Thread Number: 94049  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
1975 Model Dishwasher Ratings from Consumer Reports
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Post# 1187292   8/10/2023 at 19:29 by reactor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee-- )        

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Haven't been on the site for awhile, busy with consulting work. However, I came upon a 1975 Westinghouse Continental 500 dishwasher, 1975 model for sale on FB Marketplace. This was the last year of production by the Westinghouse Corporation.

Before purchasing the dishwasher, I checked it out on Consumer Reports in a back issue. Westinghouse came in dead last.

The dishwasher is non-functional, per owner. She indicated it smokes when turned on. I was going to buy it and send the motor out to be rewound, if it proved to be the smoking culprit. After reading Consumer Reports review, I decide to pass, ha.

I thought others might be interested in the 1975 model ratings for all the machines, so I jotted them down. The overall scores for the 1975 model dishwashers are below.



In order of "estimated quality, with overall washing performance as the chief criterion." (Consumer Reports words in quotes.)

1.) Maytag WU400--Overall washing performance, "well above average"
Repair Record, "average"
My notes: reverse rack

2.) Kitchen-Aid KDI-17-- Overall washing performance, "above average"
Repair Record, "better than average"

3.) Kitchen-Aid KD-17--Overall Washing performance, "slightly above average"
My notes: These KA'S were Hobart manufactured

4.) General Electric GSD461--Overall Washing performance, "slightly above average"
Repair Record, "better than average"

5.) General Electric GSD250--Overall Washing performance, "slightly above average"
Repair record, "better than average"
My notes: received Consumer Reports' "A Best Buy"


All the following had washing performance below those in Group One. Ranked "in order of estimated quality." All below have "AVERAGE" washing ability per CU.

6.) Whirlpool SAU500--Repair record, "Somewhat better than average"
My notes: 1.) CU indicated the Whirlpools did
not dispose of lasagna noodles as the others
were able to and filter required extensive
cleaning. 2.) These were pre power-module.
3.) CU indicated this was the "quietest" model
of all dishwashers tested.

7.) Waste King Universal. 878-200--Repair Record, "somewhat worse than average."

8.) Whirlpool SAU325--see Whirlpool above

9.) Sears Kenmore 7213 and 7211--Repair Record, "average"
My notes: Both have roto-racks. CU indicated
the rotating racks made loading, "somewhat
more convenient."

10.) Tappan 61-1151--repair record, "somewhat worse than average"
My notes: D&M built. NOT the Reversa-Jet which
had been discontinued


Consumer Reports rated the two Westinghouse dishwashers in a separate group being indicated as "judged lower in overall quality than those preceding."

11.) Westinghouse SU500--overall washing ability, "slightly below average"
repair record, "somewhat worse than average"

12.) Westinghouse SU400--overall washing ability, "well below average"

My notes: Both the above Westinghouse units use racks
without rollers, but instead utilize "slides." CU
indicated these were "difficult" to move and were "poorly
constructed." CU indicated both Westinghouse dishwashers
arrived with manufacturing defects.


Consumer Reports ranked the three following as "NOT ACCEPTABLE" as door latches could be closed with door open, activating machine and cause potential scalding of a person or child. They did not test them any further.

Frigidaire DW3DUU
Frigidaire DW3IUU
Wards Signature 942

This post was last edited 08/10/2023 at 21:24

Post# 1187298 , Reply# 1   8/10/2023 at 20:40 by bradfordwhite (central U.S.)        

bradfordwhite's profile picture
It sounds like you made the correct choice to pass on that purchase.

I can't believe that my classic favorite, the Kenmore dishwasher, isn't on the top of that list. I mean, really. Just because it had no filter and the upper roto-rack lost useable space by it's very shape is no reason to demote it. lol

I mean at that point in time, KA was effectively a single level wash machine; something that only the very bol of kenmores would be. KA would only get a second level wash arm with the 18 series. GE at least had the power shower.

Post# 1187305 , Reply# 2   8/10/2023 at 22:20 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture
KDI-17A was our first dishwasher.  It rarely exhibited any cleaning failures and I always burdened it with a BobLoad™.

Post# 1187307 , Reply# 3   8/10/2023 at 22:42 by qsd-dan (West)        

qsd-dan's profile picture

Doesn't surprise me that the WU400 being a dual wash arm setup smoked the KA17. All but TOL GE dishwashers basically sucked since forever.


