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Buying spares – 5 things you need to know

What you need to know Getting the right spare part for an appliance 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.

Manufacturers often fit different versions of parts to exactly the same model

1 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.

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. 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 rarely enough, or sometimes not even needed.

Some washing machine manufacturers put a model number on the front of the machine which is useless for locating spare parts

2 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

How to find model and product numbers on appliances

Special numbers are commonly needed

3 Many parts need a product number, a date code or serial number to correctly identify a replacement. These numbers are not often not put in customer friendly places. They are intended for engineers. With some makes of washing machine, it’s quite possible to have the old part in your hand, the model number and the serial number, but still be unable to buy a new part because they need a product number or some other number from the back of the washing machine.

Numbers printed on parts are usually useless

4 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.

You don’t get very good guarantees

5 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 such as a toaster, parts are fitted inside an existing appliance, and other parts on could 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 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.

Can Washerhelp send me a spare part?

I don’t supply spare parts directly from Washerhelp, it’s a specialist job. But the largest supplier of spare parts for appliances in the UK has created 4Washerhelp spares where you can order spares and accessories for any appliance. They even have a next day delivery service option if it’s urgent.

  • Knowing what to expect, and being armed with the right information, can save a lot of hassle, time and wasted journeys. If you haven’t already done so, you can find out the important difference between genuine and non-genuine spare parts for washing machines here Genuine spare parts advice
  • Advice on how to deal with and use washing machine spare parts suppliers

Which? In these tough times, wasting money is not an option. Careful research before spending money on expensive products and services is more necessary than ever.

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