Question about Kenmore Elite 45986 Front Load Washer

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Kenmore Elite ET3

Tried yesterday to get an answer to worn plastic casing surrounding stainless steel tub and cracked balancers with no answer. What causes this wear? What resolves this wear or is it normal to expect to replace the parts?

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  • TWFJR Aug 20, 2008

    jsrock516, your comments were helpful but still uncertain as to what causes this vibration to wear the "Front Tub(Part # 285981)" and/or fracture "Counter Weights(Part #'s 8181645, 8181644)." There is no damage to the shocks nor is there any damage to the "Rear Tub" The only thing that could cause the vibration is that the Counter Weights are cracked. But then the machine has always vibrated since we purchased it. And it was always level. The Rear Tub bearing seems to be good. The bearing is the only thing that I cannot say with certainty that it is good. If it is bad it has always been bad. This leaves me to believe that the cracked counter weights have always been the problem. Cracks are near the bolts mounting the weights.

  • TWFJR Aug 21, 2008

    Thanks, "tin canning" is an issue but there is a back to the pedestal. Floor issue is as you said. It vibrated the whole house, a three story house. Had I known that the washer was designed to be placed on a concrete floor I never would have considered buying it. So much for informed sales people. Ok, bearing seems to be good. Lifting on stainless steel tub does not demonstrate any wear. I have to believe that the floor is the issue. The only supports for the tub on the "Elite HE T3 are springs and shocks. Front lower shocks separated when removing the tub. They seem ok other than the fact that they separated. As for the floor, I placed a rubber floor mat under a 1 1/8th inch plywood board (finished it off with linoleum). This helped eliminate 50% of the house vibration and so the vibration remains with the washer, as well as the tin canning. I plan to replace the front tub, a new gasket will be installed and counter weights will also be replaced. None of which I expect to resolve the vibration.

  • TWFJR Aug 22, 2008

    I am pleased with your expert help. As for customers taking it out on repair people, that is wrong. I've always respected their work and often saw their frustration with their tech departments as well as with the actual manufactured product. I will look into the pad kit and put new shocks on order list. Many thanks.

  • TWFJR Sep 16, 2008

    Clareg-007, I would not recommend buying a used Kenmore ET3, especially for $1200. If you do, do so if you intend to place the washer on a concrete floor. I expect to put over $300 dollars into my ET3 and that is just the cost of parts. I will do the labor. I really suggest that you buy a new front end washer that has a warranty and you best get an extended warranty too. Newer frontend loaders probably have resolved all the issues listed above. If not, you have the warranty to fall back on. Make sure that the warranty covers washer not on concrete. Tom


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I'm thinking about buying a year old Kenmore ET3 for$ 1200 any advise!

Posted on Aug 31, 2008

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The plastic casing (tub shell) around the stainless spin basket should not become worn unless the spin basket is hitting the outer shell. From my past experience, this is usually caused by a cracked or broken spin basket support (spider) arm on the back of the spin basket, or a shot tub bearing (which is also behind the spin basket). The bearing is actually part of the rear tub shell and is molded into the plastic. It cannot be replaced separately and requires the replacmeent of the shell.

If the spin basket supports become broken, the basket becomes off balance and rubs against the outer shell. This results in excessive vibration, which may be the reason why the support shocks were broken. No...this is not normally expected. Unfortnately, this is not a simple or inexpensive repair, either. If you have a service plan, or warranty coverage, I would recommend pursuing that as a repair option. If you wish to repair this yourself, I can post a link for you to follow, but it is expensive. This will usually require the replacement of the following parts:

Spin Basket
Rear Tub Shell (if bearing is bad)
Front Tub Shell (if spin basket caused significant damage)
Support Shocks (I would recommend replacing all 4)

Optional:
Drive Belt Pulley (can become warped or bent)
Drive Belt (if showing signs of wear)
Rubber Door Bellow (if vibration as caused damage to the rubber)

You can go to searspartsdirect.com and type in your model number to get prices for everything if you like. Everything can be found under the "Tub and Basket Parts" heading, with the exception of the rubber door bellow. It can be located under the "Door and Latch Parts" heading.

I know none of this sounds like positive news, but I do hope you find some of this information helpful. Let me know if you need further assistance.

Posted on Aug 20, 2008

  • Jeff Rockwell
    Jeff Rockwell Aug 21, 2008

    Okay, I mistunderstood part of your initial write-up. When you mentioned the "cracked balancers" I thought you were talking about the shock absorbers.



