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February 19, 2009 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Buying a used Washer and Dryer on Craigslist: Thrify and Smart or Foolish and Regrettable?

So we just moved into a new apt w/ a washer and dryer hook-up, woo hoo! Except, what do we hook-up?

I've never made a major appliance purchase like this and I'm leaning towards buyin off of CL because I can get the fancy LG front loading washing machine and matching dryer (or Kenmore or Whirlpool or even Frigidaire but definitely NOT Maytag) for under $1,000 versus twice that new. Is this stupidest thing ever? Anyone have any advice for buying a used set? Do I sit with the person and make them do a load of laundry in front of me?

Or should I just scrap the whole thing and buy new? I mean, are things like warrenty important, do any places even offer good warrenties anymore? Or yearly servicing if that still exists.

Any advice on the new or used font is greatly appreciated.
posted by lannanh to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Got a scratch and dent place nearby? Get a new appliance with cosmetic problems for the same price as a Craigslist crapshoot.
posted by fixedgear at 5:10 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

I bought a washer and dryer of CL a few years ago, they cost $100 and I continue to enjoy them to this day. Newer machines, however, are far more efficient.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:16 PM on February 19, 2009

Buy new. You'll keep them for 20 years or more. And besides using less energy, water and soap, your clothes will last longer, too.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:18 PM on February 19, 2009

Or talk to someone at a repair shop - they've always got a couple of refurbs ready to go, and you'll definitely get more of a warranty from them than some dude on craigslist.
posted by Aquaman at 5:28 PM on February 19, 2009

I've got a used washer/dryer purchased off Craigslist sitting in my laundry room right now. It works great and cost me around $200, and the guy delivered it to my house. We looked up the model first to make sure it had good reviews and reliability (it's a Kenmore) but that was it. I'm so happy to have it and so happy I didn't waste money on a new set. I'd say go for it.
posted by katemonster at 5:29 PM on February 19, 2009

I've sold a washer and dryer on CL. I was moving and didn't need them anymore. As far as I know they were in perfect working order.
posted by sanka at 5:30 PM on February 19, 2009

I would probably buy used if it was a current model and had only been used for a few months or maybe a year... older appliances aren't as efficient as current models, but if we're talking $200 vs. $2000... it would take a while to realize $1800 in savings.

However, a few years back some friends were looking to buy a used washer and dryer and somehow got the idea in their head that it may not be smart due to sanitary concerns. Something about sharing germs with some other household or something... it was a little screwy. I mean, if you've lived in a building with shared laundry, or ever used a coin-laundry, it's about the same, right?

So, try and find something lightly used, relatively new, and of significant savings. I think it makes perfect sense.
posted by wfrgms at 5:44 PM on February 19, 2009

Craigslist seems good for furniture and appliances and garage sale type 'stuff'; even job listings... bad for dating. YMMV. You can usually get a vibe from the posting and talking on the phone with the seller.
posted by Muirwylde at 5:47 PM on February 19, 2009

My sister-in-law got a pair off Craiglist. Fairly new and they were in good working order... for awhile. Then the dryer pooped out and then the washer. She got a good deal on them and it would cost more to fix them than replace so now she's off to find a replacement... with a warranty.

I think re-furbed appliance places are a good bet. I got a pair for around $200 (dickered the guy down) and the washer crapped out instantly. They replaced it with the same model/era and those things went for years. I should ask my friend who I gave them to what brand they were as I'm in the market for a new washer/dryer.

However, for $200, if they worked a year then I would have felt like I got my money's worth. It's tough when you're renting an apartment to make a big investment in appliances.
posted by amanda at 6:00 PM on February 19, 2009

No complaints here with our CL washer/dryer. We're in Iowa so the CLers may be a little more trustworthy than in a big city? The couple we purchased the set from was upgrading, we checked everything out before forking over the $, we paid $300 for a ~10 year old Maytag set, mid-priced when new.

I figure if you can get a set for $200-300, it is not a huge loss if one breaks a year or two down the line (how long are appliance warranties for anyways? and would you just pay $100+ for an extended warranty?) If energy efficiency is something you're really concerned about, you may want to go the new route anyways. Another consideration for my roommate and I was that we are students and are probably only going to be in this area another ~12 months, so we didn't need something to last a lifetime.

If you do go the used route and have to move it yourself, you'll want to rent a special appliance dolley from a U-Haul or Budget rental, the little conveyor belts on the back help you "roll" the dolley down the side of a truck gate or staircase. They run $12-15 per day, I would definitely encourage hunting one down.
posted by sararah at 6:04 PM on February 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you don't know anything about appliances, going to a scratch-and-dent or a place that specializes in used units with some kind of warranty is a really good idea.

