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Fix An Old Washer or Buy a New One?

cheaper to fix or buy new?Well, I’m certainly glad we didn’t make that impulse buy recently because our washer is on the fritz again. A couple of months ago, it went out and we had a similar dilemma, fix it or buy new? With the last malfunction, we decided to call the repair man and for $230, we were back in business. Now, we have a totally new problem with some sort of motor board, which is like the computer brain of the machine. Why washers needed a brain in the first place is beyond me, but the part itself is $219 online if we can install it ourselves. If not, the repair man charges at least $75 for a service call. With that in mind, we went looking at new washers this past weekend, and I think it made the decision even harder. When do you fix a washer vs buy a whole new one?

Our Shopping Experience

Basically, since we live in a retail black hole, we have four options if we want something delivered. I do not want to buy a used washer. I’m sure there is a chance you could get a great deal, but with our luck, we’d get a lemon for sure.

Home Depot or Lowe’s– These stores basically have the same products, free delivery, installation, and haul away of old machines. However the Lowe’s had live birds flying around inside the store. If you remember my slight fear of birds, you’ll realize why I didn’t really spend much time looking around in that establishment. Plus, some of the floor models had bird poop on them. Come on Lowe’s, there has to be some sort of pest control available, although maybe I could have gotten a discount on a poop stained machine?

Sears-Has the most models to choose from plus online coupons. They had the best prices, but no free guaranteed delivery without finding a promotion.

Local Mom and Pop Store– Will absolutely not do free delivery or installation! Also, they charge extra to haul the old one away. I love the locals, but come up with something to compete with the big dogs, if not price then give me some service!

Modern Appliances Suck

It seems with modern washers, you get about 6-7 years max before they start tearing up. I would prefer one without computer sensors, but all the ones that are large capacity and energy star rated have those. The washers we were looking at that meet our needs are around $900, but sale prices seem to be around $750, plus a $50 off online coupon. Our electric company will give us an $80 rebate for buying an energy star rated appliance.

Also, for you points and miles junkies out there, if we purchase the washer online through a shopping portal for certain credit cards or frequent flier websites, we can get 3x-5x extra points, which translates to about $20 in free travel.

Taking into account all the discounts, that makes our final cost for a new washer around $600 plus tax. Or we could fix our old one for $219-$300 and hope nothing tears up for a few years. It’s frustrating because with what we spent a couple of months ago plus this current repair, that would have pretty much covered the price of a new one, but how could we know it was going to crap the bed again so soon?

Right now we can “trick” it into working by unplugging it and plugging it back in several times or changing the cycle. The normal cycle doesn’t work at all, but if we alternate between the gentle and bulky cycles, we have gotten it to work, at least up until this point. We have the luxury of being able to shop around until it stops working completely.  It is frustrating because that means all the mechanical stuff is OK, it’s just that dang computer sensor!

I also realize this is a first world problem because many people have to trek it to the laundromat every week. Honestly, I would buy a new washer today if that was my option. I think my laundromat days are over unless we decide to buy one down the road as a retirement business!

I need your help. If you were in my situation, would you fix the old one or buy a new washer? If we buy new, are there any big appliance sale occasions coming up? What brand might last longer than 7 years?

 

Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/verandah

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

25 comments

  1. This is something I’m struggling with as well, except in our case it’s the range/oven. We had something fall on it and half the range got cracked so we only use one half of the range. This is working fine and I just can’t find the motivation to buy the replacement part. First of all, it would be tough to install or I’d have to hire another person to install it. Second it costs $150 when the range itself is only worth a few hundred dollars. I think I’ll eventually just buy a new one. I’d probably do the same in your case.

    • Maybe I should just learn to be an appliance repair person. It probably pays more than being an optometrist.

  2. I’d probably go with a new one if you can. There’s less chance of needing to replace something again in just a few months if you buy new. Or if something were to crap out, it would probably be under warranty.

  3. We are facing the same dilemma with our dishwasher. Repair part cost would be close to $200, not much less than the cost of a new one. I’m usually good for one major repair on an appliance before I start looking for a new one.

    • I confirmed today with the repair shop that is was going to be at least a $300 repair. I think it’s time for a new one. I wish we’d done it a couple of months ago.

  4. I fixed my tenants’ twice before buying a new one. The new one was worth around 3 repairs, but with their heavy use I hope it doesn’t break at least in a year. I would go for the trouble-free new one straight away in retrospect.

