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When your broken washing machine isn’t worth fixing

We’ve spoken to appliance repair experts to find out when you’re better off replacing an item rather than getting it fixed

Broken dishwasher

It’s frustrating if your washing machine, fridge freezer or vacuum cleaner breaks down, but with any luck it will be fixable, and if you’re within the appliance warranty period it will be free to repair, too. But when is your appliance not worth fixing? Our research has the answers.

If your appliance is a little bit older, or has a complicated problem, the dilemma is whether to pay the call-out and parts fees to get it repaired, or cut your losses and just pay for a new one.

We asked five Which? Trusted traders about typical problems that can affect five different domestic appliances, including ones that can be easily fixed and those that would mean you’d probably be better off replacing the product.

Best Buy washing machines – see the models we recommend if it’s time to get a new one.

What to consider

What’s clear is that there are a range of factors you need to think about when deciding whether to repair or replace an appliance, including:

The warranty period If your appliance is still within warranty, most problems will be fixed for free. If they can’t be fixed, manufacturers will probably replace the whole appliance.

The age of the appliance As you’d expect, the value of an appliance decreases as it gets older, while the chances of it breaking down increases.

Initial cost of the product If you’ve forked out more than £1,000 for an American-style fridge freezer, or choose Miele over Bush products, you’ll probably be more willing to spend money repairing rather than replacing. When we quizzed Which? members on what they would be willing to pay for repairs on their appliance, more than a third were prepared to pay up to 30% of the original cost of the product. So if a washing machine cost them £500, they would pay up to £150 to get it fixed.

What’s new in the market Manufacturers are developing and improving their products every year, so if you have a particularly old appliance, choosing to replace it with a recently launched product could mean a more efficient, money-saving or easy-to-use appliance.

Do you repair or replace?

When asking Which? members what they do when various appliances have a fault, most people say they replace the appliance with a new one, and the likelihood of this happening increases the older your appliance gets.

Not surprisingly, the most common reason for choosing to replace an appliance is because it’s too expensive to repair. Interestingly, vacuum cleaners is the only appliance where the most common reason for replacing it is because they want a new item with more up-to-date features.

When is it better to replace an appliance?

Read on for appliance problems that might warrant a replacement, and what you might expect from a 2018 model that could make it worth your while.

Washing machine: noisy spin

This is most often caused by the drum bearings wearing out. It’s possible to replace these, but it will depend on the make and model. Some cheaper models and newer machines have sealed outer drums, so you can’t replace the bearings – you have to replace the whole drum. With a new drum costing more than £100, plus labour costs, it may be more cost-effective to buy a new machine.

In 2018, you could get: A ‘smart’ machine that connects to an app and can self-dose washing detergent automatically.

Read our washing machine reviews to find the best model for you.

Washing machine repair

Fridge freezer: gas leak

If you’ve taken a utensil to the back of your freezer to try and lever off some ice, it could crack a pipe or the inner casing, causing a refrigerant gas leak. Fixing that leak can be tricky and re-gassing the fridge can cost more than £100, so replacement might be a more sensible option.

In 2018, you could get: Improved energy-efficiency. The best fridge freezers could help reduce your energy bills by £30 a year.

Find out which are the best models, by reading our fridge freezer reviews.

Vacuum cleaner: cracked casing

If your vacuum takes a tumble down a long flight of stairs, the casing could crack, which could affect the structural integrity of it and things such as suction.

In 2018, you could get: A cordless vacuum that is lightweight and can offer suction that’s almost as good as on corded versions.

Read our vacuum cleaner reviews to choose a new one.

Tumble dryer: electronic control board breaks

The control board (also known as the PCB) is the electronic unit that controls the dryer programs. If it breaks, your repairer may be able to fix it, but if the board itself is unfixable it will need to be replaced, and this is where the expense lies. They can cost £200 for a high-end machine and half that for cheaper brands, so weigh up parts and labour costs with the age of the product to see if it’s worth replacing.

In 2018, you could get: A heat-pump tumble dryer that can reduce energy costs by as much as two thirds with some of the best models.

Looking for a new tumble dryer? Read our tumble dryer reviews to make sure you pick a good one.

Shopping for dishwasher

Dishwasher: leaking dishwasher

This could be caused by a leaking door seal, which at £10 for a new seal is quick and easy to fix. However, if this doesn’t sort it, there is a small chance that a sharp knife or skewer that has forced through the cutlery basket has pierced the base of the machine. Getting a completely water-tight seal can be tricky, so a replacement may be a better option.

In 2018, you could get: A dishwashers that is better at cleaning and drying, including with an auto-open door function to help release steam and dry dishes after a cycle.

Find a local tradesman or repairer for your domestic appliances, by visiting Which? Trusted Traders.

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