As wash-day woes go, this one is thoroughly modern. It starts with a software glitch that went undetected, until the pros at Consumer Reports bought and tested a LG WM3170CW front-loader. And then things got really interesting.

When dirty laundry comes out of the washing machine dirty, consumers get angry. When it happens in our labs, engineers get busy. And that’s how Emilio Gonzalez figured out that the $720 LG WM3170CW front-loading washer had a software glitch.

“We first tested this machine last spring and our lab technician, Bill Taylor, noticed it used little water. We figured out that a software bug was directing the washer to use so little water that it was unable to clean our laundry and left stains remaining,” says Gonzalez, the engineer who runs our tests of laundry appliances.

The washer wound up at the bottom of our washing machine Ratings, scoring only fair in cleaning, but excellent in water efficiency.

LG responded by saying they would correct the software bug in washers in the stores and in customers’ homes. In February 2016 we decided it was time to buy and test another LG WM3170CW front-loader.

“We found the software problem has been fixed, and the washer did an excellent job cleaning our laundry and water efficiency is also excellent,” says Gonzalez.

LG WM3170CW
LG WM3170CW

Here's the Score

This front-loader scored excellent overall, and at $720, it’s half the price of some higher-rated front-loaders, making it a CR Best Buy. But wash time is longer than most of the front-loaders we tested, taking 110 minutes using the normal wash, heavy-soil setting. You’ll save about 15 minutes using the normal-soil setting.

“Any LG WM3170CW made after April 2015 has new software,” says John Taylor, vice president of public affairs for LG. “There has been a very low number of issues reported, but if consumers have a model made before April 2015 they can call LG’s customer service at 800-243-0000 for a free software update.”

The serial number is easy to spot once you open the washer door. The first three numbers indicate year and month made. Serial numbers starting with 502, for example, indicate the washer was made in February 2015. Those made in May 2015 start with 505. Questions? Email me at kjaneway@consumer.org.