Miele W864 washing machine review (W 864)
Independent washing machine reviews by a repairman with 30 years experience.
My impression of the Miele W864 washing machine is that it is a Rolls Royce of washing machines [ Related: Miele build quality ] My only real concern is that independent repairers can't get parts and technical information as easily for the German washing machines. This means its unlikely that you'll find a competent independent repairer. I would advise that if investing in a Miele washing machine, you need to be prepared to use Miele's own engineers or dealers for any future repairs. Miele's engineers don't charge more than many other manufacturers - it's just that independent engineers (if you can find a good one) usually charge a lot less.
Of course parts are likely to be expensive too because they are high quality parts though even accounting for the quality it's hard to justify some of the prices of some spare parts, which franky can be astounding (eg. £500 for a motor, £200 for a pump). The idea though is that breakdowns should be far fewer, and overall, over a long period, the cost of owning and maintaining a Miele should be cheaper than buying cheap washing machines. However: Miele currently have really long guarantees that reflect their confidence in the quality - although these guarantees swap and change all the time because Miele use them for promotion instead of price cutting. [ Miele's extended guarantees section ]
The Miele W864 has been superceded but the basic entry level Miele washing machine should be very similar to this one, but with more features including a larger 6Kg drum.
Top end price range £500+
Clearly this standard of build isn't cheap, but it is designed to last at least 20 years. In the long run it should work out cheaper than regularly buying, repairing, and replacing many other makes of washing machine ( Do washing machines have built-in obsolescence? ) plus it's a high class product that should serve well and be a pleasure to use.
Removing the lid from the Miele W864, I was immediately struck by its simplicity inside. I was impressed to see a stainless steel outer tub. This is very rare for a washing machine these days. The outer tub holds all the water and the inner drum revolves inside it. In the past, tubs always used to be made of vitreous enamel, which was strong, but susceptible to rust. Vitreous enamel tubs often started leaking after 10 years or more, or if damaged by a coin. Most washing machine manufacturers have long since moved onto plastic outer tubs. Plastic tubs are cheaper to make and they don't rust, but coins left in pockets can punch a hole right through. This can write a cheap washing machine off, and as leaving coins in pockets is something most people do sooner or later, it's not ideal to have a plastic tub.
Stainless steel outer tubs are the ideal answer. They are metal, substantial, won't be damaged easily by coins, and will never rust. Apart from the cost, you can't beat a stainless tub.
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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).
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Review continued .. (starts in left column)
The next thing I noticed was the lack of a concrete block. All washing machines I have ever worked on have had one or more blocks of concrete bolted to the outer tub. This is to weigh it down and add stability to the washing machine on spin. The trouble is the concrete block often starts to crumble with age, and I've seen hundreds of them come loose causing damage to the tub. The stabilizing weight on the Miele washing machine is an unbreakable cast iron cradle around the front and the back of the machine. To an engineer, this is extremely impressive. It's over 20 years since I saw a washing machine with cast iron stabilizing weights.
The door opens the opposite way to all other washing machines I've worked on. This shouldn't (and doesn't) really matter, but I found it strange and puzzling. After research I found that they do it on purpose and it's an example of the way Miele think differently and give attention to small details - Quote: "With the door opening on the washing machine to the right and to the left on the tumble dryer, loads can easily be shifted from one to the other in one seamless process."
The door is made out of cast metal and chrome. It locates into a metal door catch. Most use plastic, which is not a good idea if the door latch is metal because the metal wears the plastic. This door catch is apparently designed and tested to be opened and swung shut 60,000 times. Most other washing machine catches are tested for less than half this number (source, Miele's brochure)
Filter: Loose buttons, coins, and other obstructions are prevented from jamming the water pump by a filter. Not all washing machines have them but most do. The Miele filter is accessible by opening the small square panel at the front left of the machine. Unusually, it's high enough to get a bowl under which is great, and has a pull out hose to drain water through, which is very useful.
Control panel: The Miele W864 washing machine has a very straight forward and easy to use control panel. It doesn't look modern, yet it doesn't look old-fashioned either. A washing machine's control panel should be uncomplicated and totally intuitive. Recently, I've come across new Hotpoint and new Hoover washing machines that you couldn't use properly unless you had the instruction book.
Anyone should be able to walk over to a washing machine, select a program, and options, switch it on, then put the kettle on and leave the washing machine to it. With the Miele Washing machine you can do exactly that.
Things I didn't like about this washing machine
The way you are supposed to shut the door takes a bit of getting used to, and the door opens the opposite way round to all other washing machines I know. Normally, you close a washing machine door by just pushing it shut. Swinging (or virtually slamming) it shut is definitely not recommended. However, according the instruction book, you hold the door, and "swing" it shut, letting go of it in an almost slamming action. I suppose this shows how strong the door and its catch is, but it's certainly strange. Gauging the correct strength of the slam is initially tricky. Who knows though, with the right kind of attitude, swinging the door shut could even become fun.
The door opens with an electronic door release. This means you simply press a button and it pops open. This is nice, but needs a power supply in order for it to work. Ah I thought, at last something that's a bad idea. I remembered an old Servis washing machine that used electronic door opening, and when the mechanism went faulty, or if the machine fused, customers couldn't open the door without using a screwdriver. Of course I quickly found that Miele have a manual door opening lever behind the filter door.
Repairability & Longevity
Miele washing machines have historically scored very highly on reliability and longevity but don't quite get full marks for ease of repairability. This is because although they are perfectly repairable, and in fact less likely than most to need repairing, because of a lack of good technical information and trade discount on spares to the independent trade most independent repairers don't repair Miele washing machines.
This means most people are likely to be forced into using Miele engineers for any maintenance. On the one hand, with such a high quality product you could argue that a fully trained Miele engineer is best - but not having the option to get your local trusted repairman in (if you have one) is potentially a disadvantage.
In summary, getting a Miele washing machine repaired should be a rare requirement but if needed you would be better off calling Miele themselves, which is likely to be more expensive than a local repairman. In a way this is not too dissimilar to using a dealer instead of a local garage with a new car. It's not a problem if you prefer to use dealers anyway.
My advice would be that if investing in a Miele washing machine, you really need to be prepared to use Miele engineers for any future repairs. There is anecdotal evidence that some Miele customers (presumably a very small minority) have scrapped their appliance after less than 10 years because they were quoted extremely high repair prices ro replace a motor or main PCB. Miele quality still can't be beaten though.
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