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Consumer NZ Reveals How Long Your Appliances Should Last

Consumer NZ has revealed the expected lifespan of many household items, and the results may take many New Zealanders by surprise.

"Dishwashers, fridges and freezers should last about a decade. An oven should see you through about 15 years of cooking, and a TV should provide you with about 8 years of quality viewing," said Dr Paul Smith, Consumer head of test.

“The initial cost of the appliance, how much it’s used and how well it’s looked after, will impact how well the appliance performs and ultimately how long it will last.”

New Zealanders have protections under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). Under the act, retailers must guarantee any product purchased for personal use is of acceptable quality. This means the goods must do what they are made to do, have an acceptable appearance, be free from minor defects and be safe and durable.

For this reason, “extended warranties” and “care” programmes are often not worth the paper they’re written on because you already have protections under the CGA.

If your appliance fails before its time is up, provided you haven’t caused the fault, the retailer has to put things right.

“Appliances must last a reasonable length of time, but it is unrealistic to expect a product will be fault free,“ said Smith.

Reasonable is the key word here. A retailer must put things right if a fault happens and a reasonable consumer would not expect that fault to have occurred. It doesn’t matter that the manufacturer’s warranty has lapsed.

“Don’t be fobbed off by a retailer telling you it doesn’t have to fix a faulty product because it’s ‘out of warranty’.”

How long should your appliance last?

Consumer bases its life expectancy figures on mid-range appliances that receive reasonable use and care.

“If you buy a top-end brand or a budget option, you should adjust your expectations accordingly,” said Smith.

Large kitchen appliances: 10+ years

A dishwasher should last you about 10 years.

“A dishwasher has a hard life; it tends to be used at least daily in most households.

“If you regularly clean your dishwasher and look after it well, it should serve you well in return.

“Manufacturers tend to hold onto spare parts for older models, so if your older appliance breaks down, repair should be an option.”

Fridges, freezers and combo models should last about 11 years.

“Faulty thermostats and damaged door seals are worth replacing. However, if your appliance suffers a major fault after its 10th anniversary you should seriously consider a replacement.”

Ovens and stoves should last about 15 years, and a microwave or benchtop oven would last about half that time – 8 years.

“We recommend repairing your oven or stove until spare parts are hard to come by,” said Smith.

Broken oven doors can generally be repaired, blown thermostats and elements can be swapped out, but broken fans and electronic modules can be expensive to fix.

“Microwave repairs tend to be costly. Depending on how long you’ve had the microwave, you may be able to get it fixed under the CGA or manufacturer’s warranty.”

Washing machines and dryers: Up to 10 years

You should get about a decade’s use from your washing machine and clothes dryer.

“If your washing machine pump gets blocked, you might be able to clear it yourself. If your machine’s drum is playing up or something doesn’t sound right, you should call an expert for a repair quote.

If replacement parts are available for your vented dryer, it could last well beyond a decade.

“If you opt for a new dryer, we recommend looking out for a model with a sensor – which will prevent you from over-drying clothes and wasting energy.”

Vacuum cleaners: Up to 8 years

Stick vacs are increasingly popular but tend to be outlived by their corded counterparts.

A cordless vac usually lasts about 5 years, whereas a corded model should last about 8 years.

“You could reduce the life expectancy of a corded vac if you use it to suck up powder, like plaster dust.

“The most common faults with cordless vacs are related to the battery or charger – parts that are usually easy to replace.”

Home entertainment: Up to 8 years

A TV should last you about 8 years.

“Repairing an old TV can be complicated and costly.

“You should expect the operating system of a smart TV to remain supported throughout the life of the TV. However, many people report connection issues and apps that won’t work properly.

“We recommend bypassing the smart TV functions in favour of an external device, like a Chromecast.”

Laptops and desktop computers should last you about 5 years. However, according to Consumer Reports (the US consumer organisation), about one in three laptops fails by its fourth year.

“Keeping your antivirus protection up to date will go some way to protecting your device from an early demise.

“If your device starts to fail after five years, it would probably be better to repair than replace.”

Right to repair

The easier and cheaper a product is to repair, the longer it should last.

Consumer is calling for mandatory repairability labelling. In the same way that Energy Ratings tell you how efficient a product is to use, a repairability label would tell you how easy it is to repair.

“Please sign our petition and demand a mandatory repairability label. Once we receive 15,000 signatures, we will present to parliament.”

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