View single post by iceman
 Posted: Sun Jan 1st, 2006 04:44 am
PM Quote Reply Full Topic

Joined: Wed Apr 6th, 2005
Location: Uzbekistan
Posts: 76
Konichiwa honorable Samurai,

A few days ago I, your humble servant, was sent on a quest to seek out the ultimate in dishwasher technology. I have kept a journal of the adventure which I share here in abbreviated form for the edification of your readers. The principles employed are easily transferable to other appliances in most cases.

For the uninitiated, the blue bold text below contains clickable links.

I divided the task into four phases: Gather knowledge, determine brand, select model, negotiate best price. I cannot share the secrets of the last phase, as they are part of our clan heritage and I would be honor-bound to slice open my belly and spill my steaming…well, you know.

Gather knowledge:

1) Samurai's repair versus buy decision algorithm

2) Samurai's appliance half life table

3) Samurai's brand identification table

4) Samurai's Sears model number decoder table

5) Appliance 411 Sears Decoder Table

6) Samurai's brand recommendations

Based on the data above, for dishwashers, I distilled the following pearls:

-Time to buy a new one (the new spray arm for existing was $123.27, age=14)

-Get a Frigidaire (real quiet) or Maytag

-No electronic controls

Determine Brand:

To my disappointment, I learned that most dishwasher manufacturers only offer the push-button/timer (e.g. no electronic control board) versions in their low-end models. I selected a Frigidaire model FDB750RC the met the requisite parameters above. The unit in question was being cleared by Sears at a ridiculously low price and all seemed well, until I did some more digging:

had some danger signals mixed in with the good reviews: 
Also, one reviewer said the unit was bottom-rated in a consumer review magazine.

I then looked up the Consumer Reports article on dishwashers from March 2005 (Page 34) and discovered that this model was rated 40th out of 40 models. According to CR, the problem was it did not wash well.  No wonder Sears was clearing it out!

Select Model

Based on the Consumer Reports article, I decided to accept electronic control boards. I then used that and the Samurai's brand recommendations to narrow the field to five choices in order of price:

Kenmore 665.16052402 Sears 223 616 052

Maytag MDB8751AWW Sears 223 697 592

Amana ADB3500AWW Sears 223 696 532

Maytag MDB7601AWW Sears 223 697 562

Maytag MDB6601AWW Sears 223 697 552

You can generate a very instructive feature comparison table for these models here.

I recommended MDB7601AWW to the principle operator, however she insisted on a stainless tub which meant going to MDB8751AWW.  Other than the stainless tub, the more expensive MDB8751AWW actually has fewer features than the MDB7601AWW - go figure!  According to Consumer Reports a plastic tub will usually outlast the dishwasher. However, they do yellow over time.

We ended up going with the Amana because the cutlery rack absolutely positively had to be in the door. Apparently, according to her girlfriends who have it, this is a very important feature due to accessibility and cleaning performance - who knew?

Other things to consider

The Kenmore (Whirlpool) was the only one with stainless spray arms but the cutlery rack in the door holds much fewer items than the Amana. Also it has a "turbo wash zone" (four special spray heads in the bottom rack at the back) which Consumer Reports lauds in their article as a good and innovative feature. However, none of the Kenmore Elites have an econo cycle.  The one in the comparison chart is also quite a bit noisier than the Amana (on the Sears noise scale), and it appears to be an energy hog (456KWH vs 346KWH on the Amana/Maytags).  Some of the KitchenAids also have the turbo wash zone feature (so Sears Elites must be based on KitchenÁid).  I think this feature is a gimmick becuase you have to turn your casserole away from the main wash action, and these spray heads do not move.  Also they steal pressure from the spray arm when operated.

A more cautious buyer might prefer MDB6601AWW over MDB7601AWW as it is almost identical, but the buttons are on the outside instead of hidden along the top of the door. Apparently buttons hidden on the top of the door are problematic because when the cheap plastic overlay develops cracks (and it will - trust me) then it is much easier for water to leak into the electronics when you open the moist dishwasher and steam escapes. Also, neither the Kenmore above (Whirlpool), nor the Amana have a minutes-til-done display, while all the Maytags do.

Finally, according to one salesman, Amana has much fewer problems than Maytag. In his words "The difference is so striking you would almost think they were made by two different companies, even though they are both made by Maytag".  In the Consumer Reports article, Amana and Maytag are rated the same for Brand repair history (@10%)

Negotiate Price


Final words

-After completing the purchase, I found this article on Fixitnow, cautioning on Maytag and blessing Whirlpool, this is also borne out in the Consumer Reports "Brand repair history" side bar in the March 2005 dishwasher article, with the exception of KitchenAid (@13%), a Whirlpool brand (@7%) which was rated as less reliable than Maytag/Amana (@10%). Samurai adds his comments on KitchenAid here and shares a KitchenAid pump repair secret here

-Kudos to Pegi for this delightful distraction.

-A Haiku honorable Samurai, should you ever decide to revive the most excellent Haiku Page.

Replace Dishwasher

Seek Samurai for wisdom

Also check CR!

Last edited on Mon Jan 2nd, 2006 08:55 pm by iceman