DIY fix your Maytag dishwasher on the cheap

Picture of DIY fix your Maytag dishwasher on the cheap

I used to love the Maytag brand.  My old dishwasher lasted more than 20 years when I replace it with a new one a year and half ago.  You can't be wrong choosing a Maytag, I thought.  But I was deadly wrong.

Last week my 1.5 year old Maytag dishwasher suddenly quit working.  The "Start" button won't respond, so is gone my confidence with Maytag.  I searched the internet and found many unhappy customers complaining the same: the touch buttons failed shortly after the warranty expired.  There are basically two options, one is to get the repairman here to fix it.  The chances are that he will just replace the control panel, as well as the control board with about $150 each.  Labor is probably another $150, which would easily totals to $450, about the same amount as a new dishwasher.  The other option is to simply buy a new one, and trash the old-new one - what a waste!  The premature failed dishwasher would be in the landfill, and polluting the environment, or used as scrap metal, wasting energy. Either way you are a loser, while the salesman will be laughing all his way to the bank.

I searched the web for DIY solutions, and learned to get the diagnostic manual from the bottom panel, and then found the root cause for the failure, and finally fixed it with very little cost.  Now my dishwasher is working again. Here is how I did it step by step.  Hope you can benefit from the instructions here.

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ankit06211 month ago

All of a sudden my MAYTAG (rubbish) dishwasher stopped working, the touchpad would
not light up and non of the buttons would work. After an extensive
search online for parts, i could not find a replacement touchpad. So i
searched on instructables and this "DIY fix your Maytag dishwasher on the cheap" showed up. I followed the instructions and bought the materials in the instructions and the dishwasher started working again....thank you so much for your post. It was very helpful and saved me from buying another dishwasher.

jm2jm24 months ago
Thanks for posting these instructions. My 3.5 year Kenmore (made by Whirlpool, same as your Maytag) had this problem and your detailed instructions were great! Just wanted to share some tips to benefit others:

1. When peeling back the buttons to expose the rusted/burnt-out part of the ribbon, I bent one of the buttons too much and it was stuck in the down position. I get my convex/concave mixed up, but basically, instead of bulging out (and leaving a small gap to press down), it was almost flat (so "down" all the time). I just needed to bend it in reverse to fix it, but to all who are reading these instructions before attempting a repair, it'll be much easier to avoid the problem in the first place by not bending/flexing the buttons when peeling them back.

2. My guess is that the problem is caused by the protective covering over the copper traces being worn away right where it bends and touches the cover. Probably the vibration from opening and closing the door causes enough abrasion over time to expose the copper. Then, some moisture from the dishwasher + exposed copper = burnt-out or rusted copper. I would recommend a double layer of electrical tape in that area, just to ensure it won't wear away again. If you're not going to be doing this fix, but will be replacing the entire control panel, I would still recommend putting electrical tape in that spot in your new control panel for additional protection against future abrasion.

