Consumer Report: Repair or Replace?

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To repair or not to repair? That’s a big question when it comes to appliances and electronics. Consumer Reports surveyed more than 29,000 of its subscribers and has new information on what types of products break most often and how to decide whether to fix them or buy new.

Side-by-side refrigerators with icemakers are among the most problem-prone appliances, according to a Consumer Reports’ survey of its subscribers.

31 percent needed repairs by the time they were 4 years old. Bottom freezer refrigerators with icemakers needed repairs almost as often — 28% of them.

Other products that tend to break within four years? Dishwashers: 20 percent, Self-propelled gas mowers 23 percent and lawn tractors 28 percent.

Consumer Reports did find some products are getting more reliable. LCD televisions now have a 7 percent repair rate, compared to 15 percent in 2010. Even laptops are improving. It’s 24 percent now. It was 36 percent in 2010.

So when is a repair worth it? Consumer Reports’ general advice is for newer appliances and electronics is to fix them rather than ditch them if the cost of the repair is less than half the cost of replacement.

More than half the people in Consumer Reports’ survey opted to not go for repairs. Still, if it makes sense to fix it, Consumer Reports says go with an independent shop. Those surveyed found independents better and cheaper than authorized repair centers.

Consumer Reports also says, don’t be afraid to haggle over the cost of the repairs. Those readers who asked for a lower price got it nearly 40 percent of the time.

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