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The thrust washers that failed on my KitchenAid mixer.
Useless Warranties

The thrust washers that failed on my KitchenAid mixer.

My KitchenAid lift stand mixer died a few weeks ago. Since it was out of warranty I figured I’d check online to see what the most likely problem was. The most common problem was a stripped gear, which I personally found to be rather an odd occurrence for a mixer that is supposed to be used for making various doughs. Why would the gears strip? How weak are these gears? Especially since I didn’t do anything out the ordinary. In fact, nothing that my old Artisan KitchenAid mixer couldn’t handle. So how couldn’t the bigger version, the Professional lift mixer not handle the same doughs?

Anyway, I took the machine apart to see what gear was stripped but I couldn’t see any that could be causing the problem. So, after watching a couple of guys fix their mixers on YouTube and reading endlessly about how many people had problems I figured I should calculate how much the most possible culprits cost. I was in for a surprise, the gears were dirt cheap — about $5 each. In fact, since I couldn’t figure out which gear was causing the problem I simply ordered one of everything plus the necessary gearbox grease. I figured, if I clean it right up and then replace all the gears, that should fix the problem. Especially since the gears in total cost less than the shipping to Canada from Utah! For the curious, I bought my parts from MendingShed.com and they shipped the parts as promised. Sadly, shipping to Canada’s a tad expensive but it’s still overall cheaper than a new mixer! In fact, the grease was the most expensive thing ordered costing $18 followed by the worm gear at $15. The rest were $3.50 – $6, so pretty inexpensive. I’d highly recommend using MendingShed.com if you need parts for your mixer.

Once the parts arrived I again took the mixer apart again, but the new parts in hand. What I found surprised me. Most parts looked to fine to my eye once cleaned as compared to the new parts … except one, the thrust washer. The one in my mixer had 2 pieces and the replacement had 3. The one in the mixer had one washer and the bearing washer the replacement had two washers and the bearing washer. Upon closer inspection the bearing washer that was in my mixer was bent (see the attached photo). I was a bit pissed off at this point. Obviously this was a manufacturing defect, it was missing a piece!

I opted to reassemble the mixer with the new pieces, add the grease as per the online instructions and then call KitchenAid today (Monday). The mixer still makes a bit of noise so I’m worried the missing washer for the thrust bearing means that maybe something else inside the mixer is still broken, something I can’t determine since I replaced every gear therein. But it seems to work, though I’ll know for sure this weekend when I do my weekly set of baking.

As to the call, the lady on the phone was quite nice but KitchenAid’s policy is that if it’s out of warranty too bad. The logic of this escapes me. KitchenAid claims they stand behind their product. But do they? I use the mixer regularly, which means about once a week. That means in a year I’ve used it 50 – 60 times. In the 1.5 years since I got it that means maybe 75 times, and it broke. Had I used it daily I would have had it break in the 2nd or 3rd month of use. But since no-one outside a commercial kitchen or a seriously dedicated home baker would use it that much, a one year warranty on the mixer was pretty much useless. 5 years would have made more sense.

And the sad thing is my old Artisan KitchenAid tilt head mixer still works fine after 20+ years. It can handle the same doughs that the lift one failed with which makes me wonder about the quality of the parts KitchenAid is using — though I did notice the parts at MendingShed.com have new numbers which probably means a lot of the gears have been upgraded.

All this to say the KitchenAid mixer I bought was defective. Maybe others actually stripped their gears by using too much dough, but mine was missing a piece from the factory. The fact it failed out of warranty has nothing to do with the fact there was a manufacturing defect with the mixer. From my point of view KitchenAid doesn’t stand behind their mixer but only behind the duration of their warranty. You’d think they’d at least want to see a picture of the part that failed, I even offered to send a photo but that offer wasn’t accepted. So, I’m highly disappointed. KitchenAid used to be everyone’s go-to model and they seem hellbent on aggravating the very people — home bakers — who would push the sale of their mixers to friends and family. If the mixer breaks again I won’t even think of buying another KitchenAid mixer but will look around for alternatives. I’m sure there are other mixers out there where the manufacturer truly stands behind it by providing the home baker with a warranty that will last more than 60 or 70 uses.

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September 2012
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