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Is my Elna 945 Serger a Lemon?

AngieRobinson | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I have an Elna 945 serger that is just exiting it’s warrantee period and I haven’t put very many hours on it. The tensions got all out of whack and a couple of the stretch stiches were extremely tight, had no stretch at all, and puckered the fabric. It also has a differential feed switch that was so stiff that the plastic knob on it broke. I brought it in and all they did was replace the knob and tell me I had to learn to adjust the tensions. The store looked at the machine and agreed with me that something was wrong and took it back for repair again and spoke to the repair people directly. They did get the stretch stitches to work, but I’m skeptical about what they did to it. How do you repair tensions on one of those machines? They had left an adjustment in memory and the auto settings now match it. I don’t know what the auto settings had been originally. Is that a legitimate way to ‘fix’ it? This whole process took over a month. After finally getting it back I ran all the stitches through with different colored threads to see if it was really fixed. I had done this same thing when I first got the machine to learn all the stitches. I compared the new samples to the old ones and the pictures of the stitches in the manual, and many of them are now sloppy. I’ve very upset. I can’t be without a machine for another month, I paid a lot of money for it, and my confidence that it can be truly fixed correctly is slim to none. Do I have a lemon and what can I reasonably expect my dealer to do about it? Please give me any advice you can.


  1. FitnessNut | | #1

    "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." You have a right to expect that your serger works correctly. You paid good money for it and it is still under warranty. If I were you, I'd be a royal pain in the butt until it was working to my satisfaction. Make the dealer stand by the machine. You may have to be prepared to be without the machine while it is in the shop, though. On occasion, a dealer may exchange the machine for a new one if it is deemed defective.

  2. HeartFire | | #2

    Please let us know what happens with your machine, I too have an Elna 945, I had it in the shop not too too long ago for service, I got it back and the left needle tension was way too tight, I took it back and they repaired it, but now (not too much use later) it seems to be doing it agin, I havent really tried to mess with it to see if I can fix it, but... otherwise, I've had it for about 4 yrs and its great.
    Thanks Judy

    1. AngieRobinson | | #3

      The saga continues. I brought it in yesterday, sat down with the store manager and she tried it herself. The right needle tension was extremely loose, like there was no tension at all. She could not get it to work. This worries me because it wasn't that bad when I tried it at home. Anyway, it was clearly not working so she is taking it back for repair. She also let me take their floor model home as a loaner. I've been trying to be persistant but polite with the store and they have been cooperative so far. You do catch more flies with honey than vinegar. As long as they continue to work with me, I'll be patient. If it's not fixed this time, I'm asking for a new machine. I don't want to be right back in this situation a year from now with no warrantee.

      How long should I normally expect the tensions to go before they need adjusting? My sewing machine doesn't need any service except the maintenance I do myself. Should a serger be the same way?

      I swear the the left needle tension was the one that was way too tight originally, because the only stitches I seemed to have problems with were ones that used the left most thread. That seems to be correct now and the right needle thread is way too loose.

      1. Kiley | | #4

        I have the 744  the model under the 945. My serger is not computerized and has auto tensions, 5 tilt needles, does 3 coverhems but has only 4 threads.  If I had spent more money on a serger as you did it would be sitting on my dealers lap if it was giving me the problems that you have had. To me one thing that makes it seem that your serger has not been right all along is that you had a hard time with your differntial feed. It should not be hard to adjust especially to the point where the knob falls off. I would ask for a new serger since this one is still under warranty. It seems like there is more than one thing wrong with it. As far as the dealer saying you don't know how to adjust tensions..doesn't it have automatic tensions like the 744? It is my understanding that the 945 is basically the same but has the 5th thread and takes pro cards. I'm sorry you have had such problems with your serger and I hope now all is well. I am interested in the outcome.

        1. user-70765 | | #5

          I don't know anything about Elna because I have a Babylock which I love. The dealer that I bought it from has been around for many years and I can say with confidence that had this occured with one of her machines you would have had a new one by now without you having to request one. Most of these machines are quite costly therefore it is reasonable to expect this kind of service without you having to "gently" demand it.

      2. kjp | | #6

        I've had my Elna pro5dc for about 10 yrs & haven't had a problem with the tensions.  But then mine has manual adjustments, not computerized.  Your machine should still be covered for this problem even if it's out of warranty next year but document the repair history.  Aren't lemon laws 3 times in for the same problem?  Sounds like your machine should be replaced.  Good luck! 

        1. SewTruTerry | | #7

          I wanted to add my 2 cents as well.  Although is does sound like you got a lemon of a serger more importantly it sounds like you have a lemon of a repair person.  I have had my machines into my dealer who also does repairs on site and I will tell you that they have always bent over backwards even borrowing parts from floor models to repair my machines.  I think that any "repair or service" person that can't even fix a tension problem needs to go back to school.  It actually sounds like your computer chip has been fried.  I think I would call the manufacturer directly and speak to someone there.

  3. Jackiesews | | #8

    I have 2 Elna serges (624 & 945).  I bought my 945 in 2002 and I never had problem with mine.

    I hope your dealer will replace your machine.

    Good Luck!