I'm surprised at the lack of performance on the Whirlpool models but maybe they are MOL or BOL models. No surprise on the poor performance of Rustinghouse, Tappan, or Waste King. I'm assuming the Sears Kenmore 7213 and 7211 are D&M machines.


Frigidaire dishwashers always sucked whether it was during the GM years or after.


Thanks for the post, it was an interesting read.

Post# 1187313 , Reply# 4   8/11/2023 at 00:59 by bradfordwhite (central U.S.)        

bradfordwhite's profile picture
I've heard that Cascade and Electrosol Finish has started using advertising lines similar to "....deep cleans even the messiest dishes, can even handle a BobLoad™" I mean it's just amazing.

Wiki-pedia is going to need an entry for BobLoad™

Post# 1187320 , Reply# 5   8/11/2023 at 04:53 by reactor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee-- )        
vintage Westinghouse dishwasher pics (the "smoker")

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  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 2         View Full Size
Post# 1187322 , Reply# 6   8/11/2023 at 05:42 by marky_mark (From Liverpool. Now living in Palm Springs and Dublin)        

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This is really interesting.  I like looking back at old ratings.  Do you know what cycle(s) were used for testing purposes?  Are historical CR ratings available online?


In the UK, "Which?" used to test the Intensive and Normal cycles back in the 1980s.  Then they started testing the Normal and Eco cycles.  The problem with the modern ratings is that they don't tell you what the dishwasher is capable of when set to an intensive cycle.  Also, those older ratings don't show how the rankings may change if tested with modern detergents, as some machines/cycles are much better-suited to enzymes than others.  



Post# 1187326 , Reply# 7   8/11/2023 at 07:07 by steved (Guilderland, New York)        
later model

Isn't that dishwasher built on the last design, with the "drying" fan that ran constantly to keep the motor cool? 

Post# 1187328 , Reply# 8   8/11/2023 at 08:11 by reactor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee-- )        
cycle used for ratings/fan

reactor's profile picture
Mark, Consumer Reports uses the "normal" cycle for all tests of dishwashers.

I am not aware of online back-copies of Consumer Reports, they may be available but I haven't really searched. The University I taught at has Consumer Reports back issues on microfilm, but it's spotty with not all issues being available.

Steve, the wash motor in that particular Westinghouse is also the motor that provides forced air during the drying period, it just continues to run after the wash cycle. Very inefficient use of electricity.

Post# 1187329 , Reply# 9   8/11/2023 at 08:39 by jakeseacrest (Massachusetts)        

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My Aunt had almost the same dishwasher just with a few more buttons. She never used it but one summer she wanted to scrub and rearrange her kitchen so she hired me to help her. Every cabinet in her kitchen was emptied and all was run through the dishwasher. 35 years later I can still hear the rapid advance and the drying cycle. I do remember that the top rack wasn't great with glasses. They would slide and topple over if you pulled out the rack too fast.

Post# 1187334 , Reply# 10   8/11/2023 at 10:09 by reactor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee-- )        

reactor's profile picture
Michael, your Aunt must have had the top-of-the-line model, the SU700. It had two extra buttons for the "single wash" cycle and the "soft wash" (for china and crystal) cycle. The 500 and the 700 both had porcelain tubs, but the 500 was the typical Westinghouse dark grayish porcelain, where the 700 had the deluxe white porcelain interior.

They were good looking machines, too bad Westinghouse was cutting corners. At the end, instead of investing money into their appliances and increasing sales with quality built, top performing machines, they cheapened them to save production costs, thinking this would increase profits. For example the cost cutting of the removal of the wheels from the racks. They had also dropped their filtration system that had given their dishwashers a great Consumer Report rating in the sixties.

Sadly, they chose the option not to not invest in improving their appliances but just got out of the appliance industry altogether, and sold to White Consolidated.

Post# 1187336 , Reply# 11   8/11/2023 at 10:12 by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
Might not clean all that well...

neptunebob's profile picture
But it is stylish!

With a name like Continental how could you pass it up?

Post# 1187345 , Reply# 12   8/11/2023 at 12:34 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
Sweet Validation

rp2813's profile picture

Wards dead, Dead, DEAD LAST!



