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Is a 10 year old washer worth fixing?

Deciding whether to repair or replace an aging appliance like a washing machine can be a difficult choice. On one hand, new washers have improved efficiency, features, and technology compared to models from 10 years ago. But on the other hand, repairs may seem like a more budget-friendly option compared to buying a whole new machine. There are several factors to consider when determining if an old washer is worth fixing or if you’re better off upgrading to a newer model.

Cost of repairs vs replacement

One of the biggest considerations is the repair costs compared to the price of buying a new washer. For a 10 year old washer, common repairs include fixing or replacing:

  • Drive motor – $200-$350 for parts and labor
  • Transmission – $350-$500 for parts and labor
  • Water pump – $150-$250 for parts and labor
  • Timer and control board – $200-$400 for parts and labor
  • Seals and bearings – $150-$300 for parts and labor

So potentially you could be looking at $500-$1000 or more in repairs if multiple components need to be fixed. Of course every situation is different, but in general expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for basic repairs on a 10 year old washer.

In comparison, a new basic top load washer can cost $500-$800 and a new basic front load model often runs $800-$1200. High end washing machines with extra capacity, settings, steam, connectivity features, etc can cost $1500-$2000+.

So if your repair costs exceed 50-75% of the price of a new basic model, you may want to consider replacing instead of repairing.

Age and longevity of repairs

Even if you invest in repairs, you have an appliance that is already 10 years old. The average life expectancy of a washing machine is generally thought to be 10-13 years. So your decade old washer is nearing or at the end of its projected functional lifespan already. Any parts that get repaired now are still 10 year old parts prone to wear and tear issues. The repairs may remedy the immediate problem but not address the overall aging of components.

It’s very possible you could sink $500 into repairs only to have another component fail in 6 months or a year. Any money spent on repairs for an aging washer is not an investment that will necessarily prolong the life significantly or permanently. In some instances, repairs provide only a temporary fix before something else breaks. So consider if repairs are truly worth it for a 10 year old machine.

Availability of parts

Since your washer is already 10 years old, that means it was produced sometime around 2013. As washers age and newer models come out, manufacturers discontinue production of parts for older models. So the repair parts you need may be obsolete and hard to source. Technicians may have to search salvaged machines to find compatible replacement parts for a 10 year old model.

The lack of readily available new parts can drive up repair costs and lengthen the time your washer is out of commission. You may be without a functioning washer for weeks if parts have to be special ordered.

Features and efficiency

Washers have come a long way in 10 years in terms of features, efficiency, and technology:

  • Capacity: New washers tend to have larger tub capacities (4.5-5 cubic feet).
  • Efficiency: Require less water and energy based on Department of Energy standards.
  • Cycles and settings: Offer more cycle options, temperature combinations, and specialty cycles.
  • Performance: Improved motors, suspension, balancing, and sensors.
  • Controls: Digital displays, touchpads, and smartphone app connectivity.
  • Noise: Quieter operation due to sound dampening materials and suspension improvements.
  • Design: Sleeker, more stylish finishes and materials.

While your 10 year old model still cleans clothes, a newer washer likely includes conveniences, customization, and upgrades you may appreciate. Better energy efficiency could also help you save money on utility bills in the long run.

Value of your time without a functioning washer

When your only washer breaks down, it can be a major lifestyle inconvenience. How much is it worth to you to have your washer down for potentially several days or weeks as you arrange repairs? Some things to consider:

  • Time and cost doing laundry at a laundromat.
  • Time spent hand washing clothes in your bathtub or sink.
  • Scrambling to do laundry at friends’ or relatives’ homes.
  • Dealing with dirty clothes and linens piling up.
  • Having to postpone or reschedule activities due to lack of clean clothes.

The time, stress, and effort of being without a washer may influence your decision to attempt repairs or proceed with replacement.

Warranty and returns

One advantage of purchasing a new washer is that it will come with a product warranty, typically 1 year on parts and labor. Manufacturers may also offer extended warranties for purchase. If anything fails, you’re covered for free repairs or even a replacement.

Most retailers also have return time windows in case you don’t end up happy with your new washer. For example, 30, 60 or 90 day return periods are common. So you have time to test it out at home and make sure it meets your needs and expectations before fully committing.

With a repair, you have no warranty or trial period. The parts and labor may be guaranteed for a short time, but likely no satisfaction guarantee or exchange policy.

Resale value

Washers have a typical lifespan around 10-13 years. If you invest $500+ in repairing a 10 year old model, you are extending the life of an appliance that is nearing the end of its useful lifetime already. The repaired 10 year old washer may only have a few more years before other components start failing.

If you later choose to sell the house, an old repaired washer has little resale value. Buyers looking at homes with dated washers will plan to budget for a replacement. Even after repairs, an old washer may deter buyers or require you to offer credit to offset a future replacement.

On the other hand, a new energy efficient washer can actually improve your home’s value. Homebuyers see updated appliances as a plus, not as items that will need replacing. So the higher price of a new washer can pay off when selling.

