What happened to my dishwasher?

My gf was helping my clean my house (or more accurately, she didn’t come over to watch me play Madden 09 all day), and she ran my dish washer. Dark gray smoke started coming out. I looked through the manual, and there was nothing about dark gray smoke in the troubleshooting section. The facts of the dish washer are these:

  1. It’s a 20 years old, Whirlpool.
  2. I wasn’t there when it ran, but my GF said that there was this draining sound from the sink, then it started to whirr, then the dark gray smoke.

We stopped it. Waited a couple of hours, then ran it again. It ran just like normal, but when I opened it, the dishes “seemed” clean, but the Electrasol tablet looked like someone took a bite out of the corner of it. The dishes were somewhat warm.

It being 20 years old, I’ll probably just go and buy another one, because that has to be cheaper/more cost-effective, right? Anyone know of any good brands/features? I looked over the weekend and I liked the energy star feature as well as the sanitizing one.

Check the heater coil at the bottom. Does it have any melted spots on it?

I’m at work right now. I’ll go home and look. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, though (then again, I wasn’t looking for anything specific).

No, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Anyone know a good site to compare dishwashers and their features?

If your dishwasher detergent isn’t dissolving, my guess would be there’s something wrong with the pump.