How long should an appliance last?

We show how much use you should get from your TV, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and other appliances before they die.

Kitchen, heating and laundry appliances.

Don’t expect your TV to last forever, but don’t accept a dishwasher that breaks down a day beyond its warranty. While you should get a reasonable amount of life from an appliance, what’s “reasonable”? Then, if something does go wrong, when do you repair, and when is it better to replace?

Appliance life expectancy estimates how long an appliance should last, given reasonable use and maintenance. You shouldn’t be surprised if an appliance develops faults, but these should be repairable. However, no matter how well maintained, eventually it’ll be more economical to replace an appliance than keep repairing it.

We estimate appliance life expectancy based on our annual reliability surveys answered by our members and a survey answered by manufacturers in 2018. We expanded on this data with our own expert knowledge of product performance and consumer rights.

Be a reasonable consumer

You need to set reasonable expectations on how long an appliance will last. It depends on various factors, including how much you paid for it (compared to other appliances of that type), how much you use it and how well you look after it.

The Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) obliges retailers to guarantee their products are "of acceptable quality". This means an appliance must last a reasonable time, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be entirely fault-free throughout its life. However, if it does fail or develops faults sooner than reasonably expected, the CGA is there to support you. If you’re looking for redress, it’ll depend on an assessment of the type and severity of the fault, how long the appliance has been in use, and how it has been used.

“Reasonable” is key. A retailer must put things right if a fault occurs that a reasonable consumer wouldn’t expect.

Our life expectancy figures are based on a mid-range appliance receiving typical use from a consumer who takes reasonable care of the product. If you buy a top-end or budget appliance, use it much more or less than might be ‘typical’ and don’t look after it, you need to adjust your expectations accordingly.

Large kitchen appliances

Dishwashers

Life expectancy: 9 - 10 years

Repair or replace? Broken racks, seals and inlet valves can be swapped out – manufacturers keep spare parts for years. Electronic controls are harder to fix but at least get a quote. While you might be able to repair a machine older than 10 years, newer models are quieter and more efficient.

This appliance has a tough working life. Life expectancy can be increased through regular cleaning and maintenance.

Find out more about dishwashers in our dishwashers test report.


Fridges, fridge-freezers and freezers

Life expectancy: 10 - 11 years

Repair or replace? Problems such as faulty thermostats and damaged door seals are worth repairing. You can partially restore the cooling performance of an old fridge by replacing worn seals. Replace your fridge if it suffers a major fault (such as compressor failure) and is more than 10 years old. New fridges are more efficient and have lower running costs.

Find out more about fridges in our fridges and freezers test report.


Ovens & stoves

Life expectancy: 13 - 15 years

Repair or replace? Ovens and stoves are worth repairing until spare parts become scarce. Broken doors are repairable, particularly if it's just a matter of replacing the hinges. Blown thermostats and elements can also be swapped out. Broken fans and electronic modules can be more expensive to fix.

Find out more about ovens and stoves in our test reports.


Microwaves and benchtop ovens

Life expectancy: 8 years

Repair or replace? The magnetron – the guts of your microwave – is the most common source of problems and is expensive to replace. Replace your microwave if you can't get the magnetron fixed under warranty or the CGA. Blown bulbs can be surprisingly expensive to fix. Can you get by without the internal light?

Find out more about microwaves and benchtop ovens with our test reports.

Laundry and cleaning

Clothes dryers

Life expectancy: 10 - 11 years

Repair or replace? Vented dryers are easy to repair. Internal components such as the drive belt, thermal fuse and even the drive motor can be swapped out. As long as parts remain available, a vented dryer could go on for decades. Heat pump and condenser models are more complicated, but still repairable. You should also be able to order external components, such as door catches and lint filters, from the manufacturer or a service centre.

Tip: Buying a new dryer? Look for a model with a sensor. Sensors can prevent you from over-drying clothes and wasting energy.

Find out more about clothes dryers in our clothes dryers test report.


Vacuum cleaners

Life expectancy: 8 years (corded canister or upright)
Life expectancy: 5 years (cordless stick or handheld)

Repair or replace? While a corded vacuum should last eight years, its life expectancy will be reduced if you use it to suck up powder such as plaster dust. That aside, jammed brush rolls and blocked filters can be unclogged or replaced. Replacement hoses and nozzles are also available. Whether or not you fix a more serious problem depends on the price of your vacuum. The most common fault with cordless models is with the battery or charger – parts that are usually easy to replace.

This appliance has a tough working life. Life expectancy can be increased through regular cleaning and maintenance.

Find out more about vacuum cleaners in our vacuum cleaners test report.


Washing machines

Life expectancy: 10 years (top and front loaders)

Repair or replace? Blocked pumps and broken door seals are fixable (you can often clear a blocked pump yourself). If your machine's drum stops spinning, the motor brushes or the drive belt might have worn out: get a quote for repairs. Major washing machine faults include failed drum bearings, fried electronic modules and broken gearboxes.

This appliance has a tough working life. Life expectancy can be increased through regular cleaning and maintenance.

Find out more about washing machines in our washing machines test report.

Heating

Dehumidifiers

Life expectancy: 10 years

Repair or replace? Our surveys show dehumidifiers are reliable. It's not worth repairing a cheaper model if it develops a major fault, such as compressor failure.

Find out more about dehumidifiers in our dehumidifiers test report.


