What Should I Consider When Buying Used Appliances?

Katharine Swan

Brand new kitchen appliances and other household appliances can be prohibitively expensive. Buying used appliances therefore provides a feasible way to save money, but caution should be used when choosing a used home appliance. Used appliances are more prone to failure, typically have either no warranty or a much more limited warranty, and may have more problems than new appliances.

Built-in ovens can be hard to replace.
Built-in ovens can be hard to replace.

There are two basic ways to purchase used appliances: from private sellers, or from stores that sell and sometimes refurbish used home appliances. Buyers can save more money by purchasing used appliances from private sellers, but there is also more risk involved. Used appliance stores typically offer a limited warranty with their appliances, which can provide some protection and peace of mind for buyers.

Transportation is a consideration when buying heavy appliances like clothes dryers.
Transportation is a consideration when buying heavy appliances like clothes dryers.

When buying used appliances from a private seller, the buyer should always insist on seeing the appliance plugged in and working before agreeing to purchase the item. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. While most buyers are not experts in what to look for in an appliance, a visual inspection should also be undertaken before purchasing the appliance. Look and listen for anything that seems suspicious. If the appliance makes strange noises while running, has a funny smell, or appears to be damaged, you will probably want to pass unless you have the knowledge and skill necessary to diagnose and fix the problem.

Stainless steel appliances may specialized cleaner.
Stainless steel appliances may specialized cleaner.

Another thing to consider when buying used appliances from a private buyer is how you will transport the item. Many home appliances, such as ovens, washing machines, and clothes dryers, are heavy and cumbersome. At the very least, a truck and a couple of strong people will be needed in order to move one of these appliances. If you do not have your own truck and cannot borrow one, this means renting a moving truck.

A person should check what kind of water hookups are available in their kitchen prior to buying a dishwasher.
A person should check what kind of water hookups are available in their kitchen prior to buying a dishwasher.

Buying used appliances from a store is generally much safer for the buyer, if a little more expensive. In exchange for the slightly elevated price, used appliance stores usually offer benefits such as limited warranties and delivery. In addition, many stores also refurbish used appliances, providing buyers with a like-new home appliance for considerably less than the cost of buying it new.

Some household appliances are not designed to be repaired.
Some household appliances are not designed to be repaired.

When buying used appliances from a store, be sure to research the store's reputation. You can find customer reviews online and with the Better Business Bureau. Red flags to look for are reports of the store refusing to honor warranties or returns, and excessive bad reviews where people have had problems with the used appliances they purchased from that store.

Used appliances may not have all the features a person needs.
Used appliances may not have all the features a person needs.
Microwaves may be purchased used.
Microwaves may be purchased used.

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