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29 January 2024

8 things to look for when buying a second-hand clothes dryer

Try as you might, sometimes our soggy country doesn’t let you dry your clothes on the line outside. A clothes dryer can be a lifesaver at home but getting a new one can take a lot of cash. As a result, many of us turn to the second-hand market when kitting out our laundry. How do you know you’re not picking up a lemon?

Image of a person loading their clothes dryer

Types of dryers

Comparing the three types of clothes dryers – vented, condenser and heat pump – vented dryers are both the cheapest and the simplest. That means they’re easier to fix should things go wrong further down the track.

Condenser and heat pump dryers jump up in price, but are more energy efficient to run. That doesn’t mean you’ll save money though – our testing has shown that you need to dry a lot of washing to make up for the extra initial cost.

Assess your needs

Before you start your search, assess your needs. Consider the size of your household, the amount of laundry you typically do, and the available space in your laundry area. If you have a king bed and need to dry the sheets from time to time, you’ll need a big dryer.

If you go for a vented dryer, you’ll need to vent it somewhere, rather than letting it fill your place with humidity. Do you have the setup already in place? Or will you need to pay to have some ducting installed?

Be sure to check if you can stack your dryer on top of your existing washing machine (if it’s a front loader) as that might affect your options. If you have a top loader, you can opt for the Kiwi classic of mounting a vented dryer upside-down above it.

What to look for when deciding

1. Condition

Examine the dryer closely for any signs of damage or wear before handing over any cash. Check the drum, door, control panel and other components for cracks, dings or excessive scratches. Do all the buttons work? Is the lint filter completely chocka? These things mightn’t impact the dryer’s performance when you take it home and clean it up, but they’ll be a sign of a hard life and indicate you should take a pass on this one.

2. Age and usage

Ask the seller about the age of the dryer and how often it’s been used. Dryers have a limited lifespan – if you can get 10 years, you’d generally be happy – so it's important to know if the unit is nearing the end of its usable life.

3. Brand and model

Research the brand and model of the dryer to determine its reputation for reliability and performance. Check our results for brand reliability and satisfaction to see which ones come out on top.

4. Energy efficiency

Consider the energy efficiency rating of the dryer when lining up your options. Search for the star ratings of your shortlisted models to help refine your choice.

5. Features and settings

Check if the dryer offers the features and settings you require. Look for options like adjustable heat settings, various drying cycles (e.g., delicate, heavy-duty, timed drying) and moisture sensors.

6. Maintenance and repair history

Enquire about the dryer's history. Ask if it has received regular maintenance and if any major repairs have been done. A well-maintained dryer is more likely to provide reliable performance.

7. Price and warranty

Compare the dryer’s asking price with the prices of similar models on the market and don’t be afraid to negotiate. A quick internet search will help you bargain for a fair price based on the dryer's age, condition and features. If you buy through a store, you’ll be protected by the Consumer Guarantees Act. Buying through Trade Me or Marketplace is more of gamble – though you should be able to get things cheaper.

8. Test run

Whenever possible, request a test run of the dryer before purchasing it. This lets you check if the dryer operates smoothly and heats up properly. Be sure to keep an ear out for any squeals or other bad noises when it’s operating – they’ll either be a sign that it’s on its last legs or needs some maintenance.

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