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KitchenAid Just Doesn’t Give a Damn

If you own a pre-2006 KitchenAid Professional 600, be aware that it will probably come to a grinding, screeching halt if you make a lot of bread. When it crashes you will be assaulted by one of the most painful and soul-crushing sounds you are likely to hear in a kitchen. Your beautiful mixer is dead. What is worse, KitchenAid just doesn’t give a damn.

My Professional 600 was a gift from my wife, who thought she was buying her bread-crazy husband the biggest, baddest mixer on the block. It is certainly marketed that way.

The overachiever of the stand mixer family, it has a Flour Power rating of 14 cups. That means it can mix enough dough for 8 loaves of bread or 13 dozen cookies in a single bowl … Powerfully churns through yeast bread dough and triple batches of cookie dough.

So why did my 8-cup soft sandwich bread recipe kill it? As it turns out, the Professional 600 mixers made before August of 2006 have a plastic gear housing that is completely inadequate for the size of the motor. Put a strain on the mixing head — bread dough, for instance — and the housing flexes, throwing the whole gear train out of alignment. When that happens the gears strip, locking up the whole assembly and causing an ear splitting shriek that will be etched in your memory forever. It is a horrible sound. Kitchenaid redesigned the gear housing in 2006, replacing it with a metal housing capable of taking the load put out by the motor. They repaired the Professional 600s that died under warranty but didn’t put out a service bulletin or recall notice for the others. We were left on our own. You see, the mixer doesn’t self destruct the first time you use it, the problem is cumulative. The flex gets worse with time until one day the gearbox flexes just far enough to cause a train wreck. It happened often enough that the KitchenAid engineers built a new gearbox. They just didn’t tell the rest of us. It took an engineer with a dead mixer to find out why the gears stripped the way they did.

My mixer is out of warranty so I wanted to see what my options were. I did a little research and found dozens of other Professional 600 owners who experienced exactly the same symptoms and mixer death. One of them was an engineer who took his mixer apart. It was he who discovered why the gears stripped the way they did. There was a detailed analysis with photos on his website, but it is no longer available.  Given that this was a known design flaw — one that KitchenAid admitted when redesigning the gearbox — I asked them to cover the repair of my mixer. They refused, charging me $150 to replace the gears and gearbox housing. Their condescending customer service representative claimed A) that mixing 8 cups of flour for seven minutes, rather than the recommended five, was responsible for the lockup that killed the mixer, and B) that while the gearbox did indeed crack, the gears stripped first, so the gearbox couldn’t have been the problem. I pointed out that the gearbox flexes, causing the gears to strip before the housing cracks but she didn’t want to hear it. The problem was obviously my fault, and her tone suggested that I was probably lying about only mixing 8 cups of flour. It was an infuriating conversation. In short, Kitchenaid markets the Professional 600 as a heavy duty mixer designed to knead bread dough knowing that 90% of their customers are going to be making cakes, cookies and meringues, which put no strain on the motor. It’s the 10% of us who do bake bread (or use the meat grinder) on a regular basis who are screwed because KitchenAid won’t stand behind its products.

31 comments to KitchenAid Just Doesn’t Give a Damn

  • Spencer K

    I suggest you submit this to http://consumerist.com. They have a decent track record of displaying this type of bad publicity in a forum known for outing companies with poor service.

    The worst that could come of it, is that others will know that KitchenAid is not all that great.

  • [...] They were made by Hobart and built to commercial specifications. Newer KitchenAid mixers certainly can and do burn out, and their customer service sucks. The link is to my own miserable experience with a fried Professional 600. The earlier versions [...]

  • Tara

    I bought a 5qt mixer and returned it after it burn’t out. I thought the 600 model could handle my dough. I went through one mixer that they replaced the second one burn’t out one month past warrenty expired. Costumer service
    was no help. I am back to making several batches of dough in my bread machine. I am sorry I didn’t learn my lesson. I should of saved up for a Magic Mill Mixer. I wish we could do something the mixer is top rated. I have a friend that had the same problem and only uses her’s for whipping egg whites.

  • Andy Krull

    Hi Chad. Empathy for the mixer issues. This isn’t the first concern I’ve heard over the 600 after visiting the kitchen aid forums & others.

    Bread was a strong consideration in my mixer search. I ended up with the Bosch universal. It’s not as exemplary as the top mixer design for delicate mixing of things like icing etc, however, for bread/thick cookie dough I haven’t used anything better. What convinced me on this model was reliability in the design. There just isn’t anything to fail as it is belt driven. These things apparently go for years and years. A bonus with the Bosch is the compact design for under cupboard use. Thoughts for your readers to consider.