Post# 1187363 , Reply# 13   8/11/2023 at 19:07 by cycla-fabric (New Jersey (Northern))        
Whirlpool Dishwashers

cycla-fabric's profile picture
I remember that test by CU as I still have the issue that shows the bottom of the Whirlpool dishwasher with the lasagna covering the filter. What I couldn't believe was that all the other dishwashers got rid of the lasagna and the filter action of the Whirlpool was to through to dissolve it all. I would like to see them do that test on todays dishwashers, I would assume that they would all choke on that load.


Post# 1187369 , Reply# 14   8/11/2023 at 20:41 by bradfordwhite (central U.S.)        
Yes agreed

bradfordwhite's profile picture
"But it is stylish!

With a name like Continental how could you pass it up?"

It has a D&M style console circa early 80s, with a early 70s Maytag slant panel and button strip, on a 80s/90s GE front.

I'll take the FRONT panels of this dishwasher. The rest is junk.

Post# 1187370 , Reply# 15   8/11/2023 at 20:45 by Cam2s (Nebraska)        
Interesting results

First of all go team Maytag! My later Reverse rack did offer butt kicking performance but it did struggle with odds and ends getting stuck in the course grate so I’m surprised it didn’t suffer the same fate here, especially if this is an old enough one to have the figure of 8 strainer set up. I’m also surprised they this era of PotScrubber outclassed a Whirlpool. Would be interesting to see the rest load and parameters

Post# 1187371 , Reply# 16   8/11/2023 at 20:50 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Post# 1187372 , Reply# 17   8/11/2023 at 20:57 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Bit later but still rings true!

"I thought the dishwasher does the dishes"...

Post# 1187443 , Reply# 18   8/12/2023 at 14:44 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

I have to say that the ~1990 Jet Clean Maytag my parents had was pretty noisy, but it did a great job.  Replacing it with the steaming Thermador facilitated a beautiful upgrade in looks, but the decibels went up and as the CR results for Waste King indicated, the cleaning ability went way down.

Post# 1187472 , Reply# 19   8/13/2023 at 08:43 by reactor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee-- )        
CU test loads

reactor's profile picture
Cameron, in answer to your question, CU stated their test load consisted of 19 different foods. These included: (for the glassware), tomato juice, orange juice and milk. For cups and saucers, coffee. For the dinner, salad and sauce plates, they used lasagna, beef stew, spaghetti, vegetables, peanut butter, cheese spread, oatmeal and soft boiled egg yolk.

The dishes were allowed to sit in the dishwasher overnight so the food wastes would dry on.

Post# 1187512 , Reply# 20   8/13/2023 at 14:52 by washerlover (The Big Island, Hawai’i)        

washerlover's profile picture
What a shame the poor Wards Signature machine ended up last on the list. Does anyone know who the manufacturer was of these machines?

Post# 1187514 , Reply# 21   8/13/2023 at 15:09 by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture
The Montgomery Wards was a Frigidair dishwasher.

Post# 1187536 , Reply# 22   8/13/2023 at 21:14 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Consumer reports 1975 dishwasher test

combo52's profile picture
I remember well when this report came out My parents got the SAU 500 whirlpool dishwasher in 1975. It was a very good machine. I ended up with the machine three years later when my parents moved in my father‘s company was buying the house so he wasn’t getting top dollar for it and I swapped it out for a builder model GE quickly before the house was sold.

The whirlpool and maybe some of the other machines would have tested better if they could use the pots and pans cycle, Maytag went from a top rated dishwasher to a bottom rated machine when they put to a shorter normal cycle, Consumer Reports was just testing the machines on the cycle rated as normal by the manufacturer, Maytag also never had better than average durability in the dishwasher. They had too many problem areas.

I always wondered about that test with lasagna noodles as the Maytag and the KitchenAid would also have been left with noodles laying in the bottom of the machine. I don’t think they ran the same test on all of them. I have no doubt that the DNM and even the GE’s probably would’ve eliminated the noodles as would have the Frigidaires , whirlpool did have by far the best design with the small, removable cup type trap, it was super easy to lift it out and dump it in the disposer or the trash, compared to trying to pick up those noodles in the bottom of the Kitchenaid or Maytag, etc. the whirlpool design was actually superior.

The Frigidaires and wards dishwashers were not rated last, they weren’t rated at all. They disqualified them because of a safety defect in the door latch design.


