So Your Cabrio's Got the F51 (AKA Cabrio Flu) -- The FAQ

You've probably found this page because you've been trying to find out why your washer repeatedly quits mid-cycle and starts displaying an F-51 message. Well, I've created this blog in the hopes of sorting out the facts and getting the word out on this apparent major defective part with a $700+ consumer product.

Basically, the F51 error is a rotor position sensor error. And from everything I've gleaned from my research it is becoming a growing problem as more and more owners reach the 1st anniversary of becoming a Cabrio owner.

What has to be fixed?
Well per the service technician I spoke with and my aformentioned research, two parts really need to be replaced. 1) the rotor sensor itself ($43) and 2) the control board ($197). Apparently, Whirlpool has yet to officially recall these parts, but there is a new board that has a reduced or no sensitivity to the rotor sensor and thus the problem should be corrected.

Can I fix it myself?
That depends on your level of handy-skills. If you're one who can work on late model foreign cars with ease, then this probably won't be a challenge. But for most amateur handy-"people" this will require a professional.

Will Whirlpool pay for the repair?
If you're under warranty (either 1 year or extended), then, of course. If you're not, then maybe. Some people have reported online that Whirlpool has allowed a "policy adjustment" for this repair. In some cases this has meant a total repair free of charge. In other cases, this has meant parts or labor free, but not all free. Regardless, you'll have to call Whirlpool and try to get farther with honey. If that doesn't work, then make sure Whirlpool knows how much you know and that you really want to be able to recommend Whirlpool in the future, but this doesn't help. You will do the opposite (i.e. tell everyone to avoid Whirlpool) if this isn't resolved.

Why doesn't Whirlpool recall the part and fix everyone's Cabrio?
This is the ultimate $64k question. First, it would cost Whirlpool nearly $400 per unit to repair, this could amount to well over a million dollars in just repairs, not to mention the embarassment of a recall. The second theory is that this isn't the only problem with this washer. Recent reports of rusting and other error codes may be preventing Whirlpool from wanting to set a precdent. Finally, this is a trend with Whirlpool as can be seen with the model previous to the Cabrio, the Calypso. It began experiencing problems shortly after its release, for which Whirlpool had little to no response. The situation eventually landed in court with a class action suit and multi-million dollar settlement (see

What should we do about it?
First, continuously encourage Whirlpool to do what's right and recall a defective part for one of their flagship products. Second, as long as Whirlpool continues to do this, make certain that every Cabrio owner knows of the problem before paying for repairs. Third, make sure every consumer considering an appliance purchase knows that Whirlpool should be avoided as long as this issue remains unresolved.

Who are you, and why are you doing this blog?
I am a simple consumer (married, father of 4) that paid over $700 for a product and then found myself with a $380 repair bill a little over a year later. When I began researching and learned that this problem is becoming common with this product, I felt the need to educate as much as possible.

Monday, January 28, 2008

My F51 Experience - Day 7

So, today is the first day we've been able to use our washer since the F51 error began. We've ran 9 loads, including 3 heavy loads (2 towels, 1 jeans), and one comforter. The washer has worked perfectly. I even think the clothes are coming out cleaner.

Will continue to update as things progress with our washer and any news on the F51 error, the defective parts involved, or any recall announcement from Whirlpool.

My F51 Experience - Day 6

Ok, so today is Saturday, January 26, 2008, and it is Day 6 of my F51 experience. I must say today was the day that things really turned up. Jerry arrived from A&E Factory Service at about 1:30pm which was well within the promised time from Mr. Piraino at Whirlpool Corporate. Jerry was extremely great to work with, very knowledgeable of the appliance, and conducted the proper due diligence to ensure that it was repaired.

Jerry replaced the circuit board. Then he checked underneath the washer to look at the parts underneath there and make sure that everything was clean and looking good. He got it all back together before he realized that he wanted to check one more thing where the circuit board hooks back up. After he was finished, he ran the washer on Normal cycle with a towel that he brought.