Should you repair or replace?

Here are some guidelines to consider when deciding whether it is worth fixing your 10 year old washer:

  • If the repair costs exceed 50-75% of a comparable new basic washer, replacement may be the better option.
  • Factor in the age and longevity of any repairs made on an already decade old appliance.
  • Availability of parts for older washers is limited and can add time and expense to repairs.
  • A new washing machine will offer improved features, efficiency, capacity, and technology over a 10 year old model.
  • Consider the hassles and costs of being a without a functioning washer during repairs.
  • A new washer provides a full warranty and possible return period – repairs do not.
  • Repairing an old washer does not add resale value to your home like a new appliance could.

Taking these factors into account will help guide your decision making process. Being without your main laundry appliance is an inconvenience. But investing in repairs for an aging washer may just be postponing an inevitable replacement. In many cases, you can recoup the price difference between repairs and replacement in added convenience, features, efficiency, and warranty value.

Pros of replacing instead of repairing

Here are some of the main benefits that come with purchasing a new washing machine:

  • Latest features and technology – Wifi, remote monitoring, specialty cycles, etc.
  • Increased capacity – Larger tub size fits more laundry per load.
  • Efficiency savings – Uses less water and energy.
  • Quieter operation – Noise dampening improvements.
  • New warranty protection – Covers repairs and replacements.
  • Appliance return policy – Option to return if unsatisfied.
  • Improved performance and durability – Components designed to last.
  • Enhanced cleaning results – Better stain removal.
  • Stylish design – Sleek modern aesthetics and finishes.
  • Adds value when selling home – New appliances are selling points.

While the higher initial investment can seem daunting, a new efficient washer provides long term savings and benefits compared to extending the life of an outdated 10 year old model.

Cons of replacing instead of repairing

Here are some potential downsides of choosing replacement over repair:

  • Higher upfront cost – New washers are expensive purchases.
  • Research and selection process – Must pick out new make and model.
  • Wait times – Delivery and installation may take multiple days or weeks.
  • Installation charges – Costs to haul away old unit and hook up new one.
  • Learning curve – Figuring out programming and settings.
  • No guarantee – Even new washers can occasionally have defects.
  • Short return window – Limit on trying out and returning.

While repaired washers let you continue using the familiar old machine, replacement forces you to purchase, research, and adapt to an entirely new appliance.

Making your decision

Here is a summary checklist of factors to help decide between repairing or replacing your 10 year old washing machine:

Repair Considerations:

  • Will total costs of needed repairs exceed 50-75% of a new washer price?
  • How much additional life will repairs add to an already decade old machine?
  • Are replacement parts readily available or hard to find due to age?
  • Can you live without a washer for an extended time during lengthy repairs?

Replace Considerations:

  • Does a new washer offer useful features, efficiency, capacity, and technology your decade old model lacks?
  • Are warranty, returns, and added resale value worth the higher new price?
  • Are you prepared to pay more upfront and adapt to a new machine?

Carefully weighing these factors will determine if repairs or replacement make the most financial and practical sense for your situation. Consider both short term costs and long term benefits. In many cases, the smartest investment is going ahead and upgrading to a new washing machine rather than pouring money into an aging appliance. But your specific repair needs and budget may also justify extending the lifespan of your 10 year old model.

Input from a repair technician

To gain more perspective, I consulted a 10 year veteran appliance repair technician for advice on whether older washers are worth fixing. Here is his insight:

“Once washers reach 8-12 years old, I generally recommend replacement over repair if the costs are more than a few hundred dollars. The mechanical components like motors, pumps, tubs, and drums deteriorate over time. No matter how much you spend on repairs, it’s still an old machine at its core. New models have computerized controls that are more reliable than older analog timers and parts that are just worn out. My rule of thumb is once repairs hit 30-50% of a new washer price, it’s not worth it for customers anymore. I can repair it but longevity of old components is limited, so customers end up calling me out again when something else fails in 6-12 months. New energy standards also mean washers from 10 years ago use a lot more water and energy. For most people, replacement ends up being the better investment compared to sinking large amounts into repairs for an appliance that already exceeded average lifespan.”

The technician confirmed that once repair costs approach half of a new washer’s price, replacement often provides better long term value. He sees the limitations of parts availability and durability issues on older washers regularly.

Bottom Line Recommendation

Given the costs, age, limited lifespan, and lack of features compared to a new washing machine, I generally do not recommend sinking over $200 in repairs into a 10 year old washer.

The exception would be very minor fixes like hose or belt replacements under $150. Otherwise, repairs over $200 on an old washer with already 10+ years of wear will likely be short lived. Replacement provides a better long term investment.

You eliminate the frustrations of breakdowns and part failures on an aging washer. And gain efficiency, capacity, features, warranty, and technology that improves laundry convenience and your home’s resale value.

Unless your 10 year old washer has very minimal repair needs, replacement is typically the smartest option. A new washer will provide reliable service for many years to come rather than being stuck in the endless cycle of fixing an obsolete decade old machine.