Should You Fix It Or Nix It?

You’re worried that the washing machine may be on its last spin cycle. It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. It’s not like it’s still under warranty. You’ve had it for a long time and it wasn’t new when you got it.

You get an estimate for repair and discover it will cost $319 to get it back into tip-top shape.

Should you give this old, inefficient machine the heave-ho in favor of a new model that will use less electricity and water?

A new name-brand front-loader is on sale for $899 plus tax and delivery. Should you basically throw away $319 now for a temporary fix, or bite the bullet and buy the new one?

Here are some basic guidelines and suggestions to help you decide, based on costs for replacement and repairs and the advantages of new models.

If you cannot pay cash for the new replacement. You should get it repaired to buy yourself time to save up for the replacement. Even if the repairs will only keep this appliance going for a year or two, you’re far better off repairing and then saving for a new machine than to charge it and pay double-digit interest for the next three to five years.

If you have some cash but not enough. Consider replacing your clunker with a late-model, lightly used quality machine. Check sites like Craigslist.org for late-model, well cared-for used washing machines. Spread the word to friends and neighbors. People are always relocating or for some other reason in a position where they need to sell perfectly lovely, near-new appliances.

If the appliance is eight years or older. Once an appliance becomes elderly, usually it makes sense to buy a new one. However, if you have a high-end, older appliance you may want to repair it provided it is not repair-prone.

If repairs are really expensive. If the repair bill is more than half the price of a new product, you are probably better advised to buy new than to replace it. But, here again, the deciding factor will be whether or not you will have to go into debt to buy new.

If the appliance is under warranty. Even if repairs will be only partially covered by a warranty or service contract, repairing is the way you should go. If it’s under warranty, call a factory-authorized repair shop. If not, an independent contractor is likely to offer better service at a lower cost.

The costs for diagnosing problems and making repairs on home appliances have gone up considerably in the last few years, which has made replacements with new models more common.

A word to the wise. Home appliances have built-in obsolescence. By design, life expectancy has gone down slowly over the years. Refrigerators used to last for 30 years or longer. They were specifically designed to do that! These days you’ll be lucky to get 15 years and that’s with excellent maintenance and timely repairs.

Anticipate so you are not caught off guard. Anticipate the cost of repairs and eventual replacement of major home appliances by creating up a special account you designate for future appliance replacement. Setting aside a small amount of money every month will give you cash options to make wise decisions when the time comes.

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  • Madeline Hess

    I have a top loaded Maytag washer that is now 8 years old. At 3 years, the motherboard died and the opening to where you pour the bleach in rusted. Recently, the bearings wore out. It was out of warranty, so I signed up for American Home Sheild insurance to cover all my appliances, heater and air conditioner for approximately $450 per year. Since the cost to fix this washer was over $400, this insurance is the best purchase I have ever made. For a $75 one-time service fee, they fixed my washer and it is still working.

  • Jenni

    Another good resource for gently used appliances is nextdoor. com. The bonus is these are from your neighborhood. A few weeks ago not far from me, someone was giving away FOR FREE and washer and dryer. They had decided to get newer/fancier models. They promised they still worked and just told people to please come and take them! I’ve sold a few old things on there as well!

  • MaryM

    It’s always helpful to discuss the specific repair/appliance with a knowledgeable repair person. Older appliances can be worth fixing as they were built for a longer life expectancy in the first place. My Kenmore washer is approaching 19 years in service & my repair guy wants first dibs on it if I replace it!

  • MNMann

    Remember to research simple fixes. Google is good for this, just type in what the problem is into google. What sometimes looks like a major problem can be a simple DIY fix.

  • Pat goff

    We have been lucky because we have been able to fix both the washer and dryer over the years ourselves. My brother googled how to fix it and it was pretty easy to fix. We have replaced belts, washers, and even the plastic part where the lint collects that goes around and around when the door is closed. It was scraping against the metal for some reason. I paid $25 for my used washer and $30 for my used dryer and they are still going strong after 3 years. They were over 10 years old when we bought them. They sure made them to last in the old days. LOL

  • Pat goff

    I got mine off of freecycle and they both work great. I have never had a bad experience on freecycle and have been using them for over 10 years.

  • Pat goff

    I got my previous ones and my daughters off freecycle. Sorry about the mistake. LOL

  • Pat Goff

    It makes a horrible screeching sound and needs a lot of coaxing to make it all the way through a full cycle. It’s not like it’s still under warranty. You’ve had it for a long time and it wasn’t new when you got it.

    Our dryer sounded like this but all it took was a $30 part to fix it. We also replaced a belt for $25 once. You can get instructions on youtube most likely to help you do it.

  • Iryssa

    My husband just fixed ours. It was an expensive set (once a housewarming gift from my parents) and to replace it with something comparable would have been beyond us (which I normally wouldn’t worry much about except that we plan on selling our house soon, and where we live it’s unusual to take the appliances with you). It was a difficult fix (front loader bearing replacement), but we enlisted the help of a local refurbisher/reseller to do the part requiring more specialized skills and hubs did the rest himself. They were great, only charging us for what that small amount of work was worth. Well worth it in the end!