 29 percent by the fifth year of ownership. Consumer Reports’ latest survey reveals which brands are more likely to break and which make the most reliable washing machines.
We asked more than 69,000 subscribers about their experiences with washing machines bought new between 2008 and 2016 and accounting for use and service contract coverage. Unlike our breakage data, our repair cost data does not control for the age of the machine, use, or service contract coverage. Here’s what we found.
Speed Queen stands out as a reliable brand, while Fisher & Paykel is more prone to breaking than others. Estimated breakage rates for agitator washers range from 14 to 26 percent, and the median out-of-pocket repair cost is $112.
No brand stands out as being the most or least reliable HE top-loader, the kind without an agitator. Estimated breakage rates range from 19 to 24 percent, and the median repair cost is $140.
LG and Samsung are among the more reliable brands, while Frigidaire is more prone to breaking, so much so that we can’t recommend Frigidaire front-loaders for now. Front-loader breakage rate estimates vary from 18 to 29 percent, and the median repair cost is $136.
To make our recommended list washers cannot have brand reliability issues. Additionally, high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders must earn a score of 71 or higher and agitator top-loaders have to score 51 or higher. Why the different standard?
“Agitator washers, as a group, do not perform as well in our tests for cleaning, water and energy efficiency, gentleness, capacity and noise, although they’re faster,” says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who oversees our tests.
So we set the bar lower for these machines, knowing that some consumers prefer agitator washing machines. None currently in our washing machine Ratings make the recommended list. The highest scored 47, the $450 Amana NTW4755EW.
They can’t have brand reliability issues and must score 80 or higher to be recommended. We set the bar higher for front-loaders since they perform better overall as a group.