When to replace or repair a broken appliance

If a major appliance, such as a dishwasher or washing machine, quits working, a locally based consumers’ group advises you not assume it needs to be replaced even if it is a few years old.

“There’s a lot of bad information out there that tries to guide consumers about whether they should repair or replace,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Consumers’ Checkbook. “A lot of appliances, they last a long time.”

Brasler said you shouldn’t waste money buying into the idea that appliances have expiration dates.

“You’re spending more money to replace something when you maybe could have had it repaired for maybe $150, $200,” he said.

If your now broken appliance has been working well, and you’re OK with its features and the way it looks, Brasler said that’s reason enough to hold on to it, “even if the repair costs several hundred dollars” because buying a new one can cost even more than the repairs.

Be sure to check the warranty.

If the manufacturer’s warranty still applies, make sure to call a shop that’s authorized to do in-warranty repairs so you don’t have to pay for the work.

If the warranty is expired and you’re calling someone in to evaluate a problem, be sure to ask what they charge to show up, what the service call fee includes, whether it allows for a certain amount of time for a diagnosis and whether it gets deducted from the final bill.

Also, get a written estimate for repairs before any work begins.

Through a special arrangement with Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP.com readers can see rankings on D.C. area appliance repair services for a limited time.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices for more than 40 years.

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