3. It was difficult to get clean electrical contact lines with a toothpick. Even though it looked good to my eyes, an ohmmeter showed that I had shorted out some of the lines. I then used an utility blade to carefully scrape between the lines to make sure there wasn't any contact between lines. Be careful not to cut through the ribbon.
Vern One5 months ago
Thanks so much for the awesome diagnosis and step by step fix. I found the diagnostic manual, unplugged the control panel from the control board applied power and closed the door and drain cycle started just as you said indicating the control board and motor was probably alright. Peeled back the ribbon cable from the control panel plastic housing and INDEED there were rust marks. I too scraped too hard and removed some chunks of the metal tracings but was able to repair all with the defroster repair kit. I wanted to tell others who read this that I did bend the area with the cancel button too much and had to bend the cancel button area of the control panel back to stop the cancel from always blinking. We called Maytag a third time and asked to talk to a supervisor yesterday and asked them to ship us the part for free as it is a known defect but they would not. I have never registered and posted like this for anything on the web , but really wanted to say thanks for the $8 fix to my not quite 3 year old dishwasher!! Vern
thilger6 months ago
Thank you for advise. Maytag didn't start but normal and dry button were lit. after i kept pressing normal then dry button rapidly and about the third press all the lights lit up and it reset and now is working perfectly. you saved me the cost of a repair man.
astral_mage7 months ago
actually if yr smart an willing to take yr time that dish washer can be converted to using dc. instead of ac. an scrapped, yes alot of recyclers are buying plastics now. as well as metal.
Slyone7 months ago
Well, I wasn't careful enough with the scraping. My eyes are not so great (I have cataracts in both) although I used a magnifier. I could see corrosion - in EVERY conductor in a line near where the FPC comes off the touch panel. There was a dark line right across conductor 12. Scraping with a small razor hobby tool, I went right through and put a hole in the conductor and FPC before I knew it. I was not too concerned because I knew I could replace the unit for $120, but so I kept trying, and succeeded - the dishwasher is running as we speak. My silver conductive ink was no longer conductive - probably sitting so long the silver settled out. I could not bridge the hole with it. The conductive paste in the defogger kit is probably better for this job, anyway. I pealed the plastic cover layer from over the 'Cancel' switch on the touch panel. The top, cover layer has the electrical contact part of the switches. Under this switch are the terminal contacts of the switch. The center of this switch is connected to line 12 of the FPC. I tried sticking a piece of wire into the conductive layer on the touch panel side of the hole (which is thicker) to bridge the hole, and that failed, so I decided to connect the center conductor of the 'Cancel' switch directly to the FPC cable connector. Covered the contact (top layer) with clear packaging tape so the switch would not be stuck in Cancel mode on. Not being able to cancel would be a minor sacrifice to get the dishwasher running. I used the silver ink to connect and hold a fine wire (for wire wrapping electronics - Radio Shack has this stuff, but any strong fine wire will do the\ job) to the center terminal of the switch and ran the wire directly to the back of P1-12 wrapped around a conductive pin (I had some small gold-plated mini connectors lying around, but a piece of heavy wire, like a paper clip, would do. I checked resistance pressing the 'Start' switch (+P1-12, -P1-4), reassembled the touch panel, put it back in the dishwasher and turned it on. And it works. I will have to seal everything, but when the corrosion takes over and the dishwasher stops working again, I will replace the touch switch panel.
Slyone7 months ago
First, thank you for this. Mine is Maytag Dishwasher Model # MDB7749AWM1 - bought on sale at Home Depot about 3 years ago stopped turning on about a month ago. I was at a loss until I Googled this Instructable. That led me to locate the diagnostic service manual behind the bottom panel. I ran through the trouble shooting protocol there and as you have given it. Getting the test run to start was very reassuring. And then the drain motor ran 2 minutes, so the control panel is OK but I did not see any rust or crimps or breaks in the FPC. So, I ran through the switch function tests (as given in the Diagnostic Service Manual) with a digital multimeter. Switch functions can be grouped into 3 sets based on the (+) ohm-meter lead (red) as (+)P1-11, (+)P1-12 and (+)P1-13. These (+) meter leads each pairs up with a (-) ohm-meter lead (black) on P1-2 through P1-6. By running through ALL the switch functions, I deduced that all failed switch functions were paired with line P1-12 (Functions: Start, Cancel, Delay, Rinse), while all switch functions associated with lines P1-11 and P1-13 were working. Therefore, only line P1-12 requires repair. This makes sense if the Start function does not work and pressing Heavy-Normal-Heavy-Normal will start the test run. The Cancel and Start functions which (not working) pair P1-12 to P1-3 and P1-4 respectively, while the Normal and Heavy functions (which must be working because the test run started, and confirmed with the meter) and ) pair P1-13 to P1-3 and P1-4 respectively. I don't know why the conductor that runs through line 12 would be particularly vulnerable, but I am going ahead on that assumption. I did not see any rust, but again, will assume that the fragile area is where you made your repairs and try bridging the bend in the FPC there. I will try using a silver conductive ink pen left from another project to repair the FPC - if that fails, I will buy the defogger repair kit
battore8 months ago
This is great and all, but it's beyond me. I'll just leave it to someone who is good at appliance repair in Hamilton. I can't tell you how much I fail at repairing electronics. Seems to be great info though, but too far ahead of public ed. without numerous re-readings, stress and headaches. URL:
Practical Techonlogy (author) 8 months ago
One year has passed since I originally posted here. I am happy to report that the fix held up fairly well, other than another recent break down and re-fix. Well, this time actually was due to a repair quality issue in my original fix. Recall that when I was experimenting with different fixes originally, I accidentally burnt a hole in the cable with an electric iron so the fix for the hole section was not as reliable as other sections. I don't think this should be a problem if you follow the instructions here (lesson learned on my part).

I would also recommend that you need to keep the repair manual in a safe place. I almost lost it and took me much longer to find it than fixing the dishwasher.