    As far as cracked counter weights are concerned, this is defintely not normal and was probably a result of the excessive vibration, and not the cause. The counter weights being cracked would not necessarily cause the washer to vibrate as the weight is still there balancing the front and back of the wash tub. That is, as long as there are no big chunks of the weights missing, the weight should still be evenly distributed (just my opinion).



    The way you can determine if you have a rear tub bearing problem and/or spin basket problem is to open the washer door and place your hand at the 12 o'clock position and push straight up. If you have any play in the basket, you either have a broken support arm on the spin basket or a rear tub bearing failure. If you have already taken the washer apart and determined these are not the source of your problem, then you still may have worn out shocks.



    You also mentioned that the washer has always vibrated. Some vibration is normal. These washers spin at a rate of about 1100 to 1800 rpms depending on model number (newer models even higher). That centrifugal force will cause vibration. If the washer is not leveled correctly, the vibration will be more pronounced. I know you said you leveled the washer. Double check to make sure it level side-to-side and front-to-back.



    Where is the washer located? Do you have a firm foundation for it? If the flooring is not stable, such as an upstairs laundry room or in a mobile home, the washer vibration will also be more pronounced. I have personally witnessed this on several occasions. Place several towels in the washer to add some weight. Allow the washer to fill and soak the towels. Place the washer on the DRAIN/SPIN cycle and watch what the floor under the washer does. If the floor begins to flex up and down, the washer can (and will) vibrate excessively and move across the floor. A common fix is to secure a 3/4 inch thick sheet of plywood under the washer to distribute the weight more evenly and to add more support. This is the least expensive alternative to firming up your foundation. This recommendation (believe it or not) came from the manufacturer when numerous complaints mounted about the excessive vibration problems of these washers. It seems many consumers purchased them not knowing that some of their flooring could not sufficiently support the weight of the washer or its motion. I have also seen customers paint and trim these foundations, so they look more professional. This method has been an arguing point among some people, but I have seen it as an effective cure for some.



    Do you have your washer mounted on a pedestal? If so, take a look at the back of the pedestal. If the pedestal has and open back. That is, no back panel. Many of the early versions of the pedestal were manufactured with open. This would cause "tin canning", which is the name given to the sides of the pedestal vibrating in and out when the washer spins. As a result, the washer would vibrate violently. There is a stiffiner kit on the market that you can order and install that does work very effectively at getting rid of this problem. If you have this issue, let me know and I can provide you with a part number. There was also a service message out on the same "tin-canning" phenomenon occuring to the sides of some washers. I will have to do some research and locate the message for what was determined to be the recommended fix.



    So...now you need to do some diagnosing to see what symptoms you may have. If you still have a warranty or a maintenance contract, I would recommend pursuing it as an option to repair. Please let me know what you find. I hope some of this is helpful to you.

  • Jeff Rockwell
    Jeff Rockwell Aug 21, 2008

    If your shocks have separated, I would strongly recommend you replace them. Some of the original machines had poor quality shock absorbers. These were replaced with a new stiffer shock that tends to handle the load and vibration much better. This could also reduce some more of your vibration.



    I applaud your diligence on this and thank you for the feedback. It makes our job much easier in assisting you with diagnosing problems. I agree with you about sales people not keeping the customer well informed. Although, I do believe there are some good honest people out there, you aren't the first customer to voice the same complaint. Most have said the same thing, had they known about the vibration problems, they would not have purchased the appliance. Some salesmen just aren't informed, while others are just trying to make a sale. Many work off of a commission, while the repairmen have to endure the angry customer and trying to explain these problems to them.



    As far as your "Tin Can" problem is concerned, there was a Training Bulletin released in December of 2002 that addresses this issue (Training Bulletin TB26-45). The following model numbers were specifically identified:



    110.4282201, 110.4283201, 110.429220, 110.4293200, 110.4483200, and 110.4493200.



    It states that the cause of the washer sides tin-canning during the spin cycle was due to a weak floor or dryer stacked on top of the washer.



    Their recommended solution was a pad kit (part #285878) that was supposed to help stiffen and cushion the washer sides and reduce noise. The kit included two steel panels, two foam pads and instructions on how to install. Something you may consider if you can't resolve the vibration problem with new shocks and the foundation you created. Good luck to you.

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