I’ve long been a fan of KitchenAid dishwashers. Our first one was in a rental home in Annapolis in the early 1990s. It was at least 20 years old back then and worked like a charm for the next three years. It was still working fine when we left that house.
Our second KitchenAid was in the house we bought here in Roanoke when we moved here in 1994. That one, was at least 15 years old when we moved in. But it worked great, too, for at least 7 years.
When it quit at the ripe old age of 22 we replaced it with a GE that was a piece of junk. That one lasted 3 or 4 years. When it crapped out, about 7 years ago, I said to my wife, “Let’s buy another KitchenAid — they last forever.”
So we did. It cost $500 and it worked for 5 years. Then it wouldn’t get anything in the top rack clean. We had a repairman out twice and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it.
We bought another KitchenAid — this one cost $700 — less than two years ago.
Just after Christmas, the top rack collapsed. It has wheels that are mounted on plastic pegs that are snapped onto the metal top rack. The wheels run along metal slides that are bolted to the dishwasher’s interior walls. The problem was, the plastic pegs that hold the wheels onto the rack had disintegrated.
The warranty on the dishwasher is for one year, except the racks, which are warranteed for 5 years. So I called Kitchenaid.
The customer service department sent me a new rack — but not the plastic pegs that snap onto it, as I had specifically requested. So I called them again. This second time they sent all the plastic parts I needed.
Before I had a chance to make the repairs, the dishwasher stopped working. It still made noise and everything — but no dishes were getting clean. So I called KitchenAid again and spoke to a nice customer service rep.
I politely told her the story above — and that I used to be a big KitchenAid fan, because the first two we had were so rugged and reliable. But that it seemed like they weren’t so reliable way any more.
She told me that my dishwasher was out of warranty (we did not buy the extended service plan) but that because of my history with the company, she would make an exception. She dispatched a repairman to our house, and said the expenses would be covered by KitchenAid.
The repairman showed up a few days later. He works for a small appliance-repair business in Salem. He said the motor was bad and he’d order a new one. A little more than a week later he was back with a new motor. The motor unit in these machines is more or less like the engine in a car. It’s the guts of the machine, and includes the moter, the pump, the disposal, a filter, etc. The units pop in and out pretty quickly. It’s no more involved than changing a car alternator. Bonus: he also fixed the top rack.
While he was working, I started telling the guy my KitchenAid tales of woe, and asking him about dishwashers (he repairs all brands). He said my first two KitchenAids, the ones that worked trouble-free for decades, had been manufactured by Hobart. The next two were manufactured by Whirlpool, which bought the brand from Hobart in 1986.
He said he had fixed the pegs on the top rack on at least 100 latter-era KitchenAid dishwashers in the past two years. Full motor-unit replacements are not that uncommon either, he said. When homeowners have to pay for that themselves, that costs somewhere around $400 — which is a lot for a $700 machine
“For what brand do you get the fewest number of repair calls?” I asked.
“Bosch,” the repairman said without hesitation. Those cost around $700. “Next would be Samsung.”
Our repaired KitchenAid dishwasher is working fine now. We are satisfied. The repairs didn’t cost anything, after all. The repairman told me his instructions from the company were “Make the customer happy.” Thank you, KitchenAid.
But there are many KitchenAid customers who feel differently. Their problems are varied and numerous: fuses that regularly burn out; the seemingly ubiquitous wheels falling off the top racks; the motor units that go bad.
For those reasons, we’re not holding out much hope that this fixed KitchenAid dishwasher is going to last as long as the first two. With a little luck, we might get 3 more years out of it — like we got 5 years out of the third KitchenAid. Alas. KitchenAid ain’t what it used to be.
When it finally quits, we already know what we’re going to buy to replace it.
And it’s not a KitchenAid.