    Thanks for the read.

  • Carmen

    And that’s why I have a Kenwood….

  • Ben

    I have a DLX after killing two KA’s. Mixed eight pounds of cookies last night and routinely do eight loaves of bread at a time.

  • Monika

    I bought a Viking mixer, and I love it. I make bread every week and have used the mixer for grinding meat and stuffing sausage. The meat grinder is metal, not plastic like the kitchen aid grinder.

  • Benelli

    Chad,

    Because I am very happy with the MAC Pro knives you recommended, I wanted to know if you would buy a post-2006 (metal gear box) KitchenAid Professional 600? I was looking at them, but I am a bit concerned because it looks like you must remove the attachments before you can remove the bowl. This seems like more of a hassle than tilting the head. Is it that big of a deal?

    Second for ease of use, durability, etc. what mixer would you buy if you wanted to spend $400? How about $600? Thank You.

  • At this point, I just don’t know. I recently got my Professional 600 back from Kitchenaid for its second (second!) refurbish. The first time they replaced the gearbox housing with the newer metal version. The gear train still failed making a simple enriched bread dough. We’ll see how long it lasts this time. When you make everything from scratch, as we’re doing now, a heavy duty mixer is a must and the Kitchenaid just isn’t reliable or sturdy enough for the job. For the average household it’s probably fine. I bake a lot of bread and make sausage regularly, things that seem to strain the motor beyond its design capacity (despite KA’s marketing). If you bake cakes and cookies and only occasionally make bread or pizza dough it would most likely hold up fine. I haven’t gotten one in for a thorough review, but I have read very good things about the Electrlux DLX from people whose opinion I respect. That’s probably what I would get if I were starting from scratch. Right now I’m after the holy grail — a used Hobart N50. If I can get one for around $800 I’ll be a very happy man.

  • Allison

    I too am having issues with this very model. I was so excited to have purchased my first one just over 2 years ago. 2 weeks after my warranty was up the gears stripped. I called KA and they, surprisingly, replaced it with a new model free of charge. One year and 3 months after I received that one they stripped again in the middle of mixing a batch of pizza dough using only 9 cups of flour. I am so aggrivated! How dare they! I called again and they are sending me a refurbished model with a 6 month warranty. I wish there was something I could do to get a full refund from them and just go to another company. I’m very disappointed!

  • Carl May

    I have the 5 Quart Heavy Duty KitchenAid 375 Watt model…the classic one, prior to the new 600 Watt “Pro” Models. I have used it for 10 years, but for the past few months I have taken up bread making every other day. Typically, I use about 6 3/4 cups of flour to make two loaves of bread at a time (the smaller loaves). The mixer does get quite hot and is now beginning to make a slight metallic grinding noise…possibly signaling an impending demise. It obviously does not like the resistance it encounters when dealing with dense bread dough…it often slows down, sometimes almost to a halt,laboring, when the dough gets twisted up and almost over the bowl. It is obvious that my KitchenAid K5 mixer was not really designed for bread making.

    If it does die, either by an overheated motor or by gear stripping, I will attempt to replace it. The unit is far past warranty, so I am not optimistic.

    In any event, it will be replaced with some kind of stand mixer, but not for bread making. I might not replace it with another KitchenAid. What I might do is buy a VIKING VSM700SG 7 quart, 1,000 Watt Motor (in stainless gray: about $550). Why? Because I own two King Arthur Flour baking books (standard and whole wheat editions, I much prefer their flours),and they highly recommend the Viking. King Arthur also sells it via their hard and online catalogs. So, Chad, give them a call and get some tech info. The Hobart is for commercial use so it seems like you want overkill, having been burnt by a mediocre mixer design.

