A well-known proverb states that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. As a corollary, a machine is only as reliable as its weakest part. And based on the flood of almost-identical reader complaints we’ve read lately, it appears that too many recent-model KitchenAid dishwashers have a disturbing tendency to stop working for lack of one extremely small (though expensive and difficult to replace) part.
We wrote KitchenAid to ask if they were aware of this problem, and if they respond we’ll let you know. Meanwhile, check out this sampling of disturbingly similar-sounding unsolicited complaints we’ve received just since the beginning of this month.
Most customers complained of one or more broken wheels rendering one or both of their dishwashers’ racks useless. Michel S of Ontario wrote us on Nov. 11 to say this about his model KUDS301XBL1: “My dishwasher is 1 1/2 yrs old and had electronic problems, wheel broken in both trays, and now it leaks from the door.”
Two days later, Rita C. from Rochester, Neb., complained of “broken wheels on upper rack after one year of use … with normal use, first one, then a second and a third wheel has come off the top rack, rendering the rack unable to be moved. We took it out and are using only the bottom rack. We are waiting for this to be fixed. It is unacceptable that the plastic pieces that hold the wheels in place have broken already, exactly 13 months after purchase. Our previous dishwasher lasted more than 15 years and the only reason we replaced it was because we updated our kitchen.”
At least Rita can still use the dishwasher’s bottom rack. Kathryn D. of Gladwin, Mich., who wrote us on Nov. 5, says she can’t even do that much. She bought her dishwasher in March 2011 and “chose the KitchenAid brand and paid a slightly higher amount, as I was told they are well built and work better than any other brand on the market, and because I thought they would stand by their product. In December 2012 the upper rack adjuster broke because it is made of plastic and the dishwasher has the lift higher feature, that is used quite a bit. I contacted customer service and they said the part was out of stock and finally, in late January, I received the replacement part. Last week it broke again, same place, so I contacted customer service again and I asked them if anyone else has this issue and I was told they could not discuss this with me but there is no recall.”
$40 plus shipping
Kathryn can’t get another replacement part unless she pays $40 plus shipping, and concluded, “I am so angry right now. I have a dishwasher that is useless; without the top rack in, the upper spray unit will not work.”
Peter D. of Bethlehem, Penn. posted a similar complaint on Nov. 16: “Wheels holding the upper rack have broken on both sides.” He elaborated: “We are over 50 years old and careful with our appliances...cannot believe that this defect is not corrected free of charge... First wheel broke on [right] side after about 10 months of use … Second on left side broke after about 13 mo. of use. Kitchenaid Dishwasher Model KUDS 30 FXPA 4. Part number 10350375. Part sent to me recently...not that easy to install...still trying.”
Nor is Jon E. of Prescott, Ariz., getting any use from his KitchenAid dishwasher. He wrote us on Nov. 1 to say, “My KitchenAid dishwasher experienced failure of the detergent dispenser. I obtained a replacement part. To access the failed part for replacement, one first removes the front panel from the door ….”
Jon went on to describe a procedure complicated enough that someone who is not “handy” probably would’ve needed to hire a repairman, just to install that small replacement part. Unfortunately, after accessing the inside of the dishwasher panel, he discovered that the foam lining/insulation had melted. “The foam has welded itself onto the inner panel rubber liner, preventing the front panel from being removed without destroying the foam insert. This is a critical part, dampening noise, keeping the cycle heat inside the washer, and stiffening and bracing the panel. Whirlpool has discontinued this part and it no longer is available. Their only advice is to locate one form an independent parts supplier who might have an old one in stock.”
Jon had no luck in that regard. But, how old is his dishwasher? If he’d bought it 15 or more years ago, after all, you could say he had a pretty good run. “This dishwasher is around eight years old.”
Oh. Whoops. Jon concluded, “I would expect Whirlpool to support it for at least ten years. I will not be purchasing any more appliances made or sold or (not) supported by Whirlpool [or KitchenAid].”
A horrible stench
Of all the KitchenAid dishwasher owners we’ve heard from this month, Joan W. of Schnecksville, Penn., is probably the best off, by which we mean both racks of her dishwasher still work. The problem is the horrible stench emanating from the dishwasher anytime she tires to use it. When she wrote us on Nov. 17 to complain about her KitchenAid model KUDS35FXSS8, she said: “When the door is open, the dishwasher has a "swampy" smell since purchase. It was reported to company several times with repair service deployed twice; both times they assessed drainage, suggested changing cleaning agent, using pro scrub option, water neutralizing agent, etc. with no resolution of problem. On last call to manufacturer they acted like they had never heard of this problem before and were very rude in communicating that there was nothing else they could do … I would strongly suggest not purchasing this product due to inability to resolve AND poor customer experience.”
Joan said she “would like to hear from others who have had same problem, so I can document the enormity of the problem and provide to consumer protection group.” Unfortunately for Joan, we don’t actually know of anyone else with her exact same problem — “My KitchenAid dishwasher works, but it stinks.” We only know of several customers complaining of the problem “My KitchenAid dishwasher won’t work at all.”
On Nov. 22 -- a few days after we contacted them -- KitchenAid got around to responding to our inquiry. Here's what they had to say. We'll leave it to you to judge whether this was worth waiting six days for.
KitchenAid strives to make every consumer experience positive, and we are always sorry to learn of a consumer who has not had a positive experience with one of our products. As you know, our KitchenAid Dishwashers are rated number #2 in the JD Powers [sic] satisfaction survey and have won several awards including Reviewed.com Dishwasher of the year [sic] recently. Of course, we don't rest on our laurels, and are always looking for ways to innovate and improve the design, performance and overall experience for our consumers. For those who are not satisfied with some aspect of their product, we encourage them to give us a call at (800)-422-1230 so our service professionals can address each individual situation. Thank you again for contacting us.
Brand Experience Senior Manager