8 Things That Are Cheaper to Replace Than to Fix


Before you hire a handyperson to fix what's broken, consider the cost. The truth is, some things are cheaper to send to the scrap heap and replace with new or refurbished models, than to repair. From wonky TVs to cordless vacuum cleaners (and a few other everyday items), here are eight things you're better off parting with before it becomes a money pit.

1. Most appliances

On average, appliance repair services charge between $100 and $250 an hour for labor on major appliances, according to HomeAdvisor, and that's before you factor in the price of parts and other service fees and taxes. Smaller appliances, like microwaves, can be repaired for around $70 an hour (plus the cost of parts), but when you consider the cost of a new microwave — most decent models of which fall in the $50 to $100 range — you'd be silly not to just update the broken machine. HouseLogic.com provides a tip on how to decide to repair or replace. It's called the 50-percent rule, and it suggests that if an appliance is more than 50 percent through its life span, and if the cost of one repair is more than 50 percent of the cost of buying new, then you should replace rather than repair.

You could, of course, try to DIY the fix, like I did with a dishwasher that stopped draining water efficiently. I went online to research the problem, and I found a helpful YouTube video that walked me through how to remove the parts. Working through it, I discovered a rogue screw in the chopper element of the dishwasher, which was clogging it up. The 20-minute project from start to finish saved me a few hundred dollars.

Before you take drastic measures, however, check to make sure the appliance is actually broken. Is it plugged in? Have circuit breakers tripped? Has flooring become uneven? (This can stop some appliances from turning on.) Are the vents and filters clear of lint, dust, and debris? Once you've assessed the situation appropriately, make your next move. (See also: 6 Smart Ways to Help Your Appliances Retain Their Value)

2. Car parts

Across the board, it's almost always cheaper to replace a broken car part than repair it.

"Unless you're driving a much older car whose replacement parts are very hard to come by, parts are abundant for modern vehicles," says Richard Reina, product training director of CARiD.com, an online aftermarket auto retailer. "In addition to being more readily available, new, mass-produced parts tend to cost less than more custom replacement parts of the past. Finally, repairing a broken element of your vehicle, no matter how simple, can come with incredibly high labor costs. It is not cost-efficient to pay a technician $40 an hour or more to spend four hours removing a component and rebuilding it, when the total cost of replacement is less. (See also: 8 Easy DIY Car Repairs to Save Big)

3. TVs

I never buy the warranty when I get a new television, because reliable brand-name TVs are relatively inexpensive these days, especially when they're on sale. I've never owned a TV that has malfunctioned in any way. That's probably because I tend to upgrade every five years or so (picture quality, sound, and size changes so drastically over that time that I can't help myself), but even if the TV did break somehow and it was out of warranty, I'd just replace it.

4. Coffee machines

At the high end of home or office coffee machines, you're looking at a $200 to $250 investment, but most in-the-middle models cost around $150. However, you can definitely get a perfectly fine coffee machine for around $20, which is why replacement over repair makes sense here.

A friend told me a story of her work coffee machine breaking down, and since it was a crucial part of the office, they wanted it fixed ASAP. Initially, they researched if they could fix it themselves, but it became clear how expensive it would be. Since it was out of warranty, they would've had to buy replacement parts to try to fix it. After hopping on eBay and other local suppliers, they noticed that the prices were ridiculously high to buy new parts. There were also no guarantees that the machine would work after buying them. To save time and money, they decided to buy a brand-new coffee machine, which was cheaper than the individual parts collectively, plus it came with a brand-new two-year warranty — an added value you should always consider when contemplating a repair versus replacement.

5. Cordless vacuum cleaners

ModernCastle.com, a site dedicated to reviewing vacuum cleaners, recently did a test of cordless vacuums that it identified as more expensive to repair than replace. The most common issue is a dying battery, because most of the batteries are lithium ion, which only last two to three years.

Editor-in-chief Derek Hales provided a few examples of the research.

The Shark Pet Perfect 2 has a replacement battery that costs as much as a brand-new unit (about $50). The Black & Decker V16 Cordless and Bissell Pet Hair Cordless, on the other hand, don't have replacement batteries available, forcing you to buy a new model every couple of years. Repair isn't even an option, and that's problematic for an appliance with such a short life span. (See also: This Is How Long These 6 Appliances Should Last)

It's worth noting that some companies that sell battery-operated appliances will replace the battery for free if you reach out to customer service and explain your issue.

6. Clothing

If you have expensive designer pieces, especially handbags or shoes, repair is probably worth the investment, mostly because these accessories have a respectable resale value. Otherwise, the only thing I consider is how much I love a piece, which isn't much since I don't have any attachment to specific items in my closet, and I welcome the chance to buy new ones. For example, I had a few sweaters taken in a few years ago after I lost a bit of weight, and the bill was up there. Almost as much as buying the sweaters brand-new, and I would have if they were available in a smaller size, but they weren't. Everything else, I just toss, donate, or learn to love with its new imperfection. I buy everything on super sale anyway, so repair isn't worth the consideration.

7. Hot water heaters or boilers

Boilers pose a dilemma when it comes to replacing or repairing. It ultimately comes down to what the problem is (which will likely only be solved with a service call) and how badly the unit is affected.

Older boilers that haven't had many issues are prime candidates for the scrap yard, especially if they haven't been serviced regularly. Older models also are likely to cost more to repair than their newer counterparts; newer models eventually become the standard to consider, as well as the age and pressure through the years.

The initial costs of a repair won't match new installation. But while it may seem cheaper now, additional damages and inefficient running costs should be a consideration for boilers that are more than 10 years old.

8. Gaming consoles

You're more likely to spend more on repairing a PS4 or Xbox One than replacing. Repairs to these systems can take some time, and when you factor in shipping costs (because have you experienced shipping costs lately?), you're probably better off buying a new console altogether.

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