To all those who are concerned about the gearbox issue - some clarification: The problem in some earlier models of K'Aid mixers was not realted to the gears themselves, so the statement on the box that the mixer has all metal gears is beside the point. The all metal gears on the mixer remain meshed thanks to the GEARBOX COVER or housing. For a while, K'Aid had moved to a plastic gearbox cover to hold their METAL gears together. What then happened was when the mixer was used for tasks that generated some heat (kneading doughs, mixing heavy cookie dough), the heat within the gearbox caused the plastic gearbox cover to soften and distort. This caused the metal gears to become disengaged and actually grind each other up. So, this issue at hand is not whether your mixer has all metal gears, but what the gearbox COVER is made out of. KitchenAid tried to take a shortcut, and then found that they received few complaints from users who whipped up a cake or two, but users who tasked the mixer with heavier use (for which it is advertised) ended up with non-functional machines. K'Aid first denied the problem, but then decided to bite the bullet, and go back to a metal gear housing. They have been trying to recover their valuable reputation by offering very cooperative customer service and a website forum where KitchenAid mixer users can dialogue and bond with the K'Aid reps. In short, they made a boo-boo and have now fixed it. The question is, did you get one of their boo-boo machines, or not? If you're one of those people who believes that you'll be passing down your mixer to your children, I think it would be prudent to ensure that you have a metal gearbox cover on board. After all, you may task the mixer with only Angel Food cake batter, but your "heirs" may actually try to make bread and find that the machine is not up to it. Bob
yeah I can answer your question. I just received mine from amazon about a wek or so ago. I was a amazon vote winner. I contacted Kitchenaid, and they told me my mixer was made in August of this year. All mixers made after april of 2007 have metal gearboxes. Read my review.
I have heard on this forum one person who claims that she tasks her mixer with heavy chores, and even though it has a plastic gearbox, it has done ok. While this may be encouraging to that user, the many problems reported with units having plastic gearboxes caused KitchenAid to underwrite the cost to change back to metal - NOBODY opts to increase their production costs unless there was a problem with the cheaper way. The newer models' metal gearboxes would be made of cast aluminum, which explains why they do not attract a magnet.
For those of us who expect a manufacturer to be honest with us about an obvious goof and just make good on it, it does seem disappointing that in phoning KitchenAid, according to some on here, their Customer Service folks put up a smokescreen about continuous improvements to the mixer and all to deflect concern about a flaw that K'Aid found important enough to correct.
Historically, back in the '60s, KitchenAid was a division of Hobart Corporation. Their dishwasher division and the brand name KitchenAid was bought by Whirlpool. K'Aid then acquired from Hobart their household mixer division. At the time that K'Aid bought Hobart's mixer line, the gear housing spec'd by Hobart was metal. And yes, K'Aid has changed many things along the way - they went to a solid state control with a stir feature sometime in the '80s (improvement), for example, and now, all of the various models and colors of mixers out there. When K'Aid bought the line from Hobart, it was plain vanilla - there was a 3 Qt, a 4.5 Qt twist on bowl, and a 5 qt bowl lift, all in white. That was it. KitchenAid discontinued the 3 Qt, leaving them with only the 4.5 and 5 qt models in white. Since that time, they have expanded the line with interesting colors, many different styles of 4.5, 5 and 6 qt. models. Many changes, many consumer-friendly improvements, no doubt.
However, the change from a metal to a plastic gearbox was something KitchenAid changed to because it was cheaper. And this would not have been a problem IF its performance had turned out to be comparable to the metal gearbox. Nobody would have noticed, and K'Aid would not have later returned to the metal gearbox, if all was well. But its performance was not equivalent.
I suppose KitchenAid calculates that if they offer to replace the mixer of everyone who calls them merely to inquire whether their unit has a metal or plastic gearbox cover, they will have a lot of mixers on their hands. But I don't believe the answer is for them to (1) contend that the customer's concern over the plastic gearbox is much ado about nothing (2) attempt to offer silly band-aids at the consumer's expense, like the purchase of an extended one year warranty.
This is a defect of under-engineering that will almost certainly shorten the life of the mixer. It could break in 1 year rather than 20 years or in 5 years rather than 20 years. Extending the warranty by a year on an appliance that should have a use-life of 20 years is a foolish prescription. Unless new users get this problem addressed, they should imagine themselves in 5 years, with a broken unit on their hands, phoning K'Aid to ask if they will replace a unit whose color and model has long since been discontinued. The time to rectify the situation is now, if you plan to do so at all. And since K'Aid cannot tell whether you've looked into the top of the mixer after you remove the requisite screws, it seems to me to be a rather hollow threat to tell users that doing so will void the warranty. What it will do, if enough users choose to have a look , is cause KitchenAid to absorb many more of the inferior units than was their plan.