While it was doing its thing, he gave me a couple of pointers. First, he said that the HE detergents are probably more efficient than we gave them credit for. At most you might need 2-3 tablespoons of detergent per load. Using any more could gunk up the washer and at best just be a waste of detergent. He proved this when watching the washer suds up, despite the fact that we hadn't put any detergent in the washer. To clean out the washer he recomended put a small amount of vinegar in the detergent compartment with an empty load. Then run another rinse. This will neutralize any remaining detergent and should get the thing running clean.

The cycle finished and the washer worked like a champ! After all was said and done, I actually elected to purchase the extended warranty coverage on this washer to cover myself if there are any future problems with the washer. With that said, I will continue to update this blog as long as Whirlpool refuses to recall the circuit board or any part related to the F51 error. Consumers shouldn't have to scream and stomp their feet to have a reliable product or reasonable service.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My F51 Experience - Day 5

Hadn't heard from Mr. Piraino throughout the day, so I reached out to him at 4:30pm. He explained that he was just about to do one final check and then call me to confirm the Saturday service call. He called me back about 15 minutes later and stated that the service tech (ST) should arrive between 1-3pm on Saturday, but that it would probably be close to 1pm.

At 6:30pm a recorded message from A&E Factory service came to remind/confirm the appointment time. However, the recorded message stated that an ST would arrive anytime between 8am and 5pm. What a way to spend a Saturday!!!

So far I estimate that I've spent well over 10 hours of my time researching, waiting on STs, and contacting Whirlpool about this matter.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My F51 Experience - Day 4

I'm out of town...wife at home.

9am - Service Tech (ST) from A&E Factory service arrives to further diagnose and repair problem. He determines that he needs to procure a part (sensor), which he will have to pick up from downtown. He informs my wife that he should return by 1pm, and it should take him about an hour to repair. This is important as my wife has to leave the home by 2:30pm at the latest to begin picking up kids.

11:12am - 2nd message left by Jeff Piraino from Whirlpool Corporate working to resolve problem. Unfortunately, wife was not there to answer.

1pm - ST calls my wife saying he just picked up the part and was on his way back to peform the repairs.

1:30pm - ST returns to our house to performs repairs. He repairs only the sensor. (Through my research and from my questionning of the first ST, both the sensor and circuit board need replacement.) My wife questions this, but not having researched this as much as I have didn't argue the point. The ST did state that he "as a "general rule" replaces the sensor first, and then replaces the 'motherboard' only if the error reappears". He went on to allude that it's not guaranteed he'll have to come back, but it's not unlikely. There are no charges for the part or labor. The ST states that Corporate has authorized the repairs. He finishes at 2:15pm. My wife leaves shortly thereafter.

Ok, so I have so many comments on this part of the experience. 1) "general rule", this is another allusion to the commonality of this error. If there has to be a procedure to repair a problem as specific as an error code, and it involves replacement of major parts, then perhaps there's a defect. 2) A&E Factory Service needs to ensure that repairs are made the first time...I recognize trying to save on parts, but there's also the added expense of a second service call + the inconvenience of being without a washer for days. 3) Why the inconsistency. The first tech stated plainly that fixing the sensor would not correct the problem, and that the whole circuit board (this is the $197 part) has to be replaced, or the problem will resurface.
2:22pm - Jeff Piraino calls again. In the message, he states that service is being scheduled for Saturday, but that he needed to confirm our availabilty and best time.

4:30pm - I call Mr. Piraino and explain the service call that took place earlier. Mr. Piraino recognizes the confusion, but states that Whirlpool is shipping the circuit-board/mother board to A&E Factory Service and has authorized the repairs. I may have misunderstood, but I'm almost got the impression that Mr. Piraino was stating that the circuit board was the main repair. That if that is replaced, the sensor is not necessary (i.e. the opposite of the what the 2nd ST stated). We agree to a Saturday service request, and that Mr. Piraino will contact me Friday (1/25) with a more definitive time.

That's it for day 4.

