If you’re repairing your own appliance you need to know about buying spare parts. Buying the right part can be straight forward, but it’s often surprisingly difficult to identify the right one (for reasons explained below).
Even people in the trade, with access to repair manuals and spare part breakdowns can find many parts very difficult to track down. This information will help you source the correct spare part, and tell you what numbers you need and where to find them.
1: Model numbers often aren’t enough
Manufacturers often fit different versions of parts to the same models. This happens a lot, and causes big problems. Appliances have model numbers, which can remain the same throughout a lengthy period, but during this period parts are sometimes modified, or a cheaper but different design is sourced somewhere else.
They don’t change the model number, and just start fitting the different parts mid-production. Examples of this are an Indesit washing machine model with 3 different possible motors, and Hotpoint washing machines with 3 different control knobs with different markings. So model numbers alone are often not enough.
This results in different parts being fitted to exactly the same model, which often aren’t interchangeable. The only way to tell which part is needed is by using a date code, serial number, or production number. This is why the model number alone is often inadequate. These numbers are not often not put in customer friendly places and intended for engineers, though these days as manufacturers sell so many spares to the public they should be easier to find.
2: Model numbers on the front of the machine often aren’t the full model number
Many "model numbers" printed on the front control panel of an appliance are not proper (or full) model numbers and not much use for identifying spare parts. Examples of this are :-
- Hoover Electronic 1100
- Performa Eco 1200
- Hotpoint First Edition 800
Quoting “models” like this is useless. They refer to a range of machines in which different model numbers exist. A proper washing machine model number usually consists of numbers only or a mix of letters and numbers. Examples of proper model numbers are – A3110 | WM66WD | AC110 | 17001 | FJ1011A | WN1096WG
3: Some parts are copies by third party manufacturers
Many spare parts are not made by the manufacturer and copies made by unrelated manufacturers. It appears that manufacturers can’ stop them copying their parts but many engineers fit them. However, some parts really do need to be the genuine spare part or they may not last as long or work as well. For full details see my article Genuine spare parts advice
4: Numbers printed on parts are usually useless
In the vast majority of cases, a number printed on a part is useless for identifying a replacement. Numbers printed on parts are usually the numbers used by the factory who made the actual part for the washing machine manufacturer. Washing machine manufacturer’s use their own part numbers and it’s very rare for the appliance manufacturer’s part number to be printed on a spare part.
5: You don’t get very good guarantees when fitting your own parts
A new spare part is still covered under the sale of goods act. It must be as described, of suitable quality and last a reasonable time. However, spare parts are a unique product, unlike a finished product parts are fitted inside an existing appliance, and other parts could potentially affect or damage them. They could also be fitted incorrectly or damaged whilst fitting, or fitted OK but the part did not fix the fault due to a misdiagnosis. Basically it’s more complex when buying parts, but you should still have legal rights under the sale of goods act and distance selling regulations.
The problem is you may not be able to prove a part is faulty, or you may be mistaken in believing it is. If a part is not as described, or you change your mind and decide not to fit it (maybe you decide to buy a new machine before it arrives) then under the distance selling regulations you can return it for a refund within 7 days of receiving it (undamaged and unopened). Spares sites tend not to mention guarantees, presumably you should get 12 months but you’d need to check in their terms and conditions. However, if you bought an expensive part and it didn’t last a reasonable time even if it was out of “their” guarantee you may still have rights under the sale of goods act.