What kind of mixer do I have? I am a semi-professional baker, and I needed to purchase a mixer for a variety of chores. Unfortunately, when I was in the market for a unit (very interested in the [at that time] new 6 quart K'Aid) it was in the midst of the hullabaloo about KitchenAid's plastic gearbox covers. If there is anything I dislike, its feeling tentative about an appliance upon which I rely. I looked at the 7 qt Kenwood, rebranded Rival, re-rebranded DeLonghi, currently re-re-rebranded Cuisinart. Its capacity and design were interesting, but my sense was that it just didn't seem made for heavy use. It had a 1000 watt motor, but I don't believe power usage (yes, wattage tells you only how much electricity the motor is using, but not how much of that is translated into torque or performance) is relavent - years earlier, I had worked with an old K'Aid 5 qt with a 325 watt motor, and found its power to be adequate. I considered the Viking mixer. At that time, it had received mixed-to-bad reviews, and so I steered clear of it.
So, I ended up going on Hobart's website and found their original professional 5 qt. mixer - the N50. It has 3 speeds, and you cannot shift from one to another without turning off the mixer. Very industrial, very expensive (~$1500), very heavy (35 lbs), but built solidly. I am not recommending that folks in the market for a home mixer run out and buy one of these units.
But, for those folks who, in good faith, recently purcahsed K'Aid units, I recall a time when folks who spent $300-$400 on a K'Aid mixer - instead of the many "disposable" cheaper alternatives out there - felt that they had a right to expect superior home performance over a long use period. I think this is a reasonable expectation. My recommendation is that new purchasers of K'Aid mixers ensure that their unit has a metal gearbox, and if theirs is plastic, insist that K'Aid replace them before too much time goes by. Then, enjoy.
There's a silver colored band that wraps around the top of the mixer and is held in place by a small screw in the back. Remove that screw and the silver band. Then remove the 4 screws (2 on each side) that were covered by the silver band. Then lift off the top and you will see the gear box located in the front end of the top. If it's silver colored and has some fins or ribs on one side, it should be a metal gear box. You may want to test it by seeing if a magnet will stick to it.
As for the plastic vapor smell, you're on your own.
Another update... I decided to call Kitchenaid after discovering what appeared to be a plastic gearbox housing on my WS ... serial number with a box advertising all metal gear transmission.
Kitchenaid informed me initially my machine was made in 2005. She then left the phone and after several minutes returned to inform me she could not with certainty tell me when the mixer was made but even if I had a plastic gearbox housing, it was just as good as the metal. (I didn't tell her I already knew it was plastic). She spent several minutes trying to convince me to keep the machine advising me I could BUY an extended warranty if I was unsure. I told her that bottom line, I didn't think it was fair that I purchased this high $ mixer just as anyone else had but by luck of the draw I got a plastic gearbox while others got the metal and for peace of mind, I had to return it. She just said she was sorry I felt that way...
I did my own research on serial numbers and dates. Mine starts with WU17.., and I found out directly from Kitchenaid that it was made in April 2007. Mine has the metal gearbox cover, so I would think that any with serial numbers similar or above mine have them too.
Mine is a licorice and also has a WU23 serial number like A. Oglesby. From the way they ship I would have guessed they get dropped shipped direct from the Kitchenaid factory, not some Amazon warehouse. For those saying they got plastic, what serial number series do you have (first two letters and two numbers)?
Thanks for the information guys. Mine arrived yesterday; it says all steel gear transmission on the box, but my serial number starts with WT47... making it seem like it is older than the WU serial numbers. Any thoughts? - Thanks!
I purchased one during the friday only sale.. and it does state on the box that it is "ALL-STEEL GEAR TRANSMISSION". I read also on another post, one customer did the research and found out from Kitchen Aid that any serial number above WU14..... are the most recent models, with the all steel gears.. Mines start with WU23..(licorice) I hope this helps.
I too am planing on buying this model. Did you purchase yours and if so, does it have the new metal gearbox or the old plastic one? I called KitchenAid to ask about the new metal gearbox but they need the serial number of the unit. Thanks, Liz