I’m Fed Up With My Kenmore Elite HE3T Washing Machine Problems!

by Randy

Appliances, Cleaning Tips, DIY, Home Maintenance

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A List Of Kenmore Elite Washer Problems & Fixes

I officially dislike my 6½ year old Kenmore Elite HE3T front-load washer.

Yep… it’s broken again. I fear that this will not be an easy fix.

It will be costly, and we may decide to replace it rather than repair it.

We’ve already spent our fair share on repair bills with this washing machine, and we do not wish to throw good money after bad any longer.

The problem (this time!) appears to be either:

OR

Those parts run upwards of around $220 to $300 each.

My Current Kenmore Elite Washing Machine Problem

The clothes would be in the spin cycle, and it would sound like a bunch of rocks rolling around in there.

I don’t know what it will take to repair it until I disassemble the washer.

This is not going to be pretty…

Here’s what I did first:

  • I took off the top and bottom panel to have a view while it was operating. I DO NOT recommend doing what I did, but I was trying to see if something had broken off, and I wanted to watch it in action to try and figure out what was wrong.
  • After not seeing anything noticeably wrong (besides all the noise and violent vibration going on) I went online to search out the cause.
  • Right away, I found a couple of articles that seemed to match my problem:
    • Coincidentally, the title of one of the articles, Sounds like rocks are in the washer when it spins the clothes, was what our washer sounded like in spin cycle. This article gives details of how to replace the rear tub bearing assembly. It is an involved process, to be sure.
    • Another article had hundreds of comments by owners trying to remedy their Kenmore Elite HE3T washing machine problems.
    • There is also a great video of a guy who disassembled his Kenmore Elite washer in order to analyze why it broke down. He found out that it has some fairly poor engineering, design, and manufacturing going on there. I encourage you to watch the video. You might be a bit disappointed and angry, like I was, with the obvious design flaws that he points out.

I should mention that our washer is Kenmore Elite model number 110.45976400 (Graphite).

We bought it in February of 2005 and it has worked pretty well over the years, with the exception of a couple of recurring problems…

My Previous Kenmore Elite Washer Problems

#1 – Kenmore Washing Machine Vibration Problem

This washing machine has had a bad vibration problem from day one due to the extremely high spin rate.

This video demonstrates what the Kenmore Elite vibration problem sounds like and looks like:

Apparently, the vibration problems we were experiencing were our fault — not the washer’s fault. It was vibrating because we put it on an “upper” floor. (Actually, it’s the main floor with a basement below in our case.)

We learned that early on from the repairman. I also learned about it from reading some DIY forums.

If the floor is not super-braced, it will “give” and vibrate heavily during that high-speed spin cycle. The only good place to put this washer is on a floor with a cement slab.

#2 – Kenmore Washer Door Lock Problem

We’ve had issues with the door lock error code (F/dL) several times over the past year or so.

Here’s what the Kenmore Elite error code looks like and some tips on how to fix it:

This is what I did…

Initially, I tried a little trick I read about online that had nothing to do with the door lock assembly… but it worked.

That lasted a couple of weeks before the F/dL error code re-appeared. So, I decided to call a repairman to diagnose the problem for me.

If it was going to be a somewhat major problem, I would have let him finish the job. But since it was a matter of replacing the front door lock mechanism, I decided to order the part and repair it myself.

A couple of months went by before the same F/dL error code appeared on the screen.

Feeling frustrated, I called an appliance repair technician. They came out and I watched everything he did. He did mention that I had done a great job of replacing the door latch assembly — and that that was not the issue this time.

I got so frustrated with my Kenmore Elite He3t washing machine that I decided to call a repair man. Here's what I learned.

This is what the repair tech did:

  • He wiggled and jiggled a few of the plug connections, in case they were loose.
  • He took a couple of readings — and things seemed okay.
  • He put the lid back on and ran a cycle of wash, rinse, and spin. It worked… of course!
  • He suggested that the vibrations from the machine had caused one of the connectors to come loose, but he wasn’t 100% sure that was the true cause of the problem.

Then he proceeded to pitch an extended maintenance agreement that would cost us around $300. He also mentioned that it was possible that the motherboard may be going bad and it runs a mere $800.

I didn’t like either one of those plans, so I skipped them both.

A couple of months go by, and guess what happens?

Error code F/dL appeared again.

This is what I did the next time it happened…

I got my tools out and took the top off like the tech had done and looked carefully at all of the connections. They all felt firm and attached — so I unplugged each one and then plugged them back in again in succession.

I closed the door and started a mock load. Voila! No error code.

A couple of weeks go by and we’re happy campers with clean clothes.

…Until that same error code appeared again.

This little scenario goes on for the next month or so.

A couple of months have gone by and no error code.

So, now that I have the Kenmore Elite error code fixed, the entire washing machine breaks down on me… Now I’m left dealing with what sounds like a bunch of rocks during the spin cycle!

This is Part 1 of 2. I will be sure to post everything I did in Part 2 of this post — whether it be to get the washing machine repaired or to replace it.

Complaints About Kenmore Elite HE3T Front Load Washers

The Kenmore Elite HE3t washing machine was a popular model in its day. But like any appliance, it is not without its problems (to say the least).

These are some of the most common Kenmore Elite HE3t washing machine problems that I’ve since learned about:

  • Vibration: The HE3t is known for being a bit on the vibrate-y side, especially during the spin cycle. This is often due to an uneven load or the machine not being properly leveled. Make sure that your Kenmore Elite washer is on a concrete slab, it’s level, and that you’re not overloading it.
  • Problems draining: The HE3t can sometimes have problems draining properly. This could be due to a clogged drain hose, a faulty drain pump, or a problem with the control board. If your Kenmore washer is not draining, first check the drain hose for clogs. You can also try running a drain cycle without any clothes in the machine. If the problem persists, a repair tech is needed.
  • Leaking: Leaks are another common problem with the HE3t washer. These can be caused by a number of things, including loose hoses, a damaged door seal, or a faulty water inlet valve. Obviously, if your machine is leaking, you’ll need to identify the source of the leak and fix it as soon as possible to prevent water damage.
  • Error codes: The HE3t has a number of error codes that can indicate different problems. If you see an error code on your Kenmore washing machine, the owner’s manual will reveal what it means and how to fix it.
  • Not spinning: A washing machine not spinning can be due to a number of things — such as a problem with the motor, the belt, or the control board. If your Kenmore Elite washer is not spinning, you’ll need to call a repair technician to diagnose the problem.

Those are just a few of the most common Kenmore Elite HE3t washing machine problems I’ve read about.

If you are experiencing any of these problems (or any other problems with your washer), I recommend calling a repair technician from the get-go.

Chances are, you will soon be in the market for a new washing machine, too!

More About Kenmore Elite HE3T Problems