My F51 Experience - Day 3

Today, I received a voice mail from Jeff Bryant (?), who has apparently been forwarded the e-mail I sent to Jeff Fettig (CEO). He explained that he was now in receipt of the e-mail and was investigating the issue and would work with service to reach a resolution. I'm traveling today (Wednesday, 1/23), and will try and reach out to him on Thursday during normal business hours.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My F51 Experience - Day 2

The service tech (ST) from AE Factory Service arrived at about 5:30pm (promised time 1-5pm) to repair the F51 error. From my previous post, I mentioned that Whirlpool had agreed to cover labor OR parts for the repair of this very resurging error (400+ posts). I was angry but chose labor, assuming that the parts would likely be the lesser of the two expenses. I also felt this would be easier to refund at the time that a recall does finally occur, or if Whirlpool is stupid enough, another class action suit.

The ST explained that he has seen a few F51 errors. Now I recognize a few doesn't qualify as a great deal, but this is ONE service tech seeing a few errors on a washer that is not in that many homes. If one tech has seen a few, multiply that across all of the techs and what percentage of Cabrio owners have seen this error.

The estimate came back for parts only as $253. I only paid $700 for this stupid piece of junk and now you're telling me that I have to pay 36% all over again. Get this labor would have only costed me $132. Now, of course, Gloria (Whirlpool's lovely representative from the Whirlpool Customer Experience Center) didn't know what the respective costs would be, so I had to make a blind choice. Furthermore, the ST reported that NO authorization had been given for any chargest to go back to Whirlpool.


I called Whirlpool's Customer Experience Center to first have the lovely experience of sitting on hold (with the ST waiting) for over 15 minutes! Then I got to speak to Charlotte.Charlotte first asked for my phone number. Then asked for my address. Then asked for my model and serial number of the appliance I was calling about. I explained that I'm calling about a service request that is already in progress, and that the tech was waiting with me, "can I give you the confirmation number for the service request?"

Charlotte plainly stated, "I must have the model and serial number."I gave it to her. She first told me flat out, that I was out of warranty and it was just too bad. Then she discovered that I had been promised labor, but said nothing more could be covered. I explained how irritating this whole process was becoming, and that I shouldn't have to pay more than 36% of the retail value of a product to have something repaired...especially something that is a known defect.

She stated it is not a known defect because it's not in her system, and that "just because people are saying it on the Internet" doesn't mean it's true. I guess that's true and the other 300+ people talking about it online are just a bunch of liars.

I settled with agreeing to pay for the labor and Whirlpool paying for the parts, but then I was told by Charlotte that, "no that's too bad, we've already agreed to pay for the labor, and you're going to have to pay for the parts."

I then went on to tell Charlotte that I was not a very happy consumer (you think) and that I have already started a blog and e-mailed Michael Todman (President, Whirlpool, North America) regarding this potential defect.

Charlotte very rudely questioned, "Who is that?" I answered who he was, and she then proceeded to argue with me for the next 3 minutes that I was wrong and that Jeff Fettig (CEO) is the President, and that there was no one by the name of Michael Todman at Whirlpool (I guess the SEC should be alerted, huh?).

Anyway, I digress. Bottom line is I asked the ST to leave. Asked Charlotte to speak to a supervisor. She agreed to txfr me. I waited on hold for another 5 minutes, before finally the call went dead. I was hung up on. Now, per Charlotte, I'll e-mail Jeff Fettig.

My F51 Experience - Day 1

Today, there are over 300 postings about the dreaded F-51 error and extreme inconsistencies in how Whirlpool is choosing to respond to the lemon issues of the machine.

Naturally, I wouldn't be posting this if I wasn't a "not so proud" owner myself, but here we are with the aforementioned F-51 error. And this isn't actually day one with the error, that started over 10 days ago, but now through my research and experience, this is where I've landed. I just got off the phone with Gloria at the Whirlpool customer "experience" center and while she was very polite, was emphatic that she could only cover labor or parts, but not both. Come on Whirlpool? It's either defective or it's not. Let's get with it.

If anyone has had the same issue with the Cabrio, or would like to post an issue about another lovely Whirlpool product, please feel free to comment. Better yet, to keep a more positive approach I would love to hear from satisfied consumers of other brands, to steer people in the right direction.

Tomorrow from 1-5pm, repair-person should arrive to fix (for a fee)...will update then.