Why modern appliances don't last
Suspect your new appliance isn't as good as the old one? You might be right. Here's what you can do to minimize the repair cost.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
Appliances, both large and small, just aren't what they used to be. Case in point: I'm using a 10-year-old food processor borrowed from my mother because the blade in my one-year-old KitchenAid stopped spinning.
Here are some disturbing statistics from Consumer Reports. In three to four years, here are the odds of an appliance breaking down:
- Side-by-side fridge with an ice maker -- 36%.
- Dishwasher -- 20%.
- Washing machine (front load) -- 25%.
Buy one of those appliances and you have about a 1-in-4 chance of calling a repairman in the next few years.
Why appliances aren't what they used to be
I'll give you another example: Three months ago my old gas dryer finally called it quits. I bought it used almost 10 years after it was manufactured and it lasted an additional two years.
Instead of calling a repairman, I opted to buy a slightly used, less than two-year-old model with all the bells and whistles. Less than a month later, it stopped working. The dryer won't turn on anymore, which left me wondering how something practically brand new didn’t hold up as well as a 12-year-old appliance.
The answer turned out to be all those bells and whistles. Modern appliances have gone digital with electronic motherboards and LED screens, and features like moisture sensors and energy-efficient cycles. They do more, but also have a lot more that can go wrong.
As (MIT lecturer Daniel) Braunstein tells it, many consumer-product companies have moved their manufacturing offshore, delegating design and engineering to contractors, which can create a conflict of interest.
A contractor, Braunstein says, might try to lure corporate customers by keeping the cost of its design and engineering services low. "The result becomes focused on the factory's bottom line instead of the interests of the consumer," he explains. Trimming costs can mean taking shortcuts that negatively impact the appliance's quality.
Learn how to DIY
According to reference site Homewyse, the average cost to repair an appliance ranges from $254 to $275. That's not exactly pocket change, but there is something you can do about it -- learn how to make some repairs yourself.
Some modern appliances aren't too difficult to repair. Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News installed an ice maker in his refrigerator. I repaired the switchboard on my dryer. Check out these sites for DIY instructions:
- The Family Handyman Appliance Repair Projects
- The Samurai Appliance Repair Academy on YouTube
- Home Depot How-To Community
- Lowe's How-To Projects
Find cheaper parts
When buying replacement parts, compare prices at two or more sources to make sure you're getting the best deal. While the manufacturer might sell the part you need, you can probably find it cheaper at another retailer. Check out:
- Lowe's Appliance Parts
- Home Depot Appliance Parts, Filters and Accessories
Know when to let go
First, don't count on an extended warranty to cover repairs. According to a study by Consumer Reports, appliances typically don't break until after the standard extended warranty expires, meaning you'll have spent $142 or so and will still end up paying for service calls when the appliance breaks. Skip the warranty.
When your appliance breaks down, get estimates for the repair cost rather than just calling the first repairman in the phone book. I made this mistake once and ended up paying $92 for a service call just to have the repair guy tell me he couldn't fix it that day. Instead, call three or more service companies and ask what they charge.
Once you know the likely repair cost, consider this rule of thumb from Consumer Reports: Replace the appliance if the repair will cost more than half the cost of a new one. Otherwise, you might end up paying for the repair now, only to have the appliance break again later on.
More on Money Talks News:
Duh! I remember when the big appliances made here lasted for 15 years, with (maybe) 2-3 minor repairs over the course of the life of the appliance. That was when American workers could be proud of the quality of goods they produced when they were made here. The problem is that good quality reduces sales and profits. repetitive business is a lot more profitable.
so now we have junk, that need constant repairs, with prices for repairs and parts costing more than the original cost of those appliances of yester year. We are now told that you might as well buy a new appliance when the repairs will cost you half the price you paid for it. you can always buy an extended warrantee (I call them profit protection plans) to cover the inferior quality of your purchase. And as the reports state, the appliance coincidently breaks down after the warrantee is expired anyway.
Since we offshored almost all of our manufacturing and the jobs that went with them, we have the next gen of American workers selling these junkers in Wal-Mart and other big box houses of fraud for
starvation wages, while the top level CEO's, who used to average maybe 40X their average workers salaries, now see their incomes rise to 500-800 times that.
Everything seems to be made in CHINA, we have no choice but to buy what is presented to us at the time we need something. The people in China don't care how long something will last, there only interested in making a paycheck. It's the MANUFACTURERS that don't demand a QUALITY PRODUCT, there only interested in there PROFIT.
If the UNIONS would not have been so GREEDY maybe the jobs would of stayed here.
The PRIDE in AMERICA has gone., How can we feel good when our POLITICIANS sell us out.
We get no discount for buying CHINESE products, there prices are outrageous.
Dishwashers, I haven't had dishwasher issues as far as cleaning function but I have had problems with the upper and lower racks going bad. Once the coating is compromised, even a little, then the rusting starts. This should be a simple change to replace them yourself but when you price them they are $150 to $300+ each. About the cost to replace the entire unit.
Counter top, or glass top, stoves, do NOT ever drop something on the glass surface. I never put anything that is hard, metal, or even glass in the cabinet above the stove. It cost as much or even a little more to replace just the glass than it does to buy a new one of equal or better quality.
I was able to find a freezer made in Canada, but no appliances made in America. I feel as though three parts to the puzzle of why appliances fail early.
1. I suspect Made in Chia is the problem with newer appliances.
2. Also some corporate greed in designing them to fail may play a part in early appliance failure.
3. The article did mention the only other piece of the puzzle. The fact that they put computers and electronic control panels in them. However the laughs on them for the electronics because I know how to fix them...
Appliances don't last because they are now made in China, NOT because of complexity. Our Maytag washer and dryer, and refrigerator, are all junk. They don't have anything digital or electronic.
on the advice of the repairman, we got rid of the washer and dryer, and got the cheapest Whirpool ones. The part that failed in the refrigerator got replaced with a more expansive American-made part, which made more sense than a new fridge.
The washer was doomed because a broken transmission is more expensive to fix than a new washer, and the dryer, well no one could figure out what was wrong with it.
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