Many electronic devices become obsolete so fast that if something goes wrong, it is often cheaper to buy a new improved version rather than repair the old one. For example, we purchased large screen television for $2000. After several years of use, our dog damaged the set. He had a ceramic bone and liked to “bury” it under the towel that was on top of his bed. He would then “dig” up his bone and shake the towel. Well, the bone stuck to the towel and as he shook the towel, he flung the bone right into the television set and there was a black hole in the middle of the screen. A new television with a bigger screen and higher definition cost $700–much less than the cost to fix our old set.
On the other hand, a mechanical device may be more easily repaired. We have a washing machine that is over 20 years old. It developed a leak from inside the machine. When the problem happened, I had a rehearsal or a concert every night of the week and other activities going on. I spent about 20 minutes looking at the machine and couldn’t find the screws that allow the front panel to be removed. I gambled the price of a service call, but did call a service company. The problem turned out to be a leaking tube to the bleach dispenser which we never use. I would have tried to find a hose of the proper diameter at an auto parts store, but the repairman ordered the tube and the main hose leading from the pump to the back of the machine. My total bill was about $148. I can’t buy a new machine for $148 and if I only get another year out of the machine, it was money well spent. As I said, had I been a little more patient, I could have fixed the machine myself for the cost of a 4 foot length of hose and a couple of clamps. We have an 18" push lawnmower that was made in 1988 that has a cast aluminum deck. The engine runs well and, because it is lightweight, my wife likes using the mower. Well, the lower section of the handle broke from metal fatigue. I was able to temporarily repair the handle with a 1/2" dowel rod which I forced into the handle, and then drilled into the handle and dowel rod and inserted some screws. However, I went online and found I could get a replacement part. The cost seemed high at $64 with shipping, but I can’t buy a new mower for $64. In the case of the washing machine and the lawnmower, I doubt that a new machine will wash my clothes any cleaner nor will a new mower cut my grass any better.
I have learned on many automobile parts, it is better for me to buy a remanufactured component rather than attempt to repair the old unit. I had the generator stop charging on my 1954 Buick. I looked at the generator and noticed one lead from a brush was broken. Instead of buying a remanufactured generator for $12.50 (this was back in the early 1960s, I bought a set of brushes for $1.50. When I put in the new brushes, I shorted the field coil and the generator ran wide open and was overcharging the battery. By the time I figured out what was going on, the generator had overheated and I had thrown a lot of solder off the armature. Even after fixing the short, the brushes would hop around on the commutator and the charging rate wasn’t steady. I bit the bullet and bought a remanufactured generator. A few years later, I bought a rebuild kit for the carburetor on my 1950 Chevrolet pickup truck. I spent a whole afternoon getting it right, and it was a single barrel carburetor with a hand choke. Instead of spending $2.95 for the carburetor kit, I could have purchased a rebuilt carburetor for less than $15. This was back in the early 1970s. For me it is better to replace a whole unit than attempt the repairs myself.