Do Speed Queen Washing Machines Live Up To The Hype?

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Fans of old-school appliances talk endlessly about reliability. Historically, Speed Queen’s reliability suffered from few of the factors that make modern appliances less reliable than the old ones. The company built to last, tested very thoroughly, and would consider planned obsolescence an alien concept. Consumer Reports rates the reliability of the brand’s agitator top-loader machines as “excellent,” and a 2019 New York Times review of the Speed Queen Classic TC5 said they’re the most durable consumer washers you can buy. Though the company makes front-loaders as well, it’s synonymous with top-loading washing machines. So just how bombproof are Speed Queen top-loaders? Data from Yale Appliance — the company behind the reliability stats used in the New York Times’ Speed Queen review — tells a troubling story. 

In 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, Speed Queen’s ratio of service calls to units purchased never performed better than third, behind companies like LG and Maytag. According to Eugene Pallas of Lorain Furniture and Appliance, the brand’s boasts of a 25-year lifespan only means that the washer will survive for that long — not that it will do so without minor repairs like replacing parts that can cause your washing machine to shake like crazy. Echoing the vintage appliance enthusiasts, Pallas — who has almost 20-plus years of experience with washer repair and once refused to sell any washers other than Speed Queen — says no washer on the market today will last 20 years or more. If you want one with this kind of longevity, he says you should buy a 20-year-old machine and refurbish it.

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