    1. AngieRobinson | | #9

      The saga continues... I hadn't heard from the dealer in a couple weeks, but I had their floor model so I wasn't too motivated to find the time to hassle them. Actually the longer it took the better I felt about it because I thought it was a sign that it was not repairable and I'd get a new one. Well, the repair shop finally called and they want me to bring them the floor model and sit down with them with both machines to compare them. They seem to think they finally figured out what is wrong, but want to make sure since it's the third time they've had it. Well, driving out to the shop is not real convenient and my confidence in the repair is about nil. They've fixed it before and it got worse again as time went by. The fact that this was not a routine fix and that it's been fixed and then gotten worse again, leads me to believe that something is fundamentally wrong with it. They claimed that they've contacted Elna and that Elna is directing them to make me go through this. Bottom line is, I want a new machine. I don't want to be in the same position a year, or even five years from now. I paid a lot of money for what I believed to be a very reliable machine and expect it to last at least a decade if not two. My worst fear is that it will appear to be fixed and that I'll have to take it home, have to worry about it breaking again, and then be livid and SOL when it does a couple years from now.

      Do I go to the shop and talk to them? Do I just explain my concerns and ask for a new machine up front? I'd really appreciate any suggestions?

      1. User avater
        paddyscar | | #10

        Do I go to the shop and talk to them? Do I just explain my concerns and ask for a new machine up front? I'd really appreciate any suggestions?

        Hi Angie: 

        This is very shoddy treatment - I think you should contact Elna directly.  The dealer has an obligation to Elna and to the customer to ensure that the repair person is qualified, which doesn't appear to be the case. 

        If you have to go in to compare the two machines for them, I'd say they don't know what they are doing.  I'd be holding onto the floor model.

        Elna should be made aware of your troubles with this machine, the dealer and the repair history.  You don't know what the dealer is telling Elna.  You have put it very well in your posting and that is exactly what you should tell them.  

        If you bought it on your credit card, can they help you?  What about the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce.

        Good luck - you deserve better.  Tell them we're all behind you!


      2. kjp | | #11

        Yes!!! You should be politely blunt and up front about your concerns!  And, I agree with holding on to the floor model until your machine is satisfactory.  Also, you should spend as much time as you need with them testing EVERY stitch and type of fabric you need to to make sure you are absolutely, and completely satisfied.  If not, you should demand a new machine.  I also agree that you should most definitely keep a log of all your conversations/ repair history (even if you don't know the dates of the calls to the dealer).  And REGARDLESS of the outcome, you should contact Elna directly about this situation - if only to protect your investment for the future. 

        Elna is a good and reputable company who makes a great machine.  They will stand behind their product.  Also...just for curiosity...can you call another Elna dealer to see what they have to say about your problem?

        Good luck! 

        1. AngieRobinson | | #12

          Well, I spoke to another dealer in the area and he said replacing the machine is the dealer's choice and that other's would probably have replaced it sooner. I also contacted Elna by email (the only way I could see to contact them) and have not heard back yet. I don't plan on returning the floor model or accepting my own back until I hear back from Elna. I will probably drive out to the shop to talk to them and let them know my thoughts. If worse comes to worst I will keep the floor model and tell them to keep mine. At least I haven't had any trouble with it.

          This is so frustrating! Thanks for your support.

          1. kjp | | #13


            It sounds like you have a good plan!  I'm glad the other dealer supported you - are they too far away to deal with in the future (not that you are going to be buying another machine at this expense - but maybe for future servicing?)  I really hope you hear back from Elna quickly.  I agree with you to hold onto the floor model.  Might be a good idea to switch, if all else fails!

            As much as I would like to upgrade my serger (I have an older Elna - no cover stitch), hearing what you have gone through is making me appreciate what I have!  I know my machine and have never had to have a servicing (although I am VERY good about maintaining, vacuuming and oiling my machine).


          2. AngieRobinson | | #14

            I went to the repair shop yesterday to look at the machine with them. I wanted to see what they had done each time it was in to get a better idea of what was really going on with it. It was a little hard to understand it all because the repair guy was from Ukrain and there was a bit of a language barrier, but I think I got the jist of it.

            I think the reason they did not adjust the tensions the first time it was in was because they tested the tension with a simple tension device that he showed me and they seemed to be in spec. So they thought it was fine and didn't bother running any fabric through.

            The second time it was in, they ran the stitch that I was complaining about and adjusted it. They thought it was fine again and sent it back. I ran through all the stitches and the one that had been bad was ok, but now some others were out. So in it went again.

            This third time they tried getting two different stitches working, but I have yet to run all the stitches through to make sure they all work. I'm not convinced that they can get all the stitches working simultaneously, but we'll see. I'm also concerned that they seemed to get worse with time, so even if it looks good now, I don't trust it.

            Basically, I'm doing all their troubleshooting for them and it's very time consuming for me. I work full time and have two small children and this is consuming all of my sewing time and I can't get any projects done!

            At one point they asked if I would be willing to swap machines with the floor model since that one was working for me, but I said that I paid for a new one, not a used one. I realize it may come down to that, but I'm not giving up yet. They also wanted me to leave the floor model there and I said I wasn't giving it up until I was satisfied with my machine. So now I have both at home and will have to spend considerable time testing them both out on all the stitches. What an ordeal!

