To repair or not to repair? Consumer Reports lists appliances most likely to break


Many people have problem appliances, but one homeowner has had just about everything break recently: his fridge, then his dishwasher and cook top, and then finally his microwave.

"You get gun shy around your own appliances," he said.

Side-by-side refrigerators with ice makers are among the most problem-prone appliances, according to a Consumer Reports survey of its subscribers. About 31 percent needed repairs by the time they were four years old.

"Bottom-freezer refrigerators with ice makers needed repairs almost as often —- 28 percent of them," Consumer Reports' Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman said.

Other products that tend to break within four years?

Dishwashers are at 20 percent. Self-propelled gas mowers are at 23 percent. Lawn tractors, 28 percent.

So when is a repair worth it?

"Our general advice 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," Lehrman said.

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.

"It's annoying when something breaks. And more than half the people in our survey opted to not go for repairs," Lehrman said.

Still, if it makes sense to fix it, Consumer Reports says go with an independent shop. Those surveyed found independents are better and cheaper than authorized repair centers.

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