The most—and least—reliable refrigerator brands

After spending a couple thousand bucks on a new refrigerator—or more if you spring for a full-featured model—the last thing you want is to deal with repairs. Refrigerators are complex machines with lots of moving parts, especially those with ice and water dispensers. That's why they have some of the highest repair rates among major appliances, based on Consumer Reports’ surveys of almost 80,000 subscribers. But certain brands have a better track record, so you can help yourself by choosing wisely.

Bottom freezers. If you're shopping for a bottom-freezer with icemaker, whether conventional or French-door, think twice about models from the Sweden-based manufacturer Electrolux. Its repair rate of 45 percent was significantly higher than that of other brands. You might also want to avoid Frigidaire, owned by Electrolux, since its 35-percent repair rate also stands out for the wrong reasons. Whirlpool and KitchenAid are two more brands with higher-than-average repair rates.

Better bets in the bottom-freezer with icemaker category include GE, LG, Kenmore, and Samsung. Kenmore combines reliability with particularly strong performance among conventional bottom-freezers. The Kenmore Elite 79043, for example, is our top scorer in that category, offering superb temperature control, energy efficiency, and noise. Three models are tied for first in the French-door category: the $2,100 Samsung RF261BIAESR, the $2,600 GE Profile PWE23KMDES, and the $3,330 LG LFX32945ST. The LG is the only one with a through-the-door ice and water dispenser.

Side-by-side. When it comes to side-by-side refrigerators, KitchenAid is the one brand to avoid, given its 29-percent repair rate. Your best bet is GE, though no models from that brand make our current recommended list. Samsung earned pretty solid marks for reliability, and we recommend several of its models, including the top-rated Samsung RS25H5121SR, $1,900.

Top freezer. Shopping for a top freezer with an icemaker? GE and Whirlpool had the highest repair rates at 19 percent. Kenmore is the reliability leader in that category, with a repair rate of 13 percent. The $1,400 Kenmore 79433 and the $600 Kenmore 78892 make our recommended list, and both come with icemakers.

Regardless of the refrigerator you choose, a few simple maintenance steps will help keep it running. First, make sure air can circulate freely around the unit by leaving a few inches between it and the wall. Every few months, clean the unit's condenser coils (check the manual for their location) so that they can effectively disperse heat. And clean the refrigerator's door gaskets with mild detergent and water to ensure a good seal. For more choices, see our full refrigerator Ratings and recommendations.

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on Twitter)

More from Consumer Reports:
Top performing kitchen gear at rock bottom prices
The best washing machines for $800 or less
Kitchen floors that stand up to foot traffic

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