However, if the price on craigslist is good and the unit appears solid, it might make sense -- but the price needs to be low enough that you won't feel like an idiot if you have it installed and it doesn't work.
posted by davejay at 6:06 PM on February 19, 2009

One important thing to consider is how long you expect to live in this new apartment, and whether it is likely that your next apartment or other living situation would also have a laundry hook-up (without a W&D already provided with the rental).

I've done both - bought a used dryer fine off of CL in a major metro area (if it isn't too hard for you to determine the trustworthiness / honesty of the seller, because that is all that matters when it comes to buying used), and bought new for the peace-of-mind factor. The first case was to accommodate a rental house (and we hauled a gas dryer 2800 miles cross-country only to have it sold on CL), and the second case was to 'start fresh' with a house we just purchased. (The prior owner thoughtfully provided us with a relatively new washer but an un-matched ~15 year old dryer that promptly died within one week. We sold the washer on CL as well.)

Oh yes, plan on about a 10-12 year lifespan on a W&D, similar to a high-quality mattress. We love the front-loading Kenmore HE2 - amazing how water-efficient these front-loaders are.
posted by scooterdog at 7:01 PM on February 19, 2009

I have a used washer and dryer. It's a fairly recent model and efficient. They totaled about $550 and it's one of the purchases I'm most proud of ever making. The washing machine is a huge capacity front loader, I use a nickel sized amount of soap, little water, and my clothes are cleaner than ever. The dryer is one of those dry sensor things and goes off when the clothes feel dry. I got it in January 2008, have used it near daily, moved it to a new house, and it's still the best washer and dryer I've ever used.
posted by birdie birdington at 7:36 PM on February 19, 2009

If the seller is a private party and you can confirm the operation of the units, why not? I bought a 4 yr old washer/dryer combo from CL and the dryer lasted 15 more years, the washer is still going strong.
posted by TDIpod at 8:04 PM on February 19, 2009

I'm another one who bought my washer/dryer on CraigsList, and had nothing but good luck. We got a set that were three years old and still had all the original paperwork for $300--the couple redid their laundry room and decided that they needed a stacking set. We've been using the machines for about eighteen months now with no problems at all.

I'd make sure that the seller's able to tell you what make and model the machines are, as well as how long they've owned them and how long they've been sitting unused in the garage. If they've been sitting in the garage for a while, see if you can hook them up at the seller's house to make sure that they work and that nothing's rusted or been nested in or anything like that. Outside of that, though, I think that any recentish model (last five years) for under $200 or so is a good bet.
posted by MeghanC at 8:25 PM on February 19, 2009

I bought a used washer - my previous washer's motor flat out died, and the repairman we called said the washer dated back to the '70s and wasn't worth fixing (it came with the house where I lived at the time). He recommended a refurbisher who he said would buy the old washer off us for parts and sell us a much newer one. We got a great deal on what was indeed a much newer, more efficient washer and the refurbisher came and took our old washer and installed the new one.

Once I saw how awesome the "new" washer was, I wished I had gotten a dryer too. Plenty of people ditch washers with tons of life left in them. The only reason I would recommend a refurbisher or repairman over CL is that they'll probably be more willing to transport and install the machines for you, which could save you a lot of time and effort.
posted by crinklebat at 8:36 PM on February 19, 2009

Look for a used appliance shop. Years ago I bought a set from a repair shop which came with a 3 year warranty. Apparently they pick up broken ones at no cost and repair/resell them.
posted by Sufi at 8:46 PM on February 19, 2009

Keep in mind on OLDER dryers they can be fixed a lot easier. My parents have an old kenmore dryer. It stopped working. $4 later and boom working again.

The older dryers are MUCH EASIER to repair yourself. in my parents case the old belt snapped. took me 15 minutes to repalce the belt myself. new multifunction dryers would not be as easy to fix.

Dryer wise an older model that is easier to repair might be worth it over a new one that is more efficient that will break and cant be easily fixed.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:08 AM on February 20, 2009

The only thing I've ever used Craig's List (DC) for was to sell a washer dryer. We got a scratch-and-dent unit for our apartment for $400 at Lowe's, then a year later bought a house that already had a unit. We asked for (and got) $250 for it--the buyer got a cosmetically damaged but essentially new unit for cheap. I even helped her get it home.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:14 AM on February 20, 2009

By the way, I talked to my friend who I gave my w/d set to when we moved and they were both Kenmore. I don't know how old they were when I got them from an appliance repair shop but I know they lasted with us for two years and with that guy (who had a big family) for at least another five years. He didn't tell me in the email if they were still kicking....
posted by amanda at 4:29 PM on February 20, 2009

If you do buy used from an individual, check to see if they have pets. The previous owners of my house owned a few large, furry dogs, and I never could get the wet dog smell out of the washer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2009

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