    Another alternative to a more powerful mixer for bread kneading is to buy a Zojirushi BBCC-X20 Bread machine (about $200). This machine makes only one loaf at a time, so you do it daily (at least for my family…we do not want to carb it up too much).
    You add the ingredients, and the machine does the rest: Just set the timer when you want it all to happen…awake every morning to hot, fresh bread. The machine does the mixing, handling the rises, shaping the loaf, presto! And it makes various kinds of breads. The King Arthur people say they prefer this method over using a mixer…by far. I absolutely trust their experience and advice arduously gained in their test kitchens. So, I think I am going this route myself…no more minding the mixing, flour on the counter. No more mixing bowl, rising bowl,yeast proofing bowl, and bread pans to grease and clean. No more plastic wrap to grease and place over the rising bowl and bread pans. No more weighing the dough ball to make two equal loaves at a time. No more shaping of the dough to fit the pan. Just way less hassle. Save your mixer for less strenuous tasks such as batter, cookie dough, custards, etc. By the way, I am in no way affiliated with KitchenAid, Hobart, Viking, Zojirushi, nor any other small electric manufacturer, distributor, manufacturers’ representative, retailer, advertising agency, publicist, product social awareness agency, nor am I a member of the organized crime industry nor the Hollywood entertainment racket, not any mind-manipuation arm of any corporation, govermental agency, or political or religious cults. That being said, I am most certainly biased in favor of my opinions.

    Anyway I hope this helps you Chad, and all the other readers here. Lets us all hear it for less bitchin’ in the kitchen.

  • Wat

    Have had the Kitchen Aid Deluxe Edition for 6 years now with extreme use. Not a day goes by it is not sued for something. Only the main paddle wears out on ours. Maybe you people bought one to lite for the use you put it through.

  • I suppose I don’t have one heavy duty enough. However, it is the Professional 600 — the biggest, most powerful mixer Kitchenaid makes, advertised to handle 14 cups of flour. I break it on a regular basis making nothing more than 8-cup sandwich bread and sausages. You tell me who is at fault, Kitchenaid for a design that doesn’t live up to its advertising hype or me for believing it.

  • Jennifer

    Try having a KitchenAid oven that locks up and dies if you try to use the self-cleaning function! The company’s poor design is not their fault either – leaving the owner to foot the bill to repair the oven and buy Easy-Off.

  • Pat

    I’m so glad I read this…I was thinking about buying a Kitchenaid, but now I will NOT. Between the truly expensive lousy product and poor customer services complaints I’m reading here and in other boads(including researching consumer complaints, I am convinced that this mixer is not for me. This machine is too expensive for light use. I want to use it for my baking bread and my cake decorating business. I wonder if Kitchenaid appreciates the bad reputation they are getting…

  • Todd R.

    I bought a NEW Pro 600, 575 watt, 6qt mixer about 3 years ago as a back up. I got into making breads with my grandmothers nearly 50 year old 300 watt 5 qt bowl lift mixer. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, a good price and rebate came along on the “Big 600″ heavy duty mixer. I bought extended warranties also. I have NEVER used in 3 years since buying it, because the little one keeps going. I decided to get it out for it’s FIRST maiden run, I was “5 minutes”, thats right FIVE MINUTES, into the mixing / kneading of the bagel dough (which I think I finaly mastered), and the mixer died. I thought maybe I messed up and made a super stiff batch, NO I didn’t and I was FURIOUS, nearly $400.00 for this JUNK mixer and it dies in 5 min. Grabbed the old 300 watt 5qt mixer, threw the batch into the bowl, and it finished the job like a champ. I’m calling KA tomorrow, and they had better well take care of me. My warrant is current thru 2012.
    Posted 9/15/2010

  • jane naomi

    Agree with the terrible performance of the Kitchenaid Professional Mixer – mine was in the repair shop three times in the two years after it went off warranty. Each time I”d call customer service, the implication was that it was MY fault for not knowing how to use it. I finally junked it and bought a Cuisinart but am not happy with it and have the feeling that it, too, is not long for the bread baking world. Maybe I’ll try a Viking next. Too bad, because I have a 25 plus year old Kitchenaid that is going strong – just too small for bread making.

  • DR

    I work in a bakery and we have a couple of kitchenaids.
    They’re for whipping cream mainly and smaller batches of frosting.

    We have 6 more mixers increasing in size that we use for doughs and breads.

    I own a kitchenaid at home and it’s incredible not only how noisy it is, but how much it obviously does not enjoy bread dough. I bought it for bread and so I use it for bread, but I can tell it isn’t long for this world.

    The absolute nonsense in the manuals about how the dough is ‘ready’ when it climbs the dough hook (about 4 minutes of kneading) is hilarious. The gluten has barely been touched at this stage and you’re supposed to finish it all by hand?
    Err, why did I buy the mixer again? How are they allowed to market it in this way? It’s simply lies.
    They look nice, but they’re underpowered, noisy and a waste of money for anything other than light duty work.

    Unfortunately the real mixers are a lot more money and are hard to find in smaller home sized models. Hobart makes a very nice 5 quart, but brace yourself for that price.