Post# 1187541 , Reply# 23   8/13/2023 at 23:24 by reactor (Oak Ridge, Tennessee-- )        
CU tests

reactor's profile picture
John, CU used the same load for all the machines. I am sure the machines, softened the noodles enough that the remnants got pulled through the pump at the drain portion of the cycle. After being softened by moving hot water for approximately 45 minutes, I am sure they lost much of their structural integrity.

You are restating what the reports says, I don't know why. Well actually I do, you are jealous the Maytag got a higher rating and are attempting to find some way to denigrate it. Yes, it did state that the Maytag had a average repair rating, zi think we all saw that.

Yes, I stated very clearly that the Frigidaire/Wards were not tested after the safety defect was found. But you are correct, that some people reading this still stated they came in last, when they didn't. They just weren't tested.

Once again you bring up the one year that Maytag moved the normal cycle designation to the center of the cycle dial,basically, giving the normal cycle one wash and two rinses. To, if course, reduce the the listed energy/water consumption.

Consumer Reports reported that year that the dishes on the Maytag "appeared clean," but the dishwasher was downrated because when they examined the dishes under a microscope they found microscopic food residue. Maytag changed the normal wash back to the full cycle and the following year and it went back to its usual rating in the top group. However, that has nothing to do with this post.

As in your other comment you stated this because your jealousy of the Maytag getting a higher rating and your usual attempt to build up Whirlpool, because you like it, by denigrating other machines. I have never seen an adult with a neurosis about a dishwasher before, ha. I had just been waiting for you to comment on this post with your usual Whirlpool is so great scenario. You did not disappoint.

"Whirlpool had by far the best design with the small, removable cup type trap."
(your quote). No, they did not. You obviously are stating your Whirlpool biased opinion, not a fact.

Garbage being left on the filter means every drop of wash and rinse water is being filtered through food wastes, as evidenced by CU results, and their confirming photograph. I don't consider that the best design, I don't think anyone else does, either. With that being said, for people who are more meticulous in thorough scraping and/or rinsing of their dishes before loading, that is not an issue.

I have had several Whirlpool/Kenmore dishwaserd over the years. In one of my early apartments, built in 1980, I had a very similar Whirlpool only it was BOL, or very close, a builder's grade machine.

Actually, I liked it very much. I solved the problem of messes on the filter by taking out the removable tray, permanently. Not being one to rinse off food wastes (that's the dishwasher's job) I found it rather sickening to see much of the wastes lying in the bottom of the machine after the cycle. Removing the trap solved the problem, and the dishwasher never had any issue disposing of the wastes in the three years I lived there.

I was confident enough in Whirlpool quality that I suspected the pump would never jam, and it never did. Although I don't rinse, and rarely scrape dishes, I did make sure nothing hard or very large, waste-wise, went into the machine.

Yes, I think it goes without saying that most, if not all the machines, would have improved wash quality if they were operated on their Pots and Pans cycle. That's why they put a Pots and Pans cycle on their machines.

Post# 1187556 , Reply# 24   8/14/2023 at 08:26 by petek (Ontari ari ari O )        

petek's profile picture
The fact of the matter when it comes to CU's testing is that the results have to be repeatable in case a manufacturer who receives a low score take exception to their findings and possibly take legal action. So every machine has to be filled with dishes according to the manufacturers instruction and every dish, pot, fork loaded into it has to must have the same measured amount of food soil upon it in order to make the testing fair and equitable They choose to use the normal cycle because that is what most consumers are going to use. There isn't the time or budget I'm assuming to run the tests on each machine using each of its cycles.

Post# 1187562 , Reply# 25   8/14/2023 at 12:41 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Well, I would sure like to have the actual publication as in magazine this is from... I have a buying guide I think from 1974 and according to it, the Frigidaire product of GM cleaned the best...


Given the two major factors as in reliability and performance, I think I would choose the General Electric, fighting for the underdog rather than jumping on the Kitchen Aid is the best band wagon everyone else seems to...


But, then again, with the way these K/A's show up on the used market decades later, I would at least make that my choice there, buying vintage...


Seems as though over the years, manufacturers make all their machines look-alike for some reason when the main reasons crop again, for lack of imagination on new designs and these main factors are what people want a good appliance for...




-- Dave

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