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What Brand of Appliances Can You Rely On?

Posted May 4, 2007 1:12 p.m. EDT

Consumer Reports

Picking a reliable product can save people money and a lot of aggravation. Consumer Reports looks at which brands are best.

Most people experience hassles when it comes to dealing with an appliance problem. When it happens, you often have to wait for an appointment and parts. Repairmen said it is often the expensive appliances that break.

"I know it seems like the more money you would spend that the less trouble you would have," said repairman Paul Willman. "But at the same time, the more money you spend, more gizmos and doodads are put on the machine, which gives us more trouble."

A recent Consumer Reports survey of appliance owners reiterates that assessment.

"We have survey results on some two-and-a-half million different appliances. And, we find it's often the pricy brands that tend to need the most repairs," said Amanda Walker, of Consumer Reports.

In the kitchen, that includes refrigerators made by Sub-Zero and gas ranges from Viking.

For gas ranges, Consumer Reports found GE and Hotpoint reliable. For electric ranges, testers approved of GE, Hotpoint and Whirlpool.

The more reliable brands of top-freezers and side-by-side refrigerators are GE, Kenmore, and Whirlpool. Amana and Kenmore fared well for bottom freezers.

The most reliable dishwashers are Amana and Whirlpool. As for microwaves, testers liked Amana, Fridgidaire, GE and Maytag.

"If a product's design or the manufacturing process changes, it may alter its performance, but we have been tracking brand reliability for 35 years, and we find that buying a reliable brand tends to decrease the odds that you'll end up in the repair shop," Walker said.

In addition to problems with specific brands, Consumer Reports found whole categories of products that are more prone to problems. They include laptop and desktop computers, lawn tractors and riding mowers and side-by-side refrigerators with icemakers and dispensers.