Indesit W103UK washing machine review
Independent washing machine reviews by a repairman with 30 years experience.
The Indesit W103 is extremely cheap. It looks nice enough, and is easy to use. However, as with all the budget washing machines, it's cheapness is a double edged sword which could severely cut short its potential longevity.
My experience is that few people are prepared to pay out to repair cheap washing machines if they develop a fault after a few years. Even a straight forward repair could cost nearly half what you paid for it (unless you know a reputable local repairman) and a more serious repair can cost little less than a new one.
However, if you don't want to invest in a quality washing machine, you can still get good value for money from something like an Indesit W103 if you are lucky and you don't over work it.
As with most things in life it depends how you look at them. If the Indesit W103 lasted 3 years without breaking down, then it works out at just £66 a year. Even 2 years would only be £2 a week, and if it lasted 7 years it's a mere £28.42 a year. So the odds are you could get enough washing out of it for your money. It's just that they aren't very sophisticated, quiet, or maybe even as economical and efficient as one similarly specified but twice the price. Don't forget also that these days, people are far more conscious of the environmental damage washing machines cause by not lasting a reasonable length of time. Millions are dumped each year into landfill.
This model is apparently discontinued but there are still plenty of similar models around - find Indesit washing machines (search Washerhelp's affiliates) or check out latest Which? washing machine reviews
Indesit washing machines have long been one of the cheapest washing machines available in the UK. I've always felt they were reasonable value for money but are they still? The one I've inspected cost just £199. The cheapest online price I can see is currently £175.
Make no mistake, this is the budget end of the washing machines so don't expect top quality. However, you could buy 3 of these washing machines for the same money as one Dyson CR01 washing machine (Dyson's basic model) and still have £100 left over. Or you could buy 2 Indesit W103 washing machines for the same money as a basic Miele W864 washing machine with about £50 left over.
So the question is, are you better off just buying a cheap washing machine like the Indesit W103 or should you pay two or three times as much for a quality one?
The Indesit W103 washing machine is a nice looking but basic no-frills washing machine. You get simple controls and just two option buttons, anti-crease and economy. The plastic door seems surprisingly solid but the soap dispenser is flimsy and very small.
Unpacking the W103
The first thing I noticed was a leaflet stating that the power supply cable must only be replaced by an authorized service engineer. I've never come across this before, and inspecting where the mains cable enters the washing machine I could see that it goes directly into the mains filter suppressor so you wouldn't be able to replace just the mains cable. I find this highly unusual and can only imagine that it's cheaper to source the mains cable and suppressor combined. That's fine, but having to call out an engineer who will need to replace the cable and suppressor just for a damaged mains cable is going to be expensive.
To be fair, it's unlikely you will ever need to replace a mains cable, but this highlights a problem with buying very cheap washing machines. To call an Indesit engineer out, if you damaged the mains cable, would currently cost approximately £89 plus the cost of the mains cable & suppressor (£30?) which will be over half the purchasing price of the machine. Imagine the cost if the motor, programmer or drum needed replacing.
If you are interested in the pros and cons of cheap washing machines verses quality washing machines you might want to read Buying a new washing machine advice
I initially thought the installation instructions were missing until I found them (bizarrely) on page 10. Puzzlingly, the instruction book shows you how to use the washing machine before telling you how to unpack and install it.
The instruction book stated that you need to connect the hot water fill hose to the water valve marked with a H, and the cold hose to the water valve marked with a C, however there were no such markings on the W103 at all. The only way I could see which water valve was which, was because the filter inside one of the valves was red. This could be very confusing for a customer. Other than this, the installation was straight forward.
Continued on next column ...
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Review continued .. (starts in left column)
Indesit W103UK Build quality
I almost cut my hand on a very sharp jagged piece of the back panel where it was poorly pressed during manufacture. The back panel is a very poor fit and fiddley to put back on. One of the screws doesn't even seem to hold the panel at all.
