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.

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.

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