Time remaining display not accurate

The time remaining display, or predicted wash time, on a washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer is very useful. However, it’s not always accurate. Sometimes it appears to jump back and forth and many people want to know why.

Wash time remaining is an estimate

The time remaining indicator is ultimately only an estimate of how long the chosen cycle is likely to take. But it’s not a fixed time because it clearly keeps adjusting during the cycle.

It should be a reasonably educated guess, and in many cases pretty accurate, but the following things can cause the display to be inaccurate or to jump back and forth.

I’ll be giving examples mostly related to washing machines because there are more factors that can affect the time, but most of the principles apply equally to a dishwasher or tumble dryer.

Why is display not accurate?

On a washing machine for example each wash cycle will have been timed in a laboratory to get the wash cycle times.

How long it takes to heat the water up to each specific temperature, how long each rinse takes, and finally how long each final spin cycle takes. This will allow them to predetermine how long any specific wash cycle should take. However, all the elements in these timings are very variable. So any specific wash cycle can take a different amount of time to complete in a different house. Even in the same house on different days, different times of the year, or even with different wash loads.

Water pressure

Sticking with washing machines, how long it takes to fill with water will vary depending on the water pressure at that specific house. Water pressure can even vary at different times of the day or evening. The difference in time over the full cycle if water pressure drops or is quite low could add several minutes.

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Water temperature

How long a washing machine takes to heat water up will vary depending on the temperature of the water going into the drum. During different times of the year the water temperature could either be extremely cold or even bordering on lukewarm. Another variable that can affect heating times is how much (if any) limescale is covering the heating element. Many washing machines are affected by limescale, and when it gets onto the heating element it can adversely impact how hot the element gets. The limescale acts as an insulator.

Balancing laundry

The last thing that can throw out the time estimate is balancing the laundry. Washing machines used to allow a specific amount of time to balance the laundry before going into a spin. After this time (usually just a couple of minutes) a washing machine would go in to spin even if the load was badly balanced. These days the software in the wash cycle program monitors the balance of the laundry.

If after a set time it detects the load is not balanced well enough to spin safely it will usually stop the drum from rotating and try again. So if a load is difficult to balance it can take twice the amount of time before it kicks into a spin. This could add several minutes to the spin cycle.

But if the load fails to be balanced properly after a second attempt many washing machines will try a third time. Depending on how the washing machine is programmed it’s possible for as long as 15 minutes or more to be added to the spin cycle whilst the washing machine tries to balance the load (if it’s an awkward one). If it eventually manages it the washing machine will carry out a full spin, but if not it may well abandon the spin cycle and just jump to the end and turn off. For more information and help on balancing wash loads read this article Loading a washing machine drum

Time remaining stuck on 1 minute

There is a known fault where the time remaining display can stick on the last minute. This fault only seems to affect some brands. The cause can be difficult to find and may need an engineer. But one possible cause is if the heating element goes open circuit or maybe has a faulty connection somewhere.

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4 thoughts on “Time remaining display not accurate”

  1. My beko machine brand new adds 2 hours onto a 1 hr 15 minute wash. I sent a machine back last week and got this replacement but it is doing the same thing. Do you think this is a batch fault or normal operating?

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Andrew. Whilst it’s not possible to rule it out completely I would think it highly unlikely for two new washing machines to have the exact same fault. It is much more likely that there is an issue with your plumbing. When it seems to spend a long time you need to observe if it seems to be stuck doing the same thing over and over again. That is, does it seem to spend a lot of time filling up with water? Or does it seem to spend a lot of time with all the water pumped away and the drum just turning around and around, maybe stopping and starting again?

    The former can be caused if it is losing water through siphoning down the drain. If you suspect this, read this following article very carefully to understand the issue if filling and losing water down the drain

    The latter is mentioned in my article above and can be caused if the washing machine is struggling to balance the load, which is explained in more detail above. Other than that if there is a kink in the fill hose or a fault in the water supply it could slow washing machine down but to slow it down that much I would expect it to timeout on fill and produce an error code.

    At the end of the day taking an extra two hours to do a wash is unusual. If you can’t find anything try putting it on the same wash cycle but without any laundry inside and see how long it takes then.

  3. Time remaining stuck on 1 minute:

    Very helpful site – thank you.

    Neff machine does not rinse and spin and remains full of soap suds and programme sticks with just 1 minute left (for hours).

    We have had 2 unsuccessful engineer visits (nearly £200) and no success. First engineer removed 2 x 50p pieces that must have been in there for about 2 years and the second re-routed the appliance drain hose.

    Between first and second engineer visits it stuck again. I left it on 1 minute full of suds but I went back to it after 2 hours and it had started a rinse cycle and then finished OK. Since then (a week ago) it has been fine – but this evening it has stuck again so I have to stop the machine, operate a spin cycle and rinse cycles manually.

    I note that drawer compartment II seems to be holding water behind the flap but presume this is OK. Advice appreciated – thank you.

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Stephen. Yes this issue is not really related to the time display being inaccurate, it’s an actual malfunction, though technically I can see where you are coming from in that the time display when the fault occurs is definitely inaccurate. It sounds like it’s very much an intermittent fault, which can be very difficult to track down. But if it is sticking with soapy water inside it sounds very much like it is not emptying the water out properly. If this is intermittent, it is very difficult to fix.

    One thing I would definitely check is if it is pumping out into a U bend under the sink I would make sure that there is nothing jammed inside the spigot that the drain hose attaches to as you can get obstructions in there like a very small button, or bits of lint that can partially block the water from draining.

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