  • jots

    This is really said for our US companies. My Professional 600 just died (feels like the gear is stripped). Years ago, I was really proud and felt patriotic when I bought a Maytag Neptune front load washer dryer. But the washer kept on breaking. The company refused to own up. And in the following years, the Korean companies has introduced their washer dryer into the US market and have taken away a big chunk of the market. KitchenAid must watch out. Our companies should not be complaining that foreign companies are undercutting into the market when they themselves sell badly designed products and won’t own up to the problems. Next thing you know, we may be seeing Samsung mixer or LG mixer.

  • Rebecca

    I read this 5 years too late :(
    My professional 600 KA just died. Same issues as listed above. I am one of the few die hards that make bread every day, bake everything from scratch and my mixer gets used daily. KA told me that they would send me a refurbished one. The gal failed to give me an order number and told me she was instead email it to me, that email never came and I am now on day 6 (they told me 7-10 business days and it would arrive via FedEx) and I am not holding my breath that a refurbished one will show up. I posted to FB and got tons of comments from people that just change out their own gears as they break. Seems like a pain to do though but this morning I took it apart. I can see what needs to be replaced. I am not hopeful though for long term use….vacillating on what to do….

    Chad, did you get a new mixer and if so what did you get? I would seriously pay to get something that will hold up “forever”. It’s my main kitchen tool and I use it mod-heavy every day so it would be worth every penny. The most I make at a time is 4 loaves (10cups flour).

  • Alex

    I’ve killed my KA pro600 in 7 weeks mixing maximum 4 cups at a time. And yes i kept my mixer at speed 2 for kneading. I did knead for more than 5 minutes though….

  • David

    Purchased a KA pro 600 for bread making, motor overheats and gears have stripped not once, but twice! KA has replaced the mixer under warranty both times, but I wish I could get my money back and purchase something that will last.

  • G. Raymond

    I have the 5 qt Artisan tilt head model by KA. Have used it sparingly so far but noticed it seemed to labor with the meat grinder attachment. So, how have the Artisan models been holding up?

  • This is worrisome information to learn of. I have the 5qt Artisan Tilt-head model. So far it’s been used only in light duty jobs. Does anyone know how the Artisan mixers are holding up?

  • Shasta

    Yup, same mixer issue…only I learned about the plastic gear box before making bread and never used it for that. (It was already out of warranty, however.) We ended up buying a Bosch Universal, since bread dough is the main job we need a mixer for these days.

    I’d LOVE to sell the KA to partially cover that purchase — but how in good conscience? The plan right now is either to buy the metal gearbox and include it with the mixer as a “handyman’s special” or replace it and then sell the mixer. Either way it’s a bummer. FWIW, we had a lawyer draft a letter to KitchenAid’s corporate about the issue. It merited a response from the corporate offices, but they were still unwilling to replace the mixer. It did give me an opportunity to communicate my frustration, however.

  • SRomero

    I bought a 600Pro Stand Mixer back in November of ’07 thinking I would use it mostly for whipping cream. Then I discovered bread making and have made more bread than whipped cream (go figure). When I realized there were attachments galore, the first one I bought was the meat grinder; which we use all the time, no pink slime in my house!

    My husband calls it the Kitchen Tractor, you just swap out attachments and the tractor does the work…if only John Deere made household appliances…

    What concerns me is that the machine started to sound ‘funny’ shortly after the first few uses and it’s getting worse, like it needs to be lubricated. A google search is how I landed here and I’m glad for the information, it would appear I need to think about getting my KA serviced before it grinds to a screeching halt.

    The electric 5 burner stove we bought from KA has performed ok considering the amount of use (abuse) it gets and the pro version burr grinder has performed exceptionally well, so overall I would say I’m satisfied with the KA products. However…if my kitchen tractor dies, I will shell out the bigger bucks and go for something more professional grade.

  • Robert

    I have had two KitchenAid mixers in 33 years one a K45ss and the other a Pro 600, my daughter is still using the k45 and we have had the 600 in the shop once to repack grease and have new metal transmission cover installed. It cost os $65.00 dollars to have done because our machine was out of warranty, we bake bread 3-4 loaves at at a time for the week and all other days it is used for everything else, cakes cookies mashed potatoes and such, we use it to make danish dough for coffee cakes biscuits. I make about 5# of sausage at a time and we use it for putting up jams and jellies. it has proven to be reliable and long lasting. Did I want to pay for the new metal cover … NO!, but for $65.00 and new grease and gasket and a professional look it over to see if it needed anything else. well 65 was cheap. Granted i didn’t wait till my machine died. I heard about the problem and called KA to see if they would replace it and no they would not so i paid for it and I’m glad i did. I could go on about preventive maintenance and the cost to own any machine be it car or stand mixer but you probably get the idea. It’s a machine fix it.