Heat pumps

Life expectancy: 10 - 15 years

Repair or replace? Minor problems, such as noisy fans, should be fixed. Major issues like a broken circuit board or faulty compressor mightn't be worth repairing, particularly if your heat pump is older than seven years. Minimum energy performance standards were tightened up in 2013 – this means if you have an older system, upgrading to a more efficient model could be a better option than spending money on repairs.

Find out more about heat pumps in our heat pumps report.


Heaters

Life expectancy: 5 years (fan)
Life expectancy: 10 years (oil column, convection and radiant)

Repair or replace? Some manufacturers keep spare parts for 10 years or more. They also offer generous warranties – a lifetime in some instances. But you're unlikely to have the same luck with budget heaters, and repairs may not be economical.

Find out more about heaters in our electric heaters test report.

Electronic appliances

TVs

Life expectancy: 7 - 8 years

Repair or replace? It might be best to replace an old TV. Individual components are difficult to fix and you often need a complete printed circuit board (which can cost almost as much as the set itself). The screen should last for well over a decade of normal viewing, but if it fails (or you experience dead pixels) it’s usually unrepairable.

You should expect the operating system of a smart TV to remain supported for the life of the TV. However, many owners report connection problems and apps that stop working. We suggest you consider bypassing the smart TV functions by using an external device, such as a Chromecast.

Find out more about televisions in our televisions test report.


Laptop and desktop computers

Life expectancy: 5 years

Repair or replace? While we expect a laptop or desktop to last five years, about one in three fails by its fourth year according to Consumer Reports (the US consumer organisation). Malware often contributes to the early demise of a computer, so keep antivirus protection up-to-date.

It's worth upgrading parts, such as hard drives and RAM, to speed up an ageing computer. However, it's usually better to replace it if it malfunctions after five years. A new computer lets you take advantage of the latest screens, processors and graphics cards.

Find out more about laptops and desktop computers.

Your rights

The Consumer Guarantees Act obliges retailers to guarantee their products are "of acceptable quality". This means that they must last for a time that’s reasonable for the particular product and the price paid for it.

Manufacturers and importers must hold spare parts for this length of time, unless you're told at the time of purchase that spares and service won’t be available.

If an appliance fails before its time is up – and you haven't caused the fault – the retailer has to put things right:

When it's a minor problem the retailer has a choice between fixing the appliance, replacing it, or taking it back and giving you a refund.

If it's a serious problem then you can choose whether the retailer replaces the product, or takes it back and gives you a refund. You can also claim for losses that have happened because of the fault. If your washing machine is faulty, for instance, you can claim the costs of going to the laundromat while it's being fixed.

Tip: your receipt proves where and when you bought the appliance. Keep it tucked away with the appliance's manual.

Lines of support

A service call for a major appliance can cost upwards of $100. This might make repairs uneconomical. Can you resolve the glitch without calling in the fix-it person?

  • Unplug a troublesome electronic appliance from the wall, wait a minute or two, and then reboot it.
  • Check the troubleshooting section of your owner's manual.
  • Search the "support" pages of the manufacturer's website.
  • Google the fault (you might find others have encountered the same problem).
  • Phone or email the manufacturer's customer support service for advice.
  • Still no luck? Many companies use social media to correspond with their customers. Post the problem on the manufacturer's Facebook page or Twitter account.

Could you be saving on power?

Enter your household details to find out how much you could be saving on electricity and gas.


Member comments

Get access to comment

james w.
26 Apr 2020
Electric Jug

$80 sunbeam jug has top plastic rim crumbling after 2.5 yrs (several teaspoon size chunks) . I'm waiting for the top to fall off when pouring a full jug. will be interesting to see how briscoes reacts.

Rikke h.
28 Aug 2017
When should a retailer now service representative follow through to customer service. ...

Do you think it is right for a retailer now service representative should follow through on coming to the support of a customer with a 5 year old dishwasher and help with the cost of parts or be rogues on trying to sell parts without thinking about the consumer as thinking it's the service representative in a small town an I'm right an your wrong

Previous member
29 Aug 2017
Re: When should a retailer now service representative follow through to customer service. ...

Hi Rikke,

If there’s a fault with your dishwasher, you may have rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). Under the CGA, retailers and other suppliers guarantee their goods will be of acceptable quality and last for a reasonable amount of time. If there’s a problem, the retailer/supplier should also sort it out. Our page on the CGA has more on your rights and what you can do: https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/consumer-guarantees-act

As you have a paid Consumer membership, remember you can call our Consumer Advice Line (0800 266 786). Our advisers can provide personalised advice and walk you through this issue.

Kind regards,
Fonda - Consumer NZ staff

Previous member
21 Jun 2017
Cold water versus hot water in the laundry

I am amazed that many people launder in cold water. I have a front loading washing machine that heats it's own water so no draw on the hot water cylinder. I can choose to use a temperature suitable for the load. Many have forgotten that clothing comes with a "care" label, read these and be amazed!. Many cold water detergents are detrimental to modern fabrics that are easy to wash and quick to dry. Also I value hygiene above a few cents for extra electricity, it is not possible to clean fecal matter with cold water. Check washing machine directions too. I think most manuals will have a stipulation that cold water should not be used all the time. I don't wash my dishes in cold water!

Patricia M.
23 Jan 2016
REPLACEMENT OF LAND LINE PHONES

I had bought 4 phones from Noel Leeming and the main phone dial didn't light up any more and I couldn't see the number so I took them all back. Noel Leeming were very good and refunded the money as they said it would cost too much to fix and they didn't have the phones I wanted.