Most and Least Reliable Refrigerator Brands

Consumer Reports' latest survey results can help you avoid aggravating repairs

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Modern kitchen with stainless steel refrigerator Photo: iStock

It takes four weeks in Consumer Reports’ temperature-controlled test chamber to collect all the temperature data that goes into scoring each fridge in our refrigerator ratings. And that’s not counting our evaluations for storage capacity, energy efficiency, ease of use, and more.

But testing a refrigerator for one month is a far cry from relying on one for 10 years, the median expected life span for a newly purchased refrigerator, according to CR member surveys. If you’re in the market for a new refrigerator, you want it to last for years to come—and you want to be happy with your purchase.

“These are the reasons we incorporate reliability and satisfaction data from our annual surveys directly into our Overall Scores for refrigerators,” says Simon Slater, CR’s associate director of survey research.

As part of our annual member surveys, we asked CR members about more than 125,000 refrigerators (all with icemakers) they’d purchased new between 2011 and 2021. The results are the basis for CR’s predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings in our refrigerator ratings charts. They’re grouped by refrigerator type—top-freezers, bottom-freezers, French-doors, side-by-sides, and built-ins. The brands in the survey include Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, Samsung, Whirlpool, and others.

More on Refrigerators

Based on the latest survey results, we estimate that 41 percent of all refrigerators will break or stop working as well as they used to by the end of the fifth year of ownership, making refrigerators one of the least reliable products we analyze in our surveys. The percentages are higher for side-by-sides (48 percent) and French-doors (49 percent) but significantly lower for top-freezers (28 percent).

The results also revealed that LG French-doors, side-by-sides, and built-ins are more prone to having compressors that break or are faulty than competing models made by other brands. The same goes for Kenmore French-doors, which are manufactured by LG. In fall 2020, LG settled a class-action lawsuit over its refrigerators’ compressors, but the settlement did not cover Kenmore models manufactured by LG.

Those two findings are just the tip of the iceberg that is our in-depth survey results. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the winning and losing brands across the major refrigerator categories, along with some standouts in the area of reliability and owner satisfaction.

Top-Freezers

Short on style and features, this traditional configuration offers the best value. Only 6 percent of refrigerators in CR’s survey are top-freezers.

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