  • Lily

    It’s 2013 and KitchenAid still doesn’t give a damn. My “professional”, all-metal KitchenAid broke down after two years of use (stripped gears), so we spent a lot of money having it professionally repaired. A year later, it broke down AGAIN so we ordered the gears and grease online and repaired it ourselves. It broke down again after a couple months. I wrote a letter to Whirlpool (makers of KitchenAid) describing my problems and their reply was basically “We’re sorry, the problems that you have experienced sound very unusual, we hope that you will consider buying more KitchenAid products in the future”.

  • Frances Parsons

    I was in the midst of researching mixers when my husband surprised me with a 600 Pro for our mutual anniversary present in 2012. I was frustrated, since I’d read comments like these, but there was no point in saying anything that would hurt his feelings after the fact.

    That being said, we use this mixer 3 or more times per week. We do make hamburger and sometimes sausages, but 2 or more of those uses per week are for breadmaking. About half the time I make whole wheat & occasionally oat bread (which has killed two bread machines in the past and is why I swore off bread machines). I generally make dough for 2 but sometimes up to 6 loaves per batch. We have, so far, never had a single issue. It doesn’t get hot or strain or do any of the other things I’ve seen people complain of. Of course, I don’t run it very long at a time — I never cease to be amazed at how fast the mixer takes my ingredients from a miscellaneous pile to a cohesive dough ball; I’ve never timed it, but it may be as little as 3 minutes with some 2-loaf doughs. I stop the mixer immediately to prevent over-kneading, and because I like a finer grain let the ball rest 3-4 minutes before kneading by hand a couple of minutes. This quick use may be why I’ve had no problems with motor strain.

    I say all this not because I doubt the bad experiences related by others (in fact, ATK’s most recent testing of high-end mixers put this model down to 3rd place specifically because of reports of durability issues), but just to share a different experience that may reflect a later manufacture. I can’t comment on the honesty and accuracy of the advertising beyond saying that *our* usage has not thus far overburdened the mixer’s capacity.

    It’s possible that customer service has also improved of late, because I was not entirely accurate in stating that we’ve had no problems — we didn’t read the directions, and put the non-dishwasher-safe burnished metal dough hook & beater through the dishwasher, causing oxidation. When I called KA to ask what was wrong & learned that we had ruined them, I was prepared to pay for replacements, but was pleasantly surprised when they sent me replacements free of charge (they would have sent burnished, but I requested the coated ones, which go through the dishwasher, & they cheerfully agreed). Granted, not expensive parts, but still much appreciated since in our case the problem was indeed our fault.

    BTW, for future reference in shopping: torque, not wattage, is the measure of an appliance’s power output. The relationship between wattage and torque is not as direct as you might think, regardless of the manufacturer, so it’s necessary to look beyond wattage in deciding if any given mixer has sufficient power for a given job.

  • Frances, I’m glad you’ve had such a positive experience. Perhaps KA has changed their design in response to some of the issues that have been raised. I’ve noticed that they’ve removed references to the number of cups of flour and other marketing claims from their most recent packaging for the Professional 600, perhaps in tacit acknowledgement that some of it was overstated when the mixer was introduced. I’m still in search of a reasonably priced used Hobart N50. As you say, torque matters more than wattage, and the N50 has an actual geared motor that allows you to apply more low-end power to stiff doughs or when grinding meat without straining the power train.

    Again, I’m thrilled that your mixer is working out for you. I cannot tell you how touched I was when my wife purchased mine for me. It was a wonderful and thoughtful gift. Your husband obviously wanted to get you the best. I hope that Kitchenaid continues to live up to the hopes and expectations of those who splurge on themselves and others. I also hope that experiences like mine push them to do so.

  • Laurie Nicol

    I got the 600 Pro in Sept of 2012, again for bread-making. Today it stripped it’s gears while making bread.
    Customer service was rude and implied that the 14 cup limit (I was using eleven) wAs not meant to be flour but the total of the flour, water and all the other ingredients (I was using their recipe x2 for 4 loaves) Therefore it was my fault that the gears stripped. I was then directed to the parts department where they agreed to ship me the gear for about $20. Maybe I should have ordered spares.

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