In 2014 our washing machine conked out and the repairman quoted us $1500 to fix it because the drum had torn away from the washing machine’s body. As the repairman was leaving he said, “And whatever you do, don’t buy the most expensive or the cheapest. They all last 10 years these days no matter what.”

Truthfully, I became a little depressed thinking about appliances lasting only ten years, but everybody in the industry seems to be okay with that. A manufacturer we spoke with said, “People expect appliances to last as long as cars!” Only he meant that it was an unrealistic expectation. Since when? Appliances always used to last longer than cars. Appliances were changed because they were old, ugly, noisy, out of fashion, but rarely because they actually stopped working and couldn’t be repaired.

Those days are gone. Read any review site such as amazon.com — stay away from the manufacturer’s site —  and you’ll note that appliances aren’t made the way they used to be.

So I considered my options: I could buy new, refurbished or used. After searching Craigslist and Kijiji, I discovered there weren’t any realistic used options available to me at that time. I also knew I wanted a frontload washer. So that left me with new or refurbished.

Should I buy a new washer?

There are, of course, several advantages to buying a new washer.

The latest available features

The manufacturers are always coming out with new features that are geared towards making your life easier. Newer washers have steam cleaning options that deodorize and sterilize your clothes, auto soap dispensers, and wifi-connected options so you can be notified on your phone when the wash cycle is complete. There are washers with two basins – one for regular-sized loads and one for smaller loads. And the number of wash cycles always seems to be increasing. The list of new features is seemingly endless.

Size

Washers are getting increasingly larger. Depending on your laundry room and whether you have a growing family, a larger washer might be a good option for you. On the other hand, if you have limited space, there might be better compact options available. There will be more size options available to you if you are buying a new washer.

Warranty

A new machine usually offers a 1-year warranty on all parts, and many stores offer extended warranty options (although whether it is worthwhile to get one is debatable).

Energy Efficiency

There are lots of options for EnergyStar certified and water efficient washing machines available today. There are also rebates available in many municipalities for purchasing one.

Bright, shiny and new

It’s fun to have brand new, shiny things, so if you’re spending a lot of money on an appliance, isn’t important to have one that you love using, that looks good and makes you happy? I know it sounds superficial, but new things tend to make us happy – the same feeling we used to get when we were given new toys.

Larger selection

Generally, there is a better selection of new appliances than refurbished. So if you have your heart set on a certain brand or certain features or size, you are more likely to find what you need in a new appliance.

On the negative side I considered:

Cost

New washers with all the new shiny features can be really expensive. Delivery and removal fees for your old appliances are extra.

Reliability

Reliability seems to be a huge problem these days. It seems to be difficult to find appliances that last and are easily repairable.

Unnecessary Features

Do I really need all the new features available on the new washers?

So then I thought about buying a refurbished washer and all the advantages and disadvantages.

Should I buy a refurbished washer?

Pros:

  1. A refurbished washer will cost less than half of a new one.
  2. They have been thoroughly tested before they are put up for sale.
  3. They come with a warranty that usually varies from 3 months to one year.
  4. Delivery and removal fees are significantly less than for new appliances.

Cons:

  1. It won’t be shiny new.
  2. It won’t have the latest features.
  3. It could still break after the warranty is over.
  4. Limited choice as to what’s available.

In the end, I decided that instead of spending a fortune on appliances that might or might not last, I would buy refurbished ones.  I hate doing laundry and all the latest features in the world aren’t going to convince me otherwise, so they aren’t relevant to me. When I looked through Kijiji, I found a refurbished shop that sold plenty of refurbished frontloaders. I visited the shop and chose a refurbished Whirlpool Duet washer and dryer (I figured I should buy the set since our dryer was also 15 years old and could go at any time). They came with a 6-month warranty and the final cost of $700 (plus tax) included delivery and removal of my old pair.

The buttons were slightly worn, but other than that, there was nothing wrong with these machines.  In 2014 when I bought them, the cost of a new Whirlpool Duet pair was approximately $1600 + taxes, shipping and removal of the old equipment. I saved about $1,200 versus buying new.

Before you buy, do your homework:

The only caveat I have is this: It turns out the pair was actually 7 years old and not 5 years old the shopkeeper told me. I know this because the washer’s electronic panel failed 15 months after I bought them and I had to replace it. The next time I buy a refurbished set, I will find the model and serial number and input them into this model finder to confirm their age. I will read reviews and ensure there aren’t any recalls on the machines.

Refurbished appliances offer those on a tight budget, or those who’ve had bad experiences with new appliances, the opportunity to buy machines that should last another 6-8 years or more. Of course, expected lifespan depends on a host of factors including use frequency, water hardness, care and maintenance and sometimes, just luck of the draw.

Share your appliance story on the forum!

Have you ever bought a used or refurbished appliance? What was your experience like? Tell us about it on our forum!

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