  5. We’re facing a similar dilemma as our four year old decided it would be cool to body slam Nicole’s MacBook Pro on the tiling around our fireplace on Monday. Of course, it didn’t take to kindly to it and is being looked at by Apple. Anyway, I think I’d go new in your case. I’d just hate to repair it now and have something similar happen again in a few months and spend even more. Do any of the stores there have ding and dent sales by chance? We have a store here that does that every Thursday ad can usually get a good bit knocked off the price that way.

    • Ouch on the MacBook! Sears does sometimes have things like that. They had one model that was listed as a “return.” It made me wonder why someone returned it. Did it suck? If we could find a floor model for sale, I’d jump right on that.

  6. If I were you, I would buy a new one after checking out Consumer Reports ratings on washers.

    Just to add another layer or two to your savings … check out how much cashback you could get through ebates. You might be able to get more than your travel rewards portal. If you’re really thrifty, you could order a gift card through your travel rewards portal, then place the order through ebates and pay with the gift card — you would get travel rewards and then cashback. Also, Lowe’s takes competitor coupons, so if you have a Sears coupon, you could use that at Lowe’s. If you end up buying at Sears, be sure to first join their Shop Your Way Rewards program. You will probably find a coupon for bonus points on a certain amount of a home appliance purchase. OK, enough of the couponing brain dump! When you’re ready to buy, if you want to tell me the model I’m happy to help you find the best deal 😉

  7. As Rebecca stated, I would join the Sears Shop Your Way rewards program. I did that when we were buying a window A/C unit and got a 20% off coupon immediately.

    I would go with new. Nothing lasts long anymore, so don’t expect anything to go beyond 7 years. We just hit the 7 year mark with ours and it is going.

    • I guess I’m just old but I remember my parent’s stuff lasting forever. I did sign up for the Sears thing. Here’s to looking for a coupon!

  8. I think I’d go for the new ones, but which option from there is a tough call. I still can’t believe I’m 43 and schlepping my way to the laundromat each week. My next place will have laundry on site FOR SURE!

    • You should get to eat brownies or something for that. I actually don’t mind the idea of the laundromat. You can do a million loads at once and be done. I just can’t stand the clientele of the laundromats in our area. People let their kids run wild. It is not a pleasant experience!

  9. Lowe’s has a history of being anti-gay, so if you go the big box route, I recommend Home Depot.

  10. See if you have a Sears Distribution Center out there as they sell slower models. Usually 10-20% cheaper than a retail store.

  11. Sounds to me like you’ve got a washer that is in the “death spiral.” It will keep eating your money via repairs – cut your losses now and get a new one. I hear you on the lifespan of today’s appliances…ours are all about to hit the 10 year mark, and I’m just waiting for them to start dropping…

  12. I’m starting to think that washers and dryers are only made to last a few years. Our last washer only lasted 4 years. I didn’t try to have it fixed. I just gave it to a guy I know who works on washers. It was just a cheap one!

  13. If you buy new, front loading are awesome but make sure you avoid a brand that has that mold problem that plagues certain brands. I’m really partial to Electrolux appliances as I’ve had years of experience with various ones and I feel they’re a good brand. I also like GE. My only advice with purchasing a washer is to go as high as you can as long as it’s not going into ridiculous spending territory. I’m not a big dryer user but I would go all out on my washer… but maybe that’s just me! 🙂

    With the mom and pop stores, I would ask if they can at least price match… it’s worth a shot. Also keep in mind the quality of warranty, if you buy an extended one. A warranty from a smaller store might offer better service than one from a big box store. There’s a local appliance store here in NYC, AJ Madison, which also has a large online presence and they have done me well with the two large appliances I got from them (a chest freezer and a portable washer).

  14. I had my old Bosch v360 started making noises, shaking while in drying mode, so i called a repair man taking advatage of cheap labor in Egypt, he told me it needs 3 shocks and a rusty bottom, and asked for 60 $$ , i shoped for a new one it was around 300$ siemens 6 kg front loader, so i took my chances and fixed the old Bosch hoping it will last for one more year !!!!! wish me luck.

  15. Bought my most expensive Whirlpool Top load 10kg washer last year thinking that it would last me at least 5 years (previously owned a cheaper one which lasted me only 3 years). Turned out to be a disappointment. In less than 1.5 years, it showed some signs of malfunction: first the drum vibrated & banged loudly against the washer wall, then the lid lock started unlocking itself half way through the full cycle esp. during the rinse & spin cycle.. Finally it would not start at all on certain days and back again after more days.

    Company sent technician down and told me that the motherboard has to be replaced and it would cost me $300+. Now I am left with 2 options: (1) go ahead with the repair in hope that no other issue will crop up. (2) Use the $300+ to get a new and cheap washer.

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