Want a used washer? Budget some time

A washer and dryer are mainstays in many households.  They are in our household, for sure.

We bought a used washer and dryer set four and a half years ago.  Over the past couple of weeks, the washer was whining loudly.  First we heard it within the drain cycle, then in the spin cycle.  When it started squealing during the wash cycle, I sensed that its time was almost over, because that sounded like a transmission problem.

Our family had done some repairs on it already to fix a bent support frame, but a new transmission runs upwards of $100.00.  Considering we paid $200 for the whole machine, this expense was questionable.

Time to hit Craigslist for another set, right?  I’m of the opinion that older is better when it comes to most large appliances.  So, off we went, and started emailing and calling people.

Unfortunately, we aren’t the only frugal people in our area

Looking on Craigslist for a used washer and dryer was a bit of a treasure hunt.  The sets that were any good didn’t last long.  The Craigslist ads were being removed left and right by the posters as other bargain hunter scooped them up.

One gentleman we called fixed up machines for a living, and he was selling them as fast as he could fix them, basically.  He recommended that we drove out to his place early Sunday morning to pick one of the two he had left.  This wasn’t feasible because we do the church thing, but it was clear that if we didn’t come out, he would get another buyer quickly.

We visited one woman with a machine.  She didn’t know the capacity of the machine.  As I told my newsletter subscribers, I would have had to pay to find out the capacity of the machine, but it would have been worth it to do so since it was too small for what we needed.

On the way home from that visit, we stopped in a secondhand store.  Several washing machines were out front — sold.  One more was in the back — on layaway.

For used washing machines, it’s definitely a seller’s market.  There’s a lot of buyers out there.

Getting a used machine can take time — more time than you may have

We ended up getting a Roper machine from Lowe’s.  There was a sale going on, so the price was pretty good for a new machine: under $350.  It seems to get our clothes clean, but man, it sounds … different.  Maybe part of this new sound is driven by the manufacturers doing their best to get clothes clean on a tight, mandated energy budget.

No kidding: the washer sounds like a robotic goose in heat.  And from what we can gather, this is normal for the newer machines!

We got this newer machine for a couple of main reasons:  (a) the price was decent, and (b) we could get it right then.  The second one was the more important consideration, actually.  Our dirty clothes were piling up, and our old machine was noisy, which was not normal.  Basically, we didn’t want to risk completely breaking our current machine, because that would put us at a big disadvantage.

Were I to do this again, I’d plan a bit further in advance than we did.  We had a bit of notice — a few weeks, maybe — and could have looked more than we did.  We waited too long to look in earnest. The best time to look for a used washing machine is before you actually need one!

Saving (potentially) $200 or more is a fair trade-off on paying with time vs. paying with money. But that depends on leaving enough time so the search can happen.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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