In 1994 I bought a 1994 Chrysler Plymouth Acclaim (4 cylinder 2.4 liter) with 14 miles on it. At 324,000 miles I got rid of it because the transmission died. I never had any engine work done on it, or any transmission work. Other than tires and regular oil changes the only things I had to replace were: 1 alternator, 1 water pump and the motor mounts. Since it had been such a good car, I felt compelled to buy another Chrysler product. I bought a used 1997 Plymouth Breeze (4 cylinder 2.0 liter) with 27,000 miles on it. It now has 295,000 miles on it and it is now the car my son drives back and forth to school. Only recently did it need its first significant engine work. The transmission required some work about 100,000 miles ago.
I also have a whirlpool dryer and it had the same failure as the Maytag, which is reasonable since the main difference is in the namplate, it appears. I als repaired a friends dryer that had exactly the same failure. The second time mine failed it was because all of the plastic tabs that were under the hose clamp failed. It seems that the real cause of the failure is that the blower wheel is not quite balanced enough, and so it vibrates a bit and flexes those tabs a bit and eventually they break. Not quite enough quality in the manufacture of the product. This is what also has been called "value engineering", a widely trumpeted process for removing quality from manufactured products, the goal being to have most of the product not fail until after the warranty period is over. And these are not made in China, but right here in Benton Harbor, Michigan. And that company has been advertising for engineers, but I would not want to live in or near that city, as I would choose to not need to carry a sidearm at all times. (That is an aside, not part of my quality tirade).
A bit more plastic in the hub of the blower wheel, or perhaps some fiberglass in the plastic, or a design that put the hub on the center axis of the blower wheel, any of these changes would have extended the life of the blower wheel many years. MY guess is that they are also in the repair parts business.
"Too bad no appliance manufacturer has found a niche making really retro appliances. Probably the parts no longer exist, even if someone wanted to." The parts are't really the problem. Ever heard of Energy Star? It would be ILLEGAL to manufacture and sell any of those rugged (but energy-sucking) old designs. They weren't always so great; a lot of the designs were not designed with routine repair and maintenance in mind. Of course, neither are the new ones, and getting parts for those is (as noted many times by others here) almost impossible unless you buy an expensive major subassembly instead of only the failed part. For many years, both Whirlpool and Kenmore (made by Whirlpool for Sears) washers AND dryers used rubber V-belt drives; these had a WELDED STRUT passing through the center that supported the tub/ drum assembly. Thus, the belt (a normal wear item!) was virtually unreplaceable unless (as the repair guys knew how to do) you broke a weld, replaced the belt, then fastened the strut with a jury-rigged bracket! So fixing a $200 appliance (back then for a mid-line model)that had a worn-out $3 belt cost a $75 service call, and it was basically ipossible to do it yourself (I tried....)! This every 3 years or so with young kids (and cloth diapers).
Whirlpool bought Maytag... For several years the Maytag Neptune Washer and Dryer were made by Samsung... Sigh...
If you had told me 15 years ago that American Appliance makers would be on their way out due to competition from European and Asian appliance makers I would have thought that was crazy. The labor rate in Korea is almost exactly the same as it is here, and then they have to ship those rerigerators halfway around the world... And yet I hear people at Sears, Best Buy etc talking about how they won't buy anything made in America because it's all crap that falls apart...
Our car companies just about dissapeared due to poor quality products... Ford learned its lesson, I don't think Chrysler or GM has yet...
I took a Plastic Design seminar where the instructor was a big time consultant to several auto makers. (Paul Tres) He told the class about redesigning the plastic intake manifold for the Chrysler 300. The existing design had two major problems; it cost too much, and it didn't fail fast enough. His big challenge was to design a cheap manifold that would fail shortly after the warranty period, while the replacements sitting on a warehouse shelf shouldn't fail until some time after they were installed in some poor slobs car... After the lecture, he asked if we had any questions. I asked "Why would anybody buy a car from a company that was unhappy with their current product, partly because it didn't fail fast enough?" That's a simplification, but the point is, would Toyota purposely design a car to fall apart shortly after the warranty expired? No, they would not.
I own two Mercedes, two Toyota's and a VW... The VW New Beetle is kind of a pile, but my wife thought it was cute and bought it anyway... At least the glove compartment didn't fall off when the car hit 4 years old, which happened to my neighbors Chrysler Sebring convertible... (That pile of crap had everything possible go wrong with it... Her dream car... I think it had maybe 60,000 miles on it when they got rid of it; they couldn't afford the repair bills...)
The two Mercedes have been great cars... One has 220,000 miles on it and the other has 185,000 miles. Both don't even have a squeak or a rattle... I know Merecedes gets a bad rap sometimes, but with Mercedes the crap was never intentional. My Tundra is a great vehicle... And it was designed and built in the USA... :) The disk brakes were underdesigned, but Toyota has fixed that... Other than that, I have absolutely no complaints about that truck. That truck is my answer to people that claim that Americans can't build a decent car... They can, it's just that GM and Chrysler choose not to.