Overall, I find that the mechanical and motor controller part of this Maytag dishwasher were well built and is running strong. The engineers also provided very good instructions in the repair manual. It is the front keypad that causing all the problems. The front keypad appears to be a disposable piece almost by design either intentionally or unintentionally. I would vote it for the most unreliable part for the Guinness World Record if there is such a thing. Sad to say that is unfortunately true.
jgarb10 months ago
I experienced the same thing with my almost 3 year old dishwasher. I played with the ribbon cable a bit and was able to get the start button to engage, but that only lasted about a week. Upon closer examination the ribbon cable had a hard fold in it from the original install, am guessing that the conductor was broken in the cable - I opted to buy a new control panel for $125 and hope for another 3 years - got the new panel and it fired right up. Sounds like a poor quality ribbon cable and in my case a poor original assembly. I would like to thank 2024951544c for a great post - you saved me a lot of time and if I had more time and patience probably would have tried your fix.
Kris Lee10 months ago
I have had the same issue with my 2.5 year old dishwasher now having two failed panels, using the schematics I connected some wires to the positive and negative pins on the board for the start button and it works great. I then contacted Maytag and gave them ample opportunity to rectify the issue and of course they denied that there is any problem with the panels and refused to rectify the situation reasonably so I contacted an attorney and have filed a class action lawsuit. Please contact my attorney's office Eppsteiner & Fiorica @ 858.350.1500 if you own or have owned a Maytag or Whirlpool dishwasher with control panel failures. You can read a little about the case here:
Practical Techonlogy (author) 1 year ago
All, just an update on my dishwasher. After my initial fix more than six months ago, it had been working fine till recently when the "Cancel" button started flashing erratically. I thought it was a problem in my earlier fix but when I opened it, it turns out that the "Cancel" button is stuck in the pressed position. There is no way to fix it so I just simply took the metal piece out from the "Cancel" button. Now the dishwasher works great again. Of course the only problem is that I no longer have the Cancel button. I may eventually need to buy a new panel, but it's good to know that neither the circuit nor the button is reliable on the Maytag dishwasher. Alternatively, I can make a Cancel button using radioshack parts, or any kind of push button would be more reliable than this one on the Maytag dishwasher.
Sahrang1 year ago
Thanks so much for the help. I ended up purchasing a new control panel for ~$100 after finding rust at multiple locations. The dishwasher works great now.
Lionflower1 year ago
You are an angle from heaven. Thank you for posting all that. I am a novice single mom who didn't have the money for such an expensive fix and at the same time couldn't afford to go without my dishwasher for very long. I followed your directions to a T and wala it worked. Big XXXXXs and Big OOOOOs to you. It did take me a day and I couldn't wait 24 hours to try it but it worked. What actually took the longest was researching, and then driving around getting the materials an then waiting for the stuff to dry. I also didn't have an Ohm meter so I just went on faith that it would work. In my research when I found the consumer reports site I found that there are tons of people who are experiencing this nightmare of a repair. I wish them luck in finding this site and I hope they are encouraged by me to try it themselves. I really have zero experience in appliance repair nor any electronic experience and I was able to do it. You tube videos that people post and these message boards are truly a god given gift for those of us who can't afford to spend a ton on repairs.
Glad to hear that it worked for you. You are a smart lady.
Sahrang1 year ago
Thanks. I found the manual.

Unfortunately, I think my machine won't go in diagnostic mode because one of the buttons is broken. I have to press the same sequence as yours, but my heated dry option is always turned on, even though I press the other dry options.

Is it still possible to determine whether it is the control panel or the control board that is broken? My FTC cable has no rust.

Practical Techonlogy (author)  Sahrang1 year ago
Well, sounds like you have a different problem which may be caused by the control board. But before giving up, you can try two other things:
1) In the diagnostic manual, there is a procedure to unplug the FTC cable from the control board and then turn the power back on. If the machine runs for a couple of minutes and then stops (it should drain), then there is a good chance that the control board is still good but there is no guarantee.

2) Another way to make sure the FTC cable is good is to use a digital Ohm meter to test for the diode resistance. You will have to follow the pin map in the diagnostic manual to find which pin should be positive and negative for the Ohm meter. When connected for a particular button, you can press the button, the Ohm meter should show about 680 Ohm (make sure the polarity is correct, or you will get infinite resistance because there is a diode in the circuit).
You will have to test each button this way- time consuming but it works.
Lionflower1 year ago
I'm trying this fix as we speak. I have to wait 24 hours for the stuff to dry. I'll keep you posted on how it works for me.
Thanks for posting this.
Sahrang1 year ago
Great post. My Maytag Model # mdbh989aws2 is having similar problems. It won't start, but the lights for wash options do turn on. I opened the front panel by removing the screws, and did not find a diagnostic manual. How can I get this manual?
Practical Techonlogy (author)  Sahrang1 year ago
Well, I have a different model than yours but it's relatively close (mdbh979Aww3). On mine, the manual actually is located at the front bottom panel under the front door (close to the floor), not on the front door panel. Be very careful when you open that panel because the electrical connection wires are inside so you need to make sure the power is off before opening it. When I opened that panel, the manual was found on the back of the black panel taped to it. If it's not there, then it might be a difference in the model. Or could it be that someone took it out when the dishwasher was installed? Hope this helps.
Just want to add that actually, there is a transparent plastic pocket glued to the back of the bottom panel which contains the diagnostic manual.

Also, the symptoms could be different in each case because there are many wires on the FTC cable and it depends on which particular wire rusted out.

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