The build quality of the Indesit W103(UK) is cheap, but looking at one from the front in a kitchen, you don't get that impression as it looks OK. The push button option switches feel cheap as you operate them and therefore not particularly durable. The instructions on the control panel look like they would wear off over time if not wiped only with a damp cloth.
Usability of this washing machine
The controls are nice and simple but not totally intuitive as you need the instruction book to work out how to change or abort a program once started. Instead of a cancel button, you need to turn the control knob round to a dot, wait for the program to cancel and then select the new program, which if you didn't have the instruction book you would never work out. There is a manual temperature control selector and just the two option buttons plus an on-off switch and a neon mains indicator light.
The parts inside the W103 washing machine
All parts inside the W103 are very accessible from a repairman's point of view. The drum bearings are housed in an easily removable back plate which is unusual these days. This means a drum bearing repair should be much easier and cheaper. Many other sub £350 washing machines these days have the drum bearings pressed into the back half of the tub, which means a bigger strip down and a new tub (or the back half of one) which can make it uneconomical to carry out. Unfortunately though, the cost of this Indesit drum bearing replacement is still likely to be up to 50% of the purchase price.
The soap dispenser drawer is very small and flimsy. There's no release lever to remove it so you need to just yank it out. These days you usually get the facility to use liquid detergent in a soap dispenser either in a separate removable compartment or built into the soap drawer. This option wasn't available on the W103.
The belt tension is none adjustable so when it wears it will need replacing (this is now common on budget and mid range washing machines)
Things I don't like about the Indesit W103
When testing the W103 on spin without any washing in, the washing machine vibrates as though there was a very light load in. This doesn't instil confidence that this is going to be a quiet washing machine. When on full spin there was an unusual noise coming from inside the drum. As the drum slowed down after the spin finished this noise got louder and more concerning. I tracked this noise down to the drum catching on the door seal.
When testing with a full load of washing, this noise seemed to disappear. The conclusion is that the gap between the revolving drum and the back of the door seal was so small that the drum caught it on spin. As the noise wasn't present with washing in, the customer was prepared to let the incident pass, but again this is what you can expect for the low price. On full spin, after the water was gone, the sound of the water pump pumping air was louder than the actual spin.
The kick strip at the bottom hides access to the pump but there's no actual filter. The kick strip is very awkward to get off. According to the instruction book, you just use a screwdriver to lever it off but it's easy to damage the paint and very tricky to get it off. The clips holding it in place are brittle and easily breakable.
Cost of spare parts
The motor is currently listed at £103, so to have one fitted would be over £150 (at least 75% of the purchasing cost) or even as much as £190 if fitted by Indesit. Other main parts are equally pricey. Basically, if you buy a budget machine like this, you need to hope it lasts at least 3 years without a major part breaking down or it's likely to get scrapped prematurely.
Things that I like about the Indesit W103
Well I have to like the price. It's simple to use too, although clearly at the expense of reduced versatility and options. I like the fact that the back plate housing the drum bearings comes off which would make drum bearing exchange much easier than many other washing machines.
Summary: I put my summaries at the beginning of my reviews so people can quickly assess the washing machine.
Latest washing machine reviews
Although my reviews are comprehensive and very detailed, they are limited in number and may not feature all the very latest models. Which? have the resources to review many of the latest washing machines and have a specially set up test laboratory. They also have a huge database of savvy members to gain reliability and satisfaction feedback from.
You can easily obtain a 1 month trial from them (full details), which you may find useful as they review and advise on all products, not just washing machines. Which? washing machine reviews (NOTE: The Which? reviews and consumer advice is available immediately online).
Remember that the build quality of washing machines tends to be the same throughout their range so you if you are interested you should be able to find a washing machine very similar to the one reviewed here using the links below.
Find other Indesit washing machinesSearch for Indesit washing machines (search Washerhelp affiliates)
John Lewis are a great place to buy a washing machine from. They give at least 2 years guarantee on all washing machines and other appliances - and even 3 years on their own brand (plus 5 year guarantees on TV's).
Free standard delivery on all orders over £30
They've also been voted top of the customer satisfaction polls by Which? consumer association. John Lewis - the best? (external link to my Blog).