Protect Your Investment: Repairs for your washing machine

    Consumer Reports News: December 10, 2008 12:09 AM

    Perhaps you've experienced this scenario: Your washing machine is broken but you're not sure whether you should repair it or replace it. Replacing your clunker of an appliance will be pricey, but determining repair costs can be elusive until you've sprung for the initial service call—and then you fret over whether the quoted price for the fix is legit. Meanwhile, loads of laundry are piling up and the kids are clamoring for their favorite jeans or hoodies.

    That's why we've consulted with RepairClinic.com, an appliance-parts retailer whose site offers diagnostic, maintenance, and repair advice for appliances, to help you with the most common washer problems. In the table below (click on the read more option), we've listed the typical costs for a DIY fix and a professional repair for the most common problems with washing machines. Prices for pro repairs include parts.

    Front-loading washing machines have become more popular in recent years, with U.S. consumers apparently willing to pay more for the better cleaning performance these appliances typically deliver. Professional repairs for front-loaders tend to cost more than they do for top-loaders, too.

    Most washing machines are worth fixing if they are three or four years old or less (available to subscribers). But we suggest that you replace your washer when repairing it would cost 50 percent or more of the cost of a comparable new model. For more details, read our guide to repairing or replacing your appliances.—Ed Perratore

    Essential information: The best of today's washers provide superior cleaning while using less energy and water. Visit our washing-machine product page for more details, including a breakdown of types, features, brands, and, for subscribers, ratings and brand repair history.

    COMMON WASHING MACHINE PROBLEMS

    Situation Problem Part DIY-Repair Cost Pro-Repair Cost
    Water enters your front- or top-loader even when you're not running the machine. If you don't fix the problem, water will fill the tub and cause a flood. Water-inlet valve.
    The rubber diaphragm in the valve, which connects to the intake hose, has probably worn out.
    $25 to $50 $100 to $140
    Your top-loader pumps out water but won't spin, leaving soaked clothes at the end of a cycle. Motor coupler.
    Designed to protect other vital components, the coupler can fail from normal use or break if you overload the machine.
    $15 $100 to $140
    Coins, combs and hair clips, nails and screws, and other wayward items slip between the inner and outer tubs of your front-loader and get caught in the drain hose. This keeps the unit from fully draining and could cause damage to the drain hose or the drain pump. Drain pump.
    Before you replace the pump, try clearing the drain hose.
    Free to $120 $100 to $250
    The agitator on your top-loader won't move, resulting in poor cleaning, more noise than usual, and no circulation of clothes. Agitator.
    This part comes as a kit and is easy to install using a wrench to remove the bolt holding the parts in place.
    $15 to $25 $100
    Washer won't run or never reaches regular spin speed. Switch (on the lid of a top-loader or the door of a front-loader).
    While replacing the switch on a top-loader is usually fairly simple and inexpensive, doing a front-loader's can be much more complicated.
    $25 to $100 $100 to $220

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