Hey, Bill G., you comment about the consolidation in the large appliance market brings up the question about competition. Detroit improve the quality of its vehicles when it was facing competition from superior engineering in Japan. Perhaps the endless complaints in the Monkeys blog about large appliances -- and shorter life expectancy -- is a simple matter the reduced competition is not forcing manufacturers to produce quality products.
WHat fun...I had a VERY old (circa 1984) Washer dryer pair in my garage until a year and ahalf ago. I loved them. I rebuilt the washer once when the morot would not turn the drum. It cot me maybe 15 bucks for a new bearing. Later I replaced a leaky hose. That was it for 24 years. It finallrusted through. The dryer went the same time when I could not get a new igniter and I was tired of trying to make one froma junkyard fit.
I replaced them with a stacked unit I bought from a bank from a repossed home. It is a basic unit.
I also finlly caved into pressure from the GF that the HIDEOUS yellow referdgerator that dates from the neolithic should go. I got an energy efficent side by side with an icemaker.
Nice unitl saves me 10 a month in juice,, has an icemaker that is PROLIFIC in making ice. spilling ice on the floor. etc. also the 3 y/o grand daughter already figured out how to defeat the child lock, leading to numerous puddles until we tossed in a white flag at put a step stool infront.
WHile the intsallers also said . the new ones will not last as long as the old onse...if I get 8 to 10 years I will be fine with it. You have to change with the times .....lest yu become a grey haired frumpy dude with reading glases driving boring cars.....what a minute!
It seems there are only 3 or 4 appliance makers in the Western world, marketed under maybe 20 brand names. Most in the U.S. are from either a Maytag or Whirlpool factory. Re dryers, I have had both types and prefer the Whirlpool design, which is recognized by the long lint filter which pulls up the top, rather than Maytag's in-door filter. The problem I had with the Maytag is that the front of the drum slides on plastic "glides". Mine started tearing up soon after each replacement. Don't know if the surface of the drum had changed, replacement parts were substandard, or it needed a lubricant like silicone spray.
The Whirlpool design supports the front drum on ball bearing rollers. It makes more noise, but rugged and less turning torque. I wish they sold Russian appliances in the U.S. Perhaps ugly and klunky, but probably as reliable as an AK-47.
For parts, I use ebay sellers that charge 1/4 the price of local appliance parts stores. For bearings, I found most are common standard sizes. If you read the numbers or measure dimensions, you can often find them quick and cheaper than a manufacturer's channel. A vacuum cleaner bearing failed and I couldn't find a way to get one via "replacement parts" except a whole assembly costing more than a new vacuum. I read the numbers, checked the internet, and found the same bearing was used in skateboard and scooter wheels. I had a replacement set of the later hanging in the garage and fixed the vacuum quick. Another time, I found a worn bearing when rebuilding a transmission. A dealer might have charged $50, plus a week to get it. A little browsing found it is used in trailer wheels, and got one that day for $5.
I agree that older seems to be better. However, I have escaped the problems with new appliances so far. I have a GE washer and dryer set purchased in 1977. So far, the only repairs were the inlet manifold cracked on the washer about 15 years ago and I replaced it. The dryer has had a new belt, new tub bearing and a high limit thermostat replaced. I did all this myself. I purchased and Amana refrigerator in 1987 and it has suffered three moves, and 9 years in a garage that froze in the winter and was 98 in the summer and it still works with no repairs. I also have a low end Hotpoint dishwasher that came new with the house, eleven years ago which has had no problems. I had a new 1969 Chevrolet that had factory recalls for defective water pump and motor mounts early on, but subsequently lasted for 15 years and 125,000 miles with no further problems. It was still in good condition when I sold it. I have had several small appliances that bit the dust early because of irrepairable defects, too numerous to remember. I have always taken care of my possessions and expect them to last forever.
I still have a Maytag washer and dryer about 10 years old. Had the same problem with the squirrel cage fan, the flat land part of the shaft hole was completely worn off due to heavy starts (best guess). Wound up ordering a new blower fan from a parts place on the NET. Only took about 1/2 hour to replace it including moving the dryere around to get access. An extra $0.20 metal sleeve and this would nerer have happened.
i am convinced that Management is the problem with modern appliances, not Engineering. i can't believe that any engineer would want to design a poor product; either the engineer is out of his depth (that's human, and happens to everybody sooner or later - often when put in that position by Management), or he is *directed* to do things poorly. engineers, if anything, tend to OVER-engineer, going over-budget with time and/or cost. When cheap plastic is used inappropriately, or electronic modules are exposed to dampness, or just about any other kind of foolish engineering decision has been made, it usually means that somebody OK'ed that poor design because it's cheaper-to-manufacture/quicker-to-market/.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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