          3. kjp | | #15

            I have never heard of a reputable repair person not testing all the stitches before returning a machine!  My Bernina is ALWAYS returned with a swatch of fabric with a variety of stitches tested by the repair person.  You are right not to trust them.  Good for you hanging onto the floor model!  I would start to get noisy about getting a new machine - and check your state lemon laws on the web.  I think NJ has a 3 times in for the same problem law.

          4. AngieRobinson | | #16

            I got a reply from Elna:

            "Dear Angela, Thank you for contacting us. You have the option to have Creative Sewing send your serger into Elna for evaluation. You will be responsible for the shipping charges and parts and labor that apply. Should you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us. Sincerely, Cindy Elna USA"

            So basically they say they aren't going to cover anything even though it is still in warranty! All this happened the first year I had it. So much for Elna standing by it's products! I re-read their sales policy on their website (http://www.elnausa.com/policy/). "We believe that a consumer who purchases an Elna machine through a trained authorized dealer will enjoy years of sewing satisfaction," yeah right. And of course the only way to contact them is email. I wonder if I can find a phone number somewhere.

            Now I'm off to check out my other options. I'll keep you posted.

          5. User avater
            paddyscar | | #17

            Hi Angie:

            I've located the number for Elna USA, unfortunately, it is not toll free.

            Your Elna Distributor<!----><!---->

            <!----><!---->USA<!---->: Elna <!----><!---->USA<!----><!----><!----><!---->1760 Gilsinn Lane<!----><!---->Fenton<!---->, <!---->MO<!----> <!---->63026<!----><!---->Phone: 636-349-3000Fax: 636-349-2333Web: http://www.elnausa.com<!---->

            There is a discussion on the 744 at the site below.  It is a positive discussion, but maybe some of the info will assist in troubleshooting.

            http://www.sewingworld.com/newsw/frame_discuss.htm  (scroll down and double click on the title Elna in the left column.


          6. kjp | | #18

            Try the phone number and by all means, take this up the ladder with Elna.  Sounds like a "canned" reply & that maybe she didn't read your email that the problem started while the machine is under warranty.  You need to speak with a customer relations supervisor, or the person in charge of the whole Elna USA division.  I had a problem with a Frigidaire stove (design related) and wrote a letter to the president after many frustrating calls.  I got satisfaction!  Do you have documentation of your repair history (with dates)?  When did the warranty expire?   Include all that in your correspondence.  At this point, print your emails and follow every phone call up with a letter to both Elna and the store (certified if possible) confirming your call and what was said.  This will be of great value should you have to go to small claims court (probably won't happen, but they'll get the message that you might!).  Not sure I'd buy another Elna!

          7. Kiley | | #19

            Does Elna realize that your serger is still under warranty? I don't understand why you would have to pay for shipping and parts etc. To speak with someone at Elna on the phone would be good but I have learned that in big companies it is time consuming to say the least in making calls to speak to someone in charge and still not being able to speak to the proper person or persons is maddening. I have had good luck with Elna USA per email. They have given good customer service and I have had no problems with my 744 serger.  I would email a copy of the letter you rec'd and state that the machine is still under warranty..and explain all that you have been through with this machine and state that you expect them being the reputable company that they are to handle the situtation to your satisfaction in a timely manner or give you a new machine. You might want to suggest to Elna that you belong to an internet forum of thousands of viewers and sewing enthusiasts that are looking closely at this situtation and how Elna will handle it..see if that helps..:)

            Edited 5/4/2005 6:53 am ET by Kiley

            Edited 5/4/2005 6:55 am ET by Kiley

          8. AngieRobinson | | #20

            Well, the machine is still behaving like it did in the beginning with no stretch what so ever in the stretch knit and stretch wrapped stitches. I brought it back to the dealer and had her sit down with it. It does the same thing for her. The 4 thread safety, which is the same threading as the stretch knit, has stretch to it. At first she seemed to say that if the stretch knit doesn't work and the 4 thread safety does, just use that instead. I won't accept that for an answer since I expect ALL the stitches to work as advertised. But then she tried wooly in the loopers and it had the stretch. Haven't had time to try the wooly with the stretch wrapped so I don't know if it will stretch with that or not.

            So now my question is, why does the stitch stretch with wooly and not the normal thread? Is this normal and how it's supposed to be? The manual doesn't mention anything about requiring wooly thread for that stitch like it does for the other stitches that require specialty thread. So is my machine working properly or not? In my mind, the normal thread should stretch too, like it does with the 4 thread safety.

            Any suggestions at this point?

          9. kjp | | #21

            Angie, All your stitches should work properly.  I use my stretch stitch almost always without wooly in the looper. 

            Also, just for a lark, I emailed Elna and told them I was interested in the machine and needed warranty information.  I read that you have a two year warranty.  You should be well covered!  Sit down and write yourself a letter (snailmail) and get yourself a new machine. 

            I am shocked to hear that your dealer actually told you to use a different stitch since the stretch stitch didn't work on your machine! 

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