Kenmore Washer Lid Won't Unlock? (We Have a Few Fixes)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart
The lock function on a Kenmore washer is great, that is until it won’t unlock. This can happen for several reasons from the latch to the switch assembly. Follow along as we explore how you can identify and fix the cause of a Kenmore lid that won’t unlock.

Kenmore makes some great washing machines, especially when it comes to their top-loading designs. They are notoriously safe machines too, which is why they have a specialty lid lock to prevent people from reaching in. The problem is, sometimes those locks work a bit too well. So, what happens when your top-loader suddenly won’t let the lid unlock?

Kenmore washer lids that get stuck can be caused by a number of different issues. Before you assume that you have a part that needs to be replaced, the best thing to do is attempt a reset of the washing machine. In most cases, this will make the problem go away. If it doesn’t, you can work on a troubleshooting routine to narrow down the issue.

If you have this problem, you’re not alone. A jammed lock on the lid is actually pretty common. If you need a little help, you can use our knowledge to make things easier on you.

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Before You Begin: Doing A Quick Reset

In many cases, the reason why your washer lid won’t unlock has to do with a little glitch in the computer system. If this is the case, you can usually fix it by doing a reset of your Kenmore. While many Kenmore washer models have differing specific methods to do a reset, the truth is that there’s a quick method that seems to work just as well.

To do a quick reset, unplug your washing machine and wait five minutes. Then, plug it back in and press the Pause/Stop/Cancel button twice. If your door unlocks, then it was just a glitch. If it doesn’t, try using the model-specific resetting method mentioned in your owner’s manual to see if an improvement occurs.

How To Open A Stuck Washing Machine Door

Troubleshooting A Kenmore Washer With A Locked Lid

Now that you’ve ruled out the need for a quick reset, it’s time to look into the bigger issues that it could be. This quick troubleshooter can help you figure out what’s going on.

  • Before you do anything, unplug the machine and put on protective gloves. You don’t want to have a shock!
  • Start by taking a closer look at the latch of the door. This is usually in the lower access panel behind the machine, but you can find your specific location via the owner’s manual. Do you see a sock blocking the latch, or maybe some lint? Clear it away. Then, use a string or a wire to manually move the latch so that you can open up the door. Clean the latch and the area around it to ensure that you don’t have any more problems.
  • Inspect the latch. Does the latch mechanism look cracked or loose? Perhaps it looks jammed? If so, you may need to replace the lock’s latch in order to avoid another stuck lock moment.
  • The next thing you will need to do is check your door lock and switch assembly. Your machine’s owner’s manual will help you locate both. The first thing you should look for is signs of mechanical failure, such as a crack or parts that appear to be broken. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, you need to change the lock and switch assembly.
  • Next, grab a multimeter and check both of the switches. The assembly can also have an electrical failure. The multimeter will be able to tell you if your switches shorted. Should this happen, you will need to replace the switches. Replacing the full assembly is also often advised but sometimes can be avoided.
  • Grab a flashlight and get an even closer inspection of the lock itself. If you notice small details that don’t look right, it’s probably the lock. While you’re there, look at the wiring that heads towards the lock, switch, and assembly. Fix any loose wires that you spot.
  • Replace the back assembly once everything is fixed, then turn your attention to the door. You may need to manually open the door, if you haven’t already.
  • Check to see if the door’s strike and catch are intact. If they are not, then that’s what’s causing the perma-lock you’ve been struggling with. You will need to replace both the strike and the catch if one broke.
  • Then, take a closer look at the lid’s hinges and pins. Stuck hinges can happen due to a buildup of lint. Clean it out and then check the hinges and pins again. Should you notice a break, you will need to (you guessed it!) replace it.
  • Once everything has been properly fixed, close the door and check to see if the lock works. We suggest doing a nice batch of laundry to see if everything is okay.

When To Worry: The Control Panel

By now, you’ve eliminated most of the reasons why your Kenmore’s door lock won’t unlock. If you’re still dealing with regular locking issues, then the other reason why you might be dealing with this is a problem with your control panel. When this happens, you have to replace the very computer that controls all the functions of your machine.

A bad control panel is about as pricey as a repair can get. If you find yourself with this issue, you will need to debate whether or not it’s worth the price of replacement.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Stuck Door Lock?

It can cost anywhere from $80 to $300 on average to fix a stuck door lock, all depending on what is wrong with your washer unit. If it’s a matter of fixing a bad switch, it will be closer to $80. Some repairs are even cheaper, such as replacing your door’s strike, catch, or hinges.

The most expensive repair that you may need to do to fix your Kenmore is a control panel replacement. The control panel alone can cost between $150 to $200 or more, depending on the model you have. When you factor in additional costs such as labor or an inspection, then you could be looking at a price that’s well over half the cost of your unit.

Typical labor costs for professional washing machine repair can range from $40 to $80 per hour, depending on your location and the skill level of the labor. Many repairmen also insist on having a diagnostic before they get to work, even if you have done a diagnostic yourself. This can tack on an additional $50 to your total bill.

Does Kenmore’s Warranty Cover Stuck Door Locks?

It depends on how deep into the warranty you are. Kenmore’s Lifetime Warranty only happens to cover the washer drive motor. However, each Kenmore model also comes with a full parts and manufacturing warranty for the very first year of your washer’s use. If you have a stuck door during this period, you got lucky and will be able to get it repaired for free.

If you want to use your warranty to get a repair on your Kenmore, you’re going to have to have proof of purchase. And, not just any purchase will do, either. Your receipt has to be from a Sears, K-Mart, or another authorized retailer. If you bought your washer unit from an unauthorized retailer (like eBay or Amazon) you will not be able to use your warranty.

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Related Questions

How long does a typical Kenmore washing machine last?

Kenmore’s washing machine line is known for being fairly sturdy, even though the Kenmore brand itself is designed to be a “basic” range. If you have a standard washing machine from Kenmore, then you can expect it to last between 10 and 13 years with proper maintenance.People who want a more durable machine should consider buying a washer from the Kenmore Elite brand instead. These washers are made to be ultra-durable. You can expect a typical Kenmore Elite washing machine to last for up to 20 years as long as they’re maintained well.

Is it actually worth it to fix your washing machine?

It depends on the situation. If the repairs cost less than half of the full price of a new machine of equal quality, and you expect there to be several years of life left over, it’s worth it. Most repairs that cost more than half of the machine’s price are not worth it. So, if you are going to have a very high repair bill, it’s generally smarter to replace the unit.With that said, if you notice that you’ve had a lot of repairs over the past year or so, it’s time to hit the pause button. Machines that are nearing the end of their lifespans often start breaking down bit by bit.

Does Kenmore make good washing machines?

Absolutely! Kenmore is a name that is popular across the country because of the great washers and dryers they make. The brand regularly receives awards for its excellent design and durability. Moreover, the brand is so popular, around 1 in every 3 homes currently has one of these washers.Kenmore also happens to be one of the more affordable brands out there. Needless to say, Kenmore is a company that you can rely on when you need lots of bang for your buck.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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