tough decision, help

pinkmmMay 29, 2012

I need to buy a "new" washer (and by new, I mean new to me, I am pretty sure all I can afford is second hand)

I have had my current machine for 23yrs- yes that's right, it's been in near constant use for over 23yrs! (and I can prove it, I still have the sales receipt) It was the very fist new machine I"d even bought.

MY previous machine was a used 8yr old GE machine that lasted me a good 6+ years and then was given to a family of 7 who used it for another 4 yrs. til it rusted out, but the motor was still good!)

they don't make machines like that any more, sigh

THat Kenmore was the best purchase I've ever made!

sadly they don't make anything even remotely like this machine any more (Kenmore 70 series heavy duty machine) Nor the older GEs, from what I've heard.

I would like to know the names/model numbers of the machines that people currently have that have been running without needing expensive repairs, for at least 8 yrs

(I am spoiled, I know, I expect a machine to last at least 10 and will be disappointed if I don't get at least 12 yrs or more out of one)

For what they cost, this doesn't seem unreasonable to me, but like I said, I've been so spoiled LOL

if you have a machine that you bought in i9n 2004 or EARLIER, that is still running well and never required any major repairs, can you please let me know the brand and model number?

I know this is not a scientific way to research machines but I do know that I am not alone when it comes to the longevity of my Kenmore, those 70 series machines have been known to last for up to 28yrs

(keeping the one I have is not an option for where I am moving to)

I do prefer top loaders and since I"m on a tight budget, its not likely I'll be able to afford a front loader any way.

Aside from environmental concerns, the cost of water is not an issue for me and my electric rate is low, so that's not a major concern either.

However finding something that wont' need to be replaced in a few years, THAT is important to me

I know the second hand stores will have a lot of the lemon brands/models but they also get "scratch and dent" and take trades when someone is upgrading to a newer model, so I have hopes that I'll come across a good find.

I've got some time to look around, at least

thanks for any input,


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I can personally vouch that a Maytag A906 top load washer in the house I grew up in, made circa 1969, was still going strong when my folks moved out of their house five years ago. (for some reason I still have the owner's manual in my file cabinet which is why I know the model number). They built the same basic machine until roughly a decade ago, although their reputation took a deserved beating when they started buying out other companies and rebranding their appliances as Maytags. Then the company nearly failed and the remnants were bought out by Whirlpool and the old, unprofitable Maytag plant in Iowa was shut down. Modern "Maytag" appliances are mostly rebadged Whirlpools.

Your old Kenmore was probably made by Whirlpool. Their basic top-loaders were reliable, but performance-wise were lacking IMO. The old ones (up to mid-'80s or thereabouts) were notoriously poor at extracting water in the spin cycle due to low speeds, thus requiring extra time and electricity to dry your clothes. Later models spun slightly faster, but trash your clothes because the agitator posts twists unusually fast in an attempt to make up for not being able to twist much to either side. I had one at my old apartment, and most of my clothes didn't survive being washed in my Whirlpool unscathed. It's especially bad if you have larger or bulkier items, which always got ripped to shreds by the fast-shaking agitator. Also, it doesn't spin when the water drains, so the gunk floating atop the water gets re-deposited on your clothes.

Speed Queen made (and still makes) good, basic, reliable machines, which is why it's the most popular brand in laundromats. In stark contrast to Whirlpool's washers, they have a slow-moving agitator that still cleans well whilst being gentle on clothes because it can twist in a 210-degree arc. Many Speed Queens have durable stainless-steel tubs. Until the late '90s, Raytheon owned both Speed Queen and Amana, and the latter were nearly identical to the SQ. After then, Amana changed hands about four times and wound up being one of Whirlpool's low-budget brands.

My xgf had a mid-1960s Frigidaire that was terrific, and is still working today. Any Frigidaires made when General Motors owned the company are first rate (that's true of all their appliances, not just washing machines). Unfortunately, they're getting hard to find, being pre-1980. But they're built like tanks, and they do a great job both cleaning and extracting water after it's done. These machines will have a reference to GM on the control panel and have porcelain tubs. Post-GM Frigidaire top-loaders, though, are awful, as are other brands that got bought out by the (no longer extant) White Consolidated Industries (White-Westinghouse, Kelvinator, and some machines made for other companies). These can be identified by white plastic tubs, which are usually scuffed by now.

GE (and their low-end subsidiary Hotpoint) was fairly reliable through the mid-90s, though not everyone loves the filter you need to remove and replace each time you fill or unload the washer. That design is good if you have old or problematic plumbing though. In the mid-90s, they ditched the filter and went to larger plastic tubs (or stainless steel on the high-end models) instead of porcelain. These are less reliable than the older ones in my experience, but still reasonably good.

The good news is that old top-load washers are all but given away on Craigslist every day. You may find a free one; they rarely go for more than $150 if they're more than 10 years old. Whirlpool and Whirlpool-manufactured Kenmores seem to be the most common, followed by Maytag and GE.

Fisher & Paykel not common enough for me to have reliability info. Their machines wash well and have a high spin speed.

So basically, old genuine Maytags and Speed Queens probably the best combination of common, cheap,and reliable. Really old Frigidaires are best if you can find one. Whirlpool/Kenmore are reliable but mediocre performers (avoid the newer "Calypso" models that don't have agitator posts - they're lemons). Avoid post-GM Frigidaires (with plastic tubs) or White-Westinghouse.

Newer high-efficiency top-loaders without agitator posts made by LG, Samsung, or Whirlpool/Maytag probably still too expensive used, and long-term reliability as yet undetermined, but I'd strongly consider one if I found one for a good price. They have huge capacity and some of them can heat their own water, and they usually have high spin speeds for faster drying.

I'm probably forgetting some brands - i'm sure someone will chime in here; there are some seriously knowledgeable old-appliance experts here, and I don't count myself amongst them.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 6:56PM
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A 23-year-old Kenmore could be one of the last belt-drive models, but more likely is a direct-drive.

There's a LARGE supply of direct-drive Kenmore/Whirlpool traditional/deep-fill/agitator toploaders on the used market (and some Maytags produced from 2006 through maybe 2010 or 2011). Many older units are in not-so-good condition (run hard, put away wet), but nice specimens can be found. Or a middling machine can be had and refurbished, which I've done several times ... degree of refurbishment depending on how much one wants to spend.

Calypsos haven't been manufactured in some years, and used Calypsos aren't so common. The no-agitator/impeller Kenmore Oasis, Whirlpool Cabrio, and Maytag Bravos machines are *completely* different mechanisms and wash action. The *only* thing they have in common with the Calypso is being HE toploaders.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 7:29PM
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hi and thank you both! the Kenmore I have is a gear driven, no belt machine. That's been the only "issue" with it- I'm not able to put it where a machine like this really should be- in the basement on concrete. I live in an older bldg and will be moving to an even older one! and the Kenmore that I love so much does shake the entire building when it spins (but has rarely gone off balance- it's got those great self-leveling back legs)

so, for low vibration in an older bldg, is the top loader still the best for this? I've read conflicting opinions about that so I'm still somewhat confused. I strongly lean toward the top loader regardless.

are all new top loaders direct drive now? or did they go back to belts? or something different?

Just to clarify, do you think the Kenmore Oasis, Whirlpool Cabrio, and Maytag Bravos machines are ok models?

I would love love love to have a Speed Queen, but I don't know if anyone in my area sells them. (I'm in southern NH) and even if they did, I've never seen a low price on those! However if I could get a good deal, that would be my number one choice!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 7:56PM
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New SQ top-loaders (AWN542) are about $800+ and they're backlogged right now so I wouldn't expect much dealing.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 8:16PM
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What is wrong with your machine? Perhaps someone at could help you get yours repaired without it costing a whole lot of money. I've had my Maytag Neptune front loader for 13 years and never a problem (purchased May 1999).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 8:45AM
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> Just to clarify, do you think the Kenmore Oasis, Whirlpool Cabrio, and Maytag Bravos machines are ok models?

They work well, but have only been around for a few years, and are expensive new, so I doubt you'll find many good ones at low prices on the used